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A tribute to veterans
|Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Grove City resident Sid Drumheiser in full Civil War uniform portraying a troop private from the 1860s.
In the midst of the 150th anniversary of the war between the North and South, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War are keeping alive the memory of the men who saved the Union.
Grove City resident Sid Drumheiser, camp commander of the Governor Dennison Camp#1, has spent more than 15 years in a uniform of heavy woolen jacket and trousers portraying a private in the Union army.
He began by joining the 91st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Members of the organization spend weekends with other like-minded groups by re-enacting battles fought between troops.
Stepping back in time, present day regiment members dress in period uniforms and perform 1860s-era tasks in portraying their mid-19th century counterparts. Re-enactments are often held on the original battlefields and families and civilians join in the living history activities.
With a lifelong love of history, Drumheiser said his interest in re-enacting began with the purchase of a few pieces of equipment.
“I bought a uniform from a sutler (a merchant that followed the troops through the fields) in upstate New York. Then I had to link up with a regiment,” said Drumheiser. “I met Bruce Hydell at the fairgrounds, who was in the 91st and he invited me to join them.”
Drumheiser participated in two major re-enactments; one in Gettysburg and another in Shiloh.
“They try to recreate the battles as closely as possible to the original ones and try to keep the situation as real as possible, but within modern sanitary standards,” he said.
Clad in the uniform of the Eastern Troop Army of the Potomac in honor of his Pennsylvanian heritage, Drumheiser said observers will find a mix of uniforms at events depending on the era and area represented by an individual.
“Ohio was considered a western troop and members would often wear large brimmed black hats and a short jacket with 12 buttons. Eastern troops wore the kepi (hat) and a four-button frock coat,” said Drumheiser. “Later in the war, uniforms became more uniform.”
Digging into his own history, Drumheiser discovered a pair of Union Army members on his mother’s side of the family. Private Samuel Leitzel, 33, joined the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteers in August 1862. Their first engagement was against Gen. Robert E. Lee’s troops and Leitzel was one of the first to be killed. He left behind a wife and three daughters.
His other relative, Jeremiah Keister, joined the 2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry and supplied his own horse. He became a saddler and took care of the cavalry’s horse tack and harnesses. He was severely wounded in Winchester, Va., and died as a result of his injuries.
With a documented Civil War lineage, Drumheiser said he developed an early interest in history and recalls a visit to Gettysburg as a mandatory field trip in elementary school.
“As I became older, I became interested in genealogy, which really pushed my interest in the Civil War,” said Drumheiser. “I don’t re-enact anymore, so I got into the Sons of Union Veterans (OSUV). We find and identify veteran grave sites - there are more than 3,000 alone in Green Lawn Cemetery - and provide patriotic instruction to schools and other interested organizations.”
The OSUV holds an annual Abraham Lincoln birthday celebration dinner and honors veterans on Memorial Day who are buried in Green Lawn. They also honor Confederate soldiers buried in Camp Chase Cemetery. Members in uniform participate in local parades, assist with wreath laying ceremonies, and provide an honor guard at Civil War veteran re-interments.
For information on Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, visit www.ohiosuv.com.
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