PHOENIXVILLE - As part of their annual Memorial Day tradition, members of the "Bucktails" re-enacting group honored Civil War soldiers from throughout the area, Monday afternoon.
Dressed in the same gear as the men they honored, and waving the same flag, Sgt. Joe Conroy and his son, Pvt. Ryan Conroy, both of Phoenixville, along with Privates Dave Mitchell of East Coventry and Pete Baransky of Newsmithville, are named after Company F, 150th Pennsylvania of the Union Army.
The group visits cemeteries in the greater Phoenixville area every Memorial Day, stopping in Morris Cemetery on Nutt Road to honor former soldiers like Andrew Batzel. His salute is always notable since a member of his family is on hand to place flowers at the grave.
Dave Batzel, his great-grandson and lifelong Phoenixville resident, participates. "I wouldn't miss this for the world every year," said Batzel. "This is truly special that they do this for my great-grandfather."
Each soldier's tribute is marked not only by a flag and musket salute, but by a few anecdotes about each soldier, compliments of Ryan Conroy. At each grave, Conroy not only recites facts about the soldier's military history, but brief stories about their lives. Lt. Captain Nathan Pennypacker, for example, was "the best shortstop in Phoenixville."
"We went to five members from the 150th, along with the Pennypackers," said Joe Conroy. "We'll be out here every year, rain or shine. Of course, this was the first year we actually planned to have a picnic afterwards, and now it's raining."
The Bucktails began their day at the East Vincent Reformed Church on Route 23 before moving on to Morris Cemetery. From there they moved on to the Valley Forge Baptist Church on Route 23 before finishing at the Green Tree Church on Egypt Road in Oaks.