Re-enactors ready for three-day event

September 11, 1997


Staff Writer

Civil War re-enactor Brian Mazur isn't worried that rainy weather will keep down the number of participants in the 135th Commemoration of the Battle of Antietam this weekend.

It's the importance of the battle not the event's anticipated record-setting size that matters, said Mazur, 43, of Royal Oak, Mich.

"I could care less. It's Sharpsburg, 135. It better be accurate," said Mazur, who said his unit - the 4th Texas Infantry, Company E - is "hard-core" about historical authenticity.


The Confederate unit actually fought in the Cornfield scenario at the Battle of Antietam, said Mazur, who drove in for the event with friend Jerry Yerkie, 47, of Berkley, Mich.

Fresh from their 8-hour road trip, the two were upbeat as they joined the constant flow of re-enactors checking at the event site Thursday afternoon.

The three-day event - produced by the nonprofit Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS) - kicks off this morning with a march from downtown Hagerstown to the Artz farm property off Md. 65, where the rest of the weekend's activities will be staged.

Re-enactors started checking in at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning and have been coming in all hours of the day and night since then, said APCWS staffer Jeff Driscoll, who estimated about 1,500 re-enactors had signed up as of early Thursday.

Considering about 200 of them were walk-ins and about 11,200 re-enactors registered in advance, Driscoll said he expected between 12,500 and 13,000 re-enactors from all over the United States, parts of Europe and Canada would end up participating in the event.

Some re-enactors from Germany had already arrived by Thursday afternoon, he said.

Driscoll said he wasn't sure whether re-enactors expected from Great Britain, Canada and Norway had checked in yet.

Lloyd O'Neil said he came from Topanga Canyon, Calif., to participate in the event, the farthest east in his three seasons of re-enacting, because his unit voted it would be its big event of the year.

O'Neil, 47, said he flew in to Richmond, Va., a week ago and got in some Civil War sightseeing before checking in on Thursday.

He said he would be "falling in with the boys from the 4th Texas Infantry," who would be portraying Hood's Texas Brigade.

David Scofield, 34, of Yakima, Wash., said he'll be fighting with the same unit, which camps "campaign-style," meaning they use only what they can carry in to the campsite.

Both O'Neil and Scofield said they expected the large number of participants and authentic terrain would make the battle re-enactments much more realistic than ones they participated in out West.

"It's hard to simulate Western Maryland in a conifer forest," Scofield said.

Mike Myers, of Hyde Park, N.Y., said he wanted to participate in the Battle of Antietam re-enactment because of its significance for his unit, the 9th New York Zouave.

"This is actually the high point battle for the unit we represent," Myers said.

Myers said his unit suffered the highest amount of casualties - 63 percent - of either side. It disbanded afterward.

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