A Civil War reenactment in Northern Virginia planned for later this month was canceled Friday after participants shared concerns about their safety following the recent violence in Charlottesville.
The two-day event in Manassas, scheduled to start Aug. 25, was meant to show how Union and Confederate soldiers lived during the Civil War.
In previous years, the event featured tent cities set up in the downtown area, an evening ball and lectures about how the war started and why.
Patty Prince, a Manassas city spokeswoman, said some of the reenactors called event organizers with worries that the racially charged atmosphere around the country over whether to remove Civil War monuments would lead to violence.
“It’s just not a good time to have it,” Prince said, about the event that the city began hosting in 2011 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. “It’s a very sad time in our country.”
Manassas is near where the First Battle of Bull Run was fought in 1861, a key victory for the Confederates that forced the North to realize the conflict would not be as easy as it initially believed. The Second Battle of Bull Run, another Confederate victory, was fought over some of the same ground a year later.
Those facts and other aspects of the war that killed 620,000 people are important for people to remember, said Georgia Meadows, vice president of the 49th Virginia Infantry reenactment group, which had been preparing to participate in the Manassas event.
“We don’t take sides,” said Meadows, who started her organization with her husband, Tony Meadows, 32 years ago. “You can’t erase it and you can’t replace it. You’d be surprised how many schoolchildren don’t know who won or lost or even the cause of the Civil War.”
Meadows was surprised to learn the event had been canceled, but she said she understood the reason.
Though there were no plans to reenact a battle, several people were worried the event would invite trouble after violent protests in Charlottesville last weekend led to the death of Heather Heyer, 32, who was hit by a car allegedly driven by a white nationalist. Two police officers were also killed when their helicopter crashed.
“We’re out there standing in 100-degree heat to teach people history, and we don’t get paid for it,” Meadows said. “Now we have to deal with this kind of nonsense.”