Welcome to the website of the 150th Commemoration of the Battle of Bulltown.
The age-old idea that the Civil War was a war of brother against brother never stood as true as it does when in context with the Battle of Bulltown in Braxton County, West Virginia.
A Note from Scot Buffington:
Bulltown, 1863. “The original farbfest.”
The history of this relatively obscure 1863 battle reads like the script for a bad reenactment. A reinforced camp of Federals is attacked at dawn by a Confederate force of cavalry. Spoiling the surprise, an overzealous Rebel fires his pistol into the late night, alerting the Union troops of their presence. The West Virginians occupy their makeshift earthworks and return fire — some still in their drawers — repulse the attack. There are very few injured over the course of the entire battle. A commander is wounded. Flags of truce occur numerous times, during which the opposing forces lay down their arms and mingle. With no real advantage gained by either side, the Confederates retreat, and the anti-climactic battle is over.
Any one of its features would make even the most serious interpreter’s stomach turn, such as:
* Hordes of dismounted Confederate cavalry
* Mountain howitzers
* Flags of truce between the opponents
* 5,000 rounds expended for every casualty
* An ocean of white A-frames
This stranger-than-fiction battle saw all these things in its twelve-hour fight. But even this history is deserving of accurate portrayal. It was a small battle, yet one significant to the securing of West Virginia for the Union. It was one of the last engagements over the mountain roads linking the Ohio River to the Shenandoah Valley.
During the Civil War 150th commemorative years, it is a rare occasion where dedicated reenactors may accurately portray a to-scale engagement, on the original ground, and raise funds to secure its pristine landscape for the future. In essence it is what we are all about. We are not attempting to recreate a portion of a larger battle, but to replicate real-time action that occurred on the exact land. The best part is that the progressive arm of our inexhaustible hobby has just the right number of troops, logistical support, and young talent to see this venture realized.
There is much talk regarding the crowds of reenactors that will be hanging up their uniforms after the 150ths are over. As much as these years may be the swansong for many, there will be waves of new people introduced to the hobby. For those more experienced reenactors who also have the current blessing of youth and health, we have a responsibility to hang on and share our collective knowledge. Rest assured, April 2015 will begin a period of great cleansing and reorganization in the hobby. I firmly believe that the men who will become the armies of Bulltown are the ones that will carry on the great responsibility of interpreting the Civil War soldiers for the next decades and reshape it in their own images.
Between now and October 2013, we will have seen the coming and passing of the commemorations of Antietam, Gettysburg, and Chickamauga. The big battle reenactments will have reached their zenith.
I believe there are 400 Federal and 600 Confederate reenactors who are willing to make the jaunt into the West Virginia Mountains to join me in this worthy adventure. Our small contributions of time and cash will make a significant impact on this little battlefield and aid a struggling historical society in its quest to preserve this story.
For me, this little piece of Civil War history and our gathering at this site just might be the most meaningful event of the entire 150th commemoration.
Scot A. Buffington