5:38 PM EDT, September 15, 2012
People from throughout the United States showed up Saturday at the site of the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam. Here are some of their stories.
With activities occurring Saturday at the site of the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam, Jefferson Davis was quietly represented at a small tent at the living-history section of the site.
“When (Davis) went into the field, he didn’t want people to know the president was in the camps,” Bob Bosler, who portrayed Davis, said of the president of the Confederate States of America. “He regularly went to check on the morale of the soldiers.”
Bosler, 58, said he was portraying one of Davis’ surprise field visits. He said he has portrayed Davis in four major films, including “April 1865: The Month That Saved America,” “The Last Days of the Civil War,” “Three Days of Destiny” and “No Retreat From Destiny.”
Bosler said he is an auctioneer by trade, but he enjoys portraying Davis when he can.
“He was one of the greatest Americans that ever lived,” he said. “He was a very famous man in the political circles of Washington, D.C.”
With so much focus on the war on Saturday at the re-enactment site, Wilahemna Lauramore chose a different path with her husband, Johnny, looking to portray the fashion that existed during that period, mainly for women.
“We have a ladies’ sutlery with men’s vest and shirts,” she said. “It is in the time period for both the South and the North.”
Lauramore, 61, named her tent “Southern Family Impressions.” She said she works as a school bus driver during the week, but goes all over the country doing re-enactments with the clothes.
“It’s our history as Americans,” she said. “We need to preserve it for our kids.”
Lauramore said she has 48 ancestors who fought in the Civil War.
With the goal of proving that women had multiple roles during the Civil War, Maureen Costa showed up at the re-enactment site Saturday with the Federal General Corps dressed as a woman from the time period.
“Women were involved in the war effort much more than people realized,” said Costa, 32. “They weren’t just nurses and fundraisers.”
The Federal General Corps was founded in 2007, providing living-history presentations with the goal of educating people about the Civil War.
Costa said she works for an auction house in New Jersey, but takes part in the presentations about once a month.
“It takes you back to a time that you don’t live in anymore,” she said.
Mike, Maureen and Michaela Odian
Looking to portray family life during the Civil War, Mike and Maureen Odian brought their 12-year old daughter, Michaela, to the re-enactment site Saturday.
Mike Odian, 43, portrayed a blacksmith.
“I’m just showing people how the trade hasn’t changed very much since the war,” he said. “You still take bar stock and make a shoe.”
Maureen Odian, 42, was not portraying anybody specific to the time, but she dressed in period clothes with her daughter.
“When we moved to the area, we were just inundated with the history,” she said. “Mostly, my fun is for us to enjoy the time as a family.”
Mike works as a veterinarian, and Maureen works as a hospital manager, but they said they go to re-enactments two to three times a year.
“It shows there are a lot of different aspects to the war,” Mike Odian said.
Scotch Plains, N.J.
As re-enactment battles were occurring in the fields at the re-enactment site Saturday, Jim Weiss showed up to explain the role that the Confederate Navy had in the war.
Weiss portrayed Stephen Mallory, secretary of the Navy of the Confederate States of America.
“The Confederates were the first to use a submarine in combat during the Civil War,” he said. “I talk about the role of ironclads and submarines in the Confederate Navy.”
Weiss, 54, said the CSS H.L. Hunley was the first submarine to sink an enemy warship during the Civil War. He added it is important to give people details on this particular aspect of the war.
“Most people don’t know that a Navy existed during the war,” he said. “It’s important to let people know the role it played.”
When he’s not a re-enactor, Weiss works as an attorney in New Jersey.
People interested in Civil War history and music found the perfect spot at the re-enactment site Saturday to combine their interests.
Rick Long showed up as the leader of a group portraying the 46th Pennsylvania Regiment Band.
Long, 62, said music played a crucial part in the war.
“Every regiment had a band at the beginning of the war,” he said. “Music played an important part in a soldier’s life.”
Long added that the music also regulated soldiers’ days during the war.
“It was the command and control system,” he said. “Band music also maintained morale for the troops.”
Long said he is retired and sometimes takes part in two living-history events per month.
In addition to showing the support women provided to soldiers during the war, Carol Polkinghorne set out to portray the action some of them took.
She portrayed Abigail Stackhouse of the Dixie Rose Relief Society, which was a group of women who helped the Confederacy with war efforts.
“It’s important that as we’re remembering the war, we remember civilians affected,” said Polkinghorne, 48. “It’s also very important to remember our history.”
Polkinghorne said the roles of members in the Dixie Rose Relief Society included spying, smuggling medicines, reading the Bible to soldiers and sewing up flags.
She works in human resources, but she said that at least once a month, she tries to give a living-history presentation related to the relief society.
Beaver Falls, Pa.
Mourning and death were major aspects of the Civil War, and Donald Carothers portrayed an embalmer on Saturday at the re-enactment site to give perspectives to their roles.
“The Civil War is really what brought awareness of embalming,” said Carothers, 62. “Many people are used to being embalmed, but knowing the history is important.”
Embalming is the process of temporarily preserving human remains.
Carothers said he portrays a Civil War embalmer six or seven times a year, but his full-time job is working as an engineer at a nuclear power plant.
— Caleb Calhoun
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