Posts from the ‘Reenactment’ Category

Re-enactor retires after 20 years

A fight between two Confederate and two Union soldiers following a friendly poker game led to a skirmish that left most of the 72nd New York Infantry “dead” or “dying” on a field during Colusa Civil War Days on Saturday. Susan Meeker/Tri-County Newspapers

After 20 years re-enacting the drama of the American Civil War, Rosario Roberts of Los Molinos is giving up salt pork and hardtack.

His organization, Re-enactors of the American Civil War, has been recreating Civil War battles, as well as camp and civilian life from that time period since 1991.

The organization finds re-enacting the Civil War gives the public a unique glimpse into the past.

“It’s time to retire,” said Roberts, after one of four battles between Confederate and Union troops at the Colusa County Fairgrounds this past weekend. “I really loved doing this. Re-enacting the Civil War makes history come to life.”

Roberts portrayed Henri Paltron, cook for the New York 72nd Infantry, during the three-day Civil War Days in Colusa, and served as master of ceremony for the battle on Saturday.

Roberts’ character was captured by Union troops early in the war when New Orleans fell to the North, and he was forced to sign an oath of allegiance and fight for the Union.

For three days, Roberts and dozens of members of Re-enactors of the American Civil War, a Northern California nonprofit group, recreated drama from the most turbulent period in U.S. history.

“Most do this because they love the history or had family who fought in the Civil War,” Roberts said. “My wife and I both have great-grandfathers who fought in the Civil War.”

The organization hopes to return to Colusa next year with a presentation at the Sacramento River Recreation Area.

Re-enactors of the American Civil War has a sizable following of enthusiastic participants, young and old, who are willing to brave the elements and spend their own money in an effort to duplicate the events down to the smallest recorded detail.

Re-enactors invest in their own costumes and equipment when they enlist in the organization’s military units, which include U.S. sharpshooters and cavalry, Confederate and Union infantry, as well as other military groups, refugees and civilians.

“The first thing I did when I signed up was buy myself a cannon,” said RACW President Craig Poundstone, who portrays real life Union Capt.. Benjamin Rickenhouse, a West Point graduate with the Battery D, 5th U.S. Artillery.

Members, some as young as 13, are involved in re-enactment.

“I’m crazy about everything military,” said Giancarlo Nandino, 16, of Red Bluff. “I love Civil War history. The first time I saw a re-enactment in school I knew it was something I wanted to do.”

Nandino, whose parents supported his unusual hobby, enlisted in the 72nd New York Infantry, which battled the 1st Texas and 42nd Virginia Infantry groups Saturday and Sunday at the Colusa County Fairgrounds.

Tom Lemoine, 20, of Shingletown, is another new youngster to take over as older members, such as Roberts, retire.

“I’ve wanted to do this my whole life,” said Lemoine, who portrays an Alabama Infantryman named Tommy. “I finally got the chance.”

Thalia Fowler of Colusa, a RACW member for nine years, is one of many women participants.

“I have several personas, including Emily Todd Helm, the sister-in-law to Abraham Lincoln, and a Confederate nurse,” Fowler said. “My grandmother always said, ‘no rebs allowed.’ So naturally, I always wanted to be a rebel.”

Other women, like Lillian Hearne of Happy Valley disguised themselves as men in order to fight, just as many women did,

“They estimated about 4,000 women fought in the Civil War,” said Hearne, whose German Shepherd mix “Sampson” followed her into battle.

In addition to the re-enactment, the organization participated in the memorial ceremony Saturday at the Colusa Community Cemetery, where the Colusa Heritage Preservation Committee held an vacant chair ceremony for a Union and Confederate soldier.

Re-enactor Pat Parsons of Los Molinos said the ceremony makes his hobby more meaningful, especially since the Union solider recognized was John Willing, a Civil War veteran of the 72nd New York Infantry.

“It’s good to see a community do this,” Parson said. “It brings unity and closure. It’s nice that these men were honored.”

More than 130 Civil War veterans are buried in the Colusa cemetery.

John Thomas Scoot was the Confederate soldier honored.

The Rev. Malcom White conducted the ceremony.


Public re-enactment of South Mountain, Antietam battles will be held in 2012

Two-day event on private land near Boonsboro will mark 150th anniversary of Civil War battles



An estimated 4,000 Civil War re-enactors will stage a public re-enactment of the battles of South Mountain and Antietam on Sept. 8 and 9, 2012, on private land near Boonsboro, organizer Chris Anders said at a press conference Monday.

