Renfrew Civil War re-enactment a learning experience

August 11, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Two Confederate Civil War re-enactors shake hands after being defeated by their Union counterparts Sunday at Renfrew Park in Waynesboro, Pa.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — As Civil War re-enactors portraying Confederate soldiers were leaving a mock battlefield at Renfrew Park on Sunday afternoon, Zachary “Zach” Gagliardi stopped one to ask questions about the flag used in the generic battle re-enactment.

The 12-year-old said he has learned quite a bit about the Civil War by visiting the Waynesboro encampment for several years. He can tell you about various models of bayonets and the way rifles took over for muskets in fighting.

“Every year we learn something new,” said his mother, Tina Gagliardi.

The Union and Confederate sides set up their camps in two separate areas of the park, where visitors could stop by tents for casual discussions. They re-enacted the Battle of Valverde (a Confederate victory in modern-day New Mexico) on Saturday afternoon, hosted a firing competition and gathered for music Saturday night.

“We like to engage the public. We like to educate,” organizer Justin Dorsey said.

After spending the rest of the weekend in the camp, Nate Plunkett and Sarah Lake changed out of period gear and into T-shirts to watch family in the Sunday afternoon battle.

Nate, 12, of Smithsburg, has been joining his father at similar Civil War events since he was a small child. Likewise, Sarah Lake, 18, of New Jersey attends them with her father and brothers, and they traveled to Renfrew Park for the second time.

“It’s a good starter re-enactment. It’s good because it’s small and people will help you out,” Lake said.

Nate said knowledge gained through re-enactments helps him in school, where he has occasionally corrected teachers on misinformation.

“It’s kind of fun to quote the teachers,” he said.

Tina Gagliardi of Rouzerville, Pa., echoed that the encampment provides educational lessons.

“We’re home-schoolers,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to get firsthand knowledge from amateur historians.”

Gagliardi said she’d encourage other families to stop by the encampment next year.

“It’s a very welcoming, open environment,” she said.

Dorsey, of Hagerstown, said the encampment is always looking for new participants who are passionate about history and historical preservation.

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