Recap of (Most) of 2017

January 15, 2018 - No Comments

by Jim Barnes

This past year has been an interesting one to say the least.

Here is a recap of what we have done since April. We attended the Lantern tour at the Grafton National Cemetery in Grafton which contains 2100 internments, including 1252 Civil War soldiers. I delivered General Black Jack Logan’s address of May 5, 1868 to the GAR in which he designated May 30 as a day of remembrance. This is a solemn event which is well-attended by the general public.

In June, my health problems caused us to miss out on the Reading Air Show. But, later in the month, we did make it to The Bantam Jeep Festival in Butler, PA, which is a lot closer to home and not nearly as tiring. Also, we just went for the day. The living history section is just part of the overall event, but takes in a sizable bit of ground, with displays from WWII through Vietnam.

 

We also did make it to the Old West Weekend at Old Bedford Village. This is a family-oriented event with spectators mingling with the reenactors. The timeline was from 1867 to the 1890s. In addition to the usual compliment of cowboys, saloon girls  and outlaws, there were a number of military impressions, including 1870s infantry and and Spanish-American War. We also got to spend time with Mark Twain!

In July, our focus was purely on Beverly Heritage Days in Beverly, WV a very nice and growing event. Beverly, which lies just south of Elkins, WV is a small town with a rich Civil War history. Located near Rich Mountain, Beverly was the county seat at the time of the war. It was the staging area for Confederate troops in the area, but was occupied by William S. Rosencran’s soldiers after the battles of Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill. Interestingly, Stonewall Jackson’s sister, Laura, a staunch unionist, lived there.

On the first weekend of August, we made the trip to Tidioute, PA for the Remagen Bridge reenactment. This is always a great event which attracts a large crowd of spectators, despite being located in a rather remote area. I fall in with the Heer 24th infantry Division as a Volkssturman, while my wife, Linda joins the other German civilians in fleeing across the bridge from the Americans.

On the weekend of September 9th, we took part in the living history segment of the Antique truck show at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum near Washington, PA. This is just a low-key event, that is close to home and offers a chance to interact with the public.

Later in September, we took a trip out west. No reenacting but some interesting historical stops. We spent a couple of days in the Grand Canyon area. At left is a sculpture of John Wesley Powell’s expedtion down the Colorado River. Later we stopped off at “Montezuma’s Castle”, an ancient pueblo which was misnamed by Spanish explorers who wrongly assumed that the abandoned ruin was Aztec in origin. We then went down the road a short way to the nicely preserved Fort Verde State Park. Fort Verde was General George Crook’s headquarters during his campaign to capture Geronimo. After Crook was replaced by General Miles, the Apache scouts who had served under Crook finally succeeded in capturing the famous Chief. Several of the scouts were invited to Washington D.C. to meet the president, which they did and one was awarded the Medal of Honor. When they returned to Arizona, General Miles arrested them and sent them to prison in Florida with Geronimo and his band, because they were considered “too dangerous” to allow to roam free. Crook was outraged when he heard about this and spent much of the rest of his life advocating for Native Americans. We had a very pleasant visit with the lady Ranger who was on duty and couldn’t resist her suggestion that the two eastern reenactors dress up in 1880’s garb and let her take our picture. Not that we ever get a chance to do that sort of thing.

Later, while in Phoenix, we went to the Desert Biological Garden, which among the many cacti and other plants, exhibited Native and early Spanish habitations.

We closed out our reenacting year in November at the annual battle between Grossdeutschland and the Red Army at Old Bedford Village in Bedford, PA. This is always a fun event at Old Bedford Village – what some have called the “Gem of Reenacting.” We manned the Soviet communication center and help defend Moscow from the fascist hoardes.

That closed out our year- a year that saw a bomb scare at a Civil War reenactment and another at Colonial Williamsburg. This is an increasingly stressful time to be a reenactor and I hope to talk more about this at another time. Stay safe out there and keep the public aware of the importance of history.

Jim

 

 

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