Thomas B. Riford, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, leads a press conference Monday about the plans for the re-enactment of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam as re-enactment coordinator Chris Anders, left, and Ed Wenschhof, Antietam National Battlefield's acting superintendent and Dan Spedden, superintendent of the South Mountain Recreation Area, listen. (By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer / August 8, 2011)

The event, called “Maryland, My Maryland,” is being staged by The Southern Division, an all-volunteer re-enactment organization, and will be sponsored by theHagerstownWashington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Anders said.

Re-enactment of the Battle of Harpers Ferry might also be included, he said.

The event will be open to 2,000 spectators per day, and tickets will go on sale soon from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, he said. Tickets will cost $25 for one day or $40 for both days, CVB President Thomas B. Riford said. Those 6 and younger will be admitted free.

All proceeds from the event will go to the Central Maryland Heritage League to help preserve and interpret South Mountain State Battlefield and to Brittany’s Hope Foundation, a charity that helps with the adoption of special-needs children worldwide, Anders said.

The re-enactment will be held on about 100 acres of land at the foot of South Mountain near the intersection of Alt. U.S. 40 and Md. 67 east of Boonsboro.

“We’re setting up the event to be a very authentic event so people get a true Civil War experience,” Anders said.

Anders said he has organized about 20 re-enactments and is a partner in Rear Rank Productions, which specializes in coordinating logistical aspects of re-enactment events, such as water and signs.

His caps of 4,000 to 5,000 re-enactors and 2,000 spectators mean the event will be considerably smaller than the Battle of Antietam re-enactments staged in 1997 and 2002, which each attracted about 13,000 re-enactors and as many as 100,000 spectators.

Anders said smaller numbers will allow for higher authenticity and better views for spectators.

“The goal is that people actually see what happened in September 1862, what the troops looked like, how they camped, how they fought, not a fantasy world-type representation thereof,” he said.

Though the re-enactment commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Maryland Campaign, it is scheduled for several days before the actual dates of the battles to encourage visitors to attend commemorative events at the respective battlefields on the actual anniversary dates, Anders said.

The Battle of South Mountain was fought Sept. 14, 1862, for the possession of three mountain passes — Crampton’s, Turner’s and Fox’s Gaps — and resulted in about 6,000 casualties, Riford said.

The Battle of Antietam, three days later on Sept. 17, was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with 23,110 casualties.

Dan Spedden, superintendent of the South Mountain Recreation Area, announced at the same press conference Monday that the South Mountain State Battlefield’s sesquicentennial events will include the opening next spring of the battlefield’s first professionally designed museum exhibits.

The exhibits will be in three buildings — the visitors center at Washington Monument State Park, and the hall and lodge at Gathland State Park — and will interpret the Battle of South Mountain, Boonsboro’s Washington Monument, and the life of reporter and Civil War correspondent George Alfred Townsend.

The buildings that will house the exhibits are under renovation and will open in April, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in May, Spedden said.

South Mountain State Battlefield’s commemorative events will include tours, hikes and living history displays each weekend beginning in June 2012. On Sept. 14 and 15, 2012, the battlefield will have living-history and artillery demonstrations, hikes and real-time battlefield tours, he said.

At Antietam National Battlefield, lectures and symposiums are scheduled throughout 2012, culminating Sept. 9 to 22 with speakers, tours, real-time hikes, Civil War-era music, a family activities tent, artillery and infantry demonstrations, and a Sept. 17 ceremony, said Ed Wenschhof, the battlefield’s acting superintendent.

On the Web
More information about the re-enactment is online at

Civil War comes back to life on Virginia battlefield

By Fabienne Faur (AFP)

Reenactors gather to reenact the 1st Bull Run/1st Manassas Battle in Virginia on July 23, 2011(AFP, Karen Bleier)

MANASSAS, Virginia — The cannons boomed and the guns flared as the mists of times parted, and north and south squared off again on a Virginia field in a living reminder of the first major battle of the Civil War.

“We know the war is over,” said Ron Miller, proudly attired in the uniform of the southern Confederacy, which went on to win this battle 150 years ago, though not ultimately the war.

But he said “it’s important that our country remembers its heritage and its history. I do this to teach our history to our children.”

This weekend, under baking hot temperatures, thousands of spectators were gathering to watch a re-enactment of the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run, fought on July 21, 1861 at Manassas, in the southern state of Virginia.

