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About 250 re-enactors in line to stage Battle of Funkstown

June 06, 2004|By ANDREA ROWLAND

By ANDREA ROWLANDandrear@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - On July 10, 1863, Union and Confederate forces clashed in and around Funkstown during the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg, Pa.

Four hundred eighty-one soldiers were killed or wounded during the 14-hour Battle of Funkstown - some of the dead strewn along a stone wall that once flanked the building now occupied by Valley Supply & Equipment Co. at the corner of Baltimore Street and Alternate U.S. 40. Private Joseph Stonebreaker of Funkstown, who fought for the Confederates during the clash, recorded this and other battle memories in "Rebel of '61."

Stonebreaker recalled a crescent-shaped battle line that stretched about four miles to near where Hagerstown Community College stands today. He wrote of Confederate sharpshooters stationed in John Stonebreaker's big stone barn - which once stood on land now occupied by the Hagerstown Commons shopping center. Defective shell fuses killed six Confederate soldiers at the edge of Stover's Woods - now Funkstown Community Park. And a soldier and his horse were blown to bits at a junction on High Street.

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More than 200 Civil War re-enactors will stage a mock Battle of Funkstown on Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13, said event organizer Ron Benedict, who serves as a Union major in the 6th Maryland Volunteer Infantry Regiment Inc., Company H.

One hundred eighteen Federal re-enactors and 122 Confederate re-enactors had registered to participate in street and field battles as of late May, Benedict said.

Re-enactors and sutlers will begin setting up their camps at Funkstown Community Park on Friday, June 11. The encampments will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. until about 3 p.m. Sunday.

Sutlers will peddle goods ranging from period garb to original and reproduction firearms and military gear, Benedict said.

Re-enactors will begin foraging for food in Funkstown - which soldiers would have done during the Civil War - on Saturday morning, Benedict said. Town residents who want to open their homes to foragers signal their interest by hanging red ribbons from their residences, he said.

"The town is very generous," Benedict said. "The guys eat well."

He said last year's foraging bounty included homemade cinnamon buns and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Baltimore Street from Antietam Street to Alternate U.S. 40 will be closed to traffic and parking from 9:45 to 11 a.m. Saturday to make way for fighting Union and Confederate re-enactors. The street battle starts at 10 a.m. The clash will begin as a small engagement between a handful of soldiers and culminate in a large skirmish between the opposing sides, Benedict said.

"It's basically a push and shove. We push them up the street, they push us back. Then the Confederates push us off the street," he said. "We technically call this a Confederate victory until I find resources to tell me otherwise."

Saturday's field battle, which represents the morning phase of the true Battle of Funkstown, begins at 2 p.m. at the park. Fighting will begin out of sight of spectators and progress into a full-fledged battle using full-scale artillery - including cannons, Benedict said. The field battle will continue at 2 p.m. Sunday where it left off the day before - at the Confederate encampment. The Rebels eventually will push Union troops from the field, Benedict said.

Event participants and the public also are invited to a free dance featuring the music of Caruthers' Others starting at 7 p.m. Saturday. The candlelit, period-style dance will be held under one of the park's pavilions.

Part of the proceeds from participation fees will benefit the fund for a new monument commemorating the Battle of Funkstown, Benedict said. He said his group still needs about $1,000 to fund the estimated $2,300 statuary, which will be placed in Funkstown's Monument Park.

A production company is expected to film Saturday's field battle for an upcoming History Channel special, Benedict said.

If you go ...

Battle of Funkstown Re-enactment

Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13

Funkstown Community Park and surrounding area

n Encampments open to public

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Funkstown Community Park

n Street battle

10 a.m. Saturday

Baltimore Street from Antie-tam Street to Alternate U.S. 40 closed to traffic and parking from 9:45 to 11 a.m.

n Field battles at Funkstown Community Park

2 p.m. Saturday

2 p.m. Sunday

n Dance, featuring the music of Caruthers' Others

7 p.m. Saturday

Funkstown Community Park

All events free and open to the public.

For more information, call 301-393-8753.

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