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Re-enactment marks Battle of Funkstown anniversary

July 11, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

FUNKSTOWN -- Friday marked the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Funkstown.

Union forces attacked the Confederate's rear guard during its retreat from the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War.

The scene played out Saturday on the street and in the park at Funkstown's Day in the Park and Battle of Funkstown Re-enactment.

The street battle re-enactment began at 10 a.m. Townspeople who had seen the re-enactment in the past said this year's presentation was particularly powerful. While soldier portrayals traditionally anchor the event, this year, women portraying wartime civilians enlivened it.

Irene Owens, 72, of Funkstown, has seen the re-enactment numerous times in the past.

"This year it was great. I've never seen the women so actively involved," Owens said. "Other years, they would walk up and down the street in costume. It was different this year. After the soldiers went down, the women ran out and stole their shoes. They picked their pockets and took their guns. One ran out sobbing over her dead father."

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Megan Mills, 12, of Funkstown, also was impressed by the portrayal.

"I've lived in Funkstown my whole life and I see the re-enactment every year," Megan said. "But this year, people were, wow, acting all crazy, running out into the street to their lost family members, taking other people's guns and running away."

Ben Seifert, 12, of Hagerstown, who never had seen a Civil War re-enactment, said he was moved by the poignant display.

"It made me feel as they might have felt back during the war," Ben said. "It was tense and sad and emotional."

Emily Miller, 9, of Funkstown, was caught up in the excitement of the event.

"Troops of soldiers marched right past me while I rode my bike," she said.

Townspeople left treats on their porches for troops and visited encampments on the hill in Funkstown Park.

The Battle of Funkstown Re-enactment did not happen last year for the first time in more than a decade. This year, the Funkstown Town Council resolved to bring it back. Councilman John Phillips III said organizers aimed to "pick up the re-enactment where it left off and add some more."

Maryland state hotel-motel tax allocations meant to promote tourism helped the group pull that off. Funkstown Town Councilman Jerry Walker said the town received around $13,000. A small portion of that money will be used toward Halloween and Christmas events. The rest was used to expand the re-enactment to an activity-filled three-day event.

"We said, 'Let's go for broke,'" Walker said. "We added food, vendors, inflatables, a band and fireworks."

Bethany Starliper owns The Primitive House in Funkstown and ran a vendor booth at the Day in the Park.

"I don't think a lot of people realize there are businesses in Funkstown," Starliper said, "This is a good way to draw attention to this small, quaint town."

Walker said the response from re-enactors exceeded the organizers' expectations.

"The re-enactment was dying out, and now we have 50 or 60 re-enactors here," he said.

Re-enactor Mark Benner, 47, of Hagerstown, and his sons, Nick, 19, and Ben, 17, said they were "definitely interested in getting this going again."

"Today, it was hard to get the idea of what the street fight was about with only about 25 soldiers on each side, but as the numbers grow, this event will get better and better," Mark Benner said.

Activities drew to a halt briefly during the afternoon due to a downpour, but picked back up before the 4 p.m. field re-enactment.




If you go



What: Funkstown Day in the Park and Battle of Funkstown Re-enactment

When: Today

Where: Funkstown Park

Today's events



o 6 to 9 a.m. -- Pancake breakfast in the lower park pavilion

o Noon -- Music by the 97th Regimental String Band in the upper park pavilion

o 1 p.m. -- Final field battle on the hill

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