The Civil War Revisited has come back to Fresno
I took my kids on a Time Traveler’s field trip to the Civil War. When I announced we would be going back in time, my son said, “Mom’s gone crazy again!” but I ignored him, calmly drove down palm tree lined Kearny Boulevard, and parked my car in the past.
The Fresno Civil War Reenactment is in it’s 27th year, and it’s still full of thrills.
Every year the Fresno Historical Society hosts educational days for kids before the official battle, so I was able to get a sneak peak at the adventures that await this weekend. If you’ve gone to a reenactment before, you know to expect lots of smoke and cannon fire. I thought it would be a great opportunity for my kids to learn about history in an engaging way.
I kind of forgot this was about a war, but our field trip was a big reminder. Over 600,000 Americans lost their lives in the Civil War, and even without a battle to see, the heaviness of this time in history hung thick.
It’s hard to write an article about this event, because on one hand it’s really interesting, educational, and fun to watch. The other hand is full of sadness, dysentery and blood. Of course today it’s not actually real blood, but I feel a warning is warranted. This event is very authentic. For example, it was exciting to see Clara Barton. She was an amazing woman who started the Red Cross. She kept our group captivated with interesting stories about her life. However, at her station there was a bowl of (fake but realistic) severed fingers. This was not for Halloween thrills; she had them there to show people the medical conditions of the era. During the Civil War, doctors and nurses didn’t know about germs and thought that maggots were beneficial.
If you go this weekend, plan on bumping into many famous people. My day was MADE when I saw Abraham Lincoln in the distance. Thankfully he kept his Presidential presence and didn’t produce anything remotely disgusting. I can’t say the same for the Bounty Hunter we met with who talked about smuggling coffee and boots in dead bodies. Every character we met was interesting and full of information.
Despite being a little disgruntled by the reality of battle, there are enough fun activities to warrant a return visit from my family. The excitement continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 10 to 3 p.m. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride, sample some kettle corn, and watch a battle. Visit a soldier’s camp and a civilian camp. Each person there has a story behind their character, so be sure to strike up a conversation with the reenactors. There’s tons of kid-friendly activities and games that are true to the era. Kids can visit the calvary, check out soap making and even play the washboard.
The reenactors are very generous with their time are happy to answer questions. I walked away from the event feeling very informed. It brought a new respect for the act of hand washing, for modern medicine, and for all the men and women who fought. My kids LOVED the glimpse into the 1860’s. They are begging me to take them back this weekend to see the battle.
The excitement continues October 22 and 23. Tickets for the event are 10 dollars each for adults, five for kids. For the full experience I recommend purchasing Camp Night & Soldier’s Dance tickets. For 22 dollars (12 dollars for kids), you can stay after the evening battle on Saturday to watch the Widow’s Walk. Widows take lanterns to the battlefield at twilight and gather their dead loved ones. There will also be a dance with live music. Your ticket also includes dinner, a beverage and dessert! Be sure to check www.valleyhistory.org to purchase tickets.
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