Medina Journal-Register — This spring’s Civil War Encampment at Genesee Community College in Medina is going Hollywood.
Ron Maxwell, director of the acclaimed film Gettysburg, is slated to appear. Maxwell also counts Gods and Generals and Copperhead among his Civil War-era film productions.
Derek Maxfield, a GCC history professor who is one of the coordinators of the college’s Civil War Initiative, said landing Maxwell as a guest was a bit unexpected.
“We had a screening of Copperhead last year and I had an opportunity to speak with him afterward,” Maxfield recalled. “We went over a lot of ground, and I suggested to him a bit then, saying, ‘Hey, we hold these annual encampments,’ but I didn’t actually ask him at that time.”
Maxfield said that when he started working on the schedule for this year’s event he looked for a way to “keep it fresh and keep people coming.”
He reached out to Maxwell, not expecting a positive response. To his pleasant surprise, he got one immediately.
“As it so happens, he’s out now promoting the DVD release of Copperhead, so he’s making this stop part of his campaign,” Maxfield said.
Since his stop is publicity oriented, Maxwell is visiting the GCC event for free.
The Civil War Encampment is set for the weekend of April 26-27. Maxfield said Maxwell will present a lecture in an interview format at 1 p.m. April 26.
“GCC started this initiative in 2001, and the most successful component has been the Civil War Lecture Series,” Maxfield noted.
Scheduled to accompany Maxwell is Copperhead screenwriter Bill Kaufman, a Batavia native.
Along with the weekend plans for the public, Maxfield said plans are in the works to bring students from Medina, Albion and Lyndonville to experience the encampment on April 25.
“I’m really excited about that because I think the students will enjoy it,” he said.
As for the reenactments, which are planned for the weekend, Maxfield predicted a number of reenactors will be thrilled to see Maxwell. Several, including lead reenactor Tom Bowers, were extras in the film Gettysburg, Maxfield said.
Those who don Union and Confederate garb do so in a variety of temperature extremes. Their dedication to such a unique hobby is something Maxfield said he is exploring in an upcoming publication.
“They deal with rain, they deal with snow, and two years ago when we did this the temperatures got down to about 10 degrees,” Maxfield said.
The professor said he finds it interesting that more people seem interested in “fighting” for the Confederacy in reenactments.
“There’s a certain romance to the lost cause idea,” he said. “In the late 19th century, during the period of reconciliation, both sides recognized that the other fought valiantly. ... Popular perception of the Civil War today casts some romance on the Confederate cause.”
However, Maxfield noted, “It also costs less to be a Confederate soldier. Union soldiers need to buy a decent-looking uniform. Confederate soldiers can just wear rags.”
However, the temperature has proven to not be a deterrent as the encampment enters its third year. Like last year, it is in Medina.
The parade that kicks off the Medina encampment will have a different route this year, according to Maxfield. Instead of ending at the Railroad Museum, the parade will begin there and march toward Boxwood Cemetery, where a ceremony will be held near the grave of Capt. Erwin Ambrose Bowen and other soldiers from Medina who served in the Civil War.
Bowen was portrayed last year in a ceremony at the intersection of Center and Main streets.