- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

HAGERSTOWN, Md. And now, the slaughter at Bloody Lane, brought to you by F&M; Bank.
Corporate sponsors and 13,000 Civil War buffs will come together next week to re-enact the bloodiest day on U.S. soil, the Battle of Antietam. For the first time at such an event, three of the nearly 40 participating companies are exclusive sponsors of specific skirmishes.
In addition to the fighting at Bloody Lane, where 5,500 men were killed or wounded, spectators can watch the daybreak clash in the Cornfield, sponsored by Antietam Cable, and the afternoon arrival of Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill's men presented through the courtesy of Hagerstown Trust.
The sponsors also include the investment bank Salomon Smith Barney, PepsiCo and Allegheny Energy, a Fortune 500 company headquartered near the re-enactment site, 1,000 privately owned acres about 70 miles north of Washington and 10 miles from the real battlefield.
Never have so many corporations been part of a Civil War re-enactment, and never so visibly, though their representatives will be stationed in a sponsors' tent near the entrance gate, and logos will not be allowed on the battlefield.
Glenn LeBoeuf, Salomon Smith Barney's representative at the Sept. 13-15 event, said it is an opportunity to reach prospective clients whom he, as a former re-enactor, knows well.
During his 13 years playing a private in the 3rd New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, "I never got a chance to talk about investment portfolios while I was in camp because it was inappropriate to do so," Mr. LeBoeuf said. He is hopeful the re-enactors won't mind talking business at the corporate tent.
His company is paying $1,000 to have Mr. LeBoeuf there.
Event organizers say sponsors' dollars and in-kind donations, totaling more than $140,000, will help them stage more realistic clashes and raise more money for battlefield preservation.
"Our corporate sponsors understand the commemorative nature of this event and its solemn and respectful nature," said Dennis E. Frye, co-chairman of the organizing committee.
And there is no indication of any resentment on the part of the re-enactors, who are such sticklers for authenticity that some have been known to count the threads on their uniforms to make sure the fabric is historically accurate. Some say the corporate backing is needed to keep down the costs of admission: $10 to $25 for re-enactors, $17 per day for adult spectators.
"It's just another way for them to make money," said Don Harrelson, of Virginia Beach, Va., who is president of the American Living History Society and will portray a member of the 3rd Georgia Regiment.
George Lomas, an organizer of next summer's 140th Gettysburg battle re-enactment, said his group is lining up big corporate sponsors, too. Milestone anniversaries of key Civil War engagements are "mega-events," requiring much more preparation than a typical annual re-enactment, he said.
"It's a lot more expensive, and there's a lot more exposure for the corporate people who want to be sponsors as well," Mr. Lomas said.
The Antietam event will include four major fight scenarios and 100 pieces of artillery with Hollywood-quality pyrotechnics.
The sunup-to-sundown battle waged on Sept. 17, 1862, along the banks of Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg left at least 6,300 soldiers dead and 17,000 more wounded or missing.
Civil War scholars are coming to regard Antietam as the turning point of the war. Although Gettysburg stopped the Confederates' northern advance, the Union victory at Antietam 10 months earlier persuaded European rulers not to recognize the Confederacy and gave Abraham Lincoln the political strength to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
The marketing opportunities were revealed by the 135th-anniversary Antietam re-enactment in 1997, which stunned its promoters by drawing 12,000 re-enactors and more than 70,000 spectators over three days numbers surpassed only by the 135th Gettysburg anniversary the following July.
The last Antietam re-enactment before that, in 1987, attracted just 6,000 combatants. During the intervening years, Ken Burns' television documentary "The Civil War" and the 1993 movie "Gettysburg" led to a surge of interest in the Civil War.
For the re-enactors at Antietam, this year's battle is "equivalent to the Super Bowl or the Masters tournament," said Robert Arch, co-chairman of the event. "This is basically the top of the line."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide