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Civil War re-enactment draws crowds over the weekend

The 12th Infantry unit lined up, looked at the commander and waited.

"Detail, attention," said the commander.

"Shoulder, assume."

"Ready."

"Aim."

"Fire!"

The smoke cleared over the officers, drifting into the air above Onondaga Lake as observers milled about the tenured forts and buildings at the St. Marie Among the Iroquois museum in Liverpool.

The event, which lasted all day Saturday and Sunday, offered visitors displays of almost every aspect of the Civil War, including blacksmithing, cooking, medicine and battle.

War re-enactors work hard to turn the reality of battle on its head. Every summer, they use this slaughter story, which annihilated towns and massacred families, to educate the living and honor the dead.

"I just like how conflict in the end brought us together. Separation brings us closer," said Baker High School volunteer Orion Wood.

"Everything gets better with war."

12th Infantry Captain Jim Hurd, of Oneida, said the soldiers volunteer not only because of their love for history, but for their passion for those who died before them.

"By doing this, I can't go out there and do what [soldiers] did. But doing this gives you some feel for what it was like to live like they did," Hurd said.

Hurd and his fellow re-enactors volunteer at Civil War events throughout the state all summer, including Peterboro, NY and the Erie Canal Village in Rome, NY. He's been doing this for about 14 years, and thinks it's a great hobby.

"We like history in general. We like honoring those who have gone before us," Hurd said.

Neil MacMillan, also a 14-year veteran re-enactor, said the unit means more than marching in step and dressing in character.

"We keep in touch in the off season. Sort of like a big dysfunctional family, but in a good way," MacMillan said.

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