MIDDLETOWN, Va. (NEWS CENTER) -- A group of Civil War re-enacters from Maine are safe after they were locked down in their camps during their event in Middletown, Virginia due to a possible bomb threat.
Frederick County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Karen Vacchio confirmed Saturday night that they were investigating a suspicious package at the Cedar Creek and Bell Grove National Park, where members of the 3rd Maine Regiment Infantry Volunteers Company A were participating in the re-enactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek, which happened on October 19, 1864.
Vacchio said a person reported a suspicious packagae around 4 p.m. They were trying to determine what the package was and if there are more. Vacchio said the Virginia State Police Bomb Squad was called in and "rendered the device safe," and that K9 units continue to search all areas of the battlefield.
1st Sgt. Bob Pierce, from Arundel, is the president of the company and said he and his fellow actors had just finished a battle scenario, and were headed to "Sutler's Row," where re-enacters sell wares to the soldiers.
When they arrived around 4:15 p.m., he said he noticed police cars and blue lights flashing in the area and they had the area taped off and were not letting anyone in. They told Pierce that they found a suspicious package behind one of the tents and that they were evacuating people.
"They had to wait for the bomb squad to show up and dismantle it," said Pierce. "A lot of us in the Union camp are unhappy because we feel that we shouldn't be forced away from doing our hobby and dedicating our hobby to the lives of all Civil War veterans that died for this country."
He said the ride from the Union camp to Sutler's Row is about one mile.
Pierce said he was not scared when he found out that it was likely a bomb.
"It's going top take a little bit more than that to scare any of the Union or Confederate re-enacters. We're not easily shaken and we're not going to be threatened and we're going to keep on doing this to honor all veterans," said Pierce.
Pierce said he was told the bomb had some type of remote detonation device, however law enforcement did not confirm that.
"The event planners and the police did an amazing job of getting people away from the danger and fortunately I believe those planners and police actually thwarted a live bomb from going off," said Pierce. "My hat goes off to them for taking care of that situation."
Vacchio said some were evacuated to Middletown Elementary. Pierce said the Confederate and Union camps are on lockdown and have been ordered not to leave. He said police have been searching the Confederate camps, but not the Union camps.
Pierce said that there are about 100-110 members in the 3rd Maine Infantry, but only about eight traveled to the re-enactment in Virginia. He said there are about 900 Union tents, and about the same number of Confederate tents, but could not estimate the total number of people there. He said their members are from Lewiston, Auburn, Portland, Augusta, Arundel, and Shapleigh.
Pierce said before the events, the participants were asked to sign a waiver in regards to threats from a school student in the days leading up to the re-enactment, but that law enforcement had determined it was not a credible threat.
Pierce said they arrived Friday. A Facebook post from the group said the remainder of their re-enactment, scheduled for Sunday, has been cancelled.
Assisting with the investigation are Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Frederick County Fire and Rescue, Frederick County Fire Marshal’s Office, Middletown Police Department, FBI, ATF, and Virginia State Police.