Sunday, October 22, 2000

Historic battle to be re-staged

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORTH COLLEGE HILL — A few hundred re-enactors and several thousand spectators are expected next weekend for the eighth annual Civil War Re-enactment and Living History, an event that turns a city park into a mid-19th century battlefield and campground.

        The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Pies Park, located behind the Clovernook Center.

        The two-day event — which includes battle re-enactments at 1:30 p.m. each day — recreates both the battlefield and encampments during the Civil War, with both Union and Confederate soldiers, civilians and even sutlers, vendors who followed troop movements.

        It's also designed to be educational.

        Students are expected, notebooks in tow, to ask re-enactors about what they've learned of the Civil War experience just through re-enacting.

        Mayor Dan Brooks participates. He calls himself a “guest re-enactor.”

        Last year, he was a Confederate soldier in the medical corps.

        This year some have tried to talk him into being an infantryman.

        “The jury is still out on that one,” he said.

        But the event has been a learning experience for the mayor, as well as a way to introduce visitors to North College Hill.

        “It's amazing; you learn a lot,” said Mayor Brooks. “You start to learn why the war is so brutal. All these modern weapons are coming into play, but they still fought the war in Napoleonic style. They were standing straight up and shooting one another. I think that's what shocked me. No wonder it was such a brutal war. You get an idea of just how horrible war really is.”

        But beyond the the vicarious experience of battle, the event attracts between 250 and 300 re-enactors and several thousand visitors.

        “It gives us an opportunity to put our best foot forward,” said Mayor Brooks. “It exposes the city to people. They can learn who we are and what we are. It exposes the city to people who wouldn't necessarily come otherwise.”

        John Hale, who lives in West Chester but helped organize the re-enactment, said most of the re-enactors come in from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

        Many spend their weekends traveling to battle re-enactments throughout the Midwest and rest of the country.

        Mr. Hale himself is a re-enactor who is with the 5th Ohio Light Artillery, which has been doing re-enactments since May and includes 60 to 70 people.

        “For me it's a stress reliever,” said Mr. Hale. “When I go out on these re-enactments I forget about work. I forget about everything that is going on at home. I go live in another world for a couple of days. It's my way of getting away; plus, I'm a history buff.”

        The battle re-enactments are choreographed; the outcome is known.

        “There's always a little gamesmanship,” said Mr. Hale. “There's some latitude, but it pretty much follows a script.”

        There are activities planned for both days, in addition to the battle re-enactments.

        Admission is free, and free shuttle service is provided from the Thriftway parking lot at Galbraith Road and Goodman Avenue, and at the PNC Bank at Galbraith and Hamilton Avenue.


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