Civil War soldiers to march on Greencastle

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

In two weeks Greencastle will be overrun by soldiers and people in period clothing. April 7 to 10 marks the start of The Invasion of Pennsylvania, a statewide initiative of PA Civil War 150, to commemorate the sesquicentenniel of the war that impacted not only the nation, but also Greencastle and Franklin County, dramatically.

All activities are free and open to the public. The Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce reports that visitors from as far away as Florida are planning to attend. Both Civil War buffs, novice historians and the curious are invited to participate in the wide range of events on Thursday through Sunday.

Members of the American Living History Educational Society will be present, spending their time in Greencastle as soldiers in the Union or Confederate army, or as citizens of the 1860s. They will reenact The Dahlgren incident on Center Square at 2 p.m. April 9. They will camp out at Allison-Antrim Museum. Over the long weekend, they will demonstrate artillery, recruit bystanders, show off the infantry, present the cavalry, and retreat from town.

Kirk Davis, a member of the society, is also on the Greencastle planning committee with Joel Fridgen, executive director of the chamber of commece; Bonnie Shockey, president of the Allison-Antrim Museum board of directors; Janet Pollard, director of the Franklin County Visitors Bureau; Ted Alexander, historian; Kenneth Womack, Greencastle borough manager; Rob Lightfoot, sound technician; and Allen Baldwin and Randy Phiel, other living history coordinators.  

Living history

Davis will appear as Fighting Joe Hooker, a Union general. He has portrayed other people at different events, including a medical officer, a confederate general, a cavalry commander and President James Buchanan’s vice president. He credits Baldwin with scripting the battle activities.

“As our military commander, he and each of the commanders below him are committed to the excellence of the battle engagement as it happened 148 years ago,” Davis said. “The largest part of each battle is based on historical accuracy, but also, ‘can we do this safely?’”

The American Living History Educational Society has 180 members from the four-state area, and formed 14 years ago. Davis lives in Hagerstown, Md. and works in Charles Town, W. Va.

He and his peers enjoy teaching the public about the Civil War and its affects on the general population.

“We like teaching the young folks because, unfortunately, the school systems are so stressed just to get basic information about the history of America out to them,” he said.

The public may participate in the reenactments, highlighted by the Skirmish on the Square, and he is optimistic they will enjoy the experience. He also welcomes new members to his group.