When Ulysses S. Grant met Robert E. Lee Re-enactments: The 1864 Civil War battles of Saunder's Field and Widow Tapp's Farm will be staged May 5-6.

Travel Q&A


I have heard there will be a re-enactment of the Civil War's Wilderness Campaign in Virginia this spring. Where can I get details?

There is indeed such a re-enactment scheduled May 18-19 at a private, 300-acre farm near Orange, Va., about 15 miles south of the original 1864 Wilderness battle sites. The event is being arranged by RAR Communications, a Virginia-based marketing firm.

Up to 7,000 people from Civil War organizations throughout the United States are expected to participate in the event, in which the battles of Saunder's Field and Widow Tapp's Farm will be re-enacted. Uniforms will be of the same weight of wool as the 19th-century originals, and some of the cannons and muskets will be original. Field headquarters, military camps and field hospitals will also be re-created.

It was during the 1864 battles of Saunder's Field, May 5, and Widow Tapp's Farm, May 6, that Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee first met as opposing generals on the battlefield. More than 25,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or lost in action. Although Grant lost an estimated 18,000 compared with Lee's casualties of up to 10,000, neither side could claim a definite victory.

About 30,000 spectators are expected in this second re-enactment of the campaign (the first was in 1994). Parking for a nominal charge (yet to be determined) will be available near the site. A spokeswoman for RAR Communications advises visitors to wear comfortable clothes and bring blankets or folding chairs.

The re-enactments will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Tickets are $8 in advance, $12 at the gate. Children 8 and younger are admitted free. Food and restrooms will be available.

The farm is off Route 522, about 10 miles north of Orange. For a free brochure, which includes driving instructions, write to the Wilderness Civil War Re-enactment, P.O. Box 630, Orange, Va. 22960, or call (800) 841-7893. For lodging and camping information, the RAR spokeswoman suggests calling the Fredericksburg Visitors Bureau, (540) 373-1776, or the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce at (540) 825-8628.

Where can I get the English racing calendar, both flat and steeplechase, so I can plan a November trip The British Horse Racing Board in London can provide you with a calendar of races, as well as the addresses and telephone numbers of specific race courses. Write to the board's Race Planning Department, 42 Portman Square, London W1H 0EN, telephone (171) 396 0011.

Traditionally, the English flat race season runs from late March to early November. At the Newmarket Race Course, which is about 70 miles from London, the November flat meetings include the George Stubbs Rated Stakes Nov. 1 and the Ladbroke Autumn Handicap Nov. 2. Races are scheduled to begin at 12: 50 p.m. Admission ranges from about $7.60 to $15.20. For information: (1638) 663482.

The most important races of the jump season take place from November through April. There will be several steeplechase competitions during your visit, including the Mackeson Gold Cup Chase at Cheltenham Nov. 16 and the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup Chase at Newbury Nov. 30. At Cheltenham the first race is scheduled for 1: 15 p.m.; at Newbury the first race is scheduled for 12: 55 p.m. There are six races in each meeting. Information for Cheltenham: (1242) 513014, tickets (1242) 226226; for Newbury: (1635) 40015. Prices are expected to range from $6.10 to $18.25.

I will be traveling to Italy in September or October and would like to explore Montemurro, where my grandmother was born. Montemurro, a small hillside town overlooking the Agri River valley, is situated in the beautifulsouthern Italian region of Basilicata. The town dates from the 10th century, and was probably founded by the Saracens. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the 19th century, it flourished as an agricultural community.

In 1857 an earthquake destroyed many of the town's buildings, killing 4,000 people, roughly half the population. In 1907, a landslide swept through the eastern part of the town. The earthquake that devastated Central and Southern Italy in 1980 did not spare Montemurro. Today the population of the town, whose economy is still based on agriculture, has dropped to about 1,700.

Though few notable monuments remain, one can still see the convent of Saint Anthony, with its 17th-century facade, as well as the 15th-century Church of the Annunziata.

There are neither hotels nor a train station. The four-star Hotel Madisan is eight miles away in Contrada Aspro Pertusillo. A double room costs about $70 with breakfast. Information: (0975) 65656.

A car can be rented in Potenza, 56 miles from Montemurro. If you don't mind hiking, there is a bus stop about three miles from Montemurro. The cost of a one-way ticket from Potenza is about $7.50. For more information, contact the Montemurro Tourist Bureau, (0971) 753446.

Pub Date: 4/14/96

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