Hundreds of people witness the re-enactment of the Battle of Funkstown

July 21, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • Confederate soldiers reload on Baltimore Street in Funkstown while battling with Union soldiers Saturday during the re-enactment of the Civil War battle at Funkstown.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

Smoke and the smell of gunpowder wafted over the field at Funkstown’s Community Park Saturday afternoon as re-enactors in blue and gray fatigues fired rifles and booming cannons back and forth.

Hundreds of people from around the area stood witness to the re-enactment of the historic Battle of Funkstown, which originally place in the small town on July 10, 1863, when Confederate forces withstood a Union attack while retreating toward Williamsport.

“I think there was at total of approximately 600 casualties here on this field,” Funkstown Town Councilman John Phillips said. “To me, that’s a great number. Whether it’s 20,000 or 600, it’s a place for them to be remembered.”

The re-enactment, which was the second of the day after a battle on Main Street earlier, is part of Funkstown’s Day in the Park event, sponsored by the town for the past four years, Phillips said.

“It’s just growing and the town’s so supportive of it,” he said. “I thought it would be a slow process, but it’s working out real well for us right now. The town has been excellent ... and that’s what the people love here.”

Starting out with 29 re-enactors four years ago, it’s grown mightily since. Phillips said 239 re-enactors registered for the weekend.

“These guys, they believe in it,” Phillips said of the re-enactors.

One re-enactor, Rich Walters, said it’s important to teach people the history of the Civil War and to remember why the battles were fought.

“So much of our history is being lost and being rewritten by not only our teachers in school ... but our government is actually rewriting history as much as possible,” said Walters, a central Pennsylvania native. “We’re out here basically to teach people about the Civil War because it was really a traumatic time in our county. It actually shaped our country today.”

Walters said re-enactors travel from all over the Northeast for the event, some from as far away as Virginia and New Jersey.

It’s a labor of love, he said.

“I love to get out there ... and the smell of that gunpowder and the smoke rolling back across you,” Walters said. “When you’re out there on the field, it’s very exhilarating. You actually get to see a little bit about what battle was really like, even though nobody is really shooting at you.”

The battle kicked off with the loud noise and percussion of several cannon booms that had many covering their ears.

Jessica Dean of Fayetteville, Pa., came to see the re-enactment with her four children, Kendra, 13, Abigayle, 7, Cole, 6, and Caleb, 2.

Dean said they attend numerous re-enactments, but Funkstown’s display was unique because of how close people were to the cannon and gunfire.

“It was a lot louder,” she said. “The cannons usually aren’t as close to the people as they were today, but it was a lot of fun.”

Saturday’s Day in the Park events also included free entertainment for kids, lots of food and craft vendors, music by the 97th Regimental String Band and a fireworks display at dusk. Another field battle will take place Sunday at 1 p.m.

Phillips said about 1,000 people came out for last year’s event, and similar numbers were expected this year as well. Everyone is welcome, not just Funkstown residents, he said.

“It just makes the whole day fun,” Phillips said.

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