By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NEWPORT - The Union was saved on the banks of the Ohio River Friday morning and all it took was six 9-year-old boys from St. Columban School in Loveland taking a step back in time.
In a cold, drizzling rain Friday morning, at the Civil War encampment in Newport's Taylor Park at the mouth of the Licking River, the six boys on a school field trip to Tall Stacks got more than they bargained for. They were inducted into the 18th Independent Light Artillery by two of the Civil War re-enactors who have been bivouacked on the riverbank since the festival began.
Mark Regensburger of Mount Washington, a sergeant in the Indiana-based re-enactors group, and David Brown of Indianapolis, a private and the battery's musician, put the boys through their paces, teaching them to form ranks and columns and how to march Civil War-style.
"Now we close ranks; that means you line up with your shoulder touching your buddy's shoulder,'' said Brown, wearing his authentic artillery private's uniform.
"Face me,'' he barked. The boys - Nathan Creech, Phillip Kepler, Anthony Carlson in the front row; Will Piening, Christian Moeller, Max Gregson in the rear - instantly snapped around.
"Now you're in a column,'' Brown said. "Now the sergeant is going to teach you how to march.''
Regensburger marched them left-right, left-right up from the white canvas tents of the encampment to the road that runs along the bottom of the river levee. Brown ran about 30 yards ahead with his bugle, stopped, and played the bugle call to form ranks.
The Loveland boys marched straight to him and came to a crisp, clean stop.
"Perfect,'' Brown said. "You are now soldiers of the Union Army.
You will be paid $13 a month and you will sleeps in tents like those,'' the private said, pointing to the tents.
"That looks pretty small to live in,'' Anthony said.
As the Loveland boys scampered away with their teacher, Regensburger, Brown and the rest of the 18th Independent Light Artillery walked around the camp waiting for the next group of school kids to come by.
For Tall Stacks, Regensburger said, the re-enactors have a specific scenario they are trying to act out - it is 1862; they are a militia unit bivouacked in Newport, waiting for their new cannons to be forged in Pittsburgh and brought downriver. When the cannons arrive by flatboat, they will ship out for the Civil War's western theater, probably central Tennessee.
Each of the half-dozen soldiers at the encampment is meticulously dressed in period military uniforms - uniforms that cost them hundreds of dollars. This year, the group has performed in battle re-enactments in Georgetown, Ky.; Jackson, Mich.; and at the Perryville battlefield in central Kentucky.
"It takes a lot of time and there's a lot of expense involved, but for every one of us this is a kind of passion to recreate what it was like for the common soldier back then,'' said Regensburger, whose "civilian' job is at Great American Insurance here. "It takes a different breed to be a re-enactor.''
On the Delta Queen, history takes its time
Calliopes blast out that shrill, sweet song
Three boats boast authentic calliopes
Timeline of the early calliope
Tall Stacks hits high note with music performers, fans
Family troupe tells slaves' life
Riverboat crowd swoons over Elvis
Civil War recruiters at work
Honeymooners revel in romance of river
Lavish ships with luscious edibles
NKU troupe dances below Newport levee
To artists, bridge just far enough
It's no easy ride for busy boat staff
Theft suspect dies in struggle with van owner
Coyne can run, but not serve
City's new riverfront becomes visible
IN THE TRISTATE
Ballpark eatery falls silent
Sharonville pool to include flume slides
Montgomery event honors its international residents
Family agency votes to strike
Howard: Good Things Happening
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Butler DUI force called success
Trustee candidates debate issues related to growth
Fairfield hears complaint: Too noisy
Candidates differ on Warren growth
Mickey Kaplan dedicated life to arts, giving
Chart House closes 'for renovations'
Father testifies against his son
Eliminating primary considered