Why do we do this?

YES - it really IS fun!  We meet the public and teach what we know by example in 1st person or by discussion and question answering - since we are charged with teaching others we must educate ourselves.  We make friendships with those who have the same interests and we enjoy each other's company at events and away from events as well.  This is a hobby and like other hobbies it costs money and takes so much effort that IT BETTER BE FUN.  We wouldn't do it if it wasn't!

We really are member representatives of the 9th Virginia Cavalry!

As such, we honor our chosen regiment by taking care to look right by wearing well made and accurate reproductions of the original items known to have been worn by the regiment.

Additionally we take care to act right by learning and using the original drill and tactics, military courtesies, songs of the period, and other behaviors, attitudes, and motivations.

Our activities pull all this preparation together for the following events:

Now what should you expect as a new recruit?


Our soldiers portray the average eastern theater cavalryman of 1863 and not the eccentric. We are workman-like veterans in appearance.  On the battlefield we are energetic and very active as the real 9th Virginia Cavalry was. The 9th is fortunate to have both mounted and dismounted sections, as well as a chaplain, bugler, regimental wagon and even a recently acquired howitzer. We run on a military structure and chain of command.   Even though this is a voluntary hobby the participants in the military camp realize the need for this historic organization and structure. We elect our officers and board members in yearly elections.  Our military camp is usually depicted as one that would be in garrison and not on campaign.  We showcase our cavalry equipment and the items used in a camp that was located at the same site for several weeks to give us an opportunity to talk to the public and create skits in camp for public education.  Usually at one summer event we request a campaign-style layout.  A cavalry camp on campaign would have very little shelter or equipment laying around for the public to see!  The use of any tentage was rare when cavalry was on the move during the campaign season. Everything was carried on the horse.

All military members are responsible for their share of the work that was required in a military camp. It is by taking part in the overall military picture that a participant will be able to have that time-travel experience. All men can expect to hold guard duty, provost duty, gather wood for the mess fires, build picketline supports for the horses, bring water to camp for drinking and cooking.  Troopers who have a horse are expected to care for it before they care for themselves. All military men salute officers and should expect to get the required salute in recognition. Life in the military camp will be close to what would be experienced by a trooper in any military cavalry camp. New recruits will learn drill using Poinsett's Cavalry Tactics, which was used by our regiment throughout the war.  At the end of each reenactment day we all relax and enjoy the music and campfire camaraderie, the food served in the company mess or in individual messes, singing to the period songs, reminiscing about the battles of the day and the anticipation of the mornings activities.  It is hoped that new members will develop a bond of friendship with people who enjoy history and horses.

And then there are the battles...

Where are the Union forces?   Scouts are sent out and come back to report. Finally the Union cavalry is on the scene!  We clash our mounted and dismounted with theirs!  Our men are shot and move away to the rear or lie still. The enemy takes its own casualties to our gunfire.  Infantry battle lines are moved forward and the cavalry melts away.   We move to the flanks where our dismounted take to the brush with their carbines and rifles to advance in an effort to hit the enemy in their rear or flank.  We may be asked to support our artillery or to slow an attack while our main forces retreat.  Sometimes we are routed and sometimes we are the victor!   The individual scenarios are endless but one thing we try very hard not to do is portray a "yahoo-style" of fighting.  We practice drill all year so we can act and look military on the field as a cohesive team not as individual supermen.



The county where our military unit was recruited was overrun regularly by Union forces and many civilians felt they had to flee from the rough treatment they received while under Union control.  Some civilians traveled to Richmond or other cities and some camped in the woods when they became too tired to move on or had their vehicles and animals "requisitioned".  Thus our refugee camp was born, made up of relatives and destitute families of the soldiers in the military.

Our refugee camp started out as one of people in a state of survival, families with children, women who are widowed or have husbands and sons in the military camps but has grown into an actual town environment. Both our military camp and our civilian camp are mainly places where the public can learn about how the war affected individuals and families and where they can listen to first person discussions, watch scenarios unfold, and get information about the things they are interested in.

As a civilian in our group you will be expected to enhance the non-military side as a member.  Study is encouraged in finding a person of the era to portray in a refugee or town situation.  Ideas are boundless and the Southern civilian story is so needed in our portrayal.  Not many people think of the war in terms of its survival by the civilian population in the south!  You can change that.  Learning and teaching this facet of the war is very rewarding as well as fun.  We have many members who are valuable resources in working toward your civilian impression.

As a civilian you will not be allowed to enter the military camp unescorted during public hours so be aware that military protocols and social etiquette will be followed and enforced.

Many of our refugees have husbands or sons in the military.  Don't worry about what sounds like their lack of attention at events.  It is perfectly fine for them to be housed in the civilian camp and set up a day tent in the military, or utilize the company tents for their daily military use while serving their military duties.  Always keep in mind that we want to accommodate everyone if it is possible!  We are lucky to have a family organization where there is something for everyone to do.


Our camps work together in many areas, here are just some of them. 

  1. The Company Mess is for the dining of both civilians and military, its not a military mess.   It is located on the outskirts of the civilian camp to enable both camps to meet together, dine and socialize.  Food prepared for our members is many times a recipe of the era of the households in Virginia.  Help is always needed here and its a good way to make friends. Contact the mess cook to help or if you wish to sign up for mess privileges.
  2. We have letter-writing campaigns where both camps write to their loved ones and send them in the mail.  The captain distributes the mail in the military camp and the postmaster delivers mail to the civilian town.
  3. We have social occasions where our camp musicians start up and we partake in a song fest or lyceum.  You won't be required to sing but it will be hard not to!
  4. We also have a hospital located near camp where you may wish to help out after a battle.   Wounded men need care when they come from the field hospitals and even though nursing was not a woman's profession, it developed into a very real need and a great help during the war.



It's important to remember that the 9th Virginia Cavalry is first and foremost a military organization with a civilian auxiliary in the form of a refugee camp and Virginia town.   This means the commander of the military is basically also the commander of the civilian side.  If you have complaints you will be expected to let the commander know about them through your civilian advocate.   The interior structure of the civilian side is led by Miss Stivers as civilian advocate.  Concerns can be voiced to Miss Stivers who will relay them to the commander or at the next board meeting.

Head over to the Safety Rules and Forms page.