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Battle of Funkstown comes alive again

July 15, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

FUNKSTOWN - Infantry brigades under the command of Dan Paterson's great-grandfather - Gen. James "Pete" Longstreet - fought in the Battle of Funkstown 144 years ago.

Paterson marched on part of the same battleground Saturday with the 7th Maryland re-enactment group.

Paterson, a network engineer for a real estate company who lives in Centreville, Va., said war lore ran strong in his family.

"In grade school, I was reading Civil War books," he said.

Around the mid-1990s, Paterson said, he spent more time at re-enactments, got himself a uniform and joined the 7th Maryland group, which was part of the Battle of Funkstown.

"It was kind of inevitable that I do this type of stuff," he said.

Scores of men portraying Union and Confederate soldiers squared off Saturday at Funkstown Community Park.

The two forces fired upon each, with some re-enactors pretending to be dead or badly wounded. A man acting as a medic tended to howling men sprawled on the ground.

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When the fighting picked up, a couple of soldiers deserted the ranks.

A skirmish of about 20 minutes gave spectators the sounds, sights and smells of what war might have been like.

Steve Giovannini of Annapolis, a member of the 7th Maryland group, said the re-enactment was a sample of firing and maneuvers, but not a true-to-life presentation of tactics.

Soldiers would have been "hundreds of yards" apart during the Civil War, much farther than they were on Saturday, he said.

Giovannini said the increased use of the rifled barrel instead of the smoothbore musket made shooting more accurate and deadly from farther away during the Civil War.

Yet, a remnant of earlier wars, shoulder-to-shoulder firing to produce a "wall of lead," remained.

Jim and Josh Johnson, a father and son from Annapolis, said they're new to re-enacting.

"He's always read everything he'd get his hands on about the Civil War," Jim Johnson said about his son.

Josh Johnson said he likes the marching, the battles and even the battlefield singing that breaks out.

Organizer Ron Benedict said about 150 people signed up this year.

The skirmish portrayed Saturday afternoon was the morning phase of the July 10, 1863, Battle of Funkstown. The community park, known then as Stover's Woods, was part of the battle.

The afternoon and evening phase will be portrayed today at 2 p.m.

The street portion of the 1863 battle was re-enacted Saturday morning.

Benedict said major Civil War battles, such as Gettysburg and Antietam, get a lot of attention, but smaller ones, such as Funkstown, don't.

"It's keeping the local history alive," he said.

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