Guyandotte goes back to Civil War era for 25th year

Amber Payne, Reporter

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The oldest section of Huntington, the town of Guyandotte, went back in time to the mid- 19th century this weekend for the 25th annual Guyandotte Civil War Days.

In 1861, the Union-controlled town of Guyandotte was raided by confederate troops, whose surprise attack resulted in a Confederate victory. The victory was short-lived, however, and a contingent of Union troops took back the town the next day. The two-day battle culminated with the burning of nearly the whole town as retaliation for the large number of citizens who aided the Confederacy’s initial attack.

Rob McCrary, a Civil War re-enactor, said he loves coming to Guyandotte for this battle.

“I have done this for 28 years,” McCrary said. “I have done about everything: civilian, infantry, to artillery and so on. I like traveling and seeing new towns and getting their history. It is just a very interesting history. I have been here at least five times before. I love that they are trying to portray what actually happened here.”

People like McCrary have committed their lives and careers to battle re-enactments.

Al Stone portrays General Robert E. Lee in the event, and has announced this year will be his last. He re-enacts in more than 20 events a year and has portrayed the general in more than 25 movies.Re-enacting has been a hobby of his for 20 years.

“It’s time to retire my impression and enjoy the twilight years with my wife and family,” Stone said in a recent interview with blogger Keith Harris. “I think it is time to take a less active role in the area of re-enactments and living history programs.”

Laura Kinsley, from Huntington, said she is disappointed to hear of Stone’s retirement.

“It is a shame that he is retiring,” Kinsley said. “He looks just like him [General Lee] and he is great at what he does.”

Kinsley brought her children along this year so they could learn the history behind the battle.

“It’s our fourth time here,” Kinsley said. “We absolutely love it. We brought our kids with us this year because they are doing a social studies project on the Civil War.”

Historian Jack Childers, from Huntington, has been coming to Civil War Days for 25 years.

“I just like getting the feeling of what it was like being at a battle for what you thought was right,” Childers said. “They try to re-enact and show you the conditions they were in. The battle was at night, in reality. A lot of them[Union soldiers] tried to hide between or underneath buildings. A lot of the families told the Confederates where they were hiding, which left a lot of bitterness in the town.”

Aside from the battles and scenarios, the event also included a historical lecture series, a lecture for children, tours of the historical Madie Carroll house and several merchants.

Amber Payne can be contacted at [email protected] edu.

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