A step back in time: Battlefield picnic draws hundreds

Sharan Edmondson, wearing widow's weeds period clothing, uses her umbrella for shade during Saturday's Fisher's Hill Civil War Battlefield Picnic. Photo by Dale Ann Deffer

FISHER’S HILL — Several hundred people on Saturday attended the Fisher’s Hill Civil War Battlefield Picnic at the grassy field that once was the site of one of the more pivotal battles of the Civil War.

Some in attendance dressed in period clothing. Sharan Edmondson, with an umbrella for shade, walked the field in her black widow’s weeds, mourning her husband in a creation of full hoop skirt and dark hat and veil.

Robert Fark, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who represented the Grand Army of the Republic from Pennsylvania Post No. 153, wore a dress uniform from the period.  He pointed to the buttons on the uniform and noted, “These are authentic to the Grand Old Army. I heard about this at the Pennsylvania Post and wanted to come down. “

The Shenandoah Minstrels, also in costume, played the songs of Stephen Foster while picnickers sat on chairs tapping to the old-time beat. National Park Service personnel were on hand with informative literature as was the Daughters of the Confederacy, led by Gloria Stickley and Hope Brin, director of the Strasburg Museum.

Robert Reedy, who plays the guitar for the Shenandoah Minstrels, said, “We look on the Internet for old songbooks of Stephen Foster and then suit them to our players. We get lots of work in the area and will be playing September 19 at the Edinburg Old Time Festival.”

The Shenandoah Minstrels perform during the Fisher's Hill Civil War Battlefield Picnic on Saturday. Photo by Dale Ann Deffer

Programs during the event featured walking tours of the battlefield led by the park service and local historian John Adamson.

This wasn’t the first such public picnic held at Fisher’s Hill. The first reconciliation picnic was held in 1891 and drew Civil War veterans and their families from both the North and the South together. Those picnics continued through the 1930s.

Dale Ann Deffer is a contributing writer.