James A. Garfield National Historic Site traveled back in time this weekend to the 1860s with visitors like General Ulysses S. Grant, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Reenactors adorned in clothing from the Civil War time period marched through the backyard of the Garfield mansion and fired muskets to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
After six years of successful Civil War encampments at the Garfield mansion, this may be the last one seen at the Mentor historic site.
The Civil War encampment has been funded through the National Park Service’s Civil War 150th anniversary; however, the funding is coming to a close, as is the event at Garfield National Historic Site. Dr. Todd Arrington Chief of Interpretation and Education at the site is optimistic about future Civil War encampments.
“It’s really just a question of finding a way to pay for it, but if we can do that, and we’re certainly going to try, we may very well continue to have it,” he said.
After seeing a crowd of around 1000 visitors between July 18 and 19, it is likely that some locals will want to see the Civil War encampment continue.
Scott Longert, park guide and organizer of the Civil War encampment, has garnered more support from the community every year. This year was the largest group of reenactors the park has ever seen. The event hosted reenactors all the way from Tennessee and Kentucky to share their knowledge and enthusiam for this historical time period. Considered as “living historians,” these reenactors are unwilling to break character and are dedicated to their role of the historic character.
The “mini militia” is a crowd gatherer for young historians. Children dress up in wool coats, haversacks and wooden rifles to march up and down the lawn, pretending to be Union soldiers. Longert says the children try very hard to stay in step and do it as a real soldier would.
A Mentor mom, Luellen Parkinson, brought her 11-year-old son Rhyan to the encampment and the “mini miltia.” She said this is their first official year at the event, although they have passed through once before.
“I think it’s a good experience. They have nice hands-on activities, especially the “mini militia.” It gets them out from the computer games too,” she said.
“Mini militia” is fun for kids, without them noticing their learning at the same time, Arrington said. “Maybe we have one potential future Civil War historian in this crowd, who knows,” he added.
Although no Civil War battles took place on the grounds of James A. Garfield National Historic Site, there is still a connection between Garfield and the war. Arrington said some are surprised to know that President Garfield was a Union General.
“This has been a really nice event for us over the last several years to get people here, to get them interested in the war, to get them learning more about Garfield and really just to have an educational, fun and kind of unique event here for northeast Ohio,” Arrington said.
News Herald – Culled from: http://www.news-herald.com/general-news/20150719/civil-war-encampment-faces-end