Miller, whose great-grandfather and great-great grandfather fought in the four-year Civil War, is one of hundreds of history fans who at weekends don the uniforms of their forefathers and reenact battles from the war that forged modern-day America.

With their red wool shirts and black trousers, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry reenactors prepare to do battle at the 150th anniversary of 1st Bull Run on July 23, 2011(AFP, Karen Bleier)

“Look how they load the cannon,” Miller, 60, told children watching him intently as more than 8,700 reenactors as well as some 375 cavalry horses from the US, Canada and Europe were Saturday and Sunday recreating history here.

The re-enactment of the battle is just one of hundreds of events being held around the United States to mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the 1861-1865 war.

“I’ve always been fond of history,” Miller told AFP, saying he was inspired by the tales handed down by his relatives. His great grandfather had even enlisted at 14 and fought in every major engagement.

Across the vast site outside Manassas, white tents were erected to serve as bivouacs and give historical insights into life in this corner of the South, 150 years ago.

A man dressed in the style of a French Zouave soldier was taking a nap, as lone violinists played softly nearby.

Despite the baking sun, Kevin Zepp, 60, stood tall in his simple gray wool trousers marked with the colors of his Alabama regiment.

“If you were a farmer or a worker in a factory, you had these trousers. It’s like the modern jeans, you put the military stripes on it,” he explained.

Sheltering under a tree, Karen Quanbeck, 52, explained that she was playing the role of Catherine Barbara Broune, a peasant woman who had worked with her brother, a priest, to transport the wounded and find medicines.

And while this weekend’s events hold a special historical significance, there are hundreds of volunteers who dress up in costumes throughout the year to bring the Civil War back to life across the country.

“We meet once a month,” said retired teacher Nancy Anwyll, from Springfield, Virginia. “I’ve had an ancestor in the Civil War on both sides. I’m trying to learn more what they had to endure, I have to learn what they went through.”

War broke out in April 1861 soon after 11 southern states formed the Confederate States of America. While the exact causes of the war are still hotly debated, there is no doubt that an over-riding issue was slavery.

The agricultural South relied heavily on slaves to work their rich cotton plantations and feared the new US president, Abraham Lincoln, would eventually set them free.

Federal cavalrymen prepare to clash at the 150th Anniversary of 1st Bull Run Reenactment on July 23, 2011(AFP, Karen Bleier)

While Lincoln declared an end to slavery in 1863, race relations remain one of the nation’s most divisive issues.

“A lot of differences we had during the civil war do exist today — the state rights, the race relations — there’s a lot of things we can still work out today,” said Dennis Rabida, 46, from New Jersey.

Retired soldier Dan Byers said he had come to “honor his ancestors,” recalling that the northerners had “invaded our country,” the South.

The clashes in Manassas were ferocious, pitting a northern Union army of some 30,000 against a slightly smaller Confederate force.

In the end, the Confederates won the battle, although they were to go on to lose the war. About 5,000 troops on both sides died on the Manassas battlefield that day, but by the end of the war, the toll was 600,000 lives lost.

150th Anniversary Reenactment of the First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run Will Occur as Scheduled July 23-24, 2011

PRINCE WILLIAM AND MANASSAS, Va., July 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The commemorative reenactment of The First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run will proceed as scheduled on Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24, 2011 at Pageland Farm in Gainesville, VA.   Roughly 17,000 spectators are expected to watch this definitive reenactment of the first major land battle of the American Civil War and reflect upon the 150th Anniversary. More than 8,700 reenactors from across the United States,Canada, and Europe will participate. Organizers are prepared to welcome all participants with 35,000 bottles of free water, cooling stations and misting tents, air conditioned shuttle buses and other accommodations for the heat. It is suggested that participants drink plenty of water prior to arrival and while at the event, wear a hat, sunscreen, sneakers or shoes (not sandals) and bring insect repellent for their comfort.

“Public safety and emergency management officials are prepared to keep everyone at the event as safe and comfortable as possible, we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome the world to Prince William & Manassas,” said Ann Marie Maher, Executive Director of the area’s tourism marketing organization.  “Visitors and reenactors will experience a once-in-a-lifetime event this weekend.”

Online ticket sales (via end at 10 p.m. tonight, Friday, July 22. Day of ticket sales will be available at the event parking area at Jiffy Lube Live, 7800 Cellar Door Drive, Bristow, VA 20136 where free shuttles will run continuously from 6:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. The battle reenactment begins at 9:30 a.m. and are expected to continue until 12 noon with living history programs, and confederate and union camps open to the public after the reenactment.   Modern and period day vendors will also be on-site.

