26th Annual Civil War Reenactment at Neshaminy State Park

CW 2010 Battle pic lrg

The 26th annual Civil War Re-enactment will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26, 2015 at Neshaminy State Park, located on 3401 State Road in Bensalem, PA, from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, rain or shine. Admission is free.

This event is the largest Civil War re-enactment on the East Coast outside of Gettysburg. The theme for this year’s re-enactment is “1865 Actions Around Petersburg—White Oak Road & Five Forks”.  Over 1,000 reenactors will converge on the park for this event featuring:  

·      Authentic battle re-enactments

·      Camp life scenarios

·      Military and civilian life demonstrations

The Petersburg, Virginia campaign is a series of military actions that took place between June 15, 1864 to April 2, 1865 and lead to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. The Battle of White Oak Road took place on March 31, 1865. Union forces lead by Major General Gouvernor K. Warren set out to trap the Confederate Army and force its surrender. After a day of fighting, Union forces crossed White Oak Road trapped Confederate forces and broke the connection between Confederate Generals Pickett and Lee. The Battle of Five Forks took place on April 1, 1865. While communication within both forces was difficult, Union troops were well placed to trap the Confederate Army and force its destruction.  Late in the afternoon, Union forces overwhelmed the weaken Confederates and cut off their northward retreat.*

While admission is free, a voluntary collection will be taken each day of the re-enactment and all proceeds will go toward Civil War preservation efforts. The Neshaminy Civil War Re-enactment has raised over $50,000 during its 26-year history for various Civil War organizations. 

This event is a joint project sponsored by Parx Casino, Neshaminy State Park, the Bensalem Historical Society, the 28th Pennsylvania Historical Association, the Army of Northern Virginia Re-enacting Organization, the Delaware Valley Civil War Roundtable, The G.A.R. Museum and Library, and Waste Management, Inc. 

For more information, go to www.neshaminycwevent.org, like the Neshaminy Civil War Reenactment on Facebook or contact Chuck Gilson, Event Executive Chairman at cdgilson5@comcast.net.


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“Kindly Friend Willis” was conductor on the Underground Railroad

South and east view of the Willis House, 190 Willis Road, York PA. Library of Congress image 1933.

South and east view of the Willis House, 190 Willis Road, York PA. Library of Congress image; taken by Paul Galbreath in January 1963

According to the Library of Congress, the Willis House is the most pretentious and academically correct example of eighteenth century English domestic architecture in York County. The builder, William Willis, was a Quaker farmer and mason who built the York courthouse (demolished in 1841) in which the Continental Congress met, 1777-78, and the Quaker meeting house of 1766.

His son, Samuel Willis, was an active participant in the anti-slavery movement in central York County and was a ringleader of the illegal, but morally correct actions of the Underground Railroad. He and a group of fellow Quakers would escort fugitive slaves through York County. A typical route would begin in the Shrewsbury area, with slaves taken to the Springwood farm of Quaker Jonathan Jessop (now Apple Hill Medical Center off the Susquehanna Trail south of York). Jessop or his friend James Chalfant would take the slaves into York to Amos Griest or north of York to Samuel Willis. He in turn would either turn them over to a black businessman in York named William C. Goodridge or would send them north toward the Quakers in Lewisberry and Newberry Township. From there they would often end up across the river in Dauphin County and Harrisburg.

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150th Anniversary Events at Appomattox Courthouse


Actors portraying Lee and Grant in the McLean House during the making of the park’s new film (to be released for the 150th in April, 2015).

Aperture Films

The sesquicentennial at the Park will be centered around real time commemorative events. Listed below are the calender of events from April 8 to April 12, 2015. Those events organized by the Appomattox 1865 Foundation, the Park’s friends group, are also be listed below.

There are no tickets or advanced registrations required for any events in the park. Some events by our friends group and other organizations around Appomattox may require tickets or reservation, but none of the events in the park do.

