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Civil War re-enactors keep it real at Renfrew

August 08, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • Worshipers meditate Sunday during a church service for Civil War reenactors participating in the 30th annual encampment and battles at Renfrew Park in Waynesboro, Pa. They are, left to right, Jim Pickering and his daughter Emily, of Annapolis; and Beth and David Valentine, of Waynesboro.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- "Battle" conditions seem to have improved in the past 146 years.

The living historians participating in the 30th annual encampment and battles at Renfrew Park this weekend took great strides to be authentic. But there are certain advantages now to participation, including ice, handheld radios for coordination, and a golf cart to carry the victorious colonel off the battlefield.

Still, driving hours on hot days to sleep in tents, dress in wool, and, for women, walk barefoot across manure-strewn fields doesn't appeal to everyone. The 200 people camped out at Renfrew Park weren't complaining.

Organizer Don Biesecker said Sunday he was happy with the involvement, especially "considering the economy and there were three Civil War encampments this weekend within 12 miles of each other." He said visitors also flocked to the encampment, which featured battles on Saturday and Sunday, a non-denominational church service and a string band.

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"You're always learning," Biesecker said of the events.

For Natalie Carranza, visiting the Renfrew encampment helps her visualize lessons taught in geography class at school.

"We talk about where it was and who went," said Natalie, 10.

Natalie and her parents, Joe and Marta Carranza, were visiting family in Waynesboro. Douglas and Elizabeth Carranza said they've stopped by the encampment a few times over the years.

"It's a good event to come to for a couple hours and for the kids to learn about history," Douglas Carranza said.

He said he was disappointed Sunday afternoon's battle was on a hill, where it was more difficult to see than some others he's watched.

Biesecker said each side is permitted to win one battle over the weekend, and the North fared best Sunday. They were focusing on a battle fought in Mississippi on Aug. 10, 1864.

Nelson Eckstine from Leitersburg used to participate in re-enactments and stopped by Waynesboro to look for friends from his unit, the 7th Maryland Co. He and his wife, Kathy, said they prefer more intimate encampments like the one at Renfrew.

"You can get up close with the people," Kathy Eckstine said.

Nelson Eckstine said he'd like to start participating again to mimic the lifestyles of his ancestors who fought.

"I always liked (re-enacting) because of the good history and to see how they lived and fought," he said.

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