The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

April 29, 2013

Look-alike makes Civil War Encampment hit home

Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — Communities across the North hosted sendoffs for their soldiers 150 years ago.

Having an actual descendant of one of those soldiers on hand Saturday morning made Medina’s reenacted sendoff a bit more unique.

Mary Zimmerman Robinson, great-great-granddaughter of Captain Erwin Ambrose Bowen, dressed the part and presented her predecessor’s doppleganger with Bowen’s actual sword from the era.

Robinson said she met Simon Taylor, the man who portrayed Bowen, a couple years ago.

“He embodies him,” she said of Taylor and her great-great-grandfather.

Robinson led a small contingent of the “Ladies of Medina” during the sword ceremony. She said she felt as if Bowen’s spirit was with them during the ceremony, and it nearly rendered her speechless.

Taylor agreed. 

“It’s not often that you get such a complete backstory with what happened, the words that were spoken, the exact route taken, and the same sword,” he explained of the reenactment.

“It really made it a different experience.”

Taylor, a native of England, said the chance to meet with Robinson and learn about Bowen offered another benefit. He learned Bowen and the men of Medina Company D of the 28th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment used the Harding field manual for infantry men.

“There’s always a question wherever you go about which drill manual they used,” Taylor said. “To find one with the Medina Voluneers logo in it? Wow.”

Many of Robinson’s family heirlooms from Bowen’s time were on display during the Civil War Encampment at the GCC-Medina Campus Center over the weekend. Her Civil War interest was easily explained, having a relative who fought in it.

But Taylor’s? He said there are Civil War reenactments in England, and he joined his relatives for one once, liked it, and has done it ever since.

That was 23 years ago.

Now, the Palmyra resident participates in several reenactments a year. However, he said Saturday’s events, from the parade to the reenactment, left him “blown away.”

He said, “When we turned on to Main Street and I saw the amount of spectators who were watching the parade, I was shocked. It’s very obvious this community cares about its history.”