LIVERMORE – On July 2, 1863, Union Army Col. Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine defeated the Confederate Army’s 15th Alabama on Little Round Top south of Gettysburg, Penn.

On Saturday at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center, that battle was to be simulated in a sprawling field by 170 Civil War re-enactors portraying the 20th and 3rd Maine regiments and the 15th Alabama Company G. It will be portrayed again at 1 p.m. today.

Prior to Saturday’s battle, participants outfitted in wool uniforms taught a crowd of hundreds – more than 500 families had entered the grounds by noon – what life was like for Maine soldiers and civilians from 1861 to 1865.

The goal of the Rally for Norlands re-enactment was to raise $15,000 toward rebuilding a historic barn destroyed by fire in April 2008.

At Norlands on Saturday, the closely bivouacked white canvas tents of the two Maine regiments sat behind a large banner that read, “Enlist.”

Seated on a tiny chair in front of a tiny table, his sword hanging off his hip, 3rd Maine recruiting officer 1st Lt. John Peterson of Brandon, Vt., rattled off an enlistment spiel toward 10-year-old Cameron Wells of Turner.

Peterson is also an American history teacher at Rutland High School in Rutland, Vt., and a re-enactment member with the 2nd Vermont.

Eyeing Wells, Peterson placed a piece of paper numbered 18 on the ground and had a puzzled Wells stand on it.

“You do realize that you’re enlisting in this regiment and you are over 18, right?” Peterson said as the crowd began to laugh.

“Yessir,” Wells said.

“What’s your profession?” Peterson asked.

“Blacksmith,” Wells snapped.

“Well, it would be. Just look at those bands of iron,” Peterson said, gripping the boy’s muscular left forearm.

Dipping a fountain pen into an inkwell, he filled in a recruitment form, which he then gave to Wells, welcoming him into the Army.

“One month’s pay for a private is $13,” Peterson said. “Now, I don’t want you spending this on women, hard liquor or cards. Send it home to your parents.”

Wells said he came to enlist and enjoy the fun learning experience.

“I like the whole acting of the period like it was normal,” Wells said.

His grandfather, Dale Hutchinson of Turner, said he brought his grandchildren to Norlands to learn.

“I love this period of our history and I want my grandchildren to experience it,” Hutchinson said.

Nearby, wispy smoke from two small campfires permeated the 80-degree air.

A 3rd Maine rifle squad marched through the 20th Maine camp and into a field to demonstrate battlefield musketry techniques.

Tagging along, like fans following golfer Tiger Woods, came about 50 onlookers, two of whom were steeped in history.

As Capt. T. Glen Lawson, a Bates College professor, explained the nine-step process of loading and firing an 1860s musket, Bruce and Chris Coffin of Lisbon Falls watched, enthralled.

“We have an ancestor who was in the Civil War with the 11th New Hampshire Volunteers,” Bruce Coffin said. “He was a drummer. Andrew Jackson Coffin.”

They watched and filmed the demonstration, learning that drummers and musicians played important communication roles.

Drummers played commands to fire, Lawson said. He had the soldiers demonstrate by firing volley after smoky volley of black powder while standing in tight formation.

“A good soldier could fire three rounds a minute,” Lawson said.

On the other side of the farm, well away from the Union encampment, officers of the 15th Alabama sat in the shade waiting for the battle to begin, but they were not sure what to expect. Saturday’s engagement – the largest Maine Civil War re-enactment – was something new.

“We’re going to be doing whatever they need to make noise,” private Mark D’Anci of Alfred said.

Smoking a corncob pipe, Alabama regiment Capt. Michael Pratt of Farmington chatted with 7th Tennessee Cavalry Lt. Al Ruggiero of Litchfield about everyday maladies that felled soldiers.

Then, Ruggiero and D’Anci taught onlookers about the differences between their rifles: Ruggiero’s heavier 1861 Springfield .58-caliber and D’Anci’s lighter breech-loaded Sharps carbine.

Nearby, Peg Nulle of Brunswick, portraying Savannah journalist Eliza Andrews, served lemonade.

“I am learning about camp life and what it is to be a camp follower in these recent unpleasantries,” Nulle said in character, watching her 16-year-old daughter Kate, dressed as a Confederate private, head out for musket practice.

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