The City of Fairfax supports the efforts of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in 2011-2015. The purpose is to provide a balanced perspective with the goals of education, diversity, permanence, and inclusiveness. The City formed its local Sesquicentennial Committee to plan events and work jointly with the Fairfax County Sesquicentennial Committee and related key organizations including Historic Fairfax City, Inc., the 17th Virginia Infantry Fairfax Rifles. The co-chairs of the City’s Sesquicentennial Committee are Page Johnson and City Councilman David Meyer.
Activities will kick off with Fairfax Civil War Day on May 7. The first joint City-County signature event will occur on June 1, 2011 with a historical presentation about the Skirmish at Fairfax preceded by wreath layings and dedication of a new Civil War Trails marker for the historic Fairfax County courthouse, followed by an actual reenactment of the Skirmish on Saturday June 4 involving reenactors portraying infantry and cavalry from both sides, at the exact location on downtown streets where events occurred 150 years ago.
Other events will be added to the calendar when they become known so check back regularly. For other regional and statewide Civil War events visit State Civil War website , and FXVA website . For other city lectures and programs visit Tours and Programs
2011 Civil War Programs (City of Fairfax only)
March 26, 2pm: “One Nation, Two Flags, Three Women: Julia Ward Howe, Clara Barton and Sarah Tracy in Fairfax County during the Civil War.” Talk by historian Jenee Lindner. (Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim).
April 16, 2pm: “Virginia’s Secession from the Union.” Talk by historian Michael Shumaker. (Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim).
May 7, 10am-5pm: Fairfax Civil War Day (Historic Blenheim).
May 24-June 30: Special Traveling Exhibition: “An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia.” (Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim, open Noon-4pm Tuesdays-Saturdays). Exhibition curated by the Virginia Historical Society and traveling select sites throughout the state. Why did the Civil War happen? Was it the first modern war? How did slaves support the Confederacy? How did civilians suffer? Exhibit made possible by the Virginia Historical Society in partnership with The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Click here for exhibit script.
June 1, 6–9pm: Skirmish at Fairfax Court House Commemoration (Historic Fairfax County Courthouse and Surrounding Grounds). Joint commemoration between City of Fairfax and Fairfax County Sesquicentennial Committees to commemorate the first land conflict of organized military units occurring in the village then known as “Fairfax Court House.” Program includes wreath-laying at 1904 Marr Monument, dedication of new Civil War Trails marker, historical dramatization/lecture inside the old courthouse from 7pm-8pm by reenactors portraying Confederates Richard Ewell and “Extra Billy” Smith.
June 4, 9am–Noon: Historic Fairfax Courthouse and Gunnell House Open to Public with Tours and Special Programs (Old Town Fairfax). Prior to the Skirmish visit these two historic buildings rarely open to the public. Programs inside the courthouse include: 9:30am—Page Johnson gives Welcoming remarks and discusses his 10 favorite People in Fairfax Cemetery ; 10am—Dave Meisky portrays Extra Billy Smith discussing the events of June 1, 1861; 10:30—John, Mary, and Chap Petersen share family stories and family history; 11am—Ron Beavers and Jon Vrana talk about Burke, Fairfax Station and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad on the eve of the Civil War; 11:30—Dramatization of Fairfax County Secession Vote portrayed by reenactors; Noon—Councilman David Meyer shares his favorite history about the courthouse and gives closing remarks. Dixie Rose reenactors will be located outside the courthouse throughout the morning. Historic Gunnell House, located on Truro Church property and site of John Mosby’s most famous raid, will be open for guided tours from 10:30-12:30.
June 4, 1–2pm: Reenactment of Skirmish at Fairfax Court House (corner Main and North Streets). Reenactment on city streets at the exact locations where the event occurred 150 years ago. Reenactors portraying cavalry and infantry replicate the Union charge through the village and combat with Confederate forces, resulting in the death of Capt. John Quincy Marr, and four Union cavalrymen wounded and captured. Narrator will explain events to the public. Streets will be closed briefly during the event. Marr was the first Confederate soldier killed in the war. Reception to follow at Historic Blenheim (3610 Old Lee Highway) from 2pm-5pm.
June 4, 2–5pm: Open House Reception, Meet Skirmish Reenactors (Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim). Public invited to meet reenactors involved in the Skirmish, enjoy refreshments, and view traveling exhibit “An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia” which closes on June 30.
June 4, 6pm: Old Town Fairfax Walking Tour led by Jenee Lindner portraying Laura Ratcliffe. Tour begins at Ratcliffe Allison House, 10386 Main Street.
July 16, 2pm: “First Blood, Battle of Blackburn’s Ford.” Talk by historian Mark Trbovich. (Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim).
August 27, 2pm: “The History of Taps and Regimental Bands during the Civil War.” Talk by historian Jari Villanueva. (Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim).
October 22, Noon–4pm: Archaeology Day. Come celebrate Virginia Archaeology Month by participating in activities, tours, and more. No digging will occur but a variety of artifacts will be displayed including Civil War artifacts. (Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim).
December 4, Noon–4pm: Christmas in Camp with the 17th Virginia Infantry (Historic Blenheim). Visit a Civil War camp during winter and learn about holiday customs from reenactors.
March 2013, date TBD: Mosby’s Fairfax Raid Commemoration. The Sesquicentennial Committee is currently planning for this anniversary of Fairfax’s most famous event. In the early morning hours of March 9, 1863, Lt. John Singleton Mosby and his men crept into the village of Fairfax and captured Union General Edwin Stoughton, 18 armed men, and several horses without firing a shot, becoming the most famous achievement of Mosby’s Rangers.