FAIRFIELD – Cannon blasts and small-arms fire crackled from two lines of advancing soldiers — blue and gray.

The simulated combatants came so close they could hear the voices of their enemy counterparts.

“Fire at will,” was the command as Union troops advanced on Confederates in what was billed as the Battle of Hinckley Farm, a Civil War re-enactment of skirmishes that were among those dividing the nation 150 years ago.

Men fell in the high grass. Gunsmoke filled the air.

When it was over Saturday, the South had taken the day on the campus of host Good Will-Hinckley. Union troops had surrendered.

“What we thought was going to be a small party of skirmishers turned out to be a bigger number of men than we had thought,” said Paul Dudley, 65, of Easton, a lieutenant with Company B of the 20th Maine. “We pushed them, but we began to take casualities and we pushed them back, but the third time we were pretty well destituted men.

“I had to give up my sword.”

The battle was part of a three-day event called “We Are Coming, Father Abraham,” a call to arms by President Abraham Lincoln for another 300,000 volunteers to fight the Confederacy in July 1862, according to the event’s website.

The event, sponsored by the Maine Living History Association, commemorates the anniversary of the mustering of the 20th Maine Regiment. The Good Will-Hinckley campus is dotted with military encampments this weekend, set in streets of canvas tents, each with a primitive bedroll, a stool and a lantern.

“For the people that participate, it’s very, very important,” Dudley said, resting after the battle and an exchange of prisoners Saturday. “For the vast majority of people doing this, it is their passion, their thing.

“Part of what we’re doing is to pay tribute to the men and women who sacrificed greatly during the Civil War on both sides. We like to keep their memory and what they did in front of the public forever.”

In all, the state of Maine sent about 80,000 men to the battlefields of the Civil War. Nationwide, more than 3 million fought in what was sometimes later called the “War Between the States.”

Mike Pratt of Farmington represented the South in Saturday’s battle as captain of the 15th Alabama. He said the skirmish was not a historical recreation of an actual battle, but one that would closely represent any one of many battles that ultimately took the lives of 620,000 men.

Pratt said the Confederates had one cannon, 15 rifles and several sidearms as they prepared for battle Saturday. He said his group also represented the 12th Georgia and 3rd Arkansas.

“It’s important for history and it’s a lot of fun,” Pratt said of the re-enactment and Civil War encampment. “You get more by seeing it than by reading it in books. Books are very one-dimensional, and with a living history re-enactment you get to see things in all three dimensions. You see the equipment, where they would have lived and what they used for rifles and uniforms. You get a better understanding of it.”

Pratt’s fellow Confederate Henry Arredondo of Rindge, N.H., also said re-enactment events are fun for participants and spectators alike.

“You get to be with other people that have the same interests as you do, the same love of history, the same respect for the men who fought in the Civil War,” Arredondo said. “It’s just a great family atmosphere.”

Events continue Sunday and are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested.

Military drilling is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on the “battlefield” near the LC Bates Museum on the campus located on U.S. Route 201.

The Second Battle of Hinckley Farm is scheduled for 1 p.m. Talks, activities and depictions of camp life also are scheduled.

For more information, visit gwh2012.civilwarmaine.org.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367, or at:

[email protected]