September packed with activities tied to 150th anniversary of the Civil War

September 08, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Lloyd Clever of Clear Spring, Bill Coe of Gettysburg, Pa., Joe Forrester of New Freedom, Pa., and Mark Beasley of Williamsort, standing on top of the replica Dunker Church, build and prep landmarks on Legacy Manor Farm in Boonsboro Wednesday for the Battle of Antietam re-enactment.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

Usually, September is a relatively slow month for tourists coming to Washington County, according to Thomas B. Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This year, though, the calendar is packed with activities tied to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

A re-enactment will be held next weekend off Bakersville Road, south of Hagerstown.

Antietam National Battlefield has several events planned.

Riford said the National Park Service is estimating that about 200,000 people will visit the battlefield during a roughly 10-day stretch of Civil War remembrance events.

Generally, the battlefield gets about 900,000 visitors in an entire year, Riford said.

The re-enactment off Bakersville Road is expected to draw about 4,000 re-enactors, said Kirk Davis, one of the organizers.

He said about 4,000 students are expected to come to the re-enactment site for educational programs on Friday.

He projected Saturday’s crowd at around 12,000 to 15,000 people, with Sunday’s at 8,000 to 12,000.

Patrick Falci, who acted in the film “Gettysburg,” is scheduled to be there, as will Jeff Shaara, who wrote a trilogy upon which “Gods and Generals” and “Gettysburg” were based.

There will be a “mini illumination” with more than 3,600 candles, one for each person killed in action on Sept. 17, 1862.

Antietam National Battlefield plans to hold events every day from Sept. 14 through Sept. 22.

There will be lectures, hands-on activities for children and traveling exhibits.

Authors Edwin C. Bearss and James McPherson will speak there on Sept. 16.

On Sept. 17 — the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam — rangers will lead two extended battlefield hikes.

There will be a keynote speaker at an afternoon program that day, but the speaker’s identity is not being announced in advance.

From Sept. 13 through 16, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park will hold “Prelude to Freedom: The 1862 Battle of Harpers Ferry,” including talks, music and a battlefield bus tour.

The re-enactment off Bakersville Road follows another one that was held in Boonsboro Saturday and Sunday — “Maryland, My Maryland,” commemorating the 150th anniversary of the battles of South Mountain and Antietam.

Riford said other popular local events going on during the stretch of Civil War activities — such as this weekend’s Boonesborough Days — will have their own large crowds, too.

Other than the obvious history, Riford said, the battles are momentous in other ways, such as the emergence of battlefield photography and the advances in medical treatment through triage.

Most of all, commemoration events are “all about the closure to the violence of war,’ he said.

“History is so important in our lives,” Davis said while taking a break in the preparations for next weekend’s re-enactment.

The schedule on Saturday includes two re-enacted battles — one at Dunker Church and one at Bloody Lane.

On Sunday, there will be a cavalry battle re-enactment featuring nearly 160 horses on about 50 acres, Davis said.

The battle at Burnside Bridge also will be re-created on Sunday.

Tickets will cost $20 at the gate for adults and $10 for children younger than 13. Children 5 and younger will be admitted free.

The Boy Scouts and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau are selling tickets.

Davis said people also can call 1-800-929-1862 to buy tickets, which will get them a $2 discount.

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