Local re-enactment provides insight into historical conflict

Community, students attend 28th annual Civil War Revisited

The American Civil War Association along with the Fresno Historical Society, brought back the largest Civil War re-enactment in the western United States to Kearney Park as the 28th annual Civil War Revisited, Oct. 21 and 22. Thousands of musicians, performers and period leaders participated in the annual re-enactment. According to the Fresno Historical Society, around 10,000 people have attend the show.

People voluntary dressed up as soldiers, musicians, civilians and artists during the re-enactment, Oct. 21.

People voluntary dressed up as soldiers, musicians, civilians and artists during the re-enactment, Oct. 21.

Civil War Revisited, is described as a “living history event,” which is designed for educational purposes. The re-enactment provides an opportunity to engage history and remember a time in American history. Organizers hope this live, historical event hopes to immerse audiences into life of the 1860s, through volunteers dressing up as historic figures, soldiers, crafts people and civilians during the Civil War period and various well-known historical scenes.

Many community history teachers, professors, from elementary to university, consider the Civil War Re-enactment (CWR) as a precious opportunity to learn about the Civil War’s time period. Some educators offered extra-credit to encourage students to attend, hoping the CWR could encourage their students to learn more about American histo

Campus history teacher Kori Friesen offers extra credit to students who go and proved their attendance with an informational paper and two selfies with re-enactors.

AP U.S. history (APUSH) student, Connor Jens, ‘19, attended the re-enactment for extra credit. Jens questions the absence of slaves during the re-enactment for historical accuracy. 

“I needed the extra credit in all honesty,” Jens said. “I thought that it (the re-enactment) was really cool, but I was also intrigued on why they didn’t have some slaves in there because, in that time period there was. Right now, (in APUSH) we’re learning on how to write documents from the 18th century. We just passed learning about the Civil War.”

Union soldier, John Moreno speaks to visitors, sharing his knowledge of American Civil War, Oct.21.

Union soldier, John Moreno speaks to visitors, sharing his knowledge of American Civil War, Oct.21.

Union soldier, John Moreno is a second year volunteer for the re-enactment. Moreno emphasizes the importance of large scale battles. 

“I don’t think you can take 20 or 30 men that are brave, saying that they can shoot them and end the war,” Moreno said. “You need a whole brigade and that’s what we’re trying to recreate here to the best of our ability. That you can’t fight battles, that hold a lot of history, alone.”

Nearly 2,000 Union, Confederate and civilian re-enactors from the American Civil War Association, brought various live shows which immersed visitors in the atmosphere of 1860s. Many re-enactors answered visitors’ questions about Civil War history and gave real accounts of Civil War combatants and witnesses. Confederate re-enactor, James Downs discusses why he participates in the mock battles. He encourages students to understand history.

“I have families from the Civil War from both sides, mainly on the Confederate side,” Downs said. “If you don’t know where you came from, you don’t know where you are going.” 

Presenter Brian Clague became interested in the Civil War era while he was in college. As a local retired physician, Clague enjoys studying the period’s medicinal practices. 

“I’ve been interested in the Civil War since college and also interested in botanical medicine which is the basis for most of the medicines at the time of the Civil War,” Clague said. “My role is to pass some of that information onto the touring public so they get a sense of what the medical department was doing to treat soldiers what they did to try and improve the status of medicine and what some of the long time consequences of the those advances are.”

The re-enactment allowed guests to partake in activities to provide insight into the conflict and era. Tents were set up where period characters answered historical questions. The battle re-enactments took place Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., Oct. 22 at 1:30 p.m.

Shelley Sanders, was one of the visitors that visited the park, Oct 21. She has been going to the Civil War re-enactment since its inception.

“This is not my first time going,” Sanders said. “I’ve been going since it began–about 25 years. I get excited seeing the people

relive history, so I attend a battle every time I come. They’re (the cannons) very loud, and the less you know about Civil War history the more it just looks like a whole bunch of people running around and making a lot of noise. It’s still just cool seeing people being interested d in history. I like looking at the settlers at the stores and seeing what they have for sale and that kind of stuff. I’ve listened to the people in medical tents quite a bit, I’ve talked to Abe Lincoln a couple times and Sojourner Truth.”

Re-enactment soldiers load and fire blank canon rounds to simulate a Civil War engagement.

Re-enactment soldiers load and fire blank canon rounds to simulate a Civil War engagement.

Irish dances entertained civilians during  the hardships of the Civil War. The California Arts Academy brought the Civil War’s Irish dances to Kearney Park’s stage during the re-enactment. Director of California Arts Academy, Hannah Anderson 

“A lot Irish came up into the north part of America, and many came to Canada,” Anderson said. “During the Civil War, there were a group of Irish people who were trying to fight rebellion against England. So they came to Canada actually, right north of Maine, and started an Irish rebellion army, which then send regiments down to help the Civil War on the side of the Union. So there were a lot of Irish mingling. One of the way you can get out of the property in those days, if you could dance, you could put a company together and kind of get an act going.”\

Katie Montejano, a dancer from Califonria Arts Academy, performs at hte Civil War Re-enactment, Oct.21.

Katie Montejano, a dancer from Califonria Arts Academy, performs at hte Civil War Re-enactment, Oct.21.

I think a lot of people just don’t realize how public dancing was during the Civil War,” Anderson continued. “We think about the dance before the Civil War, we talk about the dance after the Civil War. And everyone kind of forgets that during this time period, people were still living their life, that was not just about the war. I think it is important for people to realize that the 1860s were not just about the Civil War, that the war affected everything but the war was not everything. So I think it is important to remind people that there were cultures there were dance, you could still see shows, that was a very important part of life.”

Dancing immersed visitors in the period cultures during last weekend. The re-enactment also hosted a Soldier’s Camp Dinner, 7 p.m., Oct 21, on the Kearney Mansion veranda, Oct. 20. The camp dinner featured food, music, dancing and a live battle. While visitors ate their rations, shots rang out and musicians performed. The scene reminded many people that even in the time of war, life goes on.