Volunteers prepare Bakersville Road site for re-enactment

September 13, 2012|By DON AINES |
  • The Sutlery camp at the re-enactment site was busy with merchants setting up their tents on Thursday preparing for the weekend's activities.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

It takes a lot of work to recreate the mayhem of war, and Kirk Davis and an army of volunteers have spent weeks preparing for battle.

The Williamsport man spent much of Thursday riding a four-wheeler over kidney-jarring terrain, preparing for this weekend’s Sesquicentennial Antietam Reenactment at Legacy Manor Farm on Bakersville Road. Davis is chairman of the 150th Antietam-Sharpsburg Committee.

With more than 4,000 re-enactors expected — and 165 or more horses — there are a lot of logistics to handle in preparation for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. Among the re-enactors are more than 2,000 infantry and about 1,100 artillerymen to man 70 cannon and mortars, Davis said.

The numbers could swell with good weather predicted for the weekend, said George Lomas, one of the event’s organizers.

Trucking in 24,000 gallons of water, 480 bales of hay, 100 bales of straw, dozens of portable toilets and bleacher seating for more than 3,000 are among the major details.

“In the last three weeks, I’ve been here every day from 8 a.m. until about 9 p.m.,” Davis said over the near-constant chatter coming across his two-way radio. Last weekend, there were 80 volunteers helping prepare the 60-acre battlefield and surrounding areas for encampments, a Living History Village, sutler’s area, parking and spectator seating.

William Wood Coe was at the Battle of Antietam, was wounded at Gettysburg and died Sept. 17, 1863. A descendant, also named William Wood Coe, helped get the farm ready this week.

There’s not much pay in working one of these events and “if you’re a re-enactor, you have to pay to do it.”

“We do it because we love it,” Coe said.

Today, the spectators will be school children, about 1,500 from Washington County Public Schools in the morning and 500 homeschooled children in the afternoon, said Barb Mowery of Gettysburg, Pa.

Students will be able to watch Union and Confederate generals plot strategy when they visit the Living History Village, as well as learn about the life on the homefront and Civil War-era medicine. 

With so many horses on the field, especially on Sunday for an 11 a.m. cavalry skirmish, a loader was going about filling groundhog holes to lessen the chance of a horse or a re-enactor stepping into one.

A number of sutlers, the civilian merchants who sold provisions to armies in the field, had set up their tents by Thursday, ready to sell their wares to the 15,000 to 20,000 people who could show up to watch the re-enactments and demonstrations Saturday.

The fight at Dunker Church will be re-enacted at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by Bloody Lane at 3 p.m. On Sunday, the cavalry skirmish will be followed by the battle for Burnside Bridge.

The gates will open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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