Sidney, Ohio’s Civil War Living History Weekend Postponed

Describing it as one of the most difficult decisions he’s had to make in recent years, Sidney Mayor Mike
Barhorst announced that Sidney, Ohio’s Civil War Living History Weekend, originally scheduled for
September 19-20, has been postponed. The decision was made Saturday morning during the final
monthly planning meeting for the biennial event.

Event organizers had previously scheduled an additional day (September 18) so that the county’s ninth
grade students could attend. These students would have attended the Shelby County Historical
Society’s Civil War Day in the spring; the spring event was also cancelled due to the pandemic. The
September 18 addition was cancelled a month ago after it became clear that school field trips could not
take place at this time.
The planning committee, including Shelby County Historical Society Director Tilda Phlipot, Sidney Parks
& Recreation Director Duane Gaier, Union Commander Scott Sharp, Confederate Commander J.R. Sharp,
Confederate Aide-de-Camp Chad Cochran, Union Provost Marshal Doug Slagel and Barhorst, voted to
postpone the event after consultation with the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department and reviewing
the state-wide orders concerning mass gatherings, masks, food, entertainment and camping.
“We had individuals coming from Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York,
Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia as well as Ohio,” Phlipot stated. “There really wasn’t any way for
participants to come in time and have them self-quarantine.”
“Because so many reenacting events have been cancelled this year,” J.R. Sharp noted, “we were
expecting an unusually high number of participants. We waited until the last possible minute, hoping
for the storm to clear.”
“Unfortunately, we are not able to predict COVID or its continued path throughout the world. It was our
decision to not take the risk in putting anyone in harm’s way, Sharp continued. “I would like to think
that those we seek to remember would agree that this is the best thing to do. Quite frankly, until we
made the decision to postpone, we actually thought that we might be the only event in the Midwest this
Union Commander Scott Sharp, who would have assumed command this year from Tim Bills, who
commanded Union forces in 2016 and 2018, was equally disappointed. “Sidney’s event has always been
one that reenactors enjoy. Tawawa Park is not only beautiful,” Sharp said, “it has the room to enable
troops to maneuver in authentic ways not possible in many venues.”
“Additionally, reenactors have always been treated quite well in Sidney,” Sharp continued. “Not only
has the community made us feel welcome, but those who have come to the event from far away have
as well.”
“We had worked on a scenario in which Union and Confederate troops would fight over control of the
Zenas King bridge,” Cochran noted. “It was our plan to reenact the fight over the Lower Bridge (aka
Burnside’s Bridge) during the Battle of Antietam.”

During the actual Battle of Antietam, 500 Confederate soldiers from Georgia held off repeated attempts
by the Union Army’s IX Corps (approximately 8,000 troops) to take the bridge for several hours. The
Battle of Antietam was the costliest single-day battle in terms of casualties (approximately 22,720)
fought in the Civil War, and in fact the worst single-day battle ever fought in North America.
“Planning for this year’s event actually began two months prior to the 2018 event,” Barhorst stated. “If
we are unable to find dates that work for the reenactors next year, we’ll simply attempt to offer a
program similar to the one planned for Sidney’s Bicentennial on the corresponding dates in 2022
(September 17-18).”
“There have been so many events cancelled due to the pandemic that the committee didn’t have the
heart to say that still another had been cancelled,” Slagel stated. “Rather, we elected to say that it had
been postponed but in reality, none of us know the future. It is quite possible that we won’t have the
opportunity to return until 2022.”
“We will welcome the event back when the organizers believe that it is safe to return,” Gaier stated.
“The past events have brought a lot of first-time visitors to the park, all of whom have been favorably
impressed that a community the size of Sidney has such a tremendous asset.”
“One of the most common comments I have heard is ‘Wow! Our city is five times larger, and our largest
park isn’t even a third this size!’ Gaier repeated. “And, our park certainly doesn’t have lakes, a stream
and the number of trees you have!”
At least one event scheduled as part of the weekend will take place despite the postponement. The
rededication of the statue of ‘Sergeant Baker’ that sits in the niche atop The Monumental Building will
still take place Saturday morning, September 19 at 10:00 a.m.
That program will include comments by a number of individuals, including The Honorable Donald D.
Luce, retired Sidney Municipal Court judge. Judge Luce will deliver the principal address.
During the ceremonies, the statue of ‘Sergeant Baker’, repainted for Sidney’s Bicentennial, will be
unveiled. It is expected that a small detachment of Union reenactors as well as a small detachment of
Confederate reenactors will also participate in the ceremonies.
The street (Ohio Avenue) in front of the Monumental Building will be closed to traffic so that there will
be adequate space for those attending the ceremony to socially distance. Because a large number of
spectators are expected to attend, it is recommended that those attending take masks or facial
coverings so that if necessary, they can be worn.