Historic America

14th Annual Marilla Civil War Reenactment

On July 29 & 30, Marilla, New York held its 14th Annual Civil War Days at Marilla Town Park. The weekend was packed full of activities, including a ladies period tea party, artillery demonstrations, candlelight tours, a period dance and church service, and of course battle reenactments. At Sutlers Row, vendors sold Civil War memorabilia, flags, books, and uniforms.

Each year has something a little different to offer. Previously, the event featured barn burnings, ground charges, and falling trees and buildings. Saturday’s reenactment was more conventional.

Participating units included the 1st Tennessee, 4th South Carolina, 21st Georgia, 42 Virginia, 138th New York, 200th Indiana, 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery, and more.

Maxwell’s Battery was one of the Union artillery units to participate in the reenactment. They hail from Canisteo in western New York and are unique in that they re-enact both sides of the conflict.

As a Union outfit, they represent Battery K of the 1st U.S. Artillery. When Confederate, they are Maxwell’s Battery of the 1st Georgia Regular Artillery. Historically, Battery K was a horse artillery unit, meaning its crew traveled on horseback for rapid movement.

The battery fought in the Army of the Potomac at numerous engagements, including the battles of Malvern Hill, Chancellorsville, Brandy Station, and Gettysburg.

Dr. Spencer Annabel, president of the group, was eager to share his experience. Spencer is a semi-retired cardiologist from Hornell, New York. He started reenacting as President Lincoln 15 years ago, then moved on to other roles.

“One of the roles I re-create is Major John S. Jameson, senior regimental surgeon from the 86th New York, also known as the Steuben Rangers, soldiers from my hometown.”

As the only member of the 86th New York reenactment group, Annabel found time to help other units, including the 21st Georgia.

Maxwell’s Battery has the distinction of being invited to perform live firings at Gettysburg National Military Park. Its senior members are certified by the National Civil War Artillery Association.

Artillery enthusiasts got more than they bargained for on Saturday, as Union and Confederate batteries exchanged fire for over thirty minutes. The Confederate battery included a replica of a massive 30-pound cannon.

Historically, the 4.2-inch (30-pounder) Parrott rifle was a siege cannon that usually wasn’t deployed in the field. Confederates used two at the Battle of Fredericksburg in defensive positions but their barrels burst.

Still, it was thrilling to see the gun in action, even if it was only firing a blank charge. There was something for history buffs of all ages at this year’s Marilla Civil War Days.

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