A final charge as GCC ends Civil War Encampment

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 April 2015 at 12:00 am

College completes Civil War commemoration, honoring 150th anniversary of pivotal war

Photos and article by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – The Union soldiers make a charge on the Confederates during today’s mock battle at the GCC’s Medina campus center on Maple Ridge Road.

The campus has hosted Civil War Encampments the past three years. In 2012, the first encampment was at GCC’s campus in Lima.

Confederates cover their ears and fire one of the cannons during today’s mock battle.

This is the final encampment in the college’s four-year commitment to honor the 150th anniversary of the war. Besides the encampments, GCC has hosted many lectures, exhibits, period concerts and other events to highlight the war and unravel any myths about the “War Between the States.”

In Orleans County, GCC has also sponsored the “Heritage Heroes,” given to local residents committed to preservation projects.

Gary Glaser, left, and Wayne Gerry, both from Southern Ontario in Canada, do a cavalry demonstration today. They also fought with the Union during the mock battle. They were newcomers to the encampment in Medina this year. Glaser said the cavalry were like the “helicopters of the day,” used to run messages and quickly move soldiers.

The Medina community proved a great partner for the Encampment, opening up its downtown for parades and special events, including a surrender ceremony on Saturday. The village blocked off streets and made State Street Park available for a skirmish between the Union and Confederate re-enactors on Saturday.

“It’s been phenomenal,” said Derek Maxfield, a GCC professor and Civil War Encampment coordinator. “The people of Medina have embraced this so much I feel bad that it is ending.”

Several donors from the Medina community have contributed funds along with the college to stage the annual event the past three years.

The rebels are on the move and charge at the Union.

This Confederate soldier grimaces after being fired on in the mock battle by the Union.

Medina village officials and Police Chief Jose Avila have been very accommodating to requests to include the community and bring the re-enactors outside the GCC campus. Maxfield knows there was added work and worry for the village officials, especially for Avila with the mock battle and the sounds of gunfire in the park on Saturday.

“Jose Avila and Mayor Andrew Meier have been very good to us,” Maxfield said. “All we’ve ever had to do is ask. Not all communities rally around history and heritage like in Orleans County. In other places they have let their buildings go. In Orleans County and in Medina there is a will here.”

The battle in the park and the surrender ceremony were moving to onlookers. “It was one of the finest displays of living history come alive I’ve ever seen,” said Chris Busch, chairman of the Orleans Renaissance Group.

He made those remarks on Saturday from a stage on Main Street. He presented Maxfield with an award on behalf of the ORG and Medina community for his efforts in bringing the Civil War Encampment to Medina.

Derek Maxfield, center, holds an award for his efforts to coordinate the Civil War Encampment in Medina the past three years. Chris Busch, left, of the Orleans Renaissance Group and Robert Waters of the Medina Sandstone Society both praised Maxfield for his efforts.

Maxfield and Jim Simon, dean of the GCC Albion and Medina campus centers, would like to see a Heritage Festival in the county next year. They have pitched the idea to some of the local organizations and so far the feedback is good, Maxfield said.

About 100 re-enactors were in town for the Encampment over the weekend. They were grateful for the chance to dig up the campus grounds, building fences and other elements for the battles.

“Here you can do earthworks,” said Scott Lavigne, a re-enactor from Penfield. “You can build a snake rail fence and fill it with sod.”

Lavigne has been pleased to see the Encampment grow in Medina, adding the mounted cavalry this year, the battle in the park, the surrender ceremony and the many exhibitors.

These Confederate soldiers get ready to fire a cannon.

The cannons are loud and leave a trail of fire and smoke.

Albion Middle School technologyteacher Doug Mergler, center with beard, has been a re-enactor with the Confederates for about 20 years. He is a sergeant with the 26th North Carolina Regiment Company G. He said the re-enactors are “trying to get people to remember the nation’s history.” He hopes the onlookers reflect on the sacrifices made by soldiers in all wars.

The Union fires a cannon back at the Confederates.

The Confederates get ready to mount a charge on the Union.

Two rebel soldiers are on the run, trying to pressure the Union. The Confederates won today’s mock battle.

Dan Culver of Shelby (pictured) is in the same Union unit with Scott Lavigne, right. Culver has been a re-enactor for two years when he isn’t teaching forensic science at Hilbert College in Hamburg. The two are taking a break before the mock battle on Saturday afternoon.