Actors to join re-enactors at Antietam

August 24, 1997


Staff Writer

From IMAX to Imus, the 135th re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam could draw quite a crowd.

"They're coming from everywhere," said Dennis E. Frye, president of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites.

Bill Warren's family will be here from Peshtigo, Wis., because the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry fought in the Battle of Antietam, he said.

Warren and his 14-year-old son are re-enactors in Co. E of the 2nd Wisconsin, which earned the nickname "the Iron Brigade" for its brave performance in the Battle of South Mountain, he said. During the weekend Warren's wife will model some of the Civil War-era dresses that she makes, he said.


Warren said he expects about 150 of his fellow re-enactors from the 2nd Wisconsin to also come, some in chartered buses.

"I suspect that this is going to be the largest event in re-enacting history to date," Warren said.

As opening ceremonies begin for the Antietam Commemoration Sept. 12, radio personality Don Imus will be broadcasting live from the Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown.

Although the two events are unrelated, organizers said the "I-man" may tour the battlefield while he is in town if he has time.

The re-enactment and related events are taking place all weekend at a farm on Rench Road, off Sharpsburg Pike, south of Hagerstown.

As for IMAX, which is a type of film and projection process viewed on a massive screen, Frye said movie crews will be using it to film scenes for the documentary "Mark Twain's America."

The Hollywood connection doesn't end there. It turns out that some of the biggest Civil War buffs are also Hollywood actors.

Three stars from the movie "Gettysburg" will be among the estimated 50,000 spectators.

Patrick Gorman portrayed Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood, Pat Falci portrayed Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill and Brian Mallon played Union Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock.

All three of these Civil War generals played critical roles in the Sept. 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam, according to Frye:

Hood commanded a Confederate division that was virtually annihilated in the vicious cornfield fight.

Hill arrived from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., just in time to halt Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside's attack against Sharpsburg and save Gen. Robert E. Lee's army from destruction.

Hancock commanded the Union troops who eventually broke the Confederate center at "Bloody Lane."

The actors, who have appeared in more than 25 motion pictures, frequently attend Civil War re-enactments, organizers said.

Falci also served as historical adviser during the filming of "Gettysburg."

The three actors will be available to meet people and sign autographs at a table in the sutlers' area at the re-enactment site.

Other celebrities have been invited to attend.

They include Katie Couric of the "Today Show" and Ted Turner of Turner Broadcasting, both members of the national advisory board for the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites.

Some other notable guests:

* Ron Maxwell, director and screenwriter for "Gettysburg." He recently released the screenplay and storyboards of the film and a video called "Gettysburg Interviews."

* Jeff Shaara, author of the best-selling novel "Gods and Generals."

* A film crew from a New York City public television station, which is producing an hour-long program on the re-enactment.

* International media.

"It'll be the most covered media event in Washington County with the exception of the battle itself," Frye said.

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