While we were visiting my hometown in Pennsylvania a few months ago, we heard about a Civil War camp and re-enactment happening in a local park. We knew the kids would want to check it out.
It was a warm afternoon in early May, but although we missed a gun battle, we caught a few stations still set up – like a field hospital and mess tent.
As we watched, the stations ended and the re-enactors went about their normal lives. This man settled into his tent for a good read.
These men immediately retreated to a tent to clean their weapons. When we approached, they explained what they were doing and showed us their tools.
My Big Helper was playing journalist with her camera and wanted to know more about what their tents contained. This nice man walked the few feet away to his tent and showed her the items the soldiers would’ve had access to – a simple cot, blanket, etc. He also pointed out his largest weapon and showed how it functioned. Both kids loved this, and my Big Helper even had a chance to feel its heft! Weighing in at nine pounds, this was both heavy and awkward for her, especially in such a tiny space.
We were excited to see these actors stirring a kettle of chicken corn soup. This is a staple where I come from, and it was fun to see that it was eaten even back then.
The best part of the affair for us girls was the ball. That night the camp held an old-fashioned ball in a pavilion, and many of the re-enactors came in full regalia. My Big Helper especially liked this gown, one of the fanciest there.
She was brave enough to ask her for pictures, and we were then surprised by a kind offer from the actress: she asked my daughter to dance with her!
This kind girl assumed the role of the man so that she could guide my Big Helper around the dance floor. See her there in the back? She was having a … well, a ball! This meant a lot to her, and she talked about it for days.
Both kids are now super excited to study the Civil War. We don’t have any plans to add in a unit for that in the near future, but we might venture out to more Civil War re-enactments.
You’ll never know what you might find.
Do you like living history? What’s your favorite era?