How would Stonewall Jackson react to high-tension power lines stretching across a battlefield?
I assume he would outmaneuver them and his Yankee foes across the way.
While Civil War buffs focus on the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg in July 2013, the 150th anniversary of Antietam went well observed either side of South Mountain in Maryland. Most battle anniversaries rate a single re-enactment; due either to philosophical or personal differences, Antietam got two – and that’s not including the “pull-out-all-the-stops” observance that the National Park Service organized at Antietam National Battlefield.
The first Antietam re-enactment took place Sept. 8-9 near Boonsboro, a Washington County (Maryland) town where many buildings along Routes 34 and 40 architecturally harken to the Civil War. This encampment appealed to “purist” re-enactors, according to the Houston Chronicle Web site, www.chron.com.
According to the Chronicle, among the organizers was S. Chris Anders “of Rear Rank Productions in Hagerstown.” As quoted on the Web site, he explained that for the Sept. 8-9 re-enactment, organizers expected “the guys to have exact, correct uniforms, as best that they can, to duplicate the appearance so when the public sees it, it’s not just generic Civil War — it’s like pulling back a window shade looking directly into September ’62.”
About 4,000 re-enactors participated in this re-enactment, which limited the artillery to four cannons apiece, North and South.
Then came the Sept. 14-16 Antietam re-enactment sponsored by the 150th Antietam Reenactment Committee and held at the 400-acre Legacy Manor Farm, located just off the Bakersville Road. The farm sprawls across rolling hills just two miles north of the Poffenberger Farm at Antietam National Battlefield.
An estimated 4,000-4,500 re-enactors participated in this event, which featured 65 cannons — 40 Union, 25 Confederacy — and rousing battles involving the Dunker Church, the Bloody Lane, Burnside’s Bridge, and even the event’s enthusiastic cavalry contingent.
My Sept. 21 post (http://maineatwar.bangordailynews.com/2012/09/21/company-e-represented-20th-maine-at-antietem-150th/) introduced the men of Co. E, 20th Maine Infantry, who (among other units) represented the Pine Tree State during the Sept. 14-16 re-enactment. Third Maine re-enactors came down from Maine, too, and we tried to find them in the large Union camp. Unfortunately, three 7th Maryland Infantry lasses selling tarts and other Civil War delicacies distracted us, then the drums beat in the Confederate camp, and away we went to meet the 22nd North Carolina Infantry and Gen. James Longstreet and his lady, both astride magnificent horses.
My next few posts will focus on the Sharpsburg re-enactment. Pat Horne and I from the BDN spent 1-1/2 days there, and we met many historic (and often colorful characters). “Maine at War” will introduce some, in print and in photos.
Organizers mowed a large field to provide public parking; the event’s only drawback, as far as I could tell, was the approach road: the narrow, two-lane Baskerville Road quickly filled with cars and pickups, and we heard rumors by early Saturday afternoon that south-bound traffic was backed up all the way north on Route 65 to Interstate 70.
Legacy Manor Farm raises free-range cattle and pigs; ironically, some pigs were rooting on the battlefield Friday morning, but public demonstrations of artillery and infantry apparently did not bother the porkers. Fortunately, all animals were herded to safety by Saturday morning, when the first battle took place for the public.
The re-enactment featured a large area shared by sutlers (Civil War merchants who sold soldiers goods that they either needed or could not obtain from the government) and two officer organizations: Lee’s Lieutenants and the Federal General Corps. We’ll meet some of those officers later; suffice to say that we met Robert E. Lee, George Gordon Meade, Jeb Stuart, and Joshua Chamberlain, among others.
The actual re-enactment battlefield was a large pasture alongside the sutler area. The troop camps lay to the north, across another pasture and through the trees.
The crowds were good, the re-enactors in top form, and we enjoyed our all-too-brief immersion in the war. I’ll close for today with a few battle photos.