Wade House re-enactment brings Civil War into focus
By Eric Litke
Sheboygan Press staff
September 27, 2009
The hills were alive with the sound of cannons Saturday as the Wade House played host to its 19th annual Civil War Weekend.
Some 500 re-enactors and 6,000 visitors are expected at the Greenbush historic site this weekend for what organizers say is the largest Civil War re-enactment in the state. Attendees can watch battle re-enactments twice a day, wander through Union and Confederate camps and meet an array of re-enactors filling roles ranging from soldier to surgeon to sutler (that's a merchant, by the way).
Gates are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today for the final day of the event. Battles will be held at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
"It's wonderful to see the public so engaged with history," said David Simmons, Wade House director.
There are plenty of answers for inquiring minds, and 7-year-old Seth Conery was one of the most inquisitive. The Plymouth boy kept up a steady stream of questions while perched on his mother's shoulder to get a better view of Saturday afternoon's skirmish.
"Are those real, the guns?" he asked as the first Union soldiers collapsed to the ground.
The afternoon battle was patterned after clashes occurring throughout northern Virginia, with cavalry, infantry and artillery dueling at various points in the battlefield. The focus of the action was a Union infantry advance on the stone wall held by the Confederate troops.
"Which team is winning right now?" Seth asked, followed shortly by, "Why don't the other men want to hop out of their little hiding spot?"
That answer became apparent as more Union troops fell before the Confederate stronghold, forcing a retreat at the conclusion of the 30-minute battle. The battlefield was left littered with fallen Union troops.
"Are there really dead people?" Seth wondered.
Well, no, but the re-enactors take great pride in making it look like it. The battles are planned in morning officer's meetings and played out with on-field commanders ordering more and more "deaths" from their troops as the battles grow more intense.
"It's all about having fun for the public — you give 'em a show," said James Frasher, 38, of Montfort, a Confederate soldier. "It's just like acting. This is our Hollywood."
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