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Union Mills gives unique insight at Civil War Encampment

Union Mills gives unique insight at Civil War Encampment
The mounted 82nd New York heads into formation as they prepare for the skirmish at the 2017 Civil War Encampment at the Union Mills Homestead. This year's event is set for July 21 and July 22. (Phil Grout / Carroll County Times)

Those looking to get a sense of some critical events that immediately preceded our nation’s bloodiest battle should circle July 21 and July 22 on the calendar, when the Union Mills Homestead will be hosting the Civil War Encampment and Living History.

The event, which has run annually for the better part of a decade, highlights one of Carroll County’s major involvements in the Civil War. Over the course of two days, visitors will have a chance to learn and observe what occurred at the Union Mills’ Civil War Encampment, leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg.

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Confederate and Union armies both camped there in 1863, led by generals J.E.B. Stuart and James Barnes. Stuart and his Confederate Cavalry camped overnight at Union Mills on June 29, 1863, leaving just hours before Barnes and his Fifth Corps of the Union Army arrived the morning after, according to the Homestead website.

The event offers reenactments, artillery, infantry and cavalry drills, Shriver House and Grist Mill walk-through tours, as well as a popular Civil War religious service, among others.

And although a skirmish never actually occurred at the Homestead, it will be part of the viewership experience.

Sam Riley serves as the current president of the Board of Governors for the Union Mills Homestead and said the site provides little-known insight on Carroll County’s involvement in the Civil War.

“What our site really offers is a focus on the civilian interpretation, which is typically an under-told aspect of the Civil War,” he said.

Reenactment canoneers of Thompson's Independent Battery C of the Pennsylvania Volunteers fire off their 12-pound mountain howitzer during the skirmish in 2017 during a Civil War Encampment at the Union Mills Homestead. This year's event is set for July 21 and July 22.
Reenactment canoneers of Thompson's Independent Battery C of the Pennsylvania Volunteers fire off their 12-pound mountain howitzer during the skirmish in 2017 during a Civil War Encampment at the Union Mills Homestead. This year's event is set for July 21 and July 22. (Phil Grout / Carroll County Times)

“What a lot of people don’t know is that Carroll County was ground zero for the Union Army’s defense of Baltimore and Washington after the invasion of the North by [General E. Lee’s] army in northern Virginia,” Riley explained. “Union Mills was ground zero. [It] literally was the center of the defensive line that the Union Army had set up.”

Jane Sewell, the executive director of the Homestead, said that Saturday will likely be the most popular day, with around 500 visitors estimated to attend.

Sewell also noted that the site provides more than just a viewership experience. Visitors are encouraged to interact with volunteer re-enactors, who offer a great chance to learn about authentic Civil War history.

“The re-enactors that are here love to have people walk through their camps and they like to talk about history,” she said. “They are very authentic in everything that they do and the way they talk and they like to demonstrate how it would’ve been.”

The following is a schedule of events, weather permitting.

Saturday, July 21

9 a.m. Grounds Open

4 p.m. Grounds Close

7 p.m. Civil War Barn Dance (Included with Park Admission)

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9:15 p.m. Twilight Cannonade

Sunday, July 22

9 a.m. Grounds Open

3 p.m. Camp Breakdown begins

Park admission is $10 per car. The Civil War Barn Dance is included with admission but those looking to attend the dance only can purchase separate tickets for $5 each.

Union Mills Homestead is located on 3311 Littlestown Pike in Westminster.

For more info, visitors can email info@unionmills.org or call the Homestead at 410-848-2288.

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