2006-11-02 / Community

Blue and Gray still struggle

By Stephanie Bertholdo bertholdo@theacorn.com

BATTLE CRY-The Union and Confederate armies will meet again when the Moorpark Rotary Club stages its fifth annual Civil War reenactment on Sat. and Sun., Nov. 4 and 5 at Underwood Farms/Tierra Rejada Ranch in Moorpark. Special guests include Abraham Lincoln, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. For more information, visit www.clubrunner.ca/moorpark. BATTLE CRY-The Union and Confederate armies will meet again when the Moorpark Rotary Club stages its fifth annual Civil War reenactment on Sat. and Sun., Nov. 4 and 5 at Underwood Farms/Tierra Rejada Ranch in Moorpark. Special guests include Abraham Lincoln, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. For more information, visit www.clubrunner.ca/moorpark. Peaceful Underwood Farms in Moorpark will be the scene this weekend of the greatest battle of the Civil War, the bloody meeting between North and South at Gettysburg in July 1863. The famous battle took nearly 50,000 lives.

Soldiers in authentic period uniforms, shooting cannons and speaking the same language as if plucked from the annals of history will reenact several key battles of the pivotal Gettysburg campaign, the turning point of the war.

The Moorpark Rotary Club will stage the fifth annual "The Blue and The Gray" reenactment, including Pickett's Charge, Culp's Hill, the Wheatfield and Little Round Top, at Underwood Farms/Tierra Rejada Ranch on Sat., Nov. 4 and Sun., Nov. 5.

In addition to infantry clashes, cavalry charges, artillery barrages and realistic cannon explosions during the battles, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and President Abraham Lincoln will make his famed Gettysburg Address of Nov. 19, 1863.

Some participants will portray historical figures, but Agoura Hills resident Darrell Lee will keep his own name while taking on the persona of a bona fide Confederate artillery gunman in the battles of July 1-3, 1863.

"My 'person' is the way I think I would have been back then," Lee said. "The reenactment will be all about Gettysburg."

Lee, 40, is a history buff who takes Civil War reenactment seriously. Having performed in several reenactments every year for nine consecutive years, he knows how to walk, talk and act as a Confederate or Union soldier.

He owns three complete Civil War uniforms, Union and Confederate sergeants' attire and a private's uniform. Sometimes, he said, he portrays an artificer, a skilled mechanic of the day who repaired guns and equipment.

"It's disheartening to think about Americans fighting Americans," Lee said of the war that pitted family members against each other on the battleground.

"I really like educating thpublic and making things gboom with the cannon," he said

There will be plenty of booms on the battlegrounds, which will be plowed out of the cornfields now that the farm is between harvests. Lee said his unit, the Richmond Howitzers, will bring in heavy artillery such as two original Civil War cannons and six reproduction guns. One of the cannons is a "6-pounder," the largest cannon used during the Civil War. The name is derived from the weight of its cannonballs.

Some of the cornstalks, however, will remain. "Troops have to be able to sneak up" on the enemy, Lee said.

The 3rd U.S. Artillery Reserve will once again bring in several sixhorse teams. Lee estimates that 60 to 100 horses will be used to pull the cannons onto the field. The horse teams are traditionally a real crowd-pleaser, he said.

The Richmond Howitzers is composed of 80 volunteers, most of whom live in Ventura, Los Angeles or Orange county. The

group performs seven reenactments per year, usually near Tejon Pass, but sometimes travels north to Russian River, a town of 59 residents. Lee said the wooded, quaint town is "as close to Virginia as you're gonna find."

Following the battles of Gettysburg on Saturday, the performers will attend a dance at the farm's Walnut Orchard. Attendees will dress in authentic fancy period garb befitting mid-19th century fashion trends.

Party guests will learn to dance the "Grand March," several "quadrilles" between four couples and other square dances.

"We always have a great time," Lee said.

The public reenactment is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, behind the entrance to Underwood Family Farms at 3370 Sunset Drive in Moorpark. Gates open at 10 a.m. both days, and battles will take place at noon, 3 and 5:15 p.m. Saturday, and noon and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Vendors and refreshments will be available. Visitors can inspect Union and Confederate camps and learn about pivotal battles from the Civil War reenactors.

Tickets can be purchased on the website for a reduced price of $13 for adults and $8 for students. At the gate, tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Children 6 and under are free.

Proceeds from the event will go to local organizations that help meet community needs. See www.clubrunner.ca/moorpark.

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