Bulltown Civil War Reenactment 2009

October 26, 2009 - 1 Comment

by Jim Barnes


The weekend of  October 10-11 saw the bi-annual reenactment of the battle of the 1863 Battle of Bulltown in Braxton County, WV sponsored by the Stonewall Jackson Reenactment Unit. Despite heavy rains on Friday, There was a decent turnout of reenactors and a goodly number of spectators for the weekend. There was also a quality sutler in attendence this year-James River Mercantile-which enabled me to get my broken Enfield fixed. Something I had been needing for a couple of years and hadn’t gotten around to.

According to Wikipedia, the real Battle of Bulltown took place on October 13th, 1863, when ” William L. “Mudwall” Jackson, the cousin of “Stonewall” Jackson, led a raiding party of 800 men into central West Virginia to capture the strategic “fort” at Bulltown which overlooked an important crossing of the Little Kanawha River. The goal was to cut Federal communications between the Greenbrier and Kanawha Valleys.

The Union garrison of roughly 400 men was commanded by Captain William Mattingly. The Union troops manned a “fort” of makeshift log barricades and shallow trenches which can still be seen today.

Jackson approached Bulltown secretly. He divided his forces in an attempt to converge on the Union position from two different directions. The Confederates advanced at 4:30am on October 13th. They quickly captured the Federal picketts and would have taken the garrison by surprise but one Confederate, whether due to excitement or nervousness, fired his gun and alerted the Union troops.

The Confederates advanced against the fort and a drawn out skirmish lasted until about 4:30pm, almost twelve hours after the battle began. Twice, Jackson sent a flag of truce with a surrender to demand to which Captain Mattingly replied “I will fight until Hell freezes over and then fight on the ice”.

Jackson eventually retreated back towards the Greenbrier Valley. Casualties were very light considering the length of the battle. On the Union side there were no fatalities. Captain Mattingly was wounded in the thigh and there were some other slight wounds in the Federal camp. the Confederates lost 8 killed and a like number wounded.”

The Stonewall Jackson Reenactment Unit, which sponsors this event is always a good host and furnished us with a generous chili dinner on Saturday evening (no, that wasn’t the pickets firing all night long) and enough sausage biscuits on Sunday morning to feed a small third-world country. A good bunch of guys.

There was a tactical on Saturday afternoon through the rugged wooded areas surrounding the Federal fort, which I arrived too late to participate in. By all accounts, this went well. Sunday’s reenactment of the Battle of Bulltown, complete with pyrotechnics, went off pretty much as planned and was well received by the spectators.

Bulltown is a pleasant event, which is run by reenactors. The amenities are good and the particpating troops get to fight on a real battlefield, and for the Federals, in the actual trenches. Additionally, October in Braxton County is a very scenic time of year, so participants also get to enjoy the fall foliage.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers runs the park (as part of the Burnsville Dam and Lake complex) and does a nice job of maintaining the historic buildings and adjacent park. They also seem quite appreciative of the reenactors.

Overall, this event is a pleasant, mainstream reenacting event. A nice way to spend the weekend.



Comments (1)

Haley Lively

December 17th, 2009 at 4:04 pm    

I was there!! I look forward for 2011

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