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August 14, 2007 > Civil War Days

Civil War Days

By Mona Shah

Once we were a country divided in war over the question of slavery and states rights. Those grim days turned brother against brother. That distinctive turning point, buried 141 years ago, will live and breathe again for two days of gunpowder, simulated blood and tears. It's Civil War Days and you are invited.

Civil War Days at Ardenwood Historic Farm will take place on Saturday, August 18, and Sunday, August 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers from the National Civil War Association (NCWA) and their partners, the American Civil War Association (ACWA), will recreate battles and scenes of daily life during the Civil War.

The motto of the NCWA says it all: "Keeping history alive by living it." According to their web site at www.ncwa.org, "The nearly 800 current members of the NCWA all share an intense love of history and the need to share that with others." This desire is clearly on display during Civil War Days. The re-enactors are always in costume and in character, so it's a great opportunity to ask questions.

The reenactments are not a small feat considering that "all period clothing, equipment and weapons are individually owned. All members, board members and directors serve completely voluntarily," according to the NCWA site. Battle re-enactments will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Each battle will be approximately thirty to forty minutes long. Armies of men and horses will march toward each other as stunning pyrotechnics realistically mimic the sound and feel of battle. Visitors to the bivouac of each army are advised to allow plenty of time to walk to the battlefield since this highlight of the Civil War experience is popular.

After the battle, reenactments of battlefield surgery at both the Confederate and Union camp sites will demonstrate Civil War medical techniques. What was used and how well these remedies worked will be discussed as doctors and nurses work to save their wounded patients.

Civil War camp life for soldiers and civilians is not neglected. Soldiers were not alone as they moved from battle to battle, setting up camps between marches. Camp life was eclectic since the American Civil War affected almost every family in the United and Confederate States. Whether at home waiting, following the army as 'sutlers' and camp followers or serving the soldiers directly as nurses and contractors, the Civil War was, by no means, a strictly military affair.

Thus, in addition to Confederate and Union camp sites, Ardenwood will also host a civilian camp and one for "sutlers." Sutlers were the vendors who sold food and supplies to the troops and people can buy items representative of the Civil War era from them.
A lot of effort goes into making sure each detail of the reenactment is accurate, right down to the style of dress on and off the battlefield. To illustrate the styles of the period, there will be a fashion show at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Between scheduled events, Ardenwood Historic Farm invites guests to simply wander through the encampments to experience the sights and sounds of history brought to life. It's a great opportunity for kids to learn about history: what almost tore this country apart and what kept it together.

Civil War Days
Saturday and Sunday
August 18 and 19
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 796-0663
www.ebparks.org.
Advance Tickets: (510) 636-1684.

Adults, $8; seniors, $6; children 4 to 17, $5; under 4, free
Free Parking

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