Delhi hosts Civil War reenactment

Civil War reenactors depicting Union soldiers advance across the field Sunday at the Delaware County Historical Association in Delhi during a reenactment of the Battle of Chickamauga.

For two sweltery days in June, the grassy fields adjacent to the Delaware County Historical Association transformed into the rugged battlefields of the Civil War.

Spectators perched on hay bales and in lawn chairs watched the events from the sidelines Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23, some with binoculars and others with cameras, whooping and hollering along with the troops as they made their advances.

The event featured reenactments of the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Chickamauga and the Battle of the Peach Orchard, the latter of which was fought at Gettysburg. Each scene opened with a narrative account of the battle as the troops assembled in their places.

The troupe of reenactors was largely based in Albany, according to Richard and Mary Cirillo, members from Troy, but they were joined by others from as far away as Florida.

“You get acquainted with the process of campaigning,” Robert said. “We try to be as authentic as possible. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself a whole lot more.”

The couple said they arrived in Delhi Friday evening and camped out in the rain until the start of the performances.

Dozens of white canvas tents occupied the grounds of the DCHA. Many contained cots and blankets, while others were assembled as artillery storage or field hospitals.

The reenactors retreated to their tents between battles to escape the direct midday sunlight.

“You get a better idea of the experiences folks went through, like heat and bad weather,” Mary said. “You don’t just get to go run into the air conditioning whenever you feel like it.”

The pair said they met at a reenactment event several years ago. Richard said he has been involved in the Civil War reenactment scene for 23 years and Mary for five, although she began several years prior depicting a Russian soldier in World War II reenactments.

“We do it for the love of history,” Mary said. “It brings an added dimension to one’s love and appreciation of history, and to be able to share it with others too is wonderful.”

The event also included historical lectures, including the history of the mountain howitzer and “How the American Civil War Empowered a Women's Place in Society,” as well as rifle, artillery and cavalry demonstrations.

“These days you have battle situations where you don’t see anybody,” Mary said. “Fighting in the Civil War — in closer proximity — was much more intimate.”

“I had no idea how personal this was going to be to watch,” said Liza Schumowitz, a spectator from Shandaken. “Obviously it’s a reenactment, but it never hit me like this reading about the war in school. You could be out there fighting face-to-face with your brother.”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.