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At James Madison's Montpelier, re-enactors are building huts similar to those used in an 1864 Civil War winter encampment
Re-enactor Greg Kelly puts the roof on a hut like the ones that would have been used by Confederate troops during the winter of 1863-64.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 8/17/2009
Modern-day visitors wandered in occasionally for a look and a history lesson, including a musket-firing demonstration.
But visitors had to stretch their imaginations--downward, by about 80 degrees--to place themselves in the winter of 1864.
"This is a winter quarters, so it's kind of hard to be doing this in August," said Steve Blancard, a Fredericksburg resident.
All the re-enactors yesterday acknowledged that the soldiers of 1864 were made of much tougher stuff than a group of 21st-century history devotees.
Warm clothing was scarce, and it wasn't unheard-of for a picket standing guard overnight to be discovered frozen by morning.
"We're used to air conditioning, heat and three square meals a day," said Greg Caton of Luray, taking a break in the shade after a bologna-sandwich lunch.
As hard as winter was, though, the re-enactors said soldiers looked forward to winter camp.
At least the huts were covered; in summer, men slept in tents or out in the open. A community campfire provided warmth.
But the re-enactors said the main thing soldiers appreciated about winter camp was that they weren't getting shot at.
Laura Moyer: 540/374-5417