The Patapsco Guards, volunteers for the Union, regroup in Ellicott City Living history at B&O; museum HOWARD COUNTY DIVERSIONS


The Ellicott's Mills Patapsco Guards unit is reforming 128 years after the Civil War.

The modern Union volunteers will be part of the Civil War living history exhibit starting July 9 at the B&O; Railroad Station Museum in Ellicott City.

The exhibit, which ends Oct. 31, explores the role of the station during the Civil War, and will include civilian and military living historians who will answer questions.

The station will feature a station master's and provost marshall's office, a recruiting area and a telegraph office.

"It's a complete, historical hands-on exhibit," said museum Director Ed Williams. The event will explore "what is was like to be here and what it meant to be here during the war."

The exhibit will also include artifacts and memorabilia from the station and Civil War era, Lionel scale locomotives racing through a Civil War battlefield, fashion shows, lectures and drill camps.

Historic Ellicott City Inc., a nonprofit group which restored the station 20 years ago, contributed about $15,000 for the three-month exhibit, Mr. Williams said.

The station will be decorated with Civil War era furnishings, recruiting posters, drums, muskets, cartridge cases and oil lamps. Exhibit organizers said they relied on history books and their imagination to decorate the station.

"We have no documentation about the furnishing," said Courtney B. Wilson, owner of American Military Antiques, who helped organize the event.

"We've furnished the rooms according to their use with period furnishing," Mr. Wilson said. "It's based on historical materials and historic furnishings."

Organizers said the exhibit will give visitors an opportunity to follow the Patapsco Guards from their origin in Ellicott's Mills to the battlefields of Gettysburg.

Schoolchildren will be able to find out information about certain men in the company, including their enlistment dates, when they were mustered out, their civilian jobs and their role in the Union Army.

"It's kind of unique to follow 100 men," Mr. Williams said.

A complete history of the company, "The Patapsco Guards," written by Daniel Toomey, will be available at the B&O; Railroad Station Museum.

The Patapsco Guards, Independent Company of Infantry, Maryland Volunteers, was organized during the summer of 1861.

German and Irish immigrants who worked in local mills often joined the Union Army, while many prosperous landowners and farmers joined the Confederates.

"Working-class people tended to side with the North," Mr. Wilson said. "Minority ethnic groups sympathized with abolitionists."

Until it was disbanded in 1864, the Patapsco Guards performed provost and guard duty at the B&O; Railroad Station and within Ellicott's Mills.

2& It also fought Confederates during

the Gettysburg campaign at Wrightsville, Pa., in 1863, and during the McCauseland Raid near Chambersburg, Pa., in 1864.

Re-enactors who will make up the new Patapsco Guards will serve as goodwill ambassadors, traveling up and down the Mid-Atlantic coast performing drills and living much as their predecessors did, Mr. Williams said.

So far, more than 20 men have joined the Guards, Mr. Williams said.

Tickets to the railroad museum are $3 for adults; $2 for senior citizens; $1 for children between 5 and 12. Children under 5 are admitted free. For more information, call 461-1945.

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