For hundreds of Civil War buffs, the Fourth of July weekend was spent physically in this Cascade mountain town, but mentally a continent and more than 130 years away.
Members of the Washington Civil War Association set up camp near Roslyn and then, with authentic gear ranging from uniforms to weapons, played the roles of Civil War-era soldiers and civilians.
In one encounter Saturday, Confederate troops appeared from the forest and quickly captured the Union troops’ cannon, only to be quickly confronted by Yankees who forced them into retreat, outflanked them and won the day.
Then came the applause, and the casualties that littered the field came back to life.
“My older brother died and so did my dad,” said Jeffrey Gerrer, 11, of Ellensburg, one of the hundreds gathered to witness the battle.
“It’s fake,” he added. “But this is what it was really like.”
Jeffrey wasn’t disappointed. He knew the Confederates would win the next battle, scheduled for 5 p.m.
Civil War re-enactments are relatively new to the Northwest. But the Washington Civil War Association, started in 1992, now has more than 650 members and organizes several battles a year.
Gen. Frank “Bullhead” Adams of Redmond, who played commander of the Confederate Army, is as close as they come to the real thing.
Adams said his great-grandfather served and was killed in the Civil War. Adams himself is a U.S. Marine Corps and Army veteran who served in World War II and the Korean War.
In 1959, Adams said, he was promoted to general by the last living Confederate soldier, Walter Williams, to carry on the Confederate high command.
Club members don’t have to be veterans. Many are history buffs, said Bruce Frazier, a Yakima accountant representing Company E of the Fourth U.S. Infantry.
“I’ve always been interested in military history ever since I was a kid,” he said.
The re-enactments educate the public on an important chapter of American history, said Ken Morgan of Olympia, commander of the Union troops.
“It represented growth in our country and it established the Constitution,” he said. “Up until then, states were more powerful than the federal government was.”
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