It's not every day one gets invited to a wedding -- well, not to a Civil War wedding, anyway.
That's just one of the events highlighting a one-day journey back in history Saturday in Port Republic, a small village south of Harrisonburg, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley. The occasion is the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Port Republic, the last battle in Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign.
About 300 reenactment troops of the Living Historians for Virginia, coordinated by the Stonewall Brigade of Northern Virginia, the Society of Port Republic Preservationists and the Port Republic Ruritan Club, will take part in the events, which will run from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
No battle reenactment is planned. Instead, participants will re-create the life of Civil War soldiers with dress parades, drills, weapons demonstrations and interpretations of events surrounding the fighting.
Civilian activities such as quilting, flag-sewing and bandage-making will be demonstrated in the yards and on the porches of the town's Civil War-era homes.
An unusual event will be the return by wagon of the body of Confederate Gen. Turner Ashby, slain in a skirmish with the Pennsylvania Bucktails at Harrisonburg, to a house in Port Republic that served as a wartime hospital. According to one of the anniversary event's promoters: "It is recorded that Wilson Harper recalled that his father had lifted him, then a young boy, to view the body. While he was there, Stonewall Jackson patted him on his head and said, 'Son, there lies the best general a man ever had.' "
On a happier note, two members of the reenactment party have planned their wedding to coincide with the anniversary. They will marry in a Civil War ceremony with crossed swords and period dress.
Visitors also may visit marked historic sites. On the walking tour are a shed used for slave sales, and the foundation of a bridge Jackson used to make his narrow escape. Once over, he ordered the bridge destroyed.
In addition to the reenactment events, Civil War artifacts and arts and crafts will be exhibited and food will be available.
Donations of $3 per person are requested, with children under 12 free. Proceeds will go to a local museum fund.
To get to Port Republic, take I-66 west to I-81 south. From Harrisonburg, follow Rte. 659 south about 10 miles to Port Republic.