"Campaigning with Lee," the oldest summer Civil War seminar in the country, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this week as 139 Civil War enthusiasts from 24 states gather at Virginia Tech's Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center to hear a phalanx of Civil War historians interspersed with tours of regional Civil War sites. The event is sponsored annually by the university's Virginia Center for Civil War Studies.

Participants, who long ago dubbed themselves "Bud's Brigade" in honor of James I. "Bud" Robertson Jr., who is executive director of the Civil War center and organizes and leads the seminar, will spend two days on the road, visiting historic sites in Roanoke, Pulaski County, Austinville, Wytheville, and Saltville, and three days on campus listening to lectures.

Robertson has scheduled what he calls "the best line-up of speakers in the seminar's history," including Civil War historians and authors William C. "Jack" Davis, Dennis Frye, A. Wilson Greene, C. Stuart McGehee, Richard McMurry, Clive Rice, Robertson, John Roper, Richard Sommers, and Brian Wills; veterinarian John Bowen, who will discuss equine diseases during the war, which saw the deaths of 2 million horses; television producer Jim Hammerstrom, who will give a presentation on making the Blue Ridge series of Civil War videos; and publisher Harold Howard, a popular Civil War impersonator. Vicki Heilig, historian general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Charlie Cooke, a retired physician and professor of medicine at the Medical College of Virginia, will also speak.

"What attracts both the participants and the speakers is a love of the Civil War and a love of this seminar," Robertson said.

A high percentage of the participants have attended Campaigning with Lee in previous years. During past seminars, the group created an endowment in Robertson's name and established several scholarships at the university.

In addition to Campaigning with Lee, the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies holds Civil War Weekend in March, which also attracts participants from around the country, as well as an annual Civil War Medical Symposium, which draws physicians principally from the central Atlantic states and provides them with officially sanctioned continuing medical education credits.