Monday, March 30, 2015

Bells to Ring on April 9th

APRIL 9 BELL RINGING 3:15 to commemorate surrender of Lee's Army

National Park Service

Press Release

February 2, 2015

Join the National Park Service in Ringing "Bells across the Land: A Nation Remembers Appomattox"

For the past four years, the National Park Service and many other organizations and individuals have been commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and the continuing efforts for human rights today. On April 9, 1865, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant met Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to set the terms of surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

In conjunction with a major event at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, the National Park Service and its partners invite communities across the nation to join in this commemoration. The bells will ring first at Appomattox at 3:00 p.m. on April 9, 2015. The ringing will coincide with the moment the historic meeting between Grant and Lee in the McLean House at Appomattox Court House ended. While Lee's surrender did not end the Civil War, the act is seen by most Americans as the symbolic end of four years of bloodshed.

After the ringing at Appomattox, bells will reverberate across the country. Churches, temples, schools, city halls, public buildings, historic sites, and others are invited to ring bells precisely at 3:15 pm for four minutes (each minute symbolic of a year of war). If you have access to any such organizations, please encourage them to participate.

The beginning of reconciliation and reconstruction, or as the next step in the continuing struggle for civil rights. Curriculum materials are available for schools interested in participating.

Share your story and help us write history!

Schools, parks, and communities from all over the country will be participating in this event. Share how you observed it with on Facebook or Twitter with ‪#‎BellsAcrosstheLand2015‬. Stories will be compiled in one place to see how each one helps build our national story.

Please join us in the historic commemoration. Let bells ring across the land!

Monday, March 09, 2015

First Call for Bentonville

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville
March 21-22, 2015

A reminder and call to arms for the Bentonville Campaign. Please let Colonel Rohrbaugh know who is attending from Birney's so he can provide you with a home regiment and structure at the event. Birney's Division troops will be falling in with our brothers from the Army of the French Broad who have offered us a safe haven and home at Bentonville. Please respond ASAP to Colonel Rohrbaugh at

You can also get more information on the event at

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Civil War re-enactors gather to train, share company

By Olivia Goudy - Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Herald-Standard News

Blank powder shots rang through the valley on the Perryopolis Battlefield in Harry Sampey Park Saturday morning as a dedicated group of men decked in blue and gray reunited for their winter campaign. Several new inches of fluffy white snow and single digit temperatures couldn’t put a damper on the spirits of those who gathered from the 105th Pennsylvania Company.

Though the American Civil War ended nearly 150 years ago, men and women continue to honor the individuals from those pivotal four years by portraying them in living history re-enactments. One of the largest organizations in the country is Birney’s Division, under the command of Brig. Gen. Michael Maffei.

“Re-enacting is a lot of fun, and you meet so many nice people with a common interest,” said Maffei of South Park, Allegheny County. “Some people might say it’s crazy, but some might say chasing a small white ball on grass is crazy, too.”

Nearly two dozen re-enactors attended last weekend’s voluntary winter camp — an annual event that allows both U.S. and Confederate units to obtain officer training, practice company and battalion drills, review gun safety, and rehearse tactical movements and maneuvers. Some re-enactors came from as far as eight hours away for the weekend-long event.

The impending snowstorm kept several units from making the trip, but those in attendance camped out in the heated cabins, swapped reenacting stories and talked about upcoming demonstrations, including the commemorative events for the 150th anniversary of the Confederate States Army surrender at the Battle of Appomattox, the final engagement before the end of the war in April 1865.

Many re-enactors can trace their relatives to the Civil War. Maffei’s wife’s great-grandfather lost his foot in the Battle of Gettysburg and division engineer Neil Shivelle’s great-great-great-grandfather fought in the 75th Ohio Company.

“A lot of these people do this to portray and honor their fallen relatives,” said Maffei, adding that Pennsylvania was the second highest contributor of soldiers to the Union Army.

Maffei, who has been re-enacting for more than 20 years, said he’s always been interested in the Civil War.

“People ask [re-enactors] why we do this, why we go to Gettysburg, and the only thing I can equate it to is similar to the movie Close Encounters [of the Third Kind]. There were certain people who were drawn to the mountain. And for a lot of us, we’re just drawn to Gettysburg,” he said. “Every time we go out there on the battlefield, we pay our respects.”

Civil War re-enactors can be found globally, some even traveling as far as Australia and London. The battalions in Birney’s Division spend much of the summer traveling through Ohio, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania at various re-enactments and commemorative events.

The 105th Pennsylvania Company was formed in 1861 in West Newton, Westmoreland County, on the farm of General Markle, known as Camp Markle. Maffei said the unit consisted of roughly 100 men.

“When the call came out for soldiers, somebody in the town said they would put a company together. They became captain and recruited all of their friends and neighbors; it was a great honor to go fight in the war,” said Maffei. “But they had no idea that it would last like it did, that it would rage on for four years.”

“A lot of the soldiers from around here had never been off of their farms in Uniontown or Morgantown, (West Virginia) or wherever. But they all joined together and went to fight,” said Maffei. He added that some of the farmers didn’t necessarily know their left from their right, so they would tie straw to their left shoe and hay to their right shoe and march hearing, “straw, hay, straw, hay…”

The drills that they practice are similar to those that the soldiers practiced daily during the war. Maffei said soldiers often walked upwards of 20 miles per day, practiced tactical maneuvers and fought in battle.

“It was very long periods of boredom punctuated by sheer moments of terror,” said Shivelle, from Maryland.

Re-enactors try their best to portray those historic battles and encampments to give spectators a historical understanding of life during the clash of the North and South.

“We do everything so that it’s from the Civil War period. No foul language, no modern clothing or items, things like that,” said Maffei. At the Perryopolis Battlefield, the only modern intrusions are the telephone wires, which the re-enactors pass off as telegraph wires. During the annual fall Pioneer Days in Perryopolis, the re-enactors set up living history camps, allowing visitors to walk through and experience life in the 1860s. They also re-enact battles, using powder cartridges and rigged explosives to accompany to roar of the cannon.

By day, the re-enactors spent time on the field drilling and firing their muskets as soldiers. But by night, they gathered around the fire as friends.

“Almost everyone here is an amateur historian. There’s so much written about the Civil War; we all read about it and share information and stories,” said Maffei. Fireside chats are often accompanied by guitars and banjos, leading the motley crew through Civil War songs, according to Maffei.