On the weekend of July 21 and 22, cannon fire will fill the air as the 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry will host the seventh biannual Civil War Re-enactment at Argus Park, in Canfield Township. The event has become the largest gathering for re-enactors in Mahoning County.
"We are going to see at least 400 to 500 re-enactors including women and children," said the events official photographer and publicist Denny Furman.
The event will include era-style encampments as well as demonstrations, exhibitions and displays. The action will heat up each day with a mock battle between Southern and Northern troops that will include cannon and mortar fire and bayonette charges.
Furman said for the re-enactors, the event is as era-specific as it can get. There are strict rules for the re-enactors to follow as they camp in the woods for the weekend.
"They are not allowed to have anything that would not have been around in 1865," he said.
That means everything from eyeglasses to using wood-stick matches to light a pipe.
"You won't see plastic bottles or lighters in use," Furman said.
The re-enactors sleep in tents, make coffee over an open flame, and drink it from a tin cup. Some will take showers from water gathered in a wooden barrel.
Lunch and dinners will be served in the big Argus pavilion, but no re-enactor can take the Styrofoam plates out of the pavilion. Furman said the whole intent is to recreate the actual feel of the mid 1800s.
The battles will take place on Saturday and Sunday, with a Saturday morning company drill on the 44-acre park, complete with hiking through trails, streams and over bridges. Don VanMeter, the commanding officer of the 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry said the battle will actually be based on the battle of Petersburgh. The grass battlefield will feature the use of the amphitheater and period props and fences that will be set up for plenty of action for the average solider.
The Petersburgh battle took place on June 15-18, 1864. VanMeter said it was nearly at a standstill until a group of miners who were in a Pennsylvania regiment developed a plan. They dug a mine under the Confederate line and filled it with explosives. After blowing up the explosives, all that was left was a 300-foot wide hole in the ground that was 150 feet deep. The Argus Park amphitheater is used to represent that man-made crater.
"It is our goal to once again make this event as realistic and enjoyable for both the re-enactors and the public as possible," Furman said.
VanMeter said the event has drawn re-enactors from all over Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and a few from Indiana.