Confederates win battle at GCC’s Medina Campus
Re-enactors will engage in mock battle again Sunday
By Sue Cook, staff reporter
MEDINA – The Genesee Community College campus in Medina roared with canon fire and gunshots as the Civil War re-enactors took to the battlefield this afternoon. The two sides of the battle included soldiers from the Confederacy and the Union taking up arms in a fight over state rights.
Many of the soldiers were from out of the area, and were invited to participate by locals. All those participating wore period correct uniforms.
Jay Black of Batavia invited Paul Harbaugh from Erie, Pa. Harbaugh was a lieutenant for the day on the Confederate side of the battle.
“I’ve been interested in the Civil War since I was six years old,” Harbaugh said. In grade school, he recalls the teacher telling the other students that any questions they had about the Civil War should be directed to Harbaugh, their fellow classmate.
General Grant (center in front of flag) was the first Lieutenant General since George Washington. The rank of a three-star general was revived by Lincoln and Congress.
Before the battle began, General Grant, portrayed by Ed Brodbeck of Cheektowaga, said that he was uncertain of how the battle for the day would go, but was very hopeful the Union would win the day’s fight.
“I don’t know the scenario yet. One day the rebel forces will win, one day the Union forces will win.”
He said this keeps it interesting for spectators to not know what type of battle they are about to witness and not know the result ahead of time.
In the mock battle, some of the soldiers acted as if they were wounded. Many men fell to the ground screaming, while others simply dropped on the spot. This young man called out to his friend for help, but ultimately was unable to survive the battle.
The Union soldiers wore blue. The Confederates had gray uniforms near the start of the war, but when Union forces cut off their supplies from English ships, they had to use what was available to them. Many of the uniforms are brown because women making the uniforms would use dyes made from tree barks, and would end up with variations.
Those who were injured on the battlefield were brought to the medics on stretchers if they were unable to walk under their own power. Major Legrande Capers of the 21st Georgia (portrayed by Dr. Spencer Annabel) provides medical help to Private Nelson Drake.
When asked how they know if they are supposed to be injured in the battle, Drake said, “The commander says ‘We gotta take some hits.’ Also, if you’re out of powder, or caps or just tired.”
Annabel said that most people think of Civil War doctors as being more like butchers, but this perception is wrong. “By the third year of the war, 95 percent of wounded soldiers lived to go home.”
Annabel explained how the Civil War affected warfare for later generations. Casualties in the war were 90 percent the cause of minie balls, the name for bullets despite their cone shapes, while only 10 percent were caused by artillery fire. This caused warfare to move soldiers into trenches to avoid rifle fire.
Dr. Annabel’s daughter Megan also participated by dressing up as a civilian. She is pictured here with Thomas Angelo. A well-known story involves civilians watching the Battle of Manassas near Washington, D.C. Though most civilians were out of harms way, picnicking roughly 5 miles away after their seven-hour carriage ride to the site, some men moved closer to the action. They had received old news from the front lines that the Union was winning, but upon moving closer were trapped in the confusion and panic of the retreating Union troops.
The battle at the GCC campus raged on for about an hour until finally the Union soldiers were overtaken by the Confederates. The battle was won as the Confederates raced across the enemy lines. The Union flag was handed off to the last two remaining Union soldiers who were told to take it and run.
At the battle’s end, a Union soldier played Taps for the fallen and the Union soldiers fired a salute.
Despite the result of today’s battle, Sunday’s fight at 2 p.m. may be different. A whole new scenario will play out and the two sides will fight one more time. The battle will conclude the encampment for the weekend.