Funkstown celebrates its history, battle
On July 10, 1863, Union Forces of the Army of the Potomac attacked the rear guard of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia as it retreated from Pennsylvania following the Battle of Gettysburg.
About 40 miles away in Funkstown, a strong Confederate presence stood to hold off a Union advance against Gen. Robert E. Lee’s position near Williamsport as he moved toward Virginia. With the Union army nearby in Boonsboro, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s calvary defended that area to allow Lee time to fortify his army and continue his retreat.
The day-long Battle of Funkstown saw about 475 casualties and the Confederates took the victory.
On Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, re-enactors and spectators will remember the town’s history and celebrate its present at Day in the Park and the Battle of Funkstown Re-enactment.
Rich Gaver, who serves as co-chairman of the event along with John Phillips III, said re-enactors will arrive in town Friday evening, July 19, to set up camp on the hill at Funkstown Park, and events will kick off early Saturday.
Residents are likely to hear the sounds of horse hooves clopping and drums setting the march of soldiers as re-enactors arise and, around 9 a.m., begin to forage the town for food. Many residents leave apples and other goodies on their porches for collection. Leftovers go to the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church food pantry.
At 10 a.m., there will be a street battle re-enactment on Baltimore Street in Funkstown.
“After the street battle, they will return to the park. All the campsites will be open and re-enactors will talk to people, give them a living history of life during the Civil War. They’ll talk about what they did while encamped, what they experienced while they were in battle,” Gaver said. “We’ve got it cordoned off into Confederate and Union sections.”
He expects around a dozen horses to be part of the encampment.
Meanwhile, Boy Scout Troop 23 of Funkstown will run a car show in the west section of Funkstown Park which is accessible from the East Maple Street entrance. Registration begins at noon and the shows runs from 2 to 4 p.m.
“They will be doing the best car, truck, motorcycle and Scout’s Choice,” Gaver said. “There will be trophies and awards of fifty dollars.”
The Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. on South Westside Avenue will be selling food from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
At 4 p.m., another re-enactment will take place, this time in the east section of the park off of Robert Kline Way, which was the actual site of the battle.
“I think what a lot of people don’t realize is the fact that this re-enactment is actually held on the battlefield. Many places do not allow (re-enactors) to use the original battlefield. That’s one of the unique characteristics of this re-enactment,” Gaver said. “For re-enactors, that’s kind of hallowed ground to them.”
Those familiar with the battlefield will be able to show spectators the sites where cannons were actually placed during the battle, he said, along the ridge near the park’s Pavilion 4.
“It was right here in the park that Confederates had to hold off Union forces,” he said.
There will be fireworks at dusk, and Sunday will feature a chapel service at 10 a.m. and a final field battle at 1 p.m. Gaver said he expects about 250 re-enactors and around 3,000 people in total to be involved in or spectating at the weekend-long event.
“A lot of people from town come out and support it. It’s fun for the family, a place to go and not spend a lot of money. It helps us to remember the heritage of the area,” Gaver said. “Four hundred and seventy-five people were killed or wounded during the battle. That’s a significant amount, I think, just right here in our hometown.”
The park has a playground and nature trails which visitors are welcome to explore.
“It’s one of those things where you can just spend the whole day in the park. Eat there, have fun, see the cars, watch the re-enactments, talk to the re-enactors,” Gaver said. “Just spend the day enjoying the park and having a good time.”
Top photo: Spectators look on during the street portion of the 2018 Battle of Funkstown Re-enactment. The 2019 event will feature re-enactment activities Friday, July 19 through Sunday, July 21, with Day in the Park on Saturday, July 20. (Photo by Rich Look Photography)