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Documentary on Hagerstown Civil War battle premieres

July 06, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Author Stephen Bockmiller, left, signs a copy of his book Hagerstown In The Civil War for Sharpsburg residents Sharon and Dave Peters Wednesday night at the Bridge of Life Center in Hagerstown. Bockmiller wrote and directed the Civil War documentary film Valor in the Streets: The Battle of Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Exactly 148 years ago Wednesday, Union and Confederate forces clashed in the streets of Hagerstown.

It happened three days after the Battle of Gettysburg as Rebel forces retreated south.

Trapped by a swollen Potomac River, the retreating Confederates were met by Union troops in mounted charges and dismounted duels.

What unfolded on July 6, 1863, while often overlooked, was not forgotten.

The events of that day stepped out of the annals of history and onto the screen Wednesday when the City of Hagerstown and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau premiered the documentary “Valor in the Streets: The Battle of Hagerstown.”

Written and directed by author and city zoning administrator Stephen Bockmiller, the documentary told the story of the battle using a mixture of live action, interviews with historians and narration by television news personality Kelly Wright of Hagerstown.

More than 100 people filled the Bridge of Life Center on South Potomac Street to see Bockmiller’s documentary.

The film was produced by the City of Hagerstown and funded through a public-private partnership involving the city, the CVB, The Hagerstown Trust Division of The Columbia Bank and the W.A. Hazel Construction Co.

Calling it his “baby,” Bockmiller said he was pleased with the final product, a sentiment echoed by the audience after the premiere.

Boonsboro historian Doug Bast said the documentary was very well done.

“I was really impressed with the movie,” he said. “It was realistic, well done and I could tell from the people that they were really enjoying it.”

Bast, of the Boonsboro Museum of History, said the documentary was balanced between live action, experts and narration to keep the audience engaged.

John Miller, park historian at South Mountain State Battlefield, was featured in the documentary.

“It was pretty good,” he said. “The battle of Hagerstown and the other small battles in this area are often forgotten aspects of the war.”

Tom Riford, president and CEO of the CVB, said his organization started receiving calls before the premiere Wednesday from people asking how they could obtain a copy of the documentary.   

Riford and Bockmiller said they hope to be able to offer it for sale but some logistics need to be worked out first.

The city plans to air the documentary on its cable channel, Bockmiller said.

When it will premiere on Channel 6 has yet to be determined, he said.

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