ECW Weekender: A Day in the Life of a Soldier

ECW Weekender-Header

Here’s a phenomenal ECW Weekender opportunity from the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield. Hear first-person portrayals of the lives of Union and Confederate soldiers and surgeons. Take a walking tour of the Wilderness Tavern and the grounds of Ellwood. Also, listen to a presentation by Don Pfanz, author of Where Valor Sleeps: A History of the Fredericksburg National Cemetery 1866-1933, a work in the Engaging Civil War series by Emerging Civil War and Southern Illinois Press. Continue reading for more information on this Weekender.

A Day in the Life of a Soldier

Dr. John Yurechko (L) and Mike Pierce (R).  Photo by Beth Stenstrom

On Saturday, October 13, Living Historians John Yurechko, portraying a Union soldier, and Mike Pierce, portraying a Confederate soldier, will compare and contrast the equipment, motivation, and experiences of soldiers on opposing sides during presentations at 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. They, along with several other Living Historians, will be on site all day to talk about camp life and Civil War military service in general.

Author and retired Park Ranger Don Pfanz will give a presentation at 12:00 PM regarding “The Great Skeleton Hunt of 1865.” Don’s new book, Where Valor Sleeps: A History of the Fredericksburg National Cemetery 1866-1933—part of Emerging Civil War’s “Engaging the Civil War” Series with Southern Illinois University Press—will be available for purchase and he will be glad to sign your copy until 2:00 PM. Eastern National will have a selection of similar books for purchase on site as well.

Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for the various presentations so they will be able to sit comfortably while they listen and ask questions, etc.

Living Historian John Pelletier, who portrays a Civil War Surgeon, will be available inside the house (Ellwood Manor) throughout the day.  Visitors are encouraged to converse with him and ask questions about medical practices utilized during the Civil War era.  See reproductions of the various instruments in a surgeon’s kit and learn how surgeons saved many lives despite some misconceptions regarding the importance of sanitation.

Living Historian John Pelletier

A guided walking tour to the site of the Wilderness Tavern will be led by an FoWB volunteer at 2:00 PM. The tour begins at the front steps of the house and is approximately 1.5 miles in length over unpaved terrain, and takes about an hour and 15 minutes to complete.  Visitors will learn why the armies were drawn into combat in the Wilderness and how the roads and vegetation affected the battle.  Tour participants will see parts of historic road traces of the Orange Turnpike, Germanna Plank Road, and the Ellwood Carriage road, as well as cross over the Wilderness Run on a solid wooden footbridge. Sturdy walking shoes and bug spray are recommended, and don’t forget a bottle of water!

A less strenuous, 45 minute, tour of the grounds of Ellwood will be offered at 4:00 PM. which covers the family cemetery, said to contain Stonewall Jackson’s left arm, the possible site of two of the slave cabins, the site of a 19th century orchard and other landmarks such as several outbuildings and the carriage road.

FoWB Heritage Program volunteers will be available to talk with visitors about possible ancestral connections to the Wilderness Battlefield and/or Ellwood Manor.  FoWB has an excellent program which honors those ancestors who fought at the Battle of the Wilderness or were associated with Ellwood Manor in some way.

FoWB interpreters will be available inside the manor house from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM to talk with visitors about the history and the significance of Ellwood during the Civil War.

All programs are free and open to the public.

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Ellwood Manor is a circa 1790 house within Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  The cemetery contains the grave of Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson’s amputated arm from the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the house was a Federal headquarters during the Battle of the Wilderness.  Ellwood Manor is owned by the National Park Service.  Friends of Wilderness Battlefield is pleased to steward the property in partnership with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. For more information or directions, please visit us at

2 Responses to ECW Weekender: A Day in the Life of a Soldier

  1. This should be the future of reenacting. Well-presented programs with good interpreters. I think the days of the “two lines of guys run at each other–casualties decided prior to event” stuff are going the way of the dodo. Kudos to Ellwood Manor.

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