We Make History

Proudly Presented

The Battle of Winchester 2006

Perhaps the first event of its kind to be held in the country, The Battle of Winchester ™ is a first-person Civil War immersion experience during which historical reenactors representing soldiers of The North and South and living historians portraying Southern civilians include the general public in engaging, conversing and interacting as per persons caught up at the crossroads of the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia during the Spring of 1862.

You may view photos and read comments from both reenactors and the public below.

To get on our event notification list please send us an email at WeMakeHistory@aol.com.

Also be certain to see these websites.

www.BattleofWinchester.com    www.WeMakeHistory.com    www.AmericanHeritageFestival.com


















































































































































































































Comments from our Fellow Reenactors & Friends in the Public

Dear Captain Scott,

I attended The Battle of Winchester this past weekend, expecting an enjoyable but typical Civil War reenactment event.

I was quite mistaken.
The event was extraordinary.  As we drove home on Saturday evening (while eagerly recounting to each other the many memorable interactions and adventures we'd had), I asked my younger sister, “So, what was the best part of today?" “It was just so much more fun to be involved in everything, all day long, instead of just sitting and watching!”  She bubbled,  “And it was so real! Just like it was actually happening to us!  Can we go back tomorrow, please?” 
I couldn’t agree with her more.  *grin*  The entire event was absolutely captivating, realistic, and extremely well done.  Despite having attended other outstanding We Make History events, I was particularly impressed by this one.  I fervently hope that The Battle of Winchester, in one form or another, will become an annual, trademark event for Arizona reenacting.
With many thanks,
Misses Marian & Abrianna B.    Queen Creek, Arizona


Dear Capt. Scott,

I wanted to say again how much we enjoyed ourselves at your "Winchester Reenactment". The children repeatedly told their mother and I how this was the very best field trip we have ever taken. That says quite a lot, considering we have traveled throughout the Southwest, enjoying much of what there is to see and experience. Benjamin and Aaron have expressed quite an interest in joining the 1st Virginia. Moriah as well, having already created he own period dress, dearly would love to experience more of your  WeMakeHistory" events. I send a heartfelt thankyou to you, the Mrs. and the family.

God bless, and we'll be staying in touch,
Kent P.    Flagstaff, Arizona


Hi Scott,

We had a great time in the town of Winchester. Good job!  We are already thinking of ways to improve our 1st person impression for the next one.


Moody’s Battery


Captain Scott,

    These are my thoughts that came to me as I was driving back to Flagstaff:
Due to portraying a Confederate soldier in these reenactments, I have become extremely sympathetic to the cause for which they fought and died.  I believe I share a common opinion with the Confederate of the 1860's in that yes, slavery is abhorrent, but it is even more abhorrent to invade a nation, steal their goods, forcefully usurp control over their bastions of authority, all in the name of teaching them a lesson.  It is a fight that spills over today with our overreaching government, and it is a great pleasure to use reenacting as an avenue to teach other Americans about our rights and our heritage.
I remain your faithful servant,

Private Dan C.    Flagstaff, Arizona


Capt. Scott:

Thank you for all your hard work and efforts on the Battle of Winchester event this past weekend!  It was a great pleasure for us to be involved.

I especially want to thank you for visiting with us at dinner on Saturday night as well as for the prayer service.  It was a blessing to be associated with others who share such a common bond.  The setting took me back to early childhood days.

We look forward to seeing you again in the future.

God Bless,

Mike & Lori V.    Scottsdale, Arizona


Capt. Scott,
I think we have a good and committed group of folks that will make AZ noticed among other states' reenacting groups. Co-operation and not some crazy competition is the true path to our goals. I think everyone involved was impressed with the way things went.
I hope we can do it again next year, with even more support. I will certainly sell the idea on my end of the state and I guarantee that the 1st Virginia will always have artillery support when they take the field in AZ, and who knows, maybe other venues as well. God bless you, and all the fine work that you and your unit do.
Your friend and fellow TRUE REENACTOR
Qmsgt. Walt N., Battery A, 1st Texas Lt. Artillery    Tucson, Arizona


Dear Capt. Scott,

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Saturday at the Battle of Winchester!  Thank you so much for letting me be a part of the action. Never have I been so caught up in the action and realness of an event! Congratulations on a job well done!

All the WMH events that I have been able to attend have been a real blessing in my life.  I am always encouraged that there are decent people in the world who enjoy gathering together for quality fun!  Thank you so much for doing this.

