Civil War re-enactors soldier on at Mount Clare camp Authenticity holds line even in heat

May 24, 1992|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Staff Writer

Her hair in a snood, and herself insulated in stockings, drawers, petticoats, a hoop and cotton dress, Susan Youhn insisted she wasn't as hot as she looked in the 90-degree heat outside the Mount Clare Mansion in Southwest Baltimore yesterday.

She was among the 30 Civil War re-enactors who looked and dressed the part at Camp Carroll, a Civil War military village of cotton tents, rifles, cook stoves, supply barrels and railway yard that remains open to visitors today on a hill at Washington Boulevard and Monroe Street.

"We get asked three questions all the time. 'Are the uniforms hot? Are the weapons real? Do you really live in your tents?' The answer to all three is yes," said Don Rivera, a Sykesville resident who was outfitted in his realistic-to-the-last-thread blue wool Union uniform.

Ozzie Krasnokutsky of Baltimore also wore wool to peel potatoes and chop onions, carrots, peppers, green beans and beef for a stew to be cooked over an open fire for the evening meal.

The Civil War re-enactors came in two categories, military and civilian. Camp Carroll had members of the 1st Maryland Volunteer Infantry, the 20th Maine, the 2nd U.S. Regular Infantry and the 30th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

The civilians who accompanied the troops wore the outfits typical of 1860s America. The re-enactors place a high value on accuracy. Their spectacles have wire rims and even their underclothing is made of hand-loomed linen or cotton.

At age 1 1/2 , Amelia Youhn looked like an old daguerreotype come to life. She wore a sunbonnet, stockings, drawers and a cotton pillowcase dress.

"During the war, materials were scarce. It wouldn't have been unusual for a child to be dressed in an old pillowcase.

"The boys and the girls were each dressed alike until they were potty-trained. After that, the girls wore dresses and the boys knickers," said Mrs. Youhn, who came to Baltimore from the Southern Maryland town of Hollywood for the re-enactment.

Many of the day's events were planned by Walt Mathers, a Marley Creek resident and CSX brakeman.

"If you have two re-enactors, you'll have three opinions on the Civil War," he said.

The B&O Railroad Museum willingly participated in the weekend re-creation of Camp Carroll by sending out three separate trains.

Museum staff moved the usually stationary William Mason, an 1856 steam locomotive, as well as bright yellow wooden baggage and passenger coaches from their usual inside berth to a stretch of outdoor railroad track that runs just north of the Carroll Mansion.

The train does not operate under its own power. Its vintage coaches are open for inspection.

A hot job befell train engineer Thomas Arnold and fireman Jim Reaves. They fired up the Lafayette, a steam locomotive that the old Baltimore and Ohio railroad built for the 1927 Fair of the Iron Horse in Halethorpe. The original locomotive, based on an 1836 model, would have seen service during the Civil War as a yard engine. The coal-fired, steam-powered Lafayette will run from the B&O Museum at Pratt and Poppleton streets to Carroll Park throughout today. It doesn't carry passengers but it is unmistakable with its clanging bell, high-pitched whistle and belching smokestack.

Camp Carroll was one of many Civil War camps that ringed the city from Highlandtown to Gwynns Falls, Charles Village to Lafayette Square.

Union troops occupied the grounds of Mount Clare, an estate with a 1760 manor house, in 1861. It was then that the spot became known as Camp Carroll. The pasture just to the west, near the Montgomery Ward building on Monroe Street, served as a cavalry training area. The last military unit to be stationed at Mount Clare was the 1st Maryland Veterans Volunteer Cavalry.

Where to go

The public can watch the Camp Carroll re-enactment until 4 p.m. today. A train, headed by a Pere Marquette Railroad diesel switcher with two 1940s passenger coaches, will shuttle passengers between the B&O Museum, Pratt and Poppleton streets, and Carroll Park from 11:20 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The museum is open until 5 p.m.

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