Civil War refought at Cold Spring Village

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 COLD SPRING – A group of Confederates fired at the Union Army, then crouched behind trees to reloaded their muskets.

The soldiers from the South were on a mission to take over the building occupied by the troops from the North.

Re-enactors shoot at the Confederate camp Saturday at Historic Cold Spring Village.
Re-enactors shoot at the Confederate camp Saturday at Historic Cold Spring Village.

Several men from both sides were shot. Union forces proved to be too much, and the Confederates retreated to their own camp.  

Onlookers watched from behind yellow caution tape as re-enactors took part in a skirmish Saturday at the annual Civil War Weekend at Historic Cold Spring Village in Lower Township.

"It felt good” to keep possession of the building, said Pat Gant of Rio Grande, who portrayed a Union soldier. “We don’t skedaddle.”

When Gant re-enacts he said he recalls what the real soldiers experienced.

"Unbelievable," he said.

The Civil War took place from 1861-65, when several southern states attempted to secede from the United States. It remains America’s bloodiest conflict. The war saw no battles in New Jersey, but tens of thousands from the state fought for the Union.

Gant said he has participated in re-enactments of several Civil War battles, including Gettysburg and Antietam.

The Confederates lost Saturday’s skirmish at Historic Cold Spring Village, but Sunday was expected to turn out differently, said Marty Runner of Burleigh, who acted as a Rebel soldier. He said the South would overtake the Union.

He has joined in re-enactments for more than 25 years, from New York to the Carolinas.

"I've always had a love of history, especially 19th century," he said. "The heritage needs to be kept alive."

Runner said he had family members fight for the North and South during the Civil War.

Not as many soldiers turned out this year for Civil War Weekend because of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, which drew numerous re-enactors and Civil War buffs. That battle, the first major one of the war, happened near Sharpsburg, Md., and Antietam Creek.

Fewer re-enactors turning out to the event at the Historic Cold Spring Village didn't seem to bother spectators.

Marc Moore, 13, of Clermont, Dennis Township, said he enjoyed being at the event Saturday. He came with his family.

Before the skirmish, he said he liked being able to be near where the battle would be waged.

At the Union camp, soldier Bill Lyman of North Cape May, Lower Township, explained to 12-year-old Joseph Wilhelm of Hammonton, Atlantic County, about the muskets used by most soldiers during the Civil War. Holding the gun, Lyman said that only one shot could be fired before reloading.

He said an experienced soldier can reload three times in one minute.

"Speed is fine, but accuracy is everything," Lyman said.

Wilhelm said he is fascinated with wars.

Watching the Saturday afternoon skirmish, he said he took interest in how the soldiers "took cover to reload."

For some in Cape May County family, re-enacting is a family affair.

Danielle Lyman of North Cape May said she has probably been in the hobby for 10 years after being drawn in by her husband, Bill Lyman.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Their children, Brianna, 10, and William, 3, and Bill’s parents, Rita and Gene Sicilia, were also dressed up in Civil War-period garb Saturday.

Rita Sicilia, of Del Haven, Middle Township, remembers buying her son Bill re-enacting accessories for his birthday and Christmas.

Danielle said reenacting is amazing and unique.
“The Civil War created who we are,” she said. “I am honored to represent them [the Union].”

Rebel re-enactor Lynette Adkisson of Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County, said she enjoys meeting people and sharing Civil War history.

Adkisson’s 6-year-old daughter also takes part in the hobby, having done it two or three years. It was her first time reenacting at Historic Cold Spring Village, her mother said.

Spectators stood around a table at the Confederate camp as Clare Juechter of Erma, Lower Township, held hard tack, a long lasting biscuit that soldiers would have eaten during the Civil War.
It’s a hard food and best dipped in coffee, she said.

“You’re welcome to touch it because I’m not eating it,” Juechter said. She has been re-enacting for 15 years, and she said she even met her husband through the hobby.
One man picked up the tack and said it was more like tile.

Ingredients were also set around the table, including sugar and molasses.

At another table in the Confederate camp, Mark Stanton of Ocean City talked about medicines and instruments used during the Civil War.

Some of medicines would be illegal today, he said. A few of them contain a now illegal drugs or some kind of poison.

Stanton has been re-enacting for more than a decade.

Elsewhere on the grounds of Historic Cold Spring Village, the Camptown Shakers performed period music. One of the songs they played was “Oh, Susanna.”

Confederates try to overtake a building occupied by the Union Army. Confederates try to overtake a building occupied by the Union Army.

Confederates try to overtake a building occupied by the Union Army. Confederates try to overtake a building occupied by the Union Army.

Bill Lyman of North Cape May, Lower Township, plays the tin whistle at the Union camp. Bill Lyman of North Cape May, Lower Township, plays the tin whistle at the Union camp.

Pat Gant of Rio Grande sits at the Union camp Saturday. Pat Gant of Rio Grande sits at the Union camp Saturday.

Re-enactor Bill Lyman explains the musket during Civil War Weekend at Historic Cold Spring Village.
Re-enactor Bill Lyman explains the musket during Civil War Weekend at Historic Cold Spring Village.

Denise Lyman of North Cape May, her daughter Brianna, 10, mother-in-law Rita Sicilia and son, William, 3, are all involved in re-enacting.
Denise Lyman of North Cape May, her daughter Brianna, 10, mother-in-law Rita Sicilia and son, William, 3, are all involved in re-enacting.

Union soldiers. Union soldiers.

Confederate re-enactor Marty Runner of Burleigh. Confederate re-enactor Marty Runner of Burleigh.

The Camptown Shakers performed at Civil War Weekend at Historic Cold Spring Village. From left, Renny Allgyer of New Holland, Pa., Dave Culgan of West Grove, Pa., and King Bennett of Newark, Del.
The Camptown Shakers performed at Civil War Weekend at Historic Cold Spring Village. From left, Renny Allgyer of New Holland, Pa., Dave Culgan of West Grove, Pa., and King Bennett of Newark, Del.


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