Seen and heard at the re-enactment site

September 14, 2012

People came from far and wide Friday to the site of this weekend’s Sesquicentennial Antietam Reenactment at Legacy Manor Farm off Bakersville Road. The Herald-Mail caught up with a few of them:

Ralph C. Lincoln
Berlin, Pa.

Abraham’s Lincoln third cousin showed up at the Sesquicentennial Antietam Reenactment site Friday. Ralph C. Lincoln said he has an ancestor related to one of Lincoln’s great-grandfathers.

Despite the connection and his admiration for the 16th president of the United States, whom he portrays, Lincoln said he was never awestruck by the relationship.

“I grew up with it, so it’s nothing new to me,” he said. “Impersonating him is educational, and there are a lot of people out there craving proper history.”

Lincoln, 55, said the most interesting piece of information about his third cousin is his education.

“Of all our presidents, he’s the least educated and most quoted,” he said. “He was self-taught.”

Lincoln, who has been portraying the president since 2007, set up a tent in the Living History village Friday.

Dana Lee Dembrow
Sykesville, Md.

Having been interested in the Battle of Antietam since he was a child, Dana Lee Dembrow, 58, dressed up as a Confederate soldier and set up a spot at the Antietam re-enactment site where he could explain the battle to people who passed by.

“When I was 12 years old, I wanted to go to Antietam National Battlefield for my birthday,” he said. “It’s the most interesting story of military conflict.”

Dembrow, who works as a state judge and is a board member of the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals, spends time explaining the battle from a living history perspective.

At his site, he had maps displaying where General Lee’s army broke apart and where the Union went. He also had pictures and a sample of the Special Orders 191 from General Lee wrapped like a cigar. One of those special orders ended up falling into Union Gen. George McClellan’s hands.

Bob Fark

A retired civil engineer who collects old guns and ammo, Bob Fark dressed up as a private in the Union and showed up at the Antietam re-enactment site with rifles used during the Civil War.

“The casualties were high in the war partly because different tactics were being used,” he said. “There were more than 800 different shoulder arms used during the war.”

Fark, 70, explained the progression of technology used in the war, from rifles made in 1820 to rifles made in 1861.

“Ninety percent of the casualties during the Civil War were caused by the 1861 Springfield model rifle,” he said. “The consistency of manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution increased the rifles that could be used.”

Chris Opdenaker
Quarryville, Pa.

The horrors of wounded soldiers are always a part of the Civil War stories, and Chris Opdenaker demonstrated a response to that.

Opdenaker, 49, dressed as somebody representing the Sanitary Commission at the Antietam re-enactment site Friday. The commission raised money to provide aid to Union soldiers.

“This saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives,” she said. “Nurses helped set up cleaner conditions, and supplies were sent to soldiers.”

Opdenaker said she runs a digital press in Quarryville for her full-time job but gives living history presentations at re-enactments as a hobby.

Dale Nichols
Biglerville, Pa.

Dale Nichols, who served in the Marines, said he was able to draw on his experiences when portraying a soldier at the Antietam re-enactment site Friday.

“Obviously, times back then were a lot tougher than today,” he said. “But some of the tactics are similar.”

Nichols, 22, portrayed a Confederate soldier from the 22nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment. He said he has an interest in the Civil War battles in Washington County and that he wanted to portray a soldier’s perspective during the war.

“My mom’s entire side of the family is from this area,” he said. “The soldiers are the ones who created the history.”

As a Marine, Nichols said he served all over Southeast Asia. He said portraying Civil War soldiers, though, is just a hobby.

Rene Kinard
Hanover, Pa.

As the battle stories are being told all over the Antietam re-enactment site this weekend, Rene Kinard went a different route in an attempt to demonstrate the spiritual issues the soldiers faced.

“I try to display the religious aspects of the Civil War,” Kinard, 49, said. “There were so many depths and casualties, so ministers were there to help them spiritually.”

Kinard, who works full time at York Wallcoverings, is a living history evangelical minister of Freedom in Christ Ministries. He puts on period chapel services representing the Colonial period, the Civil War period, World War II and Cowboy Churches. At the site, he was handing out small booklets with excerpts from the Bible.

Ron Hawkins
Colonial Beach, Va.

Ron Hawkins portrayed Confederate Gen. James Longstreet at the Antietam re-enactment site Friday. Longstreet was a commander of the First Corps of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

“Many of the questions are about what a general did and what his responsibilities were as opposed to the soldier,” he said. “I could do this every weekend.”

Hawkins, who works as an electrical engineer, said portraying specific people from a certain time is always exciting and challenging.

“Making things as period correct as possible is half the fun of this,” he said. “When portraying a particular person, you have to learn about that person, their family and the mannerisms of people from that area.”

Attempting to stay true to the mannerisms, Hawkins was smoking a cigar in addition to his outfit at the site.

Shirley Stone
Hinton, W.Va.

Attempting to bring attention to the families torn apart during the Civil War, Shirley Stone of Hinton was at the Antietam re-enctment site portraying a refugee Friday.

She said she was in the North teaching when the war broke out and was trying to get back home to her family in the South.

“All of the misplaced people in the war are important,” she said. “It’s important to see the hardships the war caused on the women and children. It was rough on a lot of the women.”

Stone, 69, is retired but worked as a private investigator for 20 years. She said she does re-enactments in various locations and recently did a 20-day riverboat cruise on the American Queen portraying the wife of General Lee.


— Caleb Calhoun

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