article and the accompanying photos are copyight The Sun Chronicle of
Attleboro, Massachusetts, and were originally published on Monday,
February 7, 2011
a previous article from The Sun Chronicle
Civil Event: Re-enactors Set to Mark War's Anniversary
CATHERINE KRUG FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE - Monday,
February 7, 2011
28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry of the Irish Brigade marches
into its annual meeting at the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall
next to Foxboro Common
in January. The group is preparing to mark the
150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War over the next year.
(Staff photo by Tom Maguire)
As the nation gets ready to observe the 150th anniversary of the start
of the Civil War, members of the 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
of the Irish Brigade are making plans to help commemorate the
weekend meeting at Foxboro's Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall
late last month brought together old and new members, dressed in full
kit, to discuss the Civil War's upcoming sesquicentennial.
electing officers and board members to deciding their event
schedule and answering policy questions, the meeting laid out plans for
the next year.
150th anniversary is to today's living historians what the Civil
War centennial was to re-enactors in the 1960s. It's the Big One," said
Tom Higgins, a lieutenant and recruiting officer of the regiment.
year was our strongest for recruiting in quite some time, with 15
new enlistments," Higgins said. "There are currently 60 members from
seven states. An additional three members have joined this year."
The 28th Massachusetts will continue its recruiting efforts in hopes of
reaching the 224 enlisted men and officers needed to accurately portray
unit as it took the field in 1863.
in the unit fluctuates over time. "There
is an ebb and flow of people coming in and out of the hobby,"
said Steve Eames, one of the founders of the 28th.
was a time when we had three companies, back in the late
'90s," Eames said. "135th Gettysburg, for example, we took 85 men down
to that re-enactment."
says there is growing enthusiasm for the 150th anniversary.
has been building for a while and guys are enlisting now so
they can be ready to take the field for the large-scale battle events
coming up," he said.
a typical year, the 28th takes part in 10 to 15 events, including
school presentations, parades, battle re-enactments and living history
Officer Steve Eames runs the annual meeting from the head of the table
inside the hall. A list of Foxboro residents that were killed in the
Civil War is behind him.
(Staff photo by Tom Maguire)
Grace of Gloucester is the highest ranking noncommissioned
officer in the 28th. As the 1st sergeant, it is his responsibility to
make sure his men are staying safe and feeling well.
includes little things, such as staying hydrated and eating well.
It also means making sure enactors are trained with black powder and
can operate a musket.
are like really primitive camping, but with a military
side," Grace said.
try to keep the experience authentic, by using "only the equipment
and tentage, etc. that Civil War soldiers were issued."
"Of course, what we as
re-enactors use is all reproduction stuff, but
the similarities between reproduced uniforms and equipment to the
originals can be amazing," he said.
a typical re-enactment, spectators can see a Civil War era drill, a
mock battle and other military demonstrations.
even mentions that
those with strong stomachs can
witness surgeon's or embalmer's demonstrations.
the next five years, re-enactors will gather to re-create most of
the Civil War battles.
First Battle of Bull Run will happen in July, outside Manassas, Va.
And enactors will travel for the battles of Antietam, Shiloh and
Fredericksburg next year.
battles at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg will be re-enacted in
2013, and Grant's Overland Campaign across Virginia is scheduled for
the conclusion of the sesquicentennial observance, we also
expect to participate in the Siege of Petersburg and
surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, just as the original 28th
Massachusetts did," Grace said.
battle re-enactments can attract 15,000 to 20,000 enactors, and
Higgins said the events draw "many times that many spectators."
1983, Eames and two of his fellow Revolutionary War re-enactors,
Mike Meyerdierks and Jon Mack, decided to create their own unit for
Civil War re-enactments.
were all Civil War buffs, so it seemed like a natural thing to do,"
researching several units, they decided upon the 28th, partly
because it included members from all over New England, and because "we
liked the idea of the Irish Brigade," Eames said.
original 28th had also seen many eastern battles, including
Gettysburg, a battle Eames wanted to participate in.
War re-enactors from the 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
Regiment of the Irish Brigade pose in front of Grand Army
Republic Memorial Hall, which is a
monument to Foxboro residents who
died in the war.
(Staff photo by Tom
group came together in time for the 125th anniversary, the first
cycle held since the 100th anniversary in the 1960s.
retired from the Civil War events after 22 years, but, following
a visit to the Gettysburg National Museum last May, chose to come back.
felt that I still have the energy to get out there and do this 150th
cycle," Eames said.