Civil War rages at Dunkirk Lighthouse festival


OBSERVER Correspondent

Union soldiers took their positions as they readied to take over the Dunkirk Lighthouse from Confederate control Saturday. Each side exchanged musket fire, soldiers fell where they stood until the Major of Confederacy was forced to wave the white flag.

The Civil War re-enactment of Battle of Lighthouse Point kicked off Saturday morning with the raising of colors and the opening of camps. Camps from both the Union and Confederacy were set up for the public to observe. Tents were pitched with beds setup inside, fires burned to boil water and slat chairs set up for soldiers to sit. Soldiers camped out, waiting for the next battle to occur. Some soldiers slept on the ground while others sat and talked.

A medical tent, setup by Captain of the 9th Medical Service, Joe Bolivard, gave the public an opportunity to see and learn the ways in which medics took care of the wounded.

“Most of what is on display are medical tools that I have picked up over a period of time,” Bolivard said. “I also have on display military books from the Civil War and World War II that I have collected.”

Bolivard, showed the public several tools that medics used for broken legs and fingers that were no longer operational. He also displayed glass bottles that would hold medicine to treat wounds.

In the afternoon, the Battle of Lighthouse Point commenced, and the crowd of Civil War enthusiasts gathered to watch the re-enactment. The battle began with a bang as the Confederates shot off a mortar. Soon after, the Union army got into formation, and the battle flared. A Confederate sniper could be seen from the lighthouse, shooting down at Union soldiers. Both sides maneuvred around each other as soldiers fell. After the continued exchange of musket fire, the Major of the Confederate army waved the white flag in surrender.

According to the co-organizer of the event, Jamie Rocque, who has been a part of the festivities for eight years, the re-enactment that took place was a fictitious battle.

“The battle that we actually did, did not occur,” said Rocque. “That was just a product of our own imagination. We took the history of the lighthouse, and we put our spin on it. The Dunkirk Lighthouse was never taken as a garrison. This is what happened if maybe it had.”

Re-enactors in the battle, according to Rocque came from all over the area with the furthest from Gettysburg, Pa.

Commenting on the event, Rocque said, “It takes a lot of manpower and helpful preparation.”

After the re-enactment was the living history presentation, “Court Marshal.” During the battle, it was discovered that a woman, played by Rocque, took part and fled from battle as she dropped her firearm and ran. In handcuffs, she was escorted to the court marshal where she presented her case. In the end, she was discharged. Also brought to the attention of the court marshal by the major was a problem of a drunk soldier. The drunk soldier, who was the husband of Rocque’s character, was ordered by the court marshal to face the firing squad.

Between the battle scenario and the presentation of “Court Marshal,” no practice was involved according to Rocque.

“We had the general idea of it, but actually practicing it for a dry run, there was no practice,” Rocque said.

Events at the Lighthouse Festival continued into the evening with the candle light tour. The tour allows the public to see from an outside window what life was like during the time of the Civil War.

Today’s events will begin with a Civil War church service followed by lunch. At 2 p.m., a second battle scenario will be performed. At 3 p.m., will be another living history presentation called, “Surrender!”

The “Battle of Lighthouse Point” Civil War Living History Camp and Reenactment is co-sponsored by the Dunkirk Lighthouse, Veterans Park Museum and the 64th Virginia “Mounted” Infantry.

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