Civil War re-enactors found not guilty of assaulting each other
Posted to: News Virginia
The Associated Press
© January 8, 2010
In a Civil War re-enactment that went too far, two Union and Confederate cavalry commanders who tussled on the field of battle each were found not guilty of assault.
The two pressed charges against each other after the Sept. 19, 2009, re-enactment of the Battle of Stanardsville.
The Confederate commander, Doug Nalls, claimed his Union counterpart, Joseph Ferguson, knocked off his hat, and Nalls allegedly responded by firing his revolver. While the weapon was not loaded with a bullet, the Union commander suffered facial injuries from the revolver’s powder blast, according to a prosecutor.
This chapter of the Civil War ended in a draw: A judge concluded Wednesday that he could not find either man guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."
The Greene County commonwealth’s attorney said the re-enactment gone bad was the result of "bad blood" between the men that boiled over on the battlefield, located about 20 miles north of Charlottesville.
Confederate re-enactors testified during the trial that the two had exchanged words before the violent encounter. According to Confederate witnesses, the Union commander used archaic slurs such as "blaggard" and "knave" to describe his Confederate counterpart.
The prosecutor, Ronald L. Morris, said Thursday more contemporary insults were also exchanged. He said courtroom accounts of the physical exchange were in dispute except for two points: "The hat came off and the gun was fired."
Nalls’ father testified he had to wade into battle to separate the men.
Ferguson left court unhappy with the outcome. "The feud on the battlefield goes on," he said.
Injuries, accidental or otherwise, are not uncommon during Civil War re-enactments. In 2008, a Confederate re-enactor brought a loaded weapon into a battle being filmed for a documentary and shot and wounded a Union re-enactor.
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