Reynoldsburg News

Civil War encampment

Re-enactors bring history to life at Civic Park


Soldiers dressed in blue and gray will take to the battlefield and cannons will boom and echo through Reynoldsburg this month when the fifth annual Civil War Encampment and Re-Enactment brings history to life at Civic Park.

The Society of Civil War Surgeons and the 5th Kentucky will present the encampment and a re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 22, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at Civic Park, 6801 Daugherty Drive.

A donation of $1 per person is requested.

The Battle of Antietam was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Union soil, near Sharpsburg, Md. It is considered the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with 22,717 dead, wounded and missing on both sides, according to

Peter D'Onfrio, president of the Society of Civil War Surgeons, said the goal of the event is to "educate the public."

He said the re-enactment will include firing four to six cannons.

"We want people to learn about what the life of a Civil War soldier was like 150 years ago," he said. "We will have infantry, artillery and cavalry. We'll set up a field hospital and will actually take people through a simulated leg amputation."

Mary Beth Hudson of the Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department has been on the re-enactment committee for the past two years, but has been involved in re-enactments of the Civil War for the past 28 years.

She said participants will describe the basic steps of the amputation and how swiftly field doctors had to deal with patients.

"Everyone automatically assumes there was no anesthesia used during these amputations, but it was not usually a 'bite the bullet' thing like you see in the movies," she said. "The doctors used chloroform or ether and it took between three and seven minutes for an amputation. They had to work very quickly because they had so many soldiers to tend to."

She said besides battle wounds, the top cause of death during the Civil War was disease from infection.

Hudson said the grisly aspect of battlefield amputation is just a small element of the re-enactment. The overall event includes battalion drills; music by the 73rd Ohio Voluntary Infantry Regiment; a ladies tea, with women dressed in hoop skirts and bonnets; and a grand military ball.

The ladies tea, which begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, will feature information about Pauline Cushman, a spy during the Civil War.

"We will have a lady doing a first-person impression of Pauline Cushman and she will talk about what she did during the war," Hudson said.

The ball is at 8 p.m. that Saturday.

"You do not have to be in period attire to attend," she said. "We will teach people the dances, which are all dances that were popular during the Civil War. It is always a fun evening."

She said visitors also will be able to meet people portraying Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

"President Abraham Lincoln will attend on Sunday," she said.

A special "children's drill and battle" takes place both days, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

"We'll have wooden rifles for the kids and they will be taken through the drills," she said. "Then we take them onto the battlefield and they have a battle against some of the re-enactors."

Hudson said the event has become a family adventure for both the re-enactors and the people who attend.

"I love history and love to teach history," she said. "We are all friends, so it is like sitting around the campfire for an evening. You wouldn't think that dressing in five layers in 90 degrees would be fun, but it is. The men are gentlemen and the women are ladies. It is a chance to see history come alive."

She said the Reynoldsburg Lions Club and the Knights of Columbus will sell hot dogs, chips, bottled water and other refreshments.

A schedule of events is available online on the Parks and Recreation page at