Complete list of Events in the Park and County

** Also, this March 13-15, will be the 16th Annual Free Civil War Seminar put on by Appomattox Court House NHP and Longwood University, at Longwood University’s Jarman Auditorium. This is a special 3-day event featuring topics related to the 150th anniversary of the ending of the war. Check out a complete schedule of the seminar here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

9:00 Why Appomattox/ The Campaign (Tibbs) Chris Bingham
10:00 The Fall of Richmond / Petersburg (Triangle) Tracy Chernault
11:00 The Surrender Meeting (Tibbs) Joe Williams
12:00 The Battle of Five Forks (Triangle) Tracy Chernault
1:00 The Village of Appomattox Court House (Tibbs) Warren Taylor
2:00 The Battles of Sailor’s Creek (Triangle) Jim Godburn
3:00 The Battles of Appomattox (Tibbs) Joe Williams
3:30 Battle of Appomattox Station, Phase 1- (Lib. Baptist Ch.) Chris Calkins
4:00 Why Appomattox/ The Campaign (Triangle) Chris Bingham
5:00 Battle of App. Station, Phase 2- (Battlefield Property) Patrick Schroeder/Chris Calkins
6:30 Battle of Appomattox Station, Phase 3- (Tibbs) Patrick Schroeder

Thursday, April 9, 2015

7:30-10:30 Battle Demonstration (field west of village)
7:45 Battle of Appomattox Court House (Tibbs) Patrick Schroeder / Chris Calkins
8:00 Why Appomattox/ The Campaign (Triangle) Tracy Chernault
9:00 Battle of Appomattox Court House (Tibbs) Patrick Schroeder / Chris Calkins
9:00 Why Appomattox/ The Campaign (Triangle) Ron Wilson
10:00 The Surrender Meeting (Triangle) Ron Wilson
11-12:30 A Nation Remembers: Appomattox (Main Stage)
1:00 The Stacking of Arms (Talk) (Triangle) Chris Calkins
1:00 United States Postal Service, First Day of Issue Ceremony
1:30-3:05 A Parlor Meeting: Setting a Nation’s Course (McLean House)
3:10 Bells Across the Land Ceremony (McLean House)
4:00 The Surrender Meeting (Triangle) Tracy Chernault
4:00 Ely Parker, A Warrior in Two Camps (Tibbs) Al Parker
5:00 N.C. Monument Ceremony
(NC Monument)
5:00 U.S. Colored Troops at Appomattox (Triangle) Chris Bingham
5:00 The Confederate Cemetery (Conf. Cemetery) Patrick Schroeder
6:30-9 Lantern Tours
(Tours Begin at Flagpole)

Friday, April 10, 2015

9:00 Paroling Confederates (Triangle) Candace Hart
9:00 The Village of Appomattox Court House (Tibbs) Warren Taylor
Lee and Grant’s April 10th Meeting(Triangle) Patrick Schroeder
10:00 The Commissioners Meeting (Tibbs) Joe Williams
10:30-11:00 Confederate Rifle Demo-
(Demo. Field)
11:00 Why Appomattox/ The Campaign (Triangle) Tracy Chernault
11:00 War &Emancipation: The African American Experience
In the Civil War(Tibbs)Roger Davidson
11:30-12:00 U.S. Artillery Demo-
(near Confederate Cemetery)
12:00 Paroling Confederates (Triangle) David Wooldridge
12:00 Caring for the Wounded at Appomattox (Tibbs) Jim Godburn
1:00 Grant and Lee as Peacemakers (Triangle) Jack Davis
1:00 The Surrender Meeting (Tibbs) James Drass
1:30-2:00 Confederate Artillery Demo
(Demo. Field)
2:00 The Stacking of Arms (Talk) (Triangle) Patrick Schroeder
2:00 Confederates Going Home (Tibbs) Ernie Price
2:30-3:00 Cavalry Surrender Demo
(Demo Field)
3-3:30 Stacking of Arms Ceremony (Reenactment)
(Stage Road)
3:45-4:15 Confederate Artillery Horse Drawn Maneuver
(Demo Field)
4:00 Local Units and Impact of the War (Triangle) Chris Bingham
4:00 Why Appomattox/ The Campaign (Tibbs) Brandon Chamberlain
4:30-5:00 Cavalry Surrender Demo
(Demo Field)
5:00 Slavery and Memory of an African American Descendant (Triangle)Roger Davidson
5:00 Paroling Confederates (Tibbs) Candace Hart

