- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2001

The Battle of First Manassas came alive with the roar of cannon fire at a Leesburg farm yesterday, as thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers battled under a merciless summer sun in one of the largest Civil War re-enactments ever done.
Thick clouds of smoke billowed into the sky as 10,000 men, dressed in navy blue, red or gray, fired with fixed bayonets, trying to beat each other back. The eight-hour battle — considered by many to be the second biggest in the Civil War — was condensed into three hours for the re-enactment and then further shortened due to the intense heat. This year is the battle's 140th anniversary.
It was the sun that was the real killer yesterday, not the guns and cannons — soldiers used real gunpowder without shot so no one would be hit. But as the afternoon heat built up, several spectators packed their picnic baskets early and made a run to their air-conditioned cars.
Fire trucks and ambulances zipped back and forth through the horses on the battleground and through the crowd of spectators, as people collapsed in the intense heat.
"We've treated approximately 200 patients today for a variety of injuries, predominantly heat-related injuries," Mary Maguire, public information officer for Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Services, said yesterday.
"Of those, about 10 were transported to Loudoun Hospital for further evaluation," she said.
Temperatures hovered around 90 degrees, with the index reaching 96 degrees, according to reports by area meteorologists.
Re-enactors, dressed in woolen shell coats, put ice under their hats to stay cool: "Air-conditioning, Civil War-style," one explained.
"I am going to have to do some real work out there," said Mark Daniel, 43, an assistant surgeon for the Confederate troops, moments before the battle started. "I may have to keep people from falling over from the heat."

"Weve treated approximately 200 patients today for a variety of injuries, predominantly heat-related injuries," Mary Maguire, public information officer for Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Services, said yesterday.

"Of those, about 10 were transported to Loudoun Hospital for further evaluation," she said.Temperatures hovered around 90 degrees, with the index reaching 96 degrees, according to reports by area meteorologists.

As the battle was set to begin, troops marched onto the grounds, heads held high. Soldiers were in an upbeat mood — many of the re-enactors said they spent most of their free time practicing for exactly such events.
"I am just going to go out there and fight as best as I can," said Craig Hensel, a high schooler from Fayetteville, N.C., dressed in a gray Confederate uniform..
Roger Vance, editorial director of Primedia, a publishing group that organized this event, said it had organized several re-enactments in the past, "but it has never been done on this scale before." He said he expected between 15,000 and 25,000 visitors to the event, including people from every state in the Union and from Australia, New Zealand, France and Germany.
The battle re-enactment — which will be repeated today starting noon — was part of a larger marketing exercise by Primedia, which publishes history magazines. Soldiers in period costume rubbed shoulders with Civil War authors signing their books in one of the many white tents pitched on the battlegrounds.
Minutes before the battle, Robert Duvall, who plays Gen. Robert E. Lee in a new movie, "Gods and Generals," waved to surprised fans from a golf cart. Mr. Duvall said he was attending the event in preparation for his movie. "I am not much of a Civil War buff," he said, adding: "War is always brutal."
As soon as the battle started just past 3 p.m., Union soldiers advanced on Confederate troops, beating them back. But no one from the estimated 25,000 spectators was betting on the outcome: Confederate Gen. l Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson earned his sobriquet here, when his Virginia brigade formed a "stone wall," refusing to allow Union soldiers to advance, thereby winning the battle.
In the actual battle, which was fought on July 21, 1861, 35,000 Union troops fought 33,000 Confederates just 20 miles from the heart of Washington, D.C., along the banks of Bull Run near Manassas Junction. For yesterday's battle, the organizers chose 2,000 pristine acres of the Locust Hill Farm, in an area north of Leesburg.
Hundreds of tents were pitched on one end of the battlefield, where soldiers rested with their families before actually going to battle. Many from the families of the re-enactors dressed in period costume themselves, the women wearing starched, long-sleeve cotton dresses and carrying parasols.
Taking a break from commandeering his troops, Confederate Col. Tim Perry said he had 38 ancestors who fought in the war. "I have been doing this since I was little," he said. "You join the company and hope that if your beard is long enough, you will be elected as a commander," he said with a laugh.
As the battle heated up, Bob and Dot Gardiner from Manassas beat a retreat to one of the tents. "It is getting too hot to be out here," said Mrs. Gardiner, 61, whose son was among the re-enactors.
Her husband described the battle as "interesting," although he said he wasn't quite sure it was better to watch it than read about it.
"When you read, you get a bird's-eye view of the whole thing. But it is hard to grasp the picture when you have so many things going on in the battlefield at the same time." said.

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