History will come alive in the trenches this weekend at Hale Farm & Village.
As many as 1,000 Civil War re-enactors — the largest such gathering in Ohio and perhaps the Midwest — will converge on the 1800s farm and historic village in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
The Bath Township's farm pasture will become Petersburg, Virginia, on June 15, 1864.
Union and Confederate soldiers will re-create the first Battle of Petersburg when the North launched an unsuccessful initial assault on the town that was home to railroads critical to the South.
The Confederate soldiers had an advantage as they had built fortifications known as the Dimmock Line, a line of earthworks some 10 miles long, to hold off Union Army advances.
To help re-create the setting, Hale Farm workers have dug a series of two trenches to re-create the Dimmock Line.
Re-enactor Greg Van Wey, who will be the colonel of the Confederate soldiers this weekend, said they are always looking for ways to "keep it fresh" after 20-plus years of gathering at Hale.
And digging trenches is as big as it can get for re-enactors.
"I have people driving eight hours just to be able to sleep and work in these trenches," said Van Wey, who hails from Huron.
Hale Farm, with its rustic setting with no power lines in sight, Van Wey said, makes for the perfect setting for history buffs to get lost in the past.
"Petersburg was pretty much manned by old men and young soldiers," he said. "For once we will be pretty accurate as most of us re-enactors are all pretty old."
The battle will be re-created twice over the weekend, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10, or $15 for a two-day ticket. Kids ages 12 and under are $5, or $7.50 for two days.
There will be a variety of other displays, including period campsites and other Civil War-related activities over the two days. President Abraham Lincoln will pay a visit, the Camp Chase Fifes and Drums will perform, and Sutler’s Row will have vendors offering Civil War-era merchandise.
Another highlight is the large number of horse-mounted soldiers — as many as 60 — that will be a part of the battle.
"When we get here there is nothing from the modern life," Van Wey said. "We wear period wool clothes right down to our underwear."
Craig Webb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.