The fields and forests at Good Will Hinckley School in Fairfield echoed to cannon and rifle fire today as Confederate and Union re-enactors fought an exciting “battle” before an appreciative crowd of more than 200 people.
Participating in the two-day Civil War encampment known as “We Are Coming, Father Abraham,” civilian and military re-enactors converged on Fairfield to set up camp, drill on a large field, and stage battles on Aug. 25-26. The weekend was organized by the Maine Living History Association.
Representing the Confederacy were such units as the 15th Alabama Infantry, the 12th Georgia Infantry, and the Richmond Howitzers. Union units included the 3rd Maine Infantry, the 20th Maine Infantry (including Co. I from the Canadian Maritimes), and the U.S. Naval Landing Party, which set up a very informative display and also provided, courtesy of the unit’s “Iron Jacks,” period music.
On a rare occasion at a Maine encampment, cavalry participated, with the 35th Virginia Cavalry bringing six colorful horses and at least twice as many cavalrymen to Fairfield. During the Saturday afternoon battle, six riders — three Confederate, three Union — dueled with pistols and sabers, and two Union cavalrymen made threatening moves against several dismounted Confederate cavalrymen (all from the 35th VA) who were advancing upon deployed Union infantry.
The re-enactors started arriving Friday afternoon to set up camp, with a belt of overgrown woods separating the Confederate and Union camps near the Bates Museum on Route 201. Civilian re-enactors set up nearby in the “Town of Harmony,” and visitors arriving both days walked through the town while on their way to the military camps.
Starting near dusk Friday night, a film crew from the Maine Public Broadcasting Network shot much footage for the “Maine at Gettysburg” documentary, slated for release next summer in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Friday’s nights filming recreated the 20th Maine’s bayonet charge at Little Round Top, and drums rousted re-enactors about 4:30 a.m., Saturday, so the film crew could shoot footage of camp life.
“Fighting” footage was shot Saturday morning in the GWH field, and the MPBN camera people also filmed the afternoon battle.
Several authors spoke during the re-enactment, and some merchants set up shop in the Town of Harmony.
The encampment will continue from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 26, so there’s still time to experience the Civil War at Fairfield. Take Route 201 north of Interstate 95 and follow the directional signs to the site.