For FAQs and the latest information, participants can visit or follow the tourism bureau’s updates on Facebook ( or Twitter (

Discover Prince William and Manassas is the area’s tourism marketing organization promoting Prince William County andManassas, Virginia.

SOURCE Discover Prince William & Manassas


Wool-clad Civil War re-enactors brace for heat

MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

National Park service employee Stanley McGee runs safety checks on muskets as Civil War re-enactors prepare to participate in the First Battle of Manassas 150th Anniversary Commemorative ceremony at the Manassas National Battlefield Park in Manassas, Va., Thursday, July 21, 2011. Thursday marks the 150th anniversary of the first major battle of the Civil War. Photo: Steve Helber / AP

MANASSAS, Va. (AP) — For all the attention to authenticity, organizers for a major re-enactment marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run can’t replicate one important detail: the weather.

Forecasts this weekend in Manassas call for temperatures to reach triple digits, with the heat index perhaps exceeding 115 degrees. Back in 1861, when the North and South clashed in the Civil War’s first major land battle, recorded temperatures were in the 80s.

But authentic wool uniforms are a point of pride and are not to be sacrificed in the name of staying cool. So what’s a re-enactor to do?

“Suck it up,” called out a member of the 4th Virginia Infantry, Company A, when fellow re-enactor Corey James, 20, of North Canton, Ohio, was asked about the weather.

The re-enactors differ on whether the wool uniforms worn by soldiers of the era are as oppressively hot as they appear. One re-enactor shows off his muslin undergarments, which he said are typical for the era and breathe and help stay cool. George Alcox, 58, of Berea, Ohio, pretended to agree.

“They’re not as hot as they look. They’re hotter,” he said.

At Manassas, uniforms are especially important. More than 200 uniforms were worn in the battle, which relied heavily on militia units from the various states, each of which had its own distinctive uniform. The patchwork of colors contributed to confusion on the battlefield, as soldiers struggled to determine who was friend and who was foe.

At the time, flamboyant uniforms modeled on the French Zouave units that served in North Africa were in style, with baggy trousers and fez hats.

John Gerndt, 51, of Centreville, portrays soldiers in several different units depending on which battle is re-enacted. But the First Battle of Manassas allows him to break out his uniform for the 11th New York Infantry, 1st Fire Zouave regiment, which only saw action in Manassas. Drawn from New York firefighters, the red and blue wool uniform is one of the more distinctive on the battlefield.

“We’ll see how I hold up,” Gerndt said Thursday of the looming re-enactments, dripping beads of sweat already at 9 a.m. as he attended ceremonies hosted by the National Park Service.

He carries a 19th-century canteen and tries to drink plenty of water before the re-enactments begin.

“There’s really nothing you can do except slow down a little bit” on the battlefield, he said. “My sacrifice, on my level is well worth me doing a little bit of sweating” to honor the soldiers who died in battle.

Don Warlick, who helped create the battle scenes in the Civil War film “Gods and Generals,” is directing the re-enactments at Camp Manassas. He said the heat can pose a problem, especially for a re-enactor population that is largely middle aged even though soldiers themselves were typically young men.

“Our society has gotten more accustomed to air conditioning, not doing things the old way,” Warlick said.

So he urges people to slow down and stay hydrated.

“You’ve got to slow down to give the animals and the men time to catch their breath,” he said.

Keeping people hydrated is a daunting task considering that 8,700 people are participating in the re-enactment, many of whom set up camp for the weekend. Ann Marie Maher, executive director of Prince William County’s tourism bureau, which is the battle re-enactment’s main sponsor, said an elaborate pumping system has been set up to get water to the campgrounds. There, free-flowing spigots are one of the rare concessions to modern life that are allowed.

Event planners are also considering the general public’s health in the excessive heat. The National Park Service, which does not sponsor battle re-enactments but is hosting a series of events, canceled some afternoon programs Friday because of the heat. Among the canceled events were walking tours on the preserved battlefield, which offers little respite from the sun.

Maher said the re-enactments Saturday and Sunday will begin at 9:30 a.m., a long-planned concession to the heat. Cooling and misting tents will be available, and shade tents have been added as the forecasts called for 100-degree days, Maher said. Prince William Hospital donated 30,000 bottles of water that will be given to spectators.

