Civil War re-enactor arrested and charged for planting bomb at historic battlefield

A Virginia federal grand jury has indicted a man for mailing threatening letters, stalking, and planting a pipe bomb at the Cedar Creek Battlefield in Middletown, Virginia during a Civil War reenactment event in 2017, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Gerald Leonard Drake, 63, was charged with fifteen criminal offenses including: mailing threatening communications, malicious use of explosives, possession of an unregistered destructive device, unlawful manufacture of a destructive device, use of explosives to commit a federal felony, and stalking.

“This indictment and arrest mark the culmination of a nearly five-year investigation into the perpetrator of the attempted bombing,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said. “Over that time, career federal prosecutors and federal agents steadfastly investigated and uncovered the identity of the individual who sought to terrorize innocent civilians in the Western District of Virginia. In the aftermath of the riots in Charlottesville, and at a time when people sought to heal, this defendant instead sought to sow political discontent and mayhem. From the local police who secured the scene, to the state police that diffused the bomb, and through to the federal agents who investigated the true identity of the perpetrator, this was truly a quintessential example of law enforcement partnership.”

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As the DOJ points out, Drake belonged to a reenactment unit that participated in the annual reenactment at Cedar Creek Battlefield until he was removed from his unit in 2014, and later volunteered with the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF) which hosts an annual reenactment attended by merchants, reenactors, and visitors.

In September of 2017, a letter was received at the CCBF visitor center addressed to “Cedar Creek Battlefield people" bearing a printed Antifa symbol. The letter claimed the reenactment event “clearly celebrates the war to keep African-Americans in chains,” and warned CCBF officials that if the event was not cancelled, the consequences would make the riots that took place in Charlottesville look like “a Sunday picnic.”

Read the full press release over at the DOJ's website.