I'm looking forward to attending the ball in April!  This will be the first ball that my younger brother has been to. *grin*  I know he will have blast!

My God continue to bless you,

In Christ,

Sarah B.    Tucson, Arizona


Captain Scott Sir,

     It was a good event, and I would like to thank you and Captain Van Ness for putting it all together.  Even when the battles ended, the fun continued between friendly chats in the camps or the prayer service (I never had seen anything like that before, believe it or not, and I hope it's not the last time I see it either).  I can literally tell my friends that my 21st birthday this year was a blast (pardon the pun).  I look forward to seeing everyone at future re-enactments, and I pray that the future Arizona reenacting events use our participants’ fellowship as an example. 

Private R.    1st U.S. Volunteer Infantry    Gilbert, Arizona


    I would like to take the time to thank you for inviting us to be participants in the Battle of Winchester to portray Turner Ashbys 7th VA Cavalry. It was and is indeed an honor. I have to admit that the idea of doing a first person portrayal and remaining in it all day was intimidating for me to say the least, but when everyone is in the same mode so to speak it makes it easier to do. Participating in first person adds another dimension to the experience as a whole and adds a realism that I have never experienced in reenacting before...the confusion of the civilians running from the streets as their town is being invaded by "those people" and the general sense of not knowing how it is all going to turn out even though you already know what happened historically. I got to interact with so many fine people, and it was things like this that helped make the whole event something to remember. I am looking forward to getting to do it for another like it again! I feel like participating in and experiencing an event like this takes the experience to am entirely different level, at least it did for me.
     I can not say enough when it comes to how well it was put together and run. You all deserve a HUGE attaboy and huzzah! Thanks to all the units and fellow reenactors that participated. It would not have been the same for me without each and every one of you! I had a incredible time.
       Thank You very much!
        John R.,
           Sgt., 7th VA Cavalry



I just want to say thank you for the opportunity at Winchester. I've been to several larger events in California, as well as several here and Winchester has them all beat.

The 1st Texas Artillery is looking forward to even more participation with the addition of a new cannon.

Everything we saw was well done, and my wife and children (spectators) commented that the pickets and civilians really played up their parts. Many of the civilian ladies ranted about the Union commander and martial law. In all we heard some very good reports. I sure hope someone has some good video footage. Across the lines we taunted the Yankee pickets and even bartered with them. A good time was had by all.

I'm sure that this event can grow in leaps and bounds if given the chance. Not sure if you're planning a similar event next year, but we encourage it!

Mark D.
1st Texas Light Artillery
Battery A


Dear Capt. Scott,

You and everybody who participated in the Battle of Winchester did an amazing job.  I was constantly looking about me and walking around, because I never knew what was going to happen next.  I was always afraid I was going to miss something. History and mystery do mix well. Thank you once again for a most memorable afternoon!

Christopher F.


We attended the Battle of Winchester and it was a wonderful experience! Having lived in North Carolina and Western New York, we have been to a couple of re-enactments before (at battlegrounds in Greensboro, NC & Fort Niagara, NY) but at those we had to stand (often behind barricades) and watch from afar. This was a completely different experience, being in the thick of things, so to speak! My son had his cooler ransacked by a union soldier, who was kind enough to pay him with authentic money. My son then went to the bank and changed it for smaller denominations! I don't think he will ever forget that! What a fun way to learn about history!

My daughter, Meredith has thoroughly enjoyed four of your balls and is coming to the next one.  She would love to volunteer for We Make History if you ever need help.

Thanks for all you do,

Sue P.    Scottsdale, Arizona


The Battle of Winchester was held at Pioneer Village, a really neat old town with numerous original (transplanted) 1800's buildings, approx. 20 or so, consisting of a Church, School House, Mansion, Blacksmith Shop, Print Shop, Dress Shop, Jail, Bank, etc.

They are spread out on a very large piece of property with a big grassy field in the center with numerous shade trees.

The Village became the town of Winchester Virginia in 1862.  The town, of course, was occupied by friendly CS troops and local citizens, including the spectators, who were also treated as citizens and therefore became part of the living history experience.  All regular townspeople and CW personnel remained in 1st person all day.  Long story short is that the US invaded and pushed the CS Army out of the town, declared Martial Law via public announcement from the town square and proceeded to play out some very well designed skits for the next few hours.  Note:  No recall after the battles.  Most were helped off of the field as walking wounded, so a steady stream of troops were flowing off in each direction during the battles.  The few that were selected to die or remain as battle field wounded (smaller/lighter weight types) were carried off of the field on stretchers to the hospital or to the graveyard.  Later on a prisoner exchange took place for wounded and captured, and finally the CSA saves the day by repulsing the US Army out of the town in a major 2nd battle victory.

