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Civil War Revisits Fresno

Fresno?s Kearney Park and The Fresno City and County Historical Society will host the annual Civil War Revisited on Oct. 8-9.

Visitors may watch Harriet Tubman discuss her participation with the Underground Railroad and view kids in the playground stare as confederate soldiers march across the grass.

For two days, Kearney Park will be transformed from a community-gathering place to a Civil War battlefield. This year, over 2,000 reenactors will be bringing the battles in Manassas, Virginia, back to life.

Senior Matthew Doyle has participated in the reenactment battles for the past 3 years and plans to do so again this year.

?It?s really great, for historical reasons,” Doyle said. ?It?s very realistic. I was part of the cavalry, one of the Confederate soldiers, and many times it felt like I was really back in the 1800s. It?s very authentic and I definitely encourage people to go.?

While history and authenticity may drive many to attend or participate in the annual reenactment, fun also encourages involvement.

“One of the greatest parts of the reenactment are the battles,” Doyle said. “I mean, where else can you ride a horse and shoot guns at the same time? I also like participating in saber-bashes; those are really fun.”

Battles and glory are not the only perks of the reenactment.

“Besides the battles, the night life is the best part,” Doyle said. “After the crowd leaves in the evening, you can see all the white canvas tents lined up and often someone is playing a banjo somewhere. We have campfires and cook our food over the fire. The corn bread is really good.”

Nightlife hours were one of the many contributions towards Doyle’s decision to join the Confederate ranks.

“One of the reasons I participate on the Confederate side is that we get to stay up late every night,” Doyle said. “The Union soldiers are forced to go to sleep at 9 P.M. but we get to stay up until 3 A.M. sometimes. Then on the last night, we have an authentic ball where we do all the old time period dances.”

Bedtimes were not the only factors in Doyle’s war-side decision.

“Another reason I’m a Confederate cavalryman is because when I joined the club three years ago I had a paint horse at the time,” Doyle said. “The Union side only allows bays and sorrels in their ranks.”

In another event, an old time bluegrass band will perform music of the period as people learn about the Underground Railroad. Another highlight are the speeches given by actors dressed as historical characters, including Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and General Robert E. Lee. Other events include a 19th century woman?s fashion show, as well as crafts including metal, woodwork and weaving.

Soldiering is not the only option for reenactment participants. Senior Dan Crosby has worked as a blacksmith for the Civil War Revisited for the past two years.

“I first became interested in blacksmithing when I was at the Kearney Park Renaissance festival several years ago,” Crosby said. “I talked with one of the blacksmiths there and I liked what he did. My dad asked me if I wanted to sign up to learn the trade so I did.”

While the Renaissance may have been Crosby’s initial inspiration, the Civil War became more intriguing.

“I was invited to join the Civil War Revisited by some of its current blacksmiths,” Crosby said. “They thought it was cool that a younger person was interested in the trade so they wanted me to join them in the event.”

While creating swords, tools and horseshoes may be all and well, Crosby looks onto the battlefield as his next reenactment challenge.

“I hope to join the Civil War Revisited as a soldier for the next reenactment,” Crosby said. “The battles look like they are really fun.”

In view of students participating in the reenactment, campus history teachers Jon Hall and Ellen King will be offering extra credit to U.S. history students who attend the event.

“My students need to attend two events and also interview two Civil War characters, then write about it for extra credit,” Hall said. “I really think it?s a great event because they are very thorough. They take pride in the details, and it?s very historically accurate.”

King agrees with Hall’s motivations and challenges her own students to attend the event.

?I definitely encourage my students to attend,? King said. ?Besides just extra credit, students should go because it really exposes them to a different period in our history. It?s a very detailed portrayal.?

Students plan to take advantage of this opportunity for extra points.

?I definitely plan to go to Civil War Revisited,? Phil Unruh, ?07, said. ?I?m taking the opportunity to get some more points in my history class. I?m excited because from what I hear, the Civil War Revisited is very educational.?

Some students know how interesting the event is from past experience.

?I?ve been to the Civil War event in the past,? Kyle Hendrix, ?09, said. ?I liked it because it was fun but also very educational. I learned a lot about that period in our history. It was very realistic and just overall awesome.?

Following the Oct 8 events, from 6-10 P.M., families can camp under the stars with Union and Confederate soldiers on the grass. On this ?Camp Night?, 1860s amusements, music and dinner are provided in a relaxed atmosphere, in addition to a fireworks display.

Tickets for Camp Night are sold for $45 for adults, and $20 for children 12 and under. Call (559) 441-0862 or visit Gottschalk?s? Customer Service Departments at Fashion Fair or Manchester Center malls in Fresno, Clovis and Visalia. Tickets will be on sale for Camp Night until Oct. 3.

Daytime event tickets for the Civil War Revisited can be purchased at the gates. The entrance fee is $9 for adults, $5 for children; children five and under are free.

Other than Civil War reenactments, historical events take place all across the country, such as the reenactment of the French and Indian war in Lake George, New York. Interest in U.S history grows more and more each year.

For more information on upcoming Civil War events throughout the country, visit www.sutler.net.

For more information, visit www.civilwarrevisited.com, or call the Fresno Historical Society at (559) 441-0862.

Brianna Stobbe also contributed to this article.

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    Russ SpencerAug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Happy b-day to youuuuu… Happy b-day to youuuuu!

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