Men in gray, their rifles ready, encamp at mansion Guests replicate Civil War scene

October 11, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The lyrics of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" blared from a boombox, and the sounds of muskets pierced the cool fall air as the Civil War replayed in Sykesville Saturday -- by invitation only.

Soldiers were testing their weapons, but no battles ensued. The Union army was a no-show. A Pennsylvania unit had to cancel.

Only Confederate units took part in an encampment on the grounds of the Raincliffe Mansion. Carole and Arthur Twigg had set the event in motion when they opened their Raincliffe Road home and spacious grounds to guests and re-enactors.

"We are keeping history alive," said Mr. Twigg.

"If I could go back in time to the era, I would," said Mrs. Twigg.

Visitors could see authentic battle quarters, chat with enactors and tour the 1850s mansion and the remodeled tenement house, which is part of the estate where the Twiggs live. Their white-shingled home dates from the late 1700s.

Dressed in a gray wool uniform, the white-bearded Mr. Twigg played an imposing Gen. Robert E. Lee. He greeted about 150 guests, bestowing a gracious kiss on the hands of each lady and extending hearty handshakes to comrades-in-arms.

Mrs. Twigg said she encouraged her husband to grow his beard.

"I molded him to look like Robert E. Lee," she said.

For a donation to the Maryland monument, to be built on the Gettysburg battlefield, guests could have their photos taken with the general.

While her husband played the Southern hero, Mrs. Twigg, in the latest in antebellum wear, mingled with her guests.

The couple had combed antique cookbooks to cull authentic recipes.

"We wanted people to taste the actual foods and see what people had to go through during the war," Mr. Twigg said.

Nearby, bean soup in an iron caldron simmered over a low fire, and coffee brewed in an antique kettle. But guests left the hard tack -- cornmeal cooked in bacon grease -- alone.

A "deserter" was the only minor "casualty" of the day.

Pvt. Jim Rink, of Boring, shrugged and said that "we had to shoot him" for deserting.

Luckily for the deserter, nurse Martha Rink had accompanied her husband's unit to the encampment. She bandaged the errant soldier's head wound -- he was bleeding red dye -- and sent him back to his tent.

Many of the enactors had pitched tents on the grounds Friday. "Colonel" Arthur Greenholtz brought along a few creature comforts: his two horses and thick wool rugs for the floor of his "baker's tent." Mr. Greenholtz replicates camp furniture. He had sold nearly all his wares by sundown.

Erica Jones, 10, proudly put names to drawings of heroes and battles for a group of children.

"My grandparents taught me a lot of this Civil War stuff," she said of the Twiggs.

She will probably study the period often. The Twiggs plan to make the encampment an annual event.

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