One of the big events here in Jackson, MI is the annual Civil War Muster, which I thought I'd check out this year. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, so that was one of the battles they did this weekend (Sunday - I had to work). On Saturday they did parts of the Battle of Chancellorsville, so I got to see that.
The Civil War has been on my personal radar since I was a kid. My grandparents (and great-grandparents) had real Civil War Stuff in their attic, which belonged to a man named David Getman, whose family partially raised my great-grandfather. David Getman had been captured and escaped from Libby Prison, and they had the uniform that he escaped in, along with his sword, and a stack of ledgers that I remember sitting in the attic reading when I was very young. These ledgers listed the names of the soldiers, their height, hair and eye colors, their ranks, and what they were paid. I have no idea what happened to those ledgers or any of the other things. I did, however, inherit a chest full of clothes that dated back to the late 1800s, although I don't think they quite went back to the Civil War. Most of the contents of that chest were donated to the Adirondack Museum before I left NY - they could take better care of them than I could.
So, Saturday I went to the muster. It was a beautiful sunny day - quite hot in the sun, but pleasant in the shade.
First I toured the vendors. There were two categories of vendors. On one side of the road were the reenactor vendors - Sutlers and period foods.
On the other side of the road were more flea-market types of vendors - I didn't patronize them.
There were also musicians! Some "impromptu" groups met under this tree to regale us with songs from the Civil War era.
This New Orleans Jazz band was on a bandstand - I just love this type of music.
Once past the flea market, one headed toward the encampment(s) and the field where the battles would take place.
I've been doing a little research on the role of freed slaves during the Civil War and was pleased to see reeneactors here representing some of these troops.
At the bandstand some industrious soul had written the Gettysburg Address on the pavement for all to read.
There was also a great display of period bottles and the "snake oil' that peddlers used to sell.
I love this one, which tries to convince parents that their children need this product:
One tent was set up as a tavern (The Emerald Peacock):
and there was a village with all sorts of "businesses."
I saw more than one "Abe Lincoln."
What a beautiful funeral parlor:
which was probably supplied with victims of the surgery:
As 2:00 approached, the spectators started to really crowd in. Shade was at a premium.
The reenactors were getting cannons in place on the hillside,
and troops moved into position. Here we see the southern troops moving down the road. In the Chancellorsville Battle apparently the Union Army was taken by surprise, thinking the southern troops were further away than they actually were. What we would see today was the Confederate Army catching the Union soldiers unprepared.
The Union officers would occasionally sally forth on their horses. The most exciting thing was when one of the horses bolted sans rider. I'm not sure what happened - I just saw the riderless horse tearing down the field with another (with a rider) in hot pursuit.
Before long, the Confederate soldiers had the Union soldiers on the run, nearly surrounded under the tree.
Part two was the Battle of Salem Church (I hope I got that correct), which was another section of the Chancellorsville Battle. Here we see the Confederate soldiers in a skirmish line.
The cannons of both sides fired intermittent volleys - what a noise!
The southern troops were finally driven back.
At the end, the reenactors from both sides lined up and paraded before the spectators.
I'd share some of the video I shot, but it is all very shaky because I had to hold the camera over my head to get it above the heads in front of me.
Meanwhile, back in the bandstand, we had Harold Becker, one of 15 surviving children of men who fought in the Civil War! His father was 16 when he joined the Union Army, and was 70 when Harold was born in 1917. Harold was there to shake folks' hands and to hand them postcards about himself and his father. I got one that he had signed.
Back in the encampment, there was activity at the field hospital. It was all very melodramatic, but sadly all my video shots of it captured the heads of the people in front of me - must master the camera angle when holding the camera over my head! Needless to say, this poor young man had a gunshot wound in his leg and the surgeon amputated the food to save the leg.
I retired at this point to the shade, where I watched a couple kids in period dress playing in the stream.
The muster continued into the night with lots of activities, but I was ready to go home about 4:00. Learned a bit about history, had a pretty good time. If I go again, I'll get a spot in the shade early enough to take photos from the edge of the battle field, instead of over the heads of everyone who got there earlier!