Saturday, June 14, 2008

History Comes Alive

Now for part two of our Saturday...
After Superman's game we went to a Civil War weapons demonstration put on by the Sixth Ohio Infantry. (Oh, how the Southerner in me longs to call it the War Between the States - that's how it was referred to by my teachers.)
This was not a re-enactment, but a chance for people to come out and watch this group of re-enactors drill and fire their weapons. They also had their camp set up so that we could have a glimpse of nineteenth century military life.
The soldiers were so very kind and eager to answer any questions that we had. It was obvious that they enjoy educating people about the War and the life of a soldier.

Superman next to a poster with photographs of the real-life men who made up the Ohio Sixth Infantry

The soldiers were drilling and firing their muzzle loaders when we first arrived. Superman and Giggly Girl were eager to stand close and watch with their Daddy, but Sweet Pea did not like the loud booms of the weapons, so she watched from a distance with me.

This soldier is the mess officer, or cook. We learned so much from him.
Life for soldiers on both sides was not easy, and the vittles were not fancy at all. Apparently the Northern boys were issued coffee beans as a standard item, while the Southern troops did not have that luxury. However, the South did have tobacco whereas the North did not, so when the two armies were camped near one another, the pickets from each side would sometimes make friends with each other and trade coffee and tobacco. As this gentlemen reminded us, it was a war where brother fought brother. We were all Americans, which made it that much more terrible.

A Union soldier's standard issue of rations: white or brown sugar (the cones), hardtack, salt pork, coffee beans. We were able to sample the hardtack, and it truly is hard! Tastes kind of like a very hard, unsalted soda cracker. Unlike that of the soldiers, ours thankfully had no weevils in it.

This soldier was another very helpful gentlemen, who told us a lot about his gun, his uniform, and what life for a soldier on the march was like. Many soldiers died from the heat in their heavy wool uniforms or from sheer exhaustion from carrying their huge packs, guns, etc. for miles and miles.
This soldier will play the role of a sergeant in the 17th Indiana Infantry next weekend at the re-enactment of Gettysburg. In fact, the Sixth Ohio travels all over the country to participate in re-enactments.

A few items that soldiers sometimes carried: a song book, checkers, dice, housewife (sewing kit), extra shirt and long underwear.

We learned that these lodgings earned the name "dog tent" or "pup tent" because when the soldiers first laid eyes on them, the men said they weren't even fit for their dogs to sleep in them.

If anyone has any suggestions for books or resources about the War, I'd appreciate your sharing them with me. I've got a little boy who wants to find out more. :)

Thanks for reading about our jam-packed Saturday. Hope you had a great weekend with your family!


  1. Hi Shannon,

    That looks like a fun day!!! We have a Civil War buff here and have been to many events/reenactments - and loved them!

    I might be able to help with some books. Can you email me and tell me what types you are looking for - early reader, read aloud, facts, activities, etc...


  2. Thanks, Leslie! I'd love to hear your suggestions. I'll be emailing you soon.
    Thanks for stopping by!


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