LIVERMORE — The blast of cannon fire, the smell of gunpowder and the clip-clop of hooves made the atmosphere an energetic one at the sixth Rally for Norlands Civil War Reenactment on Saturday at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center.

The weekend-long event is organized in partnership with two re-enactment groups: the 3rd Maine Company A, the largest group in the state, and the 15th Alabama Company G.  

A few members of smaller re-enactment groups such as the 6th Maine Battery, the 7th Tennessee Co. D, the 12th Georgia, and the 13th Massachusetts were also present and participated in the battle with their respective sides.

The “battle” was a demonstration of tactical maneuvers used in 1862, said Confederate Provost Guard Ken Lincoln. His job is to arrest rowdy men, contain rowdy civilians, and to “shoot” any Confederate soldiers who drop their rifle and flee the battle.

Captain Matt Bray of the 3rd Maine said the battle also demonstrated the typical retreat and reform style used in battles during the Civil War.

In the far field, Union and Confederate soldiers faced off, showing the two main firing maneuvers used during the Civil War: fire by file and fire by rank.

Fire by file is when a line of soldiers fire their rifles one-by-one down the line, with each one immediately reloading his rifle after shooting. By the time the last soldier fires, the first is loaded and ready to shoot again. The rifles can be fired about three times a minute, but “that’s if you’re lucky,” according to Chris Nulle, the 15th Alabama’s surgeon.

“If the man firing was nervous at all, or something jammed, it was a lot slower,” he said. “Rifles have been found on battlefields with six or seven bullets jammed into the barrel because the soldier forgot he had already loaded it.”

Fire by rank is when two lines of 50 soldiers stand one in front of the other. The first line will fire, move back and reload while the back-line soldiers step forward and fire.

The event attracted all types of visitors and offered numerous activities.

Jean Culver of the Norridgewock Red Hatters said she had the most fun dressing up in 1860s fashion for pictures.

“Every month, one of us chooses a place to go, and I thought this sounded fun,” said Culver, who was joined by fellow members Betty Power and Carol White.

The event was indeed a trip back in time. Characters such as Sam Slick, a smooth-talking salesman with a slick sales pitch, could be found wandering through the Union and Confederate camps

The man playing Slick, in attire that resembled the Mad Hatter from “Alice in Wonderland,” was John Peterson. He explained that Sam Slick was a character created by Thomas Haliburton, made famous by his short stories of Slick’s slimy door-to-door dealings, but was eventually eclipsed by Mark Twain.

The fundraising event happens every other year at the historic farm, Director Sheri Leahan said. This year’s goal is to have 1,000 visitors. As of Saturday afternoon, she said they were about halfway there.

Bray said the reason so many of the re-enactors can participate is because their families do it with them, and they are always looking for new members. Those who join can be soldiers or civilians.

For more information, visit www.thirdmaine.org.

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Members of the 1st Vermont Cavalry Co. K ride onto the battlefield during practice for the Rally for Norlands at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore on Saturday. Sam Short said they will drill with the horses regularly to get them used to cannon fire and a busy battlefield. 

Craig “Rattlesnake Reb” Cunningham, left, and Gary Mac cook kielbasa and chili over an open fire at the 7th Tennessee Infantry Regiment camp during the Rally for Norlands at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore on Saturday. 

Joseph Laderoute, left, of Dracut, Massachusetts, and Emmet Logsdon of Rumford play checkers at the 35th Virginia Cavalry Company B camp during the Rally for Norlands at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore on Saturday. 

Cole Caswell shows the Montagna family of Manchester the tintype portrait that he took of them during the Rally for Norlands at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore on Saturday. In the photo are, from left, Alex, Maya, Christopher and Lisa Montagna. 

Adney Boothby, 7, right, and her sister, Ruth Boothby, 5, of Livermore play their harmonicas on the porch of the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center mansion in Livermore on Saturday.

Denis McKeering of Hartland grabs dinner at the 15th Alabama Co. G camp during the Rally for Norlands at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore on Saturday. 

Sarah Robertson and her 18-month-old son, Samuel, walk along the grounds of the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore on Saturday.


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