Spectators will have the opportunity to relive history as it may have been in 1865 during the infamous Battle of Aiken as Confederate and Union re-enactors come together on Feb. 22 and 23 to commemorate and celebrate the 149th anniversary of the battle.
Battle of Aiken schedule (subject to change):
Friday, Feb. 21 - School Day - Limited Activities
9 a.m. - School presentations start/Officers Call
9:30 a.m. - Camp tours (self guided)
10 a.m. - Battle field presentation for students (artillery, cavalry)
11:30 a.m. - Skirmish on battlefield
Noon - Medical, engineer and period presentations
12:30 p.m. - Tour guides (self guided)
3 p.m. - School program ends
8 p.m. - Officers and Unit rep call (TBA)
Saturday, Feb. 22 - Camp open to public
8:30 a.m. - Gates open to public
9 a.m. - Mandatory parade and drill for military
9:30 a.m. - Tactical for reenactors
10 a.m. - Camp tours (self guided) / tactical
11 a.m. - Visit medical and engineer (self guided)
11:30 a.m. - Visit Citadel cadets (self guided)
Noon - Visit civilian campus (self guided)
2:30 p.m. - Battle of Aiken - Part One - White Pond
3:30 p.m. - Soldier's salute of appreciation
4 to 7 p.m. - Commemoration of the Great Revival
8 p.m. - Unreconstructed will play for the Dance
Sunday, Feb. 23 - Camp open to public
8:30 a.m. - Gates open
9 a.m. - Camps open
10 a.m. - Camp tours (self guided)
10:30 a.m. - Church service
Noon - Camp tours (self guided)
1:30 p.m. - Soldiers Grand March in review
2:30 p.m. - Battle of Aiken - Part Two
3:30 p.m. - Soldier's Salute of Appreciation
4 p.m. - Camps close
Wayne Jones, Sons of Confederate Veterans Brigadier General Barnard E. Bee Camp commander, said he knows of about 2,000 school students who will visit on Feb. 21 for School Day. However, if the weather looks nice for the weekend, they should see between 3,000 and 4,000 visitors for the battle re-enactment.
The re-enactment commemorates Feb. 11, 1865, when Union forces, under the command of Maj. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, clashed with Confederate troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler.
Students will have the opportunity to experience living history during the Battle of Aiken's School Day. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. and presentations will begin at 9 a.m.
“For schools, it's great ...” Jones said. “We try to recreate history as accurately as possible, and it's a chance for us to really leave a mark since education is something that's falling by the wayside. We take the opportunity to educate in the truest sense.”
The gates open to the public on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 8:30 a.m., with part one of the battle, the Battle of White Pond, beginning at 2 p.m.
Gates open Sunday, Feb. 23, at 8:30 a.m., and part two of the battle will start at 2 p.m.
Spectators can visit more than a dozen sutler tents with Civil War era merchandise which include blacksmiths, jewelry and dress. The battle will also feature both old time and modern foods from French fries, funnel cakes and candy to bottled root beer.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to be a part of the Battle of Aiken's Great Revival Service. Chaplain Alan Farley will lead the service on Saturday afternoon from 4 to 7 p.m. Admission for the service is free if attendees arrive after 3 p.m.
“We really hope everyone comes out and joins us, because this is going to be a great battle this year,” Jones said. “It's the 149th anniversary, and it's just going to be a build up for the one next year when we celebrate 150 years ... The neat thing is the re-enactors don't get paid for all of this – they are volunteers who love this. We just also appreciate the support that the City and Aiken County has given us for the Battle of Aiken every year.”
Tickets can only be purchased at the gate and are $10 for those 13 and older, $5 for those between the ages of 6 and 12, and there is no admission charge for children 5 and younger.
Pets and coolers are not allowed at the event. Parking is first come, first served.
The Battle of Aiken site is located at 1210 Powell Pond Road in Aiken.
For more information, visit the Battle of Aiken website at www.battleofaiken.org.
Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.