By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
Dressed in period military uniforms and sometimes engulfed in clouds of smoke from replica Civil War weapons, it’s easy to imagine that just for a moment they have slipped back in time.
“There’s a romance of the era,” said Norm Harriman, of Everson, one of 25 people participating in a Civil War skirmish reenactment in Everett on Saturday.
“There are times when it feels like ‘Wow! This is the real thing,’ like time travel,” he said.
Saturday’s reenactment, called “Echoes of Blue and Gray,” took place on an open field at Evergreen Cemetery and lasted about a half hour.
Bruce Smith, from Woodinville, has participated in similar Civil War reenactments since 1998.
He said he had been interested in Civil War history since he read a comic book version of “Red Badge of Courage,” Stephen Crane’s novel based on the war, as a kid.
In the 1990s, a friend of Smith’s, who knew of his interest in the era, told him of a reenactment taking place in Steilacoom, telling him, “You’ve got to see this.”
It wasn’t long before he had joined the ranks of those participating in the events.
Smith said he and other volunteers are working on gathering biographical information on the approximately 6,000 Civil War veterans who are buried in Washington state.
Their work is being posted on the website Civil War Veterans Buried in Washington State, http://civilwarvetswastate.com.
Both Smith and Harriman were dressed in blue Union uniforms.
Tobey Gulley, of Lynden, proudly wore the gray uniform of a Confederate battalion commander.
Gulley, who was born in Arkansas and has lived in Oklahoma and Texas, said he had relatives who fought in both the Union and Confederate armies. They were known to have fought each other at the battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia, he said.
Gulley stood before a crowd of about 50 onlookers, providing commentary about Civil War history.
Sometimes, he said, when it was obvious that neither side would gain an edge, they would call a cease fire and both armies would march away.
That’s when soldiers would go to the battlefield to tend to the wounded and dead, he said. Sometimes soldiers from the opposing armies would introduce themselves, shake hands, and swap tidbits of news.
Although Washington was still a territory at the time of the Civil War, it did have an active regiment of fighters, said Jim Shipman, Evergreen Cemetery’s historian.
“More than 100 served from Washington,” he said.
Some 156 Civil War veterans are buried at the Everett cemetery, he said, including Robert K. Beecham, a captain in the Union Army who was captured twice in the Civil War. “He lived in Everett for many years,” Shipman said.
Richard Fowlow, of Bothell, said he’s been asked to play the part of soldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies in previous reenactments.
“I just get drafted,” he said. “When the weather’s nice, it makes for a fun afternoon.”
• Washington State Civil War Association: http://www.wcwa.net
• Civil War Veterans Buried in Washington State: http://civilwarvetswastate.com
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org