Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Calm Before the Storm

I thought I'd present some photos and descriptions here from two small events I participated in recently.
The first was a middle school presentation (East Hills Middle School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan).
I really enjoy doing school events - most of the kids are very well behaved and respectful and truly seem interested.

The military men of the 21st Michigan gave a fine presentation to the 8th graders, who sat on a set of bleachers while they listened.

There was a deaf interpreter for one of the classes that had a few hard-of-hearing children

The firing of the muskets was, perhaps, the biggest thrill of all

There was a dog tent set up and the kids enjoyed crawling through to to get a feel for how little room there actually was for the soldier in camp

Dressing up students in military uniforms is always a fun part of the presentation. In this way the kids can actually feel just how heavy everything was for the soldier to carry

I began the civilian presentation by speaking to the kids about the devastation of war upon battlefield towns such as Gettysburg and Antietam. I asked questions such as, "In a village set up for 3400 people, where did 150,000 men and 70,000 horses go to the bathroom?" I wanted them to understand not only the stench of the rotting flesh of the dead and wounded, but of the more 'natural' odors many do not think about

I also allowed time for questions

One of our members (and her son) brought an actual period telegraph machine. The kids and teachers were fascinated with this contraption. So was I!

The 1860's version of texting: the kids were allowed to tap the telegraph machine to get a feel for what it was like to be a telegraph operator.

Another 21st Michigan member explained the true story of what it was like to be living in Shilo in 1862 as a family with northern sympathies. She based her story on the life of her great great grandmother.

Her stories brought to life what so many people went through during that awful time. The 8th graders were enthralled.

They all took turns holding a parasol.

And then there was Larissa as well as my daughter who explained of everyday farm life in 1860's Michigan.
Both spoke of all the daily chores they had to do, including emptying the chamber pot, milking the cows, gathering eggs, feeding the animals, preparing and cooking breakfast, dinner, and supper...the kids got a well-rounded course of what their lives would have been like had they been living in the 1860's
Of course, some students were not prepared for the surprise firing of the muskets!

The civilian participants of the 21st Michigan for the school presentation

The military participants of the 21st Michigan (and friends) of the school presentation
A day after the school presentation a few of us helped out in a Victorian Day event in Romeo, Michigan. The Village of Romeo is listed both on the National and State Register of Historic Places & Sights. That's because nearly every structure standing in this village is at least one hundred years old, and most are older.
With all the history surrounding us it's unfortunate that we would be situated near a parking lot. Oh well. We still made the best of the situation and spoke to many interested and appreciated townsfolk.
I hope you enjoy these photos:

Members of our military love to show the visitors the muskets from 150 years ago

And, just like in the school presentations, it's always fun to dress the kids (and sometimes adults) up in uniform

My son Rob played his fife to entertain not only the visitors but us reenactors as well

Some of the ladies had a sewing circle going
As you can see it was a pretty laid back event. No stress, no muss, no fuss. This is a great event for members to interact on a friendly basis. Here you see a mixture of newer members and those who have been doing it for a while, all enjoying each others company.
The girls enjoyed jumping rope in their Civil War era dresses

Wait - what's that?? This ghostly figure kept following me around the Bancroft House Museum!

But the ghost could not go beyond the front door...whew!!!

Here ate most of the participants for Romeo in a group photograph
um...This is what I have to put up with when they don't think the camera is taking their picture! What an uncouth bunch!
I saw some future people there as well. These kind folks were from the 1880's.
One doesn't have to attend a major reenactment to enjoy reenacting. Sometimes events such as the two here can be just as much fun, but without the stress.
That's what I like about the 21st Michigan - we do more than just the big reenactments; we feel doing some of the smaller, more localized events can be just as fun and just as rewarding, especially when they take place at a school.
Next up, Civil War Remembrance at Greenfield Village.
Stay Tuned...



Stephanie Ann said...

Very nice photos! I especially like the ones at the school. A demonstration is much better than the students just watching a movie about the Civil War.

You let them see, smell and touch a piece of it.

GinaBVictorian said...

Hi Ken, I am your newest follower! I love the name of your blog, it describes me as well. I really enjoy going to Civil War Reenactments. Your presentation to the school kids sounds wonderful. I hope you will check out my latest post, titled "Remembering a Union Soldier". Have a great day!

Meg said...

Thank you Ken for this blog. What a happy evening I had reading your stories. Well done, wow! I hope you write a book about reenacting.

From a Massachusetts Rev War lady

Best wishes

Historical Ken said...

Thank you all for the wonderful comments. I am working on sifting through my photo collection from the Greenfield Village event from this past Memorial weekend (over 300 pictures - which ones to choose??).
Look for them within a few days...