'Generals' tour battle site

June 02, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

Union and Confederate "generals" Saturday toured the 1,000-acre farm where their armies of re-enactors will recreate the Civil War Battle of Antietam which occurred 140 years ago this Sept. 17.

Dana Heim, 54, of Winchester, Va., who will lead the Yankee re-enactors into battle over the three-day weekend of Sept. 13-15, said the fields where the action will take place were in excellent condition after touring them with James Maupin, leader of the Rebel army in the upcoming re-enactments.

Heim, who appeared as Union Gen. Edwin Sumner in the upcoming movie, "Gods and Generals," said he probably will reprise the role in the re-enactment at Antietam.


He said he and Maupin, along with their division and brigade commanders, spent much of Saturday on the 1,000-acre site known as the Artz Farm, on Rench Road, most of which is owned by Allegheny Energy, picking out sites for battles, command headquarters and tent areas for the troops. The property owners allow the re-enactment to take place without charge.

"We'll be back two or three more times to plan things out," Heim said.

After picking out headquarters and bivouac areas, Maupin said that he was pleased with the layout. There are few modern sites to intrude on the atmosphere.

"Re-enactors like to come out of their tents and not see a house," he said.

Heim predicts that more than 15,000 re-enactors will participate in the anniversary of the battle that was the bloodiest single day in American history. The battle claimed more than 23,000 killed, wounded and missing on both sides, historians say.

Heim and Maupin commanded their respective armies in the 135th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam over the same ground in 1997.

"That became the benchmark from which the quality of all re-enactments are measured," Heim said.

He credited the support of local officials and residents with the success of the 135th.

"The community really gets behind this," he said.

Dennis Frye, local Civil War historian and co-chair of the Antietam Commencement Committee, the non-profit group sponsoring the re-enactment, predicts the 140th will draw between 80,000 and 100,000 spectators over the three-day weekend. The 135th anniversary drew about 80,000 spectators, Frye said.

He said it will be the largest re-enactment of the year anywhere. Parking will be available for more than 10,000 vehicles, he said.

"A whole city of tents and men will go up overnight here," Frye said.

More than 90 vendors have been lined up for the event.

A special display will be a portion of the train and track that was built for one of the sets from "Gods and Generals," Frye said.

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