Re-enactors bring Civil War battlefield to life

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 Re-enactors bring Civil War battlefield to life

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PostSubject: Re-enactors bring Civil War battlefield to life   11/26/2009, 10:20 am

Re-enactors bring Civil War battlefield to life -

Cpl. Sheldon Rhodes was ambushed on Saturday by a group of Confederate soldiers who snuck around through the woods to cut him off while he was walking near Taberna.

Rhodes, a Civil War re-enactor with the 7th Regiment N.C. State Troops, was one volunteer with the regiment that set up camp at the Civil War Battlefield Park to provide visitors a living history experience.

The re-enactors showed off their weapons, equipment and uniforms for visitors, who trickled in throughout the day on Saturday for the New Bern Historical Society’s free tours of the 1862 Battle of New Bern site.

The tours were part of the programming for the “Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Emancipation” traveling exhibit, which is on display through Jan. 6 at the New Bern-Craven County Public Library.

The library was one of 63 libraries nationwide selected to host the display of writings, images of historical documents and photographs that show the evolution of President Lincoln’s thoughts on slavery and on the road to the Emancipation Proclamation.

Harry Goodman, a member of the New Bern Historical Society, said the battlefield is important to the history of the period. Lincoln was president during the Civil War, and the battle that took place on March 14, 1862, was part of the Union’s strategy for winning the war. The Union hoped to capture the port city of New Bern in order to eventually cut off a Confederate railroad supply line at Goldsboro, according to a pamphlet from the society.

The 7th Regiment was part of the Confederate Army’s defensive line that ran from the Neuse River to Brices Creek, said Jerry Shake, a society member who helped lead the tours.

As he pointed to the earthworks still visible on the battlefield, he explained that the Union broke through at the point where a group of militia was stationed on the line.

“They gave way as the battle commenced,” Shake said.

Rhodes said six of his ancestors fought with the Confederacy, and four of them were killed or wounded in the war. None of his ancestors fought with the 7th N.C. Regiment, but he started re-enacting about five years ago in part to honor their sacrifice.

“My family history got me interested in the Civil War,” he said.

Edward Fetzer, the ordnance sergeant in the regiment, has been a member of the New Bern Historical Society for more than 10 years.

Fetzer, like Rhodes, had family members involved in the conflict. He said he had members of his family who fought for both the Union and the Confederacy.

“I had people on both sides of Bentonville,” he said.

Janet and Don Hickman of Fairfield Harbour took the tour on Saturday because it was a nice day. Don said he’s been interested in the Civil War his whole life and has read a lot of nonfiction information on the subject.

Janet said that the couple even took a week of their honeymoon to tour Civil War battlefields among other historical sites in Virginia — although Don contends that the sites just happened to be on the way.

“I think it’s great they’re going to preserve it and continue with it,” he said of New Bern’s battlefield.
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