September 30, 2010 - 1 Comment

by Jim Barnes

In my haste to get this out, I neglected to note that this was submitted by Nick Korolev (Very sorry Nick!) ed.

The Hampshire County Heritage Fest takes place every 2nd weekend in September. The Civil War living history and reenactment part of this fun festival has only been going on for a few years, but this year was bigger and better than ever. The weather was perfect – cool and sunny with a thunderstorm, thankfully only on Saturday night. This was a free event with water, hay and wood provided and a wonderful free chili dinner on Friday night for all reenactors at the fire station in Romney. The Union was camped out at the historic Fort Mill Ridge and the Confederates at Sitar Farm near the railroad and new bridge construction.

Richard “Byrdie” Byrd with 30 years of experience in reenacting was the reenactor liaison for this event, and outdid himself arranging logistics, setting up the Union camp space, making sure waivers were signed and helped organized the planned scenarios with the historical society and festival planners. This year he also came up with the same rules followed at the big events to insure gun safety and the rigorous following of planned scenarios to keep everyone safe and on the same page to curb any problems with the “yahoo/cowboy” faction that often shows up at small and medium events. These rules were distributed at both camps and strictly enforced by Union commander, Steve Reincke and Confederate commander Jason Studantwalt with the result of a pleasurable safe event for the public and the reenactors alike.

I arrived late Friday morning to help with registration in the Union camp and camped out in my car for the weekend not feeling like setting up my tent after a long previous weekend of working at Lost River State Park as naturalist and major bout during the week of fall cleaning and yard work at my house which I have on the market. For the weekend, I was working on the staff of cavalry commander, John Brindle, with a rank of second lieutenant, doing public crowd control at the first scenario and camp watch for the second scenario so I did not bother with bringing weapons except for a side arm. We had artillery in camp at the fort, but the mounted cavalry never showed for the event. Because of the drought in the area, the Romney Fire Department left a big yellow 2,000 gallon portable open reservoir container at the edge of our camp in the parking lot and each fire pit had to have a bucket of water in reach. There must have been a slow leak in the reservoir for the water kept slowly going down without anyone using it. This became an instant camp joke – we attributed it to the very thirsty invisible cavalry horses. The only real weekend problem for both sides was yellow jackets and hornets which resulted in several people being stung.

At the first morning’s assembly we had a moment of silence to honor those who perished in the 9/11 attack. After weapons inspection, Saturday’s scenario was a recreation of the Confederate attack on the fort and the Union defense. Our troops, that totaled 30, manned the trenches with the artillery firing along side. The scenario of two attacks by the 70 Confederates that showed was done in company groups that was followed by a third and final mass attack with them taking heavy casualties followed by their retreat. It went off very well despite a small fire in the leaves that was quickly extinguished.

Some of the troops left before Sunday’s battle which resulted in an approximate count of 17 Union and 58 Confederates. The Potomac Eagle, with passengers aboard, was a last minute change in a planned scenario to take place at the Sitar Farm. This new scenario, based on a historic incident, had the Union on the train that was raided by the Confederates in an ambush started by artillery followed up by infantry. The Union troops left the train to fight, were defeated and those still left alive ended up prisoners. Though I was watching the Union camp, which was open to the public, I was told the members of the 1st West Virginia cavalry made a gallant suicide charge in the end and the scenario, though short, went well with no “yahoo/cowboy” incidents.

All units involved were asked back for next year’s festival. It is an enjoyable event in a town that really appreciates the efforts of reenactors to bring local Civil War history alive.

Nick Korolev

Comments (1)


October 3rd, 2010 at 6:13 pm    


Interesting story nicely written.

Bill Donegan

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