Canal Winchester resident Bob Davis has never held elective office, but he frequently introduces himself as Ohio's governor.

Canal Winchester resident Bob Davis has never held elective office, but he frequently introduces himself as Ohio's governor.

Gov. William Dennison, that is.

He identifies so strongly with the state's 24th governor that if he's asked his age, he replies, "I was born on Nov. 14, 1814, in Cincinnati."

Davis -- who is actually 71 -- is a Civil War reenactor. He said reenacting is about "perpetuating the memory and history of the Grand Army of the Republic."

He joined the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 1994. Shortly afterward, he was assigned to Dennison Camp No. 1 and was almost immediately promoted to play the part of Gov. Dennison.

"Nothing like moving up to commander-in-chief of the Ohio forces," Davis said.

Dennison Camp No. 1 members participate in events all over Ohio. Davis said he typically appears at school events, flag-raisings and at cemeteries, especially Green Lawn Cemetery, where Dennison was buried.

On Saturday, he and other Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War will be at Fryer's Park Century Village from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the annual Encampment event. The park is located at 4185 Orders Road, Grove City. Encampment is free and open to the public.

Gov. Dennison, however, doesn't tend to get involved in battle much. On the other hand, he makes speeches, Davis said.

He recalled a time when he spoke for an hour and a half in what he called the "first-person history talk of my life."

His knowledge of Gov. Dennison comes primarily from a 400-page dissertation written by an Ohio State University history professor in the early 1990s.

Davis can be pretty convincing: He said he once spoke at a school event in Dublin with another man acting as President Abraham Lincoln.

Later, there was an evening ball and as the actors portraying Dennison and his wife, the president and his wife strolled in full garb through the courtyard, they came across a young lady who had obviously been drinking.

"She said to us, 'Oh, my. It can't be,'" he recalled.

The duties of the governor for Encampment this year will be to read a memorial speech to honor a Civil War veteran, Davis said.

Later, the Union troops will fall in line and Gov. Dennison will congratulate them for their courage in battle during the Civil War -- or as Davis calls it, the "War of the Southern Rebellion."

Although he's been retired since 1990, Davis keeps busy portraying Gov. Dennison.

"You wouldn't believe my retirement calendar," he said.

This will be the seventh year for the Encampment at Fryer's Park. Event chairwoman Joan Eyerman said there have been several new attractions added, including the arrival of Confederate troops, cannon, a trapper, Native American traditional dances and musical performances.

"Our goal is to keep adding attractions to attract people," she said.

Currently, the event lasts only for one day, which doesn't leave time for battle reenactment, Eyerman said. However, she said, plans are in the works to expand Encampment to two days. She said this should take place within a couple years.

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com