Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Jackson, Michigan Cascades Muster 2013: A Family Reunion

"Even though the Jackson battle this year was thus far the best ever, what made this weekend for me was seeing Charlie the Reb. It was like seeing a long lost cousin."

"This year's Cascades Muster was one of the best family reunions that I have ever been to!"

"It really is like a family reunion...It's wonderful to see people you haven't seen for a while and then get to camp, (spend time) around the campfire, and play outside all weekend long..."

"Cascades Muster is a reenactor family reunion. Everyone is there, the family you love the most, even the ones you haven't seen in awhile. Of course, we also have to occasionally deal with weird old uncle Harry and that cousin we don't like to talk about.

(Comments made on Facebook concerning the Jackson event.)

The city of Jackson is smack-dab in the middle between two large inhabitants of reenactors: east coast metro Detroit and west coast metro Grand Rapids in southern lower Michigan.
And all reenactors are invited, whether belonging to a group or independent.
Since it is the largest Civil War event in Michigan (and, I've heard, the midwest), poor Jackson tends to get a lot of unsavory press. When you have an event this large (at times over 1500 reenactors have attended!), you're bound to get a good share of problems and a few of the not-so-good reenactors. But for the most part, it really is the place to be to see authentic looking battles that include infantry, artillery, and cavalry, (mostly) well-dressed living historian civilians, fine historical presentations, and a "sutler row" second only to the larger national events.
What I'd like to present here are a few of the photos that I (and a couple others) have taken over the two day reenactment. I hope you enjoy them.
This year there was an unexpected change to my occupation (just like in my 21st century life!): I went from postmaster to the owner of a Stage Coach Stop. Oh, I still will have mail come through, but I will now take it to the new and improved local post office with a telegraph down the road a piece. I think once I complete my set up, I'm going to greatly enjoy my new role. (photo by Ian Kushnir)

Here are a few of the Lovely Ladies of Jacksonburg, the makeshift village for the reenactment. The ladies of our town, though shown here in a serene moment, are usually kept very busy helping the war effort through a myriad of chores and crafts.
And here are some of the men who were in town. From left to right, that's me portraying average citizen who happens to run a stage coach stop. Then there is President Lincoln, who made a surprise visit to our town. To his left is his travelling companion, Michigan Senator Jacob Howard. And then we have a military Chaplain.

The President gave an excellent speech / history lesson by way of the Holy Bible. It was a combination of two speeches Lincoln originally gave in 1858 and 1859 to
The Young Men’s Lyceum of Bloomington, Illinois.

Cousin Charlie, one who believes in the southern cause, snuck his way north from Alabama to visit, knowing that since he is family I would never turn him in. By the way, this man is probably the finest military reenactor I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He takes this hobby as serious as anyone I've met and is well-loved by both the north and south in the living history world.

Pretty young ladies of Jacksonburg. They, too, play their part in the war effort through many various ways including helping as nurses or wherever they may be needed during and after battles.

Another friend, Buford Redford Mac Gregor, paid a visit. This man looks over and works on the coaches to ensure a safe ride for the travellers.

Some of the Federal army from the 21st Michigan relaxed at the new Stage Coach Stop to banter and await the arrival of possible new recruits.
Here we see a few of the other town tradesmen and merchants: a tinsmith and a gunsmith, both well-versed in their respective crafts.
The ladies of town can (and did) enjoy a respite from the war by being coddled in period facial and hair make overs.

One of my son's very favorite things to do on a hot summer's day is to sit near the pond for a quick cool down. (Photo by Keith Sexton)
The love of a mother and daughter shines, even in time of war.
This lovely young lady awaits the stage to take her to Dearbornville where she is needed on the family farm while her brother is off fighting.

Mourning was commonplace in our town during this awful war, as it was in most towns across our country. Here, poor Mrs. Cooper mourns for her deceased husband, Sheldon, who died from a bang - a BIG bang, or so the theory goes.

We watched military men as they drilled new recruits, and it wasn't very long before they were gearing up to go off to fight another a battle. I wonder where they will be headed?

A prayer to whip the scoundrels was said by the Chaplain before they were to leave our little town.

And then, with God on their side, the men were ready to fight the good fight and preserve the Union.

Off they marched, ready to put down the rebellion as best they could. They had a long way to go, for it was rumored they were heading to a little town in southeastern Pennsylvania near the Maryland border.

General Pickett prepares his men for a crucial battle.

The General was very concerned about this charge he was supposed to make with his men. It did not look too promising.

And, thus, the carnage began with the men firing a volley at their northern enemy.

But the north had the advantage and overtook Pickett's men. "Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!" the Union men hollered, for they truly did whip the southern men in the same way they themselves were whipped only seven months earlier in that Virginia town.

And here we have Annie Etheridge, the Civil War nurse who made her name by bravely working in field hospitals and on the battle fields, seeking out the wounded who had been overlooked or who had not yet been reached by the surgeons, and bound their wounds with skill and promptness, her dress often pierced by bullets but escaping injury herself.

Many of the northern men ended up here, in Andersonville prison. Well, not exactly here - - but well, at least your kids can experience, through play, the starvation and horror of prison life during the Civil War! (Just kidding - - I couldn't help but take a photo of this toy.)

And there you have, in a nutshell, two days of the Jackson reenactment. Lucky for us, it didn't rain, for we know that it ain't Jackson unless it rains!
 But Jackson is always a good time and we look forward to participating.
Next year should be even better, for it will be this reenactments 30th anniversary.
I can't wait!



Doug McComas said...

you have captured the spirit and the hope that we have for Jackson as well as anyone has. You and your family are part of that larger family that transcends the frustrations, politics and small differences that to often divide the reenactment community. We work hard to have people "come home" once a year

Doug McComas said...

Thanks Ken you captured the spirit of Jackson as well as anyone. We work hard to have Jackson be "home". We hope we will always be a place where the petty differences that divide us, geography, politics and the like are put aside and we can share our love for the hobby and the great sense of belonging it brings

Gina @ VictorianWannaBe said...

How neat, your photos and narratives are just wonderful, as always! We have 2 festivals coming up soon with reenactments, can't wait! Your post put me in the mood! ;)
Thanks for sharing with us,