Cemetery Illumination, Battles and Ball Highlight Annual Event

JEFFERSON, Texas – Civil War re-enactors representing both Federal and Confederate forces descend upon Jefferson May 3-5, turning the historic 19th-century riverfront into equal parts campground and living history exhibit for “The Battle for Jefferson” Civil War Re-enactment during the town’s “72nd Annual Pilgrimage” celebration.

The three-day weekend features numerous events in town and the Cypress River Ranch, 1552 FM 2208 highlighted by full-scale “battles” at the ranch on Saturday and Sunday. A candle-lit “Illumination” at Oakwood Cemetery,  tours sponsored by the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club, Saturday morning’s parade and skirmish downtown, a grand 19th-century ball and Sunday morning’s “Presentation of Colors” at Christ Episcopal Church are but a few of the weekend’s highlights.

“There’s no better weekend to visit Jefferson if you’re any kind of history buff,” said Wes Hamilton, chair of the event. “The Garden Club started the historic annual Pilgrimage nearly seven decades ago and the Civil War re-enactment was added to the weekend about 14 years back. Together, the two events make for one fascinating weekend.”

Beginning Friday, re-enactors from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma will be arriving to set up camps in Jefferson’s downtown historic district. That evening (7:30-10:00 p.m.), an “Illumination” at Oakwood Cemetery honors some 200 Federal and Confederate Civil War veterans at rest. Honor guards will be on station at the cemetery gates and as well stationed within the burial grounds.

Rounding out the evening will be a “String Band Jam” (212 Vale Street) at 8:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public to enjoy.

Saturday’s Pilgrimage parade (starts at 10:00 a.m.) leads into a skirmish fought on Jefferson’s downtown streets between invading Federal troops and the Confederates “stationed” in town. While the troops catch a breather and prepare for the first full-scale battle at Cypress River Ranch, a Ladies’ Tea commences at 1:00 p.m. at the Jeffersonian Institute, 120 E. Austin Street.

The first battle commences at 4:00 p.m. at Cypress River Ranch, featuring hundreds of Federal and Confederate infantry, plenty of cavalry and an artillery barrage with pyrotechnic explosions. Spectators will find free parking across the battlefield on FM 2208. Admission to the battlefield is $10 per person and “Battle Radios” will be included in the price to the first 500 in attendance. Youth 6 & under at no charge.

Once the fighting’s over, the troops return to Jefferson and celebrate the weekend at the Heritage Ball in the Jeffersonian Institute’s downtown facility. Featuring the “12th Louisiana String Band”, the ball is a 19th-century formal dance open to the public – period attire required – with tickets ($15.00 per person) available at the door.  Registered re-enactors at no charge.

The weekend’s only true re-enactment occurs at 10:00 a.m. Sunday in front of Christ Episcopal Church (703 S. Main Street facing Lions’ Park). The “Presentation of Colors” brings to life the gathering of The Jefferson Guards in front of the church, where they are presented a banner for their battle staff. Musical accompaniment for this 33rd annual presentation is again provided by the Hill College Band under the direction of Mr. Steve Hart.

The conclusive, full-scale battle of the weekend begins at 1:30 p.m. at Cypress River Ranch, with the “Battle Radios” on hand the same as Saturday.


Information:  (903) 733-1035


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