Debbie Haight, executive director of Historic Manassas, Inc., which is sponsoring Camp Manassas and a series of programs throughout the city of Manassas, said shuttle buses that will carry crowds are air conditioned. And cooling tents manned by the Red Cross will be available to spectators at the various locales.

“We kind of knew as we were planning that it’s July and it’s Virginia, and it’s going to be hot,” she said.

Civil War 150th Anniversary Events at Manassas National Battlefield

Originally posted by Brian at The District.

Stonewall Jackson Memorial – Manassas National Battlefield Park

Thursday, July 21, will be the 150th anniversary of the first Battle of Manassas, one of the fiercest battles in the Civil War. Throughout the week ahead, Manassas and other area landmarks will hold events to commemorate the occasion. Here are some of the highlights:

  • On Saturday, Arlington House, Robert E. Lee’s former home, will host a Union camp reenactment with military drills and other activities. This is a free event and more details can be found here.
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park will host a four-day long series of events including activities, lectures, demonstrations, military drills, and a concert by the Marine Corps Band. View a complete schedule of events.
  • Play ball! Baseball games will be played following the 1860′s rulebook at Jennie Dean Elementary School at 9601 Prince William Street in Manassas on Friday (2 p.m.), Saturday (9 a.m.) and Sunday 9 a.m.).
  • A parade of Civil War reenactors will march down Main Street, Manassas on Friday at 10 a.m.
  • A huge reenactment of the first Battle of Manassas featuring more than 8,000 Union and Confederate troops, will take place on Saturday and Sunday. Shuttle buses will run from Jiffy Lube Live’s parking lot. Tickets are $40 for bleacher seats, and $24 if you prefer to stand. Kids 6-12 are $31 for seats and $15 for standing. More information can be found on the Manassas Battlefield’s website.

It’s certainly going to be a great week for Civil War enthusiasts. If you do plan on attending these events, be sure to plan accordingly since we are supposed to experience some intense heat over the coming days.

Lightning strike injures 5 Gettysburg reenactors, 3 hospitalized; 3 tents damaged

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — A lightning strike at a camp of Civil War reenactors in Gettysburg, Pa., has sent five people to hospitals.

The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee says in a statement that during a severe thunderstorm at about 2:45 a.m. Sunday, lightning struck a tent pole in the Confederate artillery camp, resulting in moderate injuries to two people and minor injuries to three others.

The five were taken to Gettysburg Hospital. One is in stable condition. Two others in stable condition were treated and transferred to York Hospital. Two others were treated and released.

Reenactment officials say a tent-by-tent search of the site by staff and local fire departments turned up no other injuries. They say three small tents were damaged.

UPDATE: Tim Prudent for Public Opinion Online wrote this story on the injured people from the lightning strike incident. It was originally published on July 6, 2011.

Civil War re-enactors struck by lightning near Gettysburg

GETTYSBURG — The sense of hearing is beginning to return to Marisue Morgan’s right ear and the painful burn on her left arm — where her sweater melted into her skin — is beginning to subside.Morgan said Monday she felt lucky to return home after a lightning strike the day before at the annual Civil War re-enactment in Gettysburg sent five members of her artillery battery to area hospitals.

“The flash was right in front of my face and it was about 10 times the loudness of cannon fire,” said the 45-year-old Morgan, who lives outside Pittsburgh. “The flash was the brightest white light and I felt my arm burning. I ran out of the tent to see if the people next to us were all right because all I could hear was screaming.”

She suffered second-degree burns and her 11-year-old son Ben and 61-year-old husband Randy were also hospitalized after the strike, which occurred during a violent thunderstorm early Sunday morning around 2:45 a.m.

As a result of the strike, Randy has three burns on his hand where it is believed the electricity left his body. Ben was uninjured and taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, Marisue said.

Erich Griffey and his wife, Lucilia were camped nearby and also burned in the strike. Erich, 28, suffered first-degree burns on an arm and across his chest. Lucilia, who is six months pregnant, was burned on her back.

“I told him we were struck by lightning,” the 30-year-old Lucilia said Monday evening. “All I wanted was ice to cool the burning I felt all over my skin.”

A sonogram and stress test performed by doctors found their baby to be uninjured, said Erich’s mother, Cathy Griffey.

The couple has been re-enacting for the past six to eight years, Lucilia said, and go to events at least once a month.

But lying in the hospital, she said, she kept having nightmares.

“I don’t think I can sleep in a tent again,” she said. “This is the last event until the baby is born.”

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