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Event to highlight Battle of South Mountain

August 20, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

The ranks of the Confederate Army are full.

The Federal Army still is recruiting, and it will have a much bigger force.

That's how it was when the two armies fought during the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

And that's how it will be when re-enactors meet to relive those bloody days 145 years later, in September 2007.

Every spot in the Confederate Army has been reserved by re-enactors more than a year prior to the 2007 re-enactment, said Chris Anders, the chairman of the Western Maryland Heritage Foundation.

The Federal Army also is shaping up, although it's taking longer because the re-enactment organizers are "maintaining the troop ratios" and more Federal troops fought in those battles, Anders said.

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The Battle of South Mountain was Sept. 14, 1862. The bloodiest day in American history unfolded a few days later, at Antietam, on Sept. 17, 1862.

The re-enactment, scheduled for Friday, Sept. 7, through Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007, marks the 145th anniversary of those two battles, which were a turning point in the war, Anders said.

The event is designed to draw attention back to the Battle of South Mountain, said Al Preston, assistant manager at South Mountain State Park.

About 2,000 re-enactors are expected to participate in what Anders called a "military affair."

The re-enactment will stress details - no modern conveniences, no coolers, no wives at the site, although there will be a separate section for re-enactors' families, Anders said.

It will be a weekend of authentic food and museum-quality uniforms, Anders said. Re-enactors may pay thousands for a uniform designed for the re-enactment of a specific battle. Anders said he paid $1,600 for his last uniform.

Re-enactments should be educational, Anders said.

"No one's doing it for pay," he said. "We're doing it for the love of history."

The Western Maryland History Foundation, which also worked to organize a reenactment of the Battle of South Mountain in 2000, is working to keep the entrance fee low so that families can attend, Anders said.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau awarded the WMHF some grants to help fund the re-enactment, Anders said.

A majority of WMHF's funding comes from small fees re-enactors pay to take part in the event, he said.

The last reenactment of the Battle of Antietam, which WMHF did not help organize, was in 2002.

Organizers expect about 1,000 spectators each day.

The Battle of South Mountain re-enactment is scheduled for Sept. 8, 2007, while the Battle of Antietam will be re-enacted the next day.

Both re-enactments will be at the town farm outside Boonsboro, but different sections will used for the different battles, Anders said.

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