6:30 Footsteps to Freedom/ Luminary (Rain date 4/11) (Main Stage/Village)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

9:00 Paroling Confederates (Triangle) David Wooldridge
9:00 Why Appomattox/ The Campaign (Tibbs) Tracy Chernault
10:30-11:00 U.S. Rifle Demo
(Demo Field)
10:00 U.S. Colored Troops at Appomattox (Triangle) Chris Bingham
10:00 The Surrender Meeting (Tibbs) Alyssa Holland
11:30-12:00 Artillery Surrender Demo
(Demo Field)
11:00 Johnston’s Surrender at the Bennett Place (Tibbs) John Guss
11:00 Battles of Appomattox (Triangle) Joe Williams
12:00 Paroling the Confederates (Triangle) Candace Hart
12:00 The Village of Appomattox Court House (Tibbs) Warren Taylor
12:30-1:00 Cavalry Demo-
(Demo Field)
1:00 Why Appomattox/ The Campaign (Triangle) Tracy Chernault
1:00 Confederados to Brazil (Tibbs) Casey Clabough
1:30-2:00 U.S. Artillery Demo
(near Conf. Cemetery)
2:00 The Stacking of Arms (Talk) (Triangle) Joe Williams
2:00 Joel Sweeney, Indeed a Wonder (Tibbs) Corbin Hayslett
3-3:30 Stacking of Arms Ceremony (Reenactment)
(Stage Road)
4:00 The Power of Appomattox (Triangle) Patrick Schroeder
4:00 Ely Parker, A Warrior in Two Camps (Tibbs) David Wooldridge
4:30-5:00 Artillery Surrender Demo
(Demo Field)
5:00 The Village of Appomattox Court House (Triangle) Warren Taylor
5:00 Why Appomattox/ The Campaign (Tibbs) Chris Bingham

Sunday, April 12, 2015

7:00 – 8:00 The First Act in Healing a Nation (Village) (Happens before park opens)
9:00 – 9:30 Stacking of Arms Ceremony (Reenactment)
(Stage Road)
10:00 The Stacking of Arms (Talk) (Triangle) Patrick Schroeder
10:00 Grant After the War (Tibbs) Frank O’Reilly
11:00 – 11:30 Stacking of Arms Ceremony (Reenactment)
(Stage Road)
12:00 The Stacking of Arms (Talk) (Triangle) Joe Williams
12:00 Lee After the War (Tibbs) Warren Taylor
1:00 – 1:30 Stacking of Arms Ceremony (Reenactment)
(Stage Road)
2:00 After Appomattox (Main Stage) David Blight
3:00 Stacking of Arms Ceremony, (Open Invitation Reenactment)
(Stage Road)
4:00 Confederates Going Home (Triangle) Ernie Price
4:00 Johnston’s Surrender at the Bennett Place (Tibbs) John Guss

Those looking for overnight accommodations for the Sesquicentennial should note that space in Appomattox County is limited. The outlying area might serve as a better resource for finding hotel rooms.

Join the National Park Service as it commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War with events across the nation.

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Railroad traveler liked York, but not Wrightsville

Barlett print, 1840.

Bartlett print, 1840

A traveler calling himself “P.M.” visiting Baltimore in the early winter of 1850 sent back a letter to the editor, Ephraim Cowan, of the Warren (Pa.) Mail. He took a train most of the way, including the Pennsylvania Railroad from Harrisburg to Columbia and the Northern Central Railway from Wrightsville through York to Baltimore. He compared the railroads as well as the towns through which he passed.

Here is the part of his story concerning York County, as published in the Warren Mail on December 26, 1850.

