MIDDLETOWN — A history buff, Patrick Elliot, 48, and his 10-year-old son Hayden have seen World War II reenactments in the area of Manassas, where they live.

But they hadn’t seen the Civil War Battle of Cedar Creek reenactment, which was held Saturday afternoon in Middletown after a 2-hour rain delay.

The two enjoyed it, with Hayden Elliot saying he particularly liked the loud bangs during the demonstration that featured cannon use and gunfire. Patrick Elliot said he appreciated learning about the meaning of logos and designs on hats and uniforms.

The reenactment fell on the 157th anniversary of the battle, held south of the Wayside Inn, alongside present day Route 11.

An estimated few hundred reenacters took to the field dressed in their respective gray garb as part of the Confederate army, or blue button downs as part of the Union forces.

In one hour, the battle demonstrated Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s surprise attack on a Federal camp around 5 a.m. on Oct. 19, 1864. The Union soldiers, caught off guard, retreated before their commander, Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, arrived to push back and defeat the Confederates.

The reenactment showed the waves of advancement by infantry men on both sides, backed by artillery cannons and flanked by cavalry members who sparred with opponents using drawn swords and pistols.

Soldiers fell, their bodies strewn across the battlefield as each side advanced.

Taps was played at the end, followed by a moment to honor all of the casualties during the battle, about 5,800 Federal and about 3,000 Confederate.

Reenactors on both sides smiled, shook each other’s hands and spoke with onlookers at the conclusion of the fighting.

The battle’s results during the real war brought an end to the last significant Confederate resistance in the Shenandoah Valley, according to Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation’s website. Sheridan’s victory also helped hand Abraham Lincoln a second term in office in the elections of 1864.

The reenacters camped out prior to and after the battle, with fabric tents and cooking over fires with cast ironware, taking their places alongside their respective armies set up on opposite sides of the battlefield.

Civil War clothing and material vendors set up booths with information displays on topics that included the introduction of submarine warfare during the war and the work of Dr. John Briton of the Union army.

Doug Decker, 58, who reenacted Briton, told onlookers about a procedure for treating a gunshot wound to the chest by pouring near boiling water into the bullet hole without affecting any major blood vessels as it exited out the back and cauterized internal wounds.

“Again, pioneering treatment here, Decker said.

Reenacting on the Confederate side were Delaware residents Debbie Jones, 67, and Gary Wright, 77, alongside Ted Crockett, 76, of Lynchburg.

Wright said that his participation in the reenactment on the side of the Confederacy was intended to preserve it in history.

While people around the country have pushed to remove Confederate statues and monuments for their association with white supremacy and slavery, it’s important for people to be aware of their history, Wright said.

Acknowledging that slavery was bad, Wright said the symbols of the Confederacy offer a way for descendants of the Confederate army soldiers to memorialize their ancestors who fought and died in the war. The war was started over states rights, Wright said, an opinion that runs counter to the prevailing view of Civil War scholars that preserving slavery was the explicit motive among the states seeking to secede from the union.

John, of the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry, who declined to give his last name, reenacted on the side of the Federal army, while mentioning his New Jersey roots.

John, who participates in reenactments to see first-hand what soldiers went through during a major moment in history, ranked the reenactment a 10 out of 10, citing its use of the actual battlefield without many modern developments surrounding it.

Jones spoke to the time and financial commitment required to participate in reenactments. Clothing can cost a few hundred dollars depending on the level of detail uniforms have, Jones and her campmates pointed out. There’s also the travel time needed, Jones said.

Both Jones and John also spoke about participants reenacting for both sides of the war, a practice called “galvanizing.” That’s done as an effort to help the experience if one side might be short a member, Jones said. Some members do hesitate to shoot against the United States flag, which was used by the Federal army during the war, John said. He added that he felt “strange,” dressing up in Confederate attire one time.

Jones said people keeping an open mind is a way to reach a compromise when it comes to people expressing their viewpoints. While stating that everyone’s motivations for participation is unique to them, John said he didn’t think political statements were being made by participants of the reenactment, the result of the war having long been decided.

The reenactment was organized by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to the preservation of the battlefield and the education of scholars and the general public, according to its website.

The organization’s Facebook page states it does not receive any government funding and relies upon private contributions, special events and retail sales to help preserve the battlefield and the legacy of all the men, women and children affected by the battle.

— Contact Charles Paullin at cpaullin@nvdaily.com