There was a gun on each side of the conflict and we were a New York Battery on the US side which took out approximately half of the 2nd Virginia Volunteer Infantry in a desperate double canister shot that was quite devastating.  Of course the survivors bravely charged the piece and killed us without mercy before we could reload and took our gun... 

I have to tell you, I have never been a part of anything quite like it, and I have been to five Eastern events now as well as everything out here in our area.  This is most certain to become an annual event, and I would highly recommend it, though I must say that as a yankee I was treated rather poorly by the citizens of the town, especially the women.  It just felt awful. ;o)  Next time I want to be in the Confederate Army and therefore a good guy.  Even the kids were against us.  But what do you expect when you are the invaders?

An added bonus was the on-site Cafe that is open from 0600 until 2100 hours each day.  The food was very good.  We ended up having two really nice dinners there.



Dear Sir,
  Just to let you know that our friends and us as well had a fine time on Saturday after the final battle at Winchester.
  We set out our picnic and fine glassware for lunch to enjoy and watch the doings with extreme interest.  For us it was a lighthearted experience.  We also took some pictures with which to ponder over days from now.
  The newsletter was received with all due interest and well done as always, have a wonderful Valentines with family, friends and our dearest respects. 
  We will look forward to future events.
  Sincerely, Mrs. Frank (Sharon) M.    Washington State


Howdy Cap'n,

Many thanks for the opportunity provided at Winchester...I'd have to rank it as the best event I've attended so far, and I look forward to doing it again.  The highlights of the whole thing for me were probably (a) the hymn singalong that went on in the church Saturday night, (b) shouting back and forth with the Union picket while I was on picket myself (c) the part of the liberation when we broke out of the bushes and formed our line.  That was great.  :-)  Those three are the first that come to mind, but the whole experience was a whole barrel of fun, and most worthwhile to boot.  Thanks again...

Pvt. Tim    Flagstaff, Arizona


Dear Captain Scott,

  I am compelled to write to you and express gratitude for my husband and myself for a most enjoyable weekend.  Although we have always enjoyed the AHF, there is nothing to compare to the pleasure of first person portrayals with so many others participating!  I must admit that my dear "niece" Martha Barton, did help me to maintain my character on Saturday and surprised me when she said she would "catch me when I faint"; until then I had no idea I was going to faint! She was delightful (as always) as were those Yankee soldiers with whom I enjoyed "sparring". It was such a pleasure to see so many throwing aside their inhibitions and playing their parts and surprises abounded as when Miss Sandy (schoolteacher) fainted in front of the bank or when she received an impromptu kiss from one of those "horrid Yankees" (I didn't expect either of those)! As we hadn't any script, I am sure we appeared much more authentic to onlookers. Our oldest grandson tried to bail his grandpa out of jail by running to the bank, getting more money and offering it to the guards.

   As I explained to you on Sunday morning, my grandchildren would not let their mother take them home before it ended and my oldest grandson, Isaac, informed me that the entire family (Mom and Dad too) engaged in a skirmish that evening when they got home.

  By Monday morning, I had lost my voice and most thought it was from cheering for the Seahawks!  I was quick to inform them differently. 

   Lets do this again !

    Rita and Richard    Phoenix, Arizona

:-)  We certainly had fun!


Dear Captain Scott,

I thank you most heartily for inviting me to the Battle of Winchester.  The first day was filled with being the center of attention in a sea of school kids wanting to know more about the war.  It was there I realized I wasn't going to be the "humble little color bearer" I had anticipated being.  The next day was awesome being in character all day.  I did what you hoped we would do and made poor Miss Martha shed some tears for "Dear, dead cousin Corey."  This was a truly incredible event that may revolutionize the way we do re-enactments. 

For the South and Virginia!

Pvt. Cornelius K. 1st VA vol. inf.



Thanks for your vision and creativity. Although the Winchester weekend was somewhat more challenging at times than the usual reenactment, it was also more rewarding.



My family had a wonderful time!