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York CWRT presents an evening with Brig. Gen. Horace Porter

Mike Reetz as "General Horace Porter"

Mike Reetz as “General Horace Porter”


The guest speaker for the April 15th. York Civil War Round Table meeting at 7 p.m. will be Mike Reetz, portraying Brigadier General Horace Porter, an aide-de-camp to Gen. U.S. Grant. The topic of his presentation will be “How The Revolutionary War Echoed Through the Life of Horace Porter”.

The meeting is free and open to the public. It will be held in the auditorium of the York County Heritage Trust, 250 E. Market Street, York PA.

Mike is a member of the Confederation of Union Generals and began portraying Horace Porter six years ago upon meeting “General Grant” at Gettysburg. Grant, portrayed by Larry Clower, discovered that Mike and he had lived less than a mile apart in Anaheim, CA. Larry invited Mike to join his staff as Horace Porter and Mike quickly accepted. Larry and Mike now live only two miles apart in Gettysburg.

Mike researched Porter’s life over the next several years through the internet and books on Porter’s life, including his biography written by his daughter, Elsie. Porter served on the staff of several generals during the war. He was executive secretary to President Grant for Grant’s first term. He was vice president for the Pullman Palace Car Co. for twenty years and ambassador to France for eight years. He has interesting connections to several prominent people in American history.

Additional background information:

Horace Porter
Horace Porter was born on April 15, 1837, in Huntingdon, PA., the son of the governor of Pennsylvania. A good education got him into West Point where he graduated 3rd in the class of 1860. His specialty was ordnance. He was assigned to the Watervliet Arsenal near Albany, New York when the war started in April 1861. He served under several generals through the war mostly as chief of ordnance.

In action during the retreat from Chickamauga, Georgia, Porter was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1902. But the turning point of his career during the war came a month later when he met General Ulysses S. Grant.  General Grant was so impressed with Porter’s reports that he  got him assigned to his staff as his aide-de-camp.

Porter remained with Grant for the remainder of the war and after. When Grant was elected President, Porter stayed on as Grant’s executive secretary until 1872 when he resigned and took the position of vice-president of the Pullman Railroad Car Company. Porter stayed with the Pullman Co., becoming its president, until 1897 when he resigned and became the ambassador to France.

The highlight of his life, as he claimed, was finding the grave of John Paul Jones, the American revolutionary war naval hero, which had been lost under the 100 years of expansion of the city of Paris, and bringing him home to the United States. He now rests under the chapel at the  Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Porter retired from public life and returned home to New York where he gave talks to civic organizations and reunions and worked with veteran organizations until his death in 1921.

Mike Reetz
I met a fellow Living Historian portraying General Grant on the Gettysburg battlefield several years ago. I had been doing living history as a 1st Sergeant of artillery. After a brief conversation, I discovered that we had lived only one mile apart in Anaheim, California but had never met. And since he lived in Gettysburg and I was looking to move to Gettysburg, he offered me a position on his staff as his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel Horace Porter. I accepted and that’s when I learned of the Confederation of Union Generals.

I readily accepted the persona of Horace Porter as I had read his book, Campaigning With Grant. But the book was more of a character study of Gen. Grant. I found a biography of Porter written by his daughter in 1927. I was surprised by the life of Horace Porter after the civil war. It had been quite fulfilling.
Mike Reetz can be contacted through this web site at Horace.Porter@uniongenerals.org

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Dr. Chuck Teague Returns to York CWRT on March 18

NPS Park Ranger Chuck Teague

NPS Park Ranger Chuck Teague


In commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the York Civil War Round Table will feature Dr. Charles Teague at its monthly meeting on March 18, 2015. Ranger Teague will present a PowerPoint talk called “The Final Fourteen Days of Father Abraham.”

The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening in the auditorium of the Historical Society Museum at 250 E. Market Street in downtown York, Pennsylvania. There is no charge for admission and the public is welcome.

April 1865 marked one of the most dramatic and momentous times in American history. Join Ranger Chuck Teague and discover what Father Abraham experienced as the American Civil War drew to a climax. What would the first two weeks of that month have been like from the perspective of President Lincoln? Where did he go? Who did he meet with? What were his conversations? His decisions? His mood each day? These are only some of the topics that Chuck will expound upon as we explore President Lincoln’s final fourteen days.

