Next weekend, an unusual sort of Civil War re-enactment is planned in Strasburg, Va., about 80 miles west of Washington. When Col. Thomas Jackson stole several B&O railroad locomotives from Martinsburg early in the war, he had to find a way to get them to Richmond. The nearest connecting railroad was in Strasburg so he sent four of the locomotives over land by horse and mule team to that town where they were reassembled and sent south. The event became known as the Great Train Raid.
On Sunday, May 29, Confederate re-enactors from several states will stage a piece of that raid as part of the 150th anniversary of the war. The event, called appropriately the Great Train Raid of 1861Reenactment, will begin at 11 a.m. when an almost-full-scale-replica of one of the B&O locomotives stolen by Jackson will be pulled by a team of horses along an approximately five-mile route from the Cedar Creek Battlefield in Middletown to Strasburg’s former train station. It will follow the Old Valley Pike, the same route used by the Confederates.
The event is free and visitors can view the procession along most of the route. About 100 mounted cavalry riders will accompany the locomotive, two supply wagons, one medical wagon and one cannon. Police will close and open intersections as needed.
On Saturday, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation will offer a day of military exercises and lectures by historians on the use of trains and horses during the Civil War. There is a $5 entrance fee.