War buffs surrounded at 2-day encampment

Portrayal: Love of history is common ground as re-enactors skirmish, socialize at annual event.

June 27, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,SUN STAFF

Surrounded by antique guns, cannons and men wearing winter-weight wool reeking of sweat, 11-year-old Michael Feuz was in heaven.

The Mount Airy boy was so excited about this weekend's annual Civil War encampment in Westminster, he listened to theme music on the drive there, and even wore his replica Confederate wool uniform jacket and hat in the nearly 90-degree weather.

"I first liked the Civil War in the third grade," said Michael, who is going into the sixth grade at Frederick Christian Academy in Frederick County.

He said his love for the Southern states has grown. He dreams of becoming a re-enactor -- and he's even painted his room "Confederate gray."

Michael, his 7-year-old brother, David, and their father, John, were among the small crowd gathered at the Carroll County Farm Museum yesterday, ready to learn about the Civil War from re-enactors who spent the weekend camping there.

The encampment will run until 4 p.m. today at the museum, 500 S. Center St. Admission is $3; $2 for seniors and children under 18.

Members of the 19th Georgia Infantry, Company D of the 2nd Maryland Infantry, the Maryland Battalion and other Civil War re-enactor groups fired cannons and held skirmish drills.

The groups included women, who braided each other's hair, sewed, and -- with their layers of petticoats, hoop skirts and crepe dresses -- sweated in the heat.

Linda Townsend wore four petticoats and a thick gray dress. She spent most of her time yesterday keeping an eye on her two daughters, Clarissa, a fourth-grader, and Gabrielle, a third-grader. Townsend has been a re-enactor for 12 years, while her husband, Jim, has been at it for 16.

The Townsends, from Glen Rock, Pa., prefer portraying Confederates, she said, but because there were too many Southern soldiers at the encampment, they were asked to play Yankees.

Linda Townsend said she thinks "women had it a lot harder" during the war.

If they lost their farms, "they had to follow their men and stay in different camps," she said. Otherwise they stayed on the farm, doing work many never expected to perform.

"They went to finishing school to be ladies, not feed the animals or bring in the grain," she said.

Since becoming a re-enactor four years ago, Westminster resident Genie Klohr said she has been studying women's roles in the war.

"Women were actually better at sending information," sometimes conveying important information through social circles, said Klohr, customer service associate for Visa International.

Klohr said she has been obsessed with the Civil War since 1995 when she helped a friend film a Civil War wedding. She met her husband, Barry, a member of the Maryland Battalion, through re-enacting. While Barry Klohr loads cannons and engages in mock skirmishes, she acts as a nurse to wounded soldiers. She also sews, and yesterday chatted with friends and battalion members Belinda Hoffman and Jennifer Nestler.

Hoffman, a substitute teacher from Millersburg, Pa., said she loves to teach people about the war and quiz them on trivia.

"Do you know what Ulysses S. Grant's real name is?" Hoffman asked her friends. "Well it's Hiram; that fact is only in two textbooks that I know of."

The Northern and Southern soldiers, about 50 total, planned to hold their skirmish at 4 p.m. yesterday. John Feuz said his family would stay to watch.

"We're not fanatics about the stuff, but it is a good thing for the kids to learn," said Feuz, a plumber who said he also has a love for the Civil War.

Taneytown residents Penny and Dale Dinterman said the re-enactments can teach things that textbooks leave out. This is the second year the Dintermans have been in attendance, and Penny Dinterman said, "We thought we would show them what [the Civil War] was like."

Pub Date: 6/27/99

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