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For re-enactors, a chance to tell history

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – A cannon goes off with a loud boom and explosion of smoke during a mock Civil War battle today next the GCC campus center in Medina. About 100 re-enactors are in Medina for an encampment. They will battle again on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Raymond Ball, a Civil War re-enactor from West Seneca, looks through a telescope to check Confederate and Union solider positions during a battle next to Genesee Community College in Medina this afternoon.

MEDINA – Robert Yott and about 100 other Civil War re-enactors dressed in cotton and wool uniforms on a warm Saturday. They marched down Main Street, cooked lunch over open fires and then went to war for an hour, chasing down the enemy.

“It’s a way to educate the public and give them a sense of what the men went through,” said Yott, a Bath resident who leads Wheeler’s Battery, a group of about a dozen re-enactors in the 1st New York Light Artillery Battery E.

Yott gave the soldiers instructions during a mock battle this afternoon. He told them where to aim the cannon and when to fire. Most of the re-enactors are descendants of Civil War soldiers from 150 years ago, Yott said.

“This is a way to honor them,” he said.

He continues to learn more about the war and the sacrifice of the soldiers and families. Most of the units were made up of soldiers from the same community. Brothers, family members and neighbors served alongside each other.

“They enlisted just like everyone in the village,” Yott said. “Many of them had never been off the farm.”

They would witness horrible deaths in the war. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder wasn’t yet recognized, but Yott knows the soldiers suffered mental anguish from the gruesomeness of the war, and the loss of so many friends and family.

Several hundred people watched the battle today between Union and Confederate re-enactors.

About 500 people lined the field where Union and Confederate soldiers went to war this afternoon. Tim Tydings, 29, of Rochester was tasked with “sponging the cannon” before it was fired. Tydings admitted his adrenaline starts to kick in when he smells the sulfur from the cannons and sees the black smoke.

When Yott’s group fired their cannon, a ring of smoke wafted up in the sky, drawing cheers from the crowd.

David Kreutz was among the onlookers. He was dressed as Abraham Lincoln. The retired General Motors worker from Depew has been portraying Lincoln for 16 years and is a member of the Association of Lincoln Presenters.

“Basically we’re trying to bring history alive for students,” he said. “It’s a lot of energy, but it’s worth it because you bring history alive.”

David Kreutz, an Abraham Lincoln presenter from Depew, shows over-sized pennies to people at the Civil War encampment in Medina.