Kecia Wolf, a Fairfax resident and school social worker in Prince William County, demonstrates her period-correct “pecking hen” toys with a couple of young historians. Wolf volunteers with the 17th Virginia Infantry Fairfax Rifles and appeared as Joshua Gunnell’s civilian wife, who is credited with distracting Confederate soldiers during the raid while her husband fled under the family house.
Tim Peterson/The Connection
Despite the brutal and bloody nature of America’s Civil War, it’s still an integral part of the rich history that comes with living in this area of the country. People seek it out, seek to interact with it and learn more of it—they love to see history being preserved as authentically, yet nonviolently, as possible.
This past Saturday morning as part of a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we were reminded of this as period-correct members of the 17th Virginia Infantry Fairfax Rifles and 4th Virginia Cavalry Company H Black Horse Troop staged Confederate John S Mosby’s raid on Fairfax.
It was March 8, 1863. Mosby and his 29 “rangers” launched a surprise night attack and captured Brigadier Gen. Edwin H Stoughton, 60 of his men and a handful of horses at the William Gunnell House. They did so, incredibly, without unloading a single round.
“There were a lot of audacious maneuvers in the Civil War, and Mosby’s was unique,” said Bryant Kincaid, a Manassas-based member of the Coast Guard, volunteering Saturday as a Union infantry soldier. “It was daring; it’s a reason why some people feel a romance for the Confederacy—cheering for the underdog.”
Saturday’s less deadly proceedings transitioned into a question-and-answer session with the crowd of onlookers, and eventually everyone was able to go up and meet the re-enactors face to face. Both Union and rebel horsemen amicably mingled among the civilians, showing there was no bad blood between them.
The event kicked off a day full of opportunities to connect with the city’s past: films, walking tours and scholarly lectures on Mosby himself, all provided for by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. There was even a special visit from the Virginia Civil War 150 HistoryMobile traveling exhibition.