Experience Civil War Re-Enactments and the Great Locomotive Chase in Jefferson


Famous Civil War campaigns were planned and conducted for the primary purpose of capturing or destroying railroad lines of value to the enemy. On the morning of April 12, 1862, the most famous locomotive of the Civil War, the General, was hijacked by the Union civilian spy, James J. Andrews, and his men. After a nail-biting eight hours and 87 miles, the Southerners captured the General, James Andrews, and several of his men. The Merrimack was a Union cruiser, captured by the South in Norfolk Virginia, and renamed the Virginia. The Jefferson Battle that Never Was will feature the Virginia, fighting from the banks of the river, while re-enactors fight to capture the train.

The Historic Jefferson Railway captures the spirit of the Civil War during Pilgrimage & Civil War Weekend in Jefferson, May 5-7, by recreating the battle of the Great Locomotive Chase with soldiers, sailors, and Marines from the North and South.  The Living History camps along the Big Cypress Bayou come alive as the cannons fire and the battle rages to gain possession of the train. 

On Friday, May 5, there will be a Day of Learning, sponsored by Marion County Chamber of Commerce, to draw attention to the history and romance of the Civil War way of life.  More than 20 Living History stations and camps will demonstrate camp life and military activities.  One educational activity is an optional live steam train ride aboard the Historic Jefferson Railway as the story of The Andrews Raid unfolds alongside the Big Cypress Bayou. See a gunboat with real cannons.  Visit Diamond Don Gator Pit with live alligators, and see ruins from the 1800’s. School groups, home schools, families, and the general public are invited to attend.   

The Great Locomotive Chase will be held on Saturday, May 6, with live steam train rides departing from the Historic Jefferson Railway at 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday, May 7, at 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Experience the re-enactment of The Andrews Raid, the Civil War’s most gripping railroad story. The Virginia Gunboat, a replica ironclad, joins the battle, firing its cannons on the banks of the Big Cypress River. Step back in time as the Historic Jefferson Railway takes an excursion that circles the Piney Woods along the scenic Big Cypress Bayou. Visitors see Civil War camps, a Confederate Powder Magazine from the Civil War era, and remains of many sites from the 1800’s still visible along the track. The train will stop about halfway for the scouting probes and skirmish and a cannon battle with the gunboat. The live steam train is a restored antique Crown Metals, built in 1964. The open-canopied observation cars provide an excellent view of this event along the river. 

Target Jefferson, A Red River Campaign Objective, engages in ground battles at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday and 1:20 p.m. on Sunday.  There is easy access from the Historic Jefferson Railway with hillside spectator viewing under shade trees. Lawnchairs and coolers are welcome, and shuttle service from the train depot to the spectator area is available. This unique battle along the Big Cypress Bayou near downtown Jefferson includes horse and mule drawn artillery, large cannons, re-enactors from the North and South, and a live steam train incorporated into the battle.  A flatcar in front of the steam engine engages reenactors with large cannon fire.

Re-enactors are welcome at Diamond Don RV Park with lots of space, trees, and plenty of amenities. Re-enactor registration includes free wifi, wood, water, hay, restrooms, showers, military camping, noon-day meals, Saturday Evening Ball & Dinner, and powder bounty. Camp along the Big Cypress River. Modern RV sites are also available at the RV Park.  There is a primitive camping area available in the woods for an authentic Civil War camping experience for those who want to get away from it all. Shuttle service will be available from the RV Park to the camp area.  

The Saturday Evening Ball will be held at Diamond Don Event Center at the RV Park. This event includes the 3rd Texas String Band, playing period music and call dances. The Ball is open to the public and all re-enactors. Period dress is encouraged but not required. 

Train tickets and re-enactor registration are available online.  Ground battle spectators can pay at the gate for the event. See more information at JeffersonCivilWarDays.com or call 866.398.2038. 

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