PHILIPPI, W.Va. — After being forced to cancel the event last year due to the pandemic, the Blue & Grey Reunion is back to commemorate the first land battle of the Civil War. To celebrate, downtown Philippi transformed back to Civil War times.
With the town ready for the occasion, there is plenty of the slate for the weekend-long reunion. From a history of how West Virginia’s statehood came from the war, Hanger’s amputation, or the battle itself, there is plenty to see.
The battle was crucial to accelerate West Virginia’s path to breaking away from seceding Virginia. In addition, that first Union victory played a key role in keeping the railroads in the Federals’ hands.
“I think the most important thing to remember is that it is the first land battle of the war and it solidifies western Virginia’s, at that time, point of view on where they stand with secession,” said Keith Serfass, who was at the reunion impersonating US Civil War General and later President Ulysses S. Grant.
The first Sunday in June is the day Philippi commemorates the historic battle. On the final day of the reunion, reenactors will take center stage as downtown Philippi will revert to a battle zone. The soldiers will recreate the scenes from 160 years ago, and show onlookers how the Union drove Confederate invaders out from Philippi and the surrounding area.