Crystal    Buckeye, Arizona


Capt. Scott,

Thank you for welcoming me to the Battle of Winchester. The event was remarkable.  I had so much fun.  This was my first time to a Civil War event and my first time as a participant as well.  I hope that this event becomes a yearly one as I heard from various reenactors that the first person impressions that all had to stay in for the entire event was challenging but enthralling.  I had the opportunity to trade with a blue belly picket thus recreating that aspect of history I've read about in numerous books. It felt real, like we were really there.  Keep up the good work you do for reenacting in Arizona for many of us truly appreciate it.

I remain your most obedient & humble servant,

Stephen C.    Chandler, Arizona


This was the best reenactment I have ever been a part of. I have never had so much fun reenacting.

Capt. V. N.    Glendale, Arizona


Thank you so much for this past weekend's event.  It was awesome!  We thoroughly enjoyed the fact that most of the characters stayed "in character."  It made things so much more meaningful.  I actually got tears in my eyes when one of the women watching the battle cried out and pretended to faint when her "husband" was shot.  It made it so real.  The battle was so much more interesting with the trees and bushes, also.  

We may never be able to afford to visit Colonial Williamsburg, but I definitely feel we've seen the next best thing!  Please keep up the good work. 

Brad, Regina, Bethany, Ben and Paul F.    Phoenix, Arizona


Just got all the stuff put away last evening. What a thrilling weekend. I do thank you all for this opportunity.

I ran (don't usually)

overacted (socially a no-no)

time-traveled (impossible?)

swooped up children (none around here)

got bruised arm (oh my)

felt free to be in that lovely town!


Sandy    Mesa, Arizona


Caught In The Middle Of The "Battle Of Winchester"

by Mr. C. Francis

“We are going to be invaded,” said Miss Kay, putting a dark period on a sentence inside the one-room schoolhouse.

The warning seemed out of place amidst the teacher’s inviting nature. Wooden desks in front of her stood at attention, equipped with fountain pens and writing books stamped with the motto “try, try again.” In one corner lay pocket-sized schoolbooks on arithmetic and grammar. A chess set and marbles sat in another corner. Rays of light pierced holes in the roof, pricking the floor. Facing the blackboard at front, one saw the teacher’s name and a mild admonition: “Please, only kind words!”

“Come, come to school!” the teacher coaxed, and the children outside in the unseasonably warm February morning wandered in. They forgot it was Saturday, forgot it was Arizona, and forgot -- for the time -- the threat beyond their sight.

Pioneer Village, a living history museum north of Phoenix, had morphed into town of Winchester, Virginia during the Civil War. The town of loyal, Confederate Virginians was in the sights of Union soldiers. And numerous civilians, myself among them, were about to see a dramatic slice of life during wartime as portrayed by members of We Make History and various re-enactors and actors portraying the Blue and the Grey.

Morning drifted towards afternoon with uncertainty and a sense of trouble ahead. Confederate troops lined up early that morning to hear the yanks were on the move, headed in this direction.

I wandered about the various parts of the town: the Victorian house, the bank, the print shop, the church, the schoolhouse, soaking up history. During this time, the Confederate commander wandered over.

The person, I had met before at a certain ball. His character, I had not.

Yet he seemed to know me and I introduced myself again as before.

“Mr. Francis of Tucson,” I said.

We chatted for a bit, in character, as Captain Scott thanked me for making the journey and introduced me to a member of the 1st Virginia. Without much effort, my voice lapsed into a southern drawl.

“I hear there might be trouble,” I commented, still in something resembling character.

Yes, there was. Capt. Scott was well aware of the movement of the Union forces, that General Banks had indeed crossed the Potomac and was reported as moving south. “But I am confident we shall hold this town,” he said, unwavering in his convictions.

“Are you here buying or selling on Market Day?” the member of the battalion asked.

“Both,” I said. “Buy here, sell there. I go both ways.”

Our talk turned to the weather and I remarked how warm it was, with the temperature headed towards the 80’s and how winter seemed so unreasonably mild.

“I swear we haven’t even seen any snow on Mt. Lemmon,” I said.

“Mt. Lemmon?” Capt. Scott replied.

Ugggghhh. I’d blown it. That part of my brain still wired to Tucson had cracked out of turn and I’d thrown him for a loop. But a member of his battalion stepped in to make the save, suggesting I was talking about a mountain in Virginia.

“I’m a little geographically challenged right now,” I said sheepishly.

But Capt. Scott took it in stride, making believe that I had passed Massanutten Mountain on my way up from Lexington and asking how the men at the Virginia Military Institute were. I didn’t know the answer, but I made up the best one I could.

