In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Confederate and Union “soldiers” from as far away as Canada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and New York gathered to muster in this historic village to commemorate the 1st Manassas (Va.) Battle in 1861, the first major land battle of the Civil War that occurred three months following the battle at Fort Sumter.Uniformed reenactors conducted battlefield demonstrations, camp living, and home-front activities Saturday. Activities continue today through 10 p.m. More events are scheduled Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing through 5 p.m.
Abby Cole of Akron took advantage of the day’s activities to learn about the Civil War as part of her history class.“I’m home-schooled, so this is a history lesson for me,” she said. “It is pretty interesting.”
Her grandmother, Ginny Cole of Akron, is her teacher, and made sure they took advantage of seeing history taking place.
Another student of history attending the activities Saturday was Jacob McCowan of Chillicothe.
“I just really love history,” he said.
Larry O’Donnell portrayed Confederate Gen. Jeremy Gilmer. He was in charge of topography. His brother, Jim O’Donnell, also participated, but did not take on a different persona. He did serve as Gilmer’s assistant during the weekend activities.
Both are from Michigan, but are part of the 4th Texas Co. E Citizens for Independence in Bold Springs, Texas.
“I am a licensed land surveyor,” said Larry O’Donnell, commenting he lived in Virginia when he first got involved in Civil War reenactments five years ago. “I love this. People do this for a lot of reasons. For me, as a land surveyor, this just seemed to be a natural for me.”
Dena James of Canton, a funeral director at Spiker-Foster-Shriver Funeral Home, described herself as a camp follower.
“We help feed the soldiers,” she said. Dressed in Civil War garb, she and her son, Seth, got a fire started to prepare a meal for Confederate soldiers, while her older son, Corey, a corporal, prepared for battle with the 4th Virginia Regiment. “We follow our soldiers wherever they go.”
Using a hatchet to grind coffee beans, Gregory Renault came from Toronto, Canada, to serve in the Confederate Army.
“A lot of Canadians fought in the Civil War,” he said. “Most of them fought for the North, but there was a fair number of them who supported the South during the war.”
Enjoying the fruits of his labor was Freda Baldwin, also from Toronto, a civilian.
“There were a lot of sympathizers in Canada,” she said. “There were 50,000 Canadians who fought in the war. A lot of Canadians also helped with the Underground Railroad.”
Bob Mattocks of Pennsylvania, proudly wore a buck deer tail on the back of his Union hat, a symbol of the 150th Bucktail Infantry marksmanship. The tail had to be from a buck the soldier shot.
“We are supposed to be part of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, one of the first units in the war,” he said. “We fired the opening volley at the first Bull Run battle.”
In another area of the “northern” camps, John Aaron, Jim Miller and Sue Lener from Meadville, Pa., also were part of the 150th Bucktail Infantry.
“Women who could pass themselves off as men served in the war,” said Lener, dressed as a soldier. For the purpose of Saturday’s event, her name was Samuel. “Some of the women even moved up in rank.”
Participating in his first reenactmentment, Andrew Sheffer of New Bethlehem, Pa. “I am definitely a private in this event,” he said.
“His friend, Dan Landers, of Clarion, Pa., has been a reenactor for eight years and is a sergeant.
“We are part of the 40th Pennsylvania 11th Reserves,” he said as he prepared for the battle.
The North won the war, but the South won the 1st (and second) Battle at Bull Run.
*Photos by Uniontown Lion Bob Kendall