Civil War history coming back to Joseph Hancock Park

by Geoff Fox

On September 23 and 24, Joseph Hancock Park will be taking a step back to the 1860s as re-enactors set up camp for a living history display of life of Civil War soldiers.

Re-enactors of the 12th North Carolina Infantry from the Confederate States of America and the 35th Regiment 6th Pennsylvania Reserves of the Union will be camped in the park on Saturday, September 23, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Sunday, September 24, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Clarence Martz is bringing the Civil War back to Hancock later this month with an encampment Saturday, September 23, and Sunday, September 24, in Joseph Hancock Park.

Organizer Clarence Martz said the approach is a laidback encampment where people can come out and see how soldiers lived during the Civil War and to talk to the Re-enactors about their uniforms and camp life.

Martz also will have an exploded cannon barrel from Gettysburg The 12th Regiment, North Carolina Infantry was organized in May 1861 near Garysburg, North Carolina and its companies drawn from the counties of Warren, Granville, Catawba, Cleveland, Nash, Duplin, Halifax, and Robeson.

As part of Army of Northern Virginia, the regiment saw action at Hanover Courthouse, Seven Days’ Battle, Cold Harbor, Early’ s Shenandoah Valley operations, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, and at the end of the war at Appomattox.

The 35th Regiment 6th Pennsylvania Reserve was organized in July 1861 under Col. W . Wallace Ricketts in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and attached to various brigades and divisions in the Army of the Potomac and Amy of Virginia.

This regiment saw action at Fredericksburg, Harrison’s Landing, Gainesville, Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Gettysburg and others.

Hancock itself holds a place in Civil War history, seeing action in 1862 and 1864, as well as being the final resting place for one of the Confederate Army’s most respected artillerists.

In January, 1862, Confederate Major General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson led his famous Stonewall brigade north from Winchester, Virginia, to Bath (Berkeley Springs), Virginia (now West Virginia), in an attempt to cause disruption of Union lines there and in Hancock as a precursor to taking Romney.

From atop Orrick Hill on January 4, 1862, Jackson shelled Hancock for 24 hours, however no injuries or deaths were reported. St. Thomas Episcopal Church and other buildings were damaged during the shelling.

In July 1864, Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland came through town and held Hancock ransom for $30,000, more than Hagerstown had been ransomed a few weeks earlier.

However, Col. Harry Gilmore, who was under McCausland’ s command, objected to the order of Hancock being burned if the ransom wasn’ t met. Union General William Averell led federal forces made it to Hancock and drove McCausland’ s forces out of town before the money could be raised.

Then there is James Breathed.

Breathed was born near Berkeley Springs, but later moved to Hancock. After graduating from the University of Maryland Medical

School, Breathed served in the Confederate Army’ s 1st Virginia Cavalry as lieutenant under J.E.B. Stuart and later as a major in Stuart’s Horse Artillery.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee regarded Breathed as the hardest artillery fighter the war produced.

After the war, Breathed returned to Hancock and practiced medicine. Breathed died in 1870 is buried in the cemetery at St. Thomas Episcopal Church and in 2013 Breathed was posthumously with the Confederate Medal of Honor.