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No age boundaries set on re-enacting

July 12, 1998

photo: MIKE CRUPI / staff photographer

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Battle of MonacyBy CLYDE FORD / Staff Writer

FREDERICK, Md. - At 11 years old, Jacob Rosenthal seems rather small to be a Civil War veteran. But the Union-uniformed youngster has been at re-enactment camps since he was 1 year old.

"As soon as he got out of diapers, we started bringing him," said his father, Glenn Rosenthal, of Middletown, Md.

The role of women and children in Frederick during the Civil War is being featured this weekend at the 134th commemoration activities at Monocacy National Battlefield.

About 500 people attended activities at the park Saturday, said Cathy Beeler, chief of resource education and visitor services at Monocacy National Battlefield.

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The Battle of Monocacy was fought on July 9, 1864, and pitted about 5,800 Union soldiers against 15,000 Confederates advancing on Washington, D.C., through Frederick County, Md.

Though the Union soldiers were forced to retreat, they were able to delay the Confederates long enough for a larger Union force to move into position to defend Washington.

Jacob serves as a Civil War drummer boy with the re-enactment unit, the 20th Maine.

The 20th Maine is more family-oriented than many other Civil War re-enactment units, Glenn Rosenthal said.

Wives and children of re-enactors often join them at events, either staying with them in the same camp or forming a separate camp nearby, Glenn Rosenthal said.

The wives often act as nurses at the field hospital.

Children are dressed in Civil War-era clothing.

"This is camping with a historical theme," Glenn Rosenthal said.

Elizabeth Smith, 33, of Perry Hall, Md., said she has brought her daughter Hannah, 20 months, to re-enactment camps since she was 4 months old. She also brings her other daughter, Aubrey, who is 6.

"The girls love it. They get to play outside," Elizabeth Smith said.

Aubrey Smith said she does not like the gunfire during battles, "because it hurts my ears."

"I like being able to play dress-up," she said.

Amelia Youhn, 7, of Hollywood, Md., has been at re-enactment camps since she was 6 weeks old, sleeping in a wicker basket and even dressing the part.

"We put Pampers on her and an old-time diaper on top of that," said her mother, Susan Youhn, 45. "We're crazy, but we're not insane."

The mothers said they miss the convenience of modern strollers and playpens, but they find ways to improvise.

"I'd put her under my hoop skirt to shade her from the sun," Susan Youhn said.

"When I got older, I used to play under her hoop skirt," Amelia said.

The mothers said that including their children in re-enactments helps them learn about history in ways they never could in a classroom.

"They have a whole appreciation for history other children don't get," Susan Youhn said.

Events continue from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today at Monocacy.

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