Dr. Chuck Teague has been a Park Ranger for the past twelve seasons at Gettysburg National Military Park. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel who holds a Doctor of Law degree with a specialization in International Affairs from Cornell University, as well as a seminary degree. He has served as President of the Gettysburg Civil War Round Table and Historic Gettysburg Adams County, and Historian for the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania. “Gettysburg By the Numbers” is a popular pocket guide that he has compiled. His recent book is “Masters of the Field at Gettysburg: The Rebel Attack that Almost Broke the Back of the Union Army.” He has been a featured speaker for the Civil War Institute, the Civil War Trust, the Gettysburg Foundation, and numerous military, business, and civic groups, in addition to many Civil War Round Tables.

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Gettysburg National Military Park / Eisenhower 2015 Calendar of Events


Katie Lawhon of the National Park Service has announced the most current calendar of events at Gettysburg National Military Park and the Eisenhower National Historic Site for the remainder of 2015.

All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise specifically mentioned.

Continue reading “Gettysburg National Military Park / Eisenhower 2015 Calendar of Events” »

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Ex-slave of Confederate officer died in Hanover in 1910

hanover slave

In the years following the Civil War, hundreds of former Southern slaves seeking a fresh start settled in the Susquehanna Valley. Among them was George Keyes, a Virginia-born slave who was present at the 1861  battle of Ball’s Bluff near Leesburg VA. His master was a Confederate captain. After being freed two years later and moving to Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley, Keyes moved to Hanover in southwestern York County PA after the war. He lived there for 40 years, raising a family.

Source: Gettysburg Times, February 26, 1910.

Click here to view several photos of the Ball’s Bluff battlefield taken during a private tour by Jim Morgan III for the York Civil War Round Table. Here are parts 2 and 3 of the virtual tour of Ball’s Bluff.

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The Runaway Balloon

Union Army Balloon Corps crew filling the Intrepid during the Civil War (LoC photo).

Union Army Balloon Corps crew filling the Intrepid during the Civil War (LoC photo).

When the Union army headed north in June 1863 for the summer campaign, it left behind its observation balloon which had been floating high enough for riders to observe the distant Confederate lines. Hence, there were no balloons at the ensuing Battle of Gettysburg.

However, a Gettysburg man a few years before the war got a bird’s-eye view of what would become the battlefield. He also drifted into adjacent York County before he decided enough was enough.

Here is his story, adapted from the October 12, 1842, edition of the Lancaster Examiner and Herald newspaper, repeating a story printed in the York Gazette of a few days earlier.

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York CWRT: “From Round Ball to Minnie Ball” topic on February 18

Minie balls found at the site of the June 1863 skirmish of Wrightsville.

Confederate Gardner bullets and a likely Union Minie ball found at the site of the June 1863 skirmish of Wrightsville.

The York Civil War Round Table invites the public to its monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at the York County Heritage Trust’s Historical Society Museum, 250 E. Market St., York, PA.

This month’s speaker is York resident Chaplain Ron Bupp who will present “From Round Ball to Minnie Ball.” Bupp will trace the continuous challenge of both armies to supply the correct small arms ammunition to their diversely equipped combatants. Examples of carbine, rifle, musket, rifled musket and pistol ammunition will be presented through a PowerPoint and surviving specimens will be on display.

During the American Civil War, billions of bullets were produced by arsenals, laboratories and private contractors, all of which added to the over 1,000 varieties of small arms munitions utilized during America’s baptism of fire. Reliable sources indicate that over 5 million rounds of small ammunition were expended, destroyed or abandoned at Gettysburg alone.

This presentation will acquaint the Civil War student more fully about the destructive power of the Civil War Minnie Ball and dispel some myths still being promulgated to this day. We invite you to come and learn some differences between the ammunition of the two warring armies.

The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, readers may call 717-848-1587.

Continue reading “York CWRT: “From Round Ball to Minnie Ball” topic on February 18” »

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