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Men march into the past



Published: Sat, August 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The men wanted to know how it felt for Civil War soldiers to march into battle.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Jim Duvall and Lonnie Leonard sat sprawled under a tree along New Buffalo Road, wiping sweat from their faces in the Friday morning haze.

"This is tough," said Duvall, 40, of Youngstown. "I would not want to live like this."

They were marching from Leonard's home in Austintown to Scenic Vista Park, west of Lisbon, where they planned to participate in a Civil War re-enactment today and Sunday. They stopped under the tree to peel off their heavy coats and packs and rest in the shade.

Trek: Duvall and Leonard, 45, belong to the 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Company H, and dress to "fight" for the Union army in Civil War events. This was the first time they had marched to their battle site instead of driving.

Leonard, a maintenance worker at a local apartment complex, said they did it to honor the soldiers who fought in the war more than 135 years ago.

"This is how they would have done it back then," he said. "They would have marched that far and then went right into battle."

Leonard and Duvall, a corporal with the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department, left early Friday and expected to arrive at the park late in the evening. Each was dressed in his military costume and carried a musket and a pack on his back.

The packs, made of a pine frame covered with canvas, held everything they would need for the weekend: food, a plate, fork and spoon, candles, a poncho and a canvas pillow. Their bedrolls were strapped to the top of the packs, which weighed about 40 pounds when fully loaded.

"Even our socks and shoes are authentic," Duvall said, noting that the footwear didn't make for a comfortable stroll.

They did allow themselves one modern convenience -- a cellular telephone in case of emergency.

Otherwise, they wanted to keep the march as true as possible to what Civil War soldiers might have gone through. Their blue wool coats and pants were made for durability, not comfort, Duvall said as he pulled his coat back on after their break.

"It gets really hot with all this stuff on," he said.

Inspiring: The men, who have been active in the re-enactments for about two years, said they had another reason for making the 30-mile march to the battle site. They wanted to inspire a 13-year-old boy from Ravenna who has leukemia.

The boy, who is also a member of the 29th OVI, has gotten discouraged about his future. Duvall and Leonard hope their walk inspires him to fight hard against the disease. They've stressed that nothing is impossible, even beating leukemia.

"I asked him if he thought it was impossible for us to do this march, and he said, 'Yes,'" Duvall said. "We want to do this for him and show him that it's not impossible."

bjackson@vindy.com




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