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Harpers Ferry park hosts cavalry demonstration

September 01, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - Jason Bedford's first trip to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park was a memorable one Saturday.

"It's really neat down here, like an old western town," said Bedford, who came to watch a program put on by the park called "Eyes of the Army: The Cavalry Factor."

During the demonstration, eight Civil War re-enactors on horseback entertained more than 100 visitors by firing weapons and trotting their horses in formation.

The program was held to highlight the 2nd U.S. Cavalry's escape from Confederate forces in Harpers Ferry in September 1862.

"The cavalry were a big part of Harpers Ferry, and this is an opportunity to tell the story," said John King, supervisor and park ranger at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

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The escape of more than 1,500 cavalrymen from Stonewall Jackson's siege was described to the crowd by speakers and re-enactors in period costume.

The cavalry escaped toward Sharpsburg and eventually reached safety in Greencastle, Pa., speakers said.

After the discussion, re-enactors rode their horses out into a grassy area, dismounted and loaded their rifles for a firing demonstration.

Although the weapons were fake, re-enactor David Michel said re-enactments are not always free of danger.

"I broke my arm last year doing this," Michel said. "Sometimes, it can get pretty real."

Michel said he was participating in a re-enactment when his horse reared up in the air and landed on its side, crushing his arm in the process.

Michel, who has been a re-enactor for four years, said the Harpers Ferry event always draws a lot of visitors.

"People down here are very serious about their history," Michel said. "They care, and it makes our jobs much more fun."

The group held two demonstrations at noon and 3 p.m. The program will continue today.

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