Re-enactors battle the heat this weekend

John Kudilewicz, of Pine Beach, New Jersey, a federal chief of staff member for the commanding general, finds a shady spot with his canteen to cool off Friday afternoon outside Belle Grove in Middletown. Rich Cooley/Daily

MIDDLETOWN – Over 3,000 Civil War re-enactors will battle not only each other this weekend, but also the heat.

Re-enactors began their battles Friday evening at Middletown’s Cedar Creek Battlefield to observe the 155th anniversary of First Bull Run-Manassas.

Chuck Speierl, 71, of New Jersey, donned his wool garments and will spend the weekend atop a horse, fulfilling his duties as courier.

Jeff Pollock, of Reading, Pennsylvania, will be serving as provost and safety director for this year’s event. He is with the U.S. Volunteers brigade staff, which is in charge of the federal side of the event. He has been at the battlefield since Wednesday morning, preparing for the various events taking place throughout the weekend.

“We are the largest re-enacting organization in the United States,” he said.

Chuck Critchfield, of Clarksburg, West Virginia, pitches his tent at the federalist camp at the Cedar Creek Battlefield on Friday afternoon. There will be re-enactments of battles of the First Bull Run - Manassas this weekend at the Middletown battlefield. Rich Cooley/Daily

He said that his job of provost is like that of a police officer – “Going around, making sure the camps are all right, everybody is doing the right thing, nobody has any ladies of the evening,” he said. “All that kind of stuff from back then.”

He said the battles have about 1,500 people on the federal side and about 1,500 on the Confederate side. He added that this number is low, but may be due to the extreme heat.

“We’ve done some events where we’ve had over 14,000 soldiers,” he said.

Chuck Critchfield, 62, is from Clarksburg, West Virginia, the city that was home to Stonewall Jackson.

Critchfield said he is reuniting with friends from all around the East Coast. He goes to about four re-enactments each year.

Chuck Speierl, 71, of New Jersey, a federal courier, delivers papers to the troops on his horse Friday at Cedar Creek Battlefield. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I enjoy myself,” he said. “I enjoy seeing people with similar interests.”

During the re-enactment he will serve as a federal officer, but before the battles begin, he will need to set up his base camp, which is a canvas tent where he will sleep during his stay on the battlefield.

This year’s re-enactment will also be recorded for Fox news Channel’s Legends & Lies, a docudrama series. Season three will highlight events of the American Civil War.

The Battle of Rich Mountain was held Friday; the Battle of Blackburn’s Ford is today and the Battle of Matthews & Henry Hill will be held on Sunday.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or

Jeff Pollock, of Reading, Pennsylvania, takes a sip out of his drinking tin Friday afternoon at the Cedar Creek Battlefield. Pollock was alternating between Gatorade and water to help stay hydrated during the afternoon. Rich Cooley/Daily

More Information

The schedule for the remainder of the weekend:
• 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today
• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

• For today and Saturday, tickets are $15 per person per day for adults, $8 for seniors, students ages seven to 17, retired and active duty military with ID.
• Free for children 6 and under all weekend.

Visit the battlefield’s website at .