Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, August 14, 2014
Company B, 20th Maine Infantry Regiment, camps at historical society
While in town visiting family, Henry, George and Alice Knapick (left to right), of Manlius, N.Y., received drill instruction from Carl Dodge, far right, and Darlene Coltart, second from right.
by Tevlin Schuetz
Members of Company B, 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment occupied the grounds at Island Heritage Trust August 1-3 in an event sponsored by the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society.
As smoke from a fire drifted over the high points of white camp tents, the reenactors of the famed Civil War-era outfit welcomed visitors and gave demonstrations of various aspects of military life.
K. Hartsgrove, the company laundress, explained to guests that her position was often an official one within the military. “Some [laundresses] received pensions,” she said. She informed onlookers that her role would normally keep her far behind the front lines, but occasionally conflict could take unpredictable turns, endangering the women who performed these critical services, which included “boiling shirts to kill lice.”
The laundress and the company sutler—a provider of a variety of provisions—typically received their pay before the soldiers, Hartsgrove added, a fact that reveals their importance to military life at that time.
Sutler Gary Moore sat in the shade behind his table of necessities (which, in addition to period survival items, included T-shirts and other modern apparel), explaining his role to youngsters in attendance.
Also on display were artifacts and reproductions of items of the period, including medical supplies, cannon projectiles, army mess kits, clothing, packs, rubberized blankets and other accoutrements. The regimental colors were in full view as well.
All efforts were made to keep things as close to historical reality as possible. A sentry approached visitors to the camp upon their arrival, and journalists were required to sign the appropriate camp pass documentation.
The reenactors also expressed their appreciation for the period music being performed by a pump-organist and two singers over on the Historical Society’s campus. It was to them a special treat that added to the sense of history.
And what Civil War camp would be complete without a musket demonstration? Corporal Darlene Coltart loaded the powder from a paper cartridge into her 1861 Springfield rifle and, after giving warning to spectators, fired it—albeit sans projectile—much to the delight of the audience.
The navy was also represented by Seaman Paul Smith, of Old Town, who sat at Lieutenant Paul Dudley’s table, trading banter with his army rivals.
The 20th Maine Company B includes members from around the state—much like the original fighting force—and usually makes two appearances a month during the season. Their next stop will be in Camden on August 23.