WINDHAM – Re-enactors from Company A of the Third Maine Regiment Volunteer Infantry spent Memorial Day weekend recreating a Civil War encampment on the Village Green, located behind the Windham Historical Society on Windham Center Road.

At the invitation of the historical society, which hosted the Third Maine group in 2012, about 30 Union re-enactors spent the weekend living as their ancestors had.

“My great, great, great grandfather was a Civil War veteran,” said reenactor Scott Scroggins of Lisbon Falls. “I joined this group 16 years ago to see what it might have been like for him.”

Scroggins started off as a private and within a year became the company surgeon.

“If you really think about it, that is an accurate timetable,” said Scroggins. “At the time of the Civil War, medical school was only one year in length. It was such a fascinating time in medicine. For instance, at the start of the Civil War if you lost a leg, it would be replaced with a peg. By the end of the Civil War, they had an artificial ankle that could actually move.”

Much of the medical knowledge, he said, was obtained simply by accident.

“If the surgeons would run out of string to sew up wounds, they would boil horse hair and use that,” said Scroggins. “They soon discovered, ‘Hey, what do you know? If we boil it first, the wounds seem to be healthier.’ ”

Scroggins has spent the last 16 years collecting original Civil War medical instruments, as well as accurate recreations to enhance his set-up as the company surgeon.

One of his most interesting finds was a tonsil guillotine, used for tonsillectomies.

“It was just a really neat instrument that I wanted to have,” said Scroggins.

On the other side of the encampment, several other women were in character sewing quilts and other materials the soldiers needed.

“Presumably, we would make things to send to the soldiers, or to sell for money to buy things for the soldiers,” said Tracy Williams, a Civil War reenactor for the last 12 years. “I love the encampments. I have always been intrigued by the Civil War and sewing. This allows me to participate in both hobbies.”

Sitting in the women’s circle was Hannah Gowen, 19, and her mother, Kathy Gowen. Both women also enjoy taking on roles in the event.

“My first Civil War encampment, I was pregnant with her,” said Kathy Gowen. “We have been participating in these since that time.”

The encampment was open to the public on Saturday and Sunday and included events such as infantry drills, musket firing and conversation. All re-enactors stayed in character for the weekend, eating what Civil War soldiers would have eaten, wearing period clothes, and sleeping overnight in canvas tents.

The Third Maine group tries to attend at least one larger event during the year. This year, most of the group will attend the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek in Middletown, Va.

“We all have a large interest in the Civil War or we wouldn’t be here,” said Williams. “We love to participate and just bring history to life. It’s that simple.”

Kathy Gowen and her daughter Hannah, 19, pass the time at the Civil War encampment. Kathy Gowen has participated in these events since she was pregnant with Hannah. Union Army re-enactors from the Third Maine, Company A, shoot replica rifles during last weekend’s encampment on the Village Green, located behind the Windham Historical Society’s headquarters in Windham Center. Kate Scroggins, 11, prepares to make oatmeal at the Third Maine, Company A, Civil War encampment. Scroggins’ parents also participated in the event. 


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