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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Civil War re-enactors face off at Battle of Gainesville

<p dir="ltr">Civil War re-enactor and Vietnam War veteran Walter Anderson, 69, rides his horse, Sonney Boy, during the re-enactment. "History, don't get it twisted," Anderson said atop his horse after acting as a cavalry member for the Confederate side. "That's why I do what I do, so history can get untwisted."</p>

Civil War re-enactor and Vietnam War veteran Walter Anderson, 69, rides his horse, Sonney Boy, during the re-enactment. "History, don't get it twisted," Anderson said atop his horse after acting as a cavalry member for the Confederate side. "That's why I do what I do, so history can get untwisted."

Walter Anderson slumped over his horse Sunday, feigning injury during a re-enactment of the Battle of Gainesville.

About 50 Civil War re-enactors met on a large, grassy field in Archer to recreate the Aug. 17, 1864 skirmish. Dressed in uniform, they hid behind shrubs and shot rifles that fired blank rounds.

For Anderson, a 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran dressed as a cavalry soldier, the re-enactment serves as a way to preserve history.

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A Civil War actor plays a chaplain for the Confederate side of the Battle of Gainesville re-enactment on Sunday afternoon in Archer, Florida. The chaplains gave the last rights to fallen soldiers and were not supposed to be shot while on the battlefield.

“If you don’t tell those stories, then they are lost,” he said.

The original battle, fought among about 350 soldiers, was sparked by a conflict over supplies during the war, said Keith Kohl, a 48-year-old Florida Department of Health employee who dressed as a Confederate lieutenant colonel.

In an effort to cut off supply lines in Florida, Union soldiers raided a Confederate supply station in what is now downtown Gainesville, he said.

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From left: Kyle Wade, a 28-year-old horticulturalist, and Steven D'Errico, a 53-year-old registered nurse, pose in front of their tents wearing Confederate garb after the Battle of Gainesville re-enactment on Sunday. Wade acted as a first sergeant, parroting orders during the skirmish, while D'Errico played a Southern sympathizer.

Since he first attended a re-enactment of the battle at 14 years old, it has changed locations many times, taking place at Poe Springs Park and near the Matheson History Museum, among other sites.

Bob Hink, a 49-year-old maintenance worker, bore the Confederate flag before feigning his death.

Hink said he attends 15 to 17 living-history events per year. He said it feels good to recreate events that played a role in shaping the country.

“It’s really rewarding for me to tell someone something they didn’t know about the Civil War,” he said. “We wouldn’t have our country if it wasn’t for that.”

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Civil War re-enactor and Vietnam War veteran Walter Anderson, 69, rides his horse, Sonney Boy, during the re-enactment. "History, don't get it twisted," Anderson said atop his horse after acting as a cavalry member for the Confederate side. "That's why I do what I do, so history can get untwisted."

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