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Civil War re-enactors resurrect past

| Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Members of Company A of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserve Corps made the Sewickley Public Library grounds their base for a daylong encampment to teach people about the Civil War.

And then they loaded their tents and muskets into a large sport utility vehicle and drove off.

Michael Kiss, whose family can be traced back to the Civil War-era, said that while Civil War re-enactors sometimes seem out of place - and out of time - there is nothing weird about what they do.

'It's a matter of pride. It's for honor and courage,' he said. 'Most of the people who do this have family who fought in the wars.'

Kiss, of Monroeville, said that even though he was wearing two layers of wool clothing with gloves, sash and boots in Saturday's 80-degree heat, the troops are realistic about the limitations of their re-enactments.

'I don't force 10-mile marches on my guys,' he said. 'We're out here relaxing beneath the trees.'

Company A has about 25 'military' members and a small cluster of 'civilian' members - mostly the wives of the men.

'We try to involve and incorporate families,' Kiss said.

Dan Rauscher of Brookline has been in the 9th for about a year. He said his great-grandfather's name is on a Pennsylvania monument at Gettysburg. Becoming a member of a re-enactment group was a natural step for him.

'We relive history and we try to teach history,' he said. 'When you get out on a battlefield early in the morning, and you realize what happened, you're just in awe.'

Dave Ward of Sewickley lectured at Saturday's event to a small crowd. He has been with the 9th for about six years and said he is passionate about the Civil War.

'I had family that fought on both sides of the field,' he said.

The 9th's next tour of duty will be at the Historic LeMoyne House in Washington County, where they will be encamped Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, check out the 9th's Web site at www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/ (tilde) jw3u/9th.htm or call (412) 885-4176.

Kiss said re-enactors have been used in numerous movies and during many events. And while they all come from different backgrounds, they all share one thing in common.

'We try to portray the Civil War in the best light possible,' he said.

Mark Berton can be reached at mberton@tribweb.com or (724) 779-7108.

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