Living history is an important part of our programming here at the park. The park's own staff provides first-person historic character programs typically from April-October. September's schedule is available online. Brief descriptions of the 1865 characters are also available.
We welcome partnerships with re-enactment groups, both civilian and military. Those groups wishing to come to the park for living history events should contact the Historic Weapons Supervisor, Brandon Chamberlain at e-mail us or 434-352-8987 ext. 231.
The park hosts two principal living history weekends a year: one near the anniversary of the surrender in mid-April; the other the second weekend in October. Additional events may also be scheduled with the park.
As education is our park's primary mission, we try to schedule a full weekend of diverse activities and events for our visitors. Generally, we like to offer several weapons demonstrations, and re-enactment of the Stacking of Arms Ceremony. Other non-military programs are also welcome, such as period music, medical programs, and camp activities such as inspections, issuing rations, etc.
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park’s Interpretive Themes
The following themes guide all interpretive programs conducted at the park:
The legacy of the Civil War, including:
Planning a Living History/Re-enactment Event
To schedule a living history event, begin by contacting either the park’s volunteer coordinator or historic weapons supervisor. Before contacting the park staff, please read the following list of considerations and be prepared to discuss them as you plan an event with us:
The park will provide:
Once an event has been scheduled, the park will generally supply the following:
Logistics and Camping Regulations:
Black Powder Regulations:
Out of respect to those who fell and are buried on this site, National Park Service policy prohibits battle re-enactments, including opposing lines of combat and mock taking of casualties. To ensure the safety of participants and our visitors, a high degree of firearm discipline is expected of each and every participant. The following are the Historic Weapons Guidelines for military groups:
Springfield Rifle, Enfield Rifle, Mississippi Rifle, Springfield Musket
Weapons not listed here may be displayed but not fired. To discuss the use of other weapons please contact the Historic Weapons Safety Officer.
Arrival, Logistics and Camping
When your living history group is scheduled for an event at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, your arrival must be timed so as to take into account all set up time that you will need. If the unit is staying for the weekend, members are welcome to set up Friday afternoon or evening, provided that such arrangements have been made with the Historic Weapons Supervisor.
Camping areas will be laid out well before the event by the NPS and a representative of the participating unit. Restrooms are close by, as is the parking area. For larger events, portable toilets will be provided as necessary. All tents must be of period style. We ask that you keep tentage and camp equipment to a respectable minimum. For example, a military camp should look like a military camp. Both armies traveled light during this campaign. In general, all the items visible to the public should be such as can add to the historic impression (without risking health or safety of participants and visitors).
Food, gas, and other supplies may be obtained in the town of Appomattox, three(3) miles from the park.
Units planning to bring horses to the park must bring original Coggins Test documentation for each animal. Horses must be in healthy condition, used to gunfire, and well-trained in the maneuvers they will perform at the event.
If horses are part of an event, we will follow the park’s established Horse Regulations. For a copy please contact Brandon_chamberlain@nps.gov at 434-352-8987 ext. 231.
The park will put down sand for campfires--please do not dig fire pits. A full bucket of water must be kept at the ready next to the fire at all times, and the fire must never be left unattended.
Participants should research the events of Appomattox ahead of time and be prepared to engage the public while at the park. The following are our recommended sources on the Appomattox Campaign and events related to the surrender:
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
Calkins, Chris. The Battles of Appomattox. Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, 1987.
Ibid. The Appomattox Campaign. Lynchburg, VA: Schroeder Publications, 2008.
Ibid. Lee’s Retreat: A History and Field Guide. Richmond, VA: Page One History Publications, 2000.
Ibid. From Petersburg to Appomattox. Fort Washington, PA: Eastern National, 2003.
Ibid. Thirty Six Hours Before Appomattox. Farmville, VA: Farmville Herald, 2006.
Cauble, Frank. The Appomattox Surrender Proceedings. Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, 1987.
Ibid. Biography of Wilmer McLean. Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, 1987.
Chamberlain, Joshua. The Passing of the Armies. New York: Putnam, 1915.
Davis, Burke. To Appomattox: Nine April Days. New York: Rinehart & Co., 1959.
Gallagher, Gary, ed. Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
Gordon, John B. Personal Reminiscences of the Civil War. New York: Scribners, 1903.
Grant, Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. New York: Webster & Co., 1886.
Longstreet, James. From Manassas to Appomattox. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1896.
Marvell, William. A Place Called Appomattox. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008.
Schroeder, Patrick, ed. Recollections & Reminiscences of Old Appomattox County and Its People. Lynchburg, VA: Schroeder Publications, 1999.
Ibid. The Confederate Cemetery at Appomattox. Lynchburg, VA: Schroeder Publications, 1999.
Ibid. Thirty Myths About Lee’s Surrender. Lynchburg, VA: Schroeder Publications, 2004.
Ibid. More Myths About Lee’s Surrender. Lynchburg, VA: Schroeder Publications, 1995.
Trudeau, Noah. Out of the Storm. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,1995.
Additional recommendations on specific topics like town residents, village history, unit histories, and commanders, may be obtained from park staff.
Last updated: September 3, 2019