“They’re doin’ just fine. They’re off and out there,” I said, perhaps trying to draw a parallel in my mind to the reporting staff I supervise.

At eleven in the morning, the rumors proved true. A Confederate lookout ran back into town. “They’re coming!”

A nervous townswoman or two ran to the commander, begging them to hold off the Yankees. Consoled, all they could do was wait.

“Citizens of Winchester,” Capt. Scott announced, “there’s gonna be a fight. I’m sorry this is happening on Market Day, but the Yankees will likely be coming down this road and for safety's sake we need everyone to get out of harm's way and over beyond the building here.”

Minutes later, the Union soldiers moved in. Volleys of shots sprayed across the green of the town square, punctuated by cannon fire. When the gun smoke lifted, one Confederate soldier lay dead and two others wounded. The others had retreated. Those Yankees had won this round.

Women and girls in hoopskirts huddled over the casualties as a few stray shots rang out in the distance.

“We must remain strong! We are Virginia women!”

As medics carried the injured off to the medical triage, the ladies of Winchester took their outrage to the Union soldiers.

“Yankee scum!”

“How dare you invade our peaceful town!”

A particularly cunning lady snatched a Union officer’s sword and waved it at him, itching for a fight. He dispatched her with a pistol shot.

“You have no right to call yourself a gentleman!” a woman spat.

“I never called myself a gentleman,” the commander replied, seizing her and laying on a forced sloppy kiss.

The crowds of modern-day townsfolk were choosing a side now. No longer neutral, scattered children and adults took great pleasure in shouting “Yankee scum!” over and over.

“Who said that? Bring him here!” the Union commanders would shout, often in vain.

Back at the triage, more shots rang out. Someone had wounded a Union officer as he argued with a lady, injecting a ray of light into the mournful countenances of the Winchester women.

Half an hour later, a Union commander of Irish stock gathered the townsfolk around the veranda in the center of town.

“Martial law is now in effect!”

The crowd booed.

The Union troops would take money, livestock, and whatever else they needed under authority of President Abraham Lincoln.

Hearing his name left the newly-minted Confederate sympathizers in a quandary. Though hating the troops, they still loved the president. Nobody booed.

“We have our own president!” ladies protested.

The next order of business: a census. All the townspeople -- mainly the ladies for the purpose of this historic exercise -- were to sign a roll. And sign they did, all stating the name of “Sarah Lee.”

The act of defiance frustrated the Union official, so much that he declared the next person to state that name would be taken around back and shot.

“But sir,” one soldier pointed out. “If we shoot these ladies we won’t have enough ammunition left.”

A battle of bullets had progressed into a war of wits. Those filthy, wretched Yankees could take the town, but not the hearts and minds.

The siege grew fiercer.

Union soldiers went door to door taking silverware and whatever else they wanted.

A raid on the bank made their payroll, as they sent the banker to jail with a loud skirmish reminiscent of the Wild West.

The mayor of Winchester narrowly prevented a hanging with his pleas for justice for an accused man.

I found myself confronted by a Union soldier demanding to see inside my backpack as I wandered in a direction he didn’t like. All I could focus on was the sharp point of his bayonet as I fumbled with the zipper.

And the taunting continued, as a group of ladies picnicking under a tree sang “The Bonny Blue Flag” within earshot of the enemy.

Three hours after the occupation had begun, help arrived. Stonewall Jackson’s men came in, and with more volleys, smoke and fire, the rebels reclaimed the town.

“Hip hip, huzzah! Hip hip, huzzah! Hip hip, huzzah!”

The spectacle wound down beneath the shade of a tree in the town square, as Capt. Scott called the spectators together with the Union and Confederate Armies filing back in.

“We have compressed about two months of history into a few hours,” he explained with an invitation to meet and ask questions of the various re-enactors. The kids went first, asking about gunpowder. But I still stood in admiration, at a loss for a question.

However, I had one for a lady of Winchester.

“That bit where you all signed in as Sarah Lee. I gather that was an act of defiance. Did it actually happen like that?”

Actually, it was improvised on the spot, she explained. And everybody went with it.

For all the planning, studying, and broad outlining, the magic had come through again. They had become their characters both in words and spirit.

“You do so well at what you do,” I said. “I just find it absolutely amazing.”

My comments heartened her. She was still learning and was glad to hear I enjoyed it so much.

And once again, I prepared for the long trip back across the Shenandoah… back to southern Virginia… southern Arizona… wherever Mt. Lemmon was, anyway.