Hundreds watch as the Union wages war against the Confederacy, but unlike the actual Civil War, there were no casualties. Every year, a reenactment of such battles like the one at Gettysburg is the pinnacle of Naper Settlement’s Civil War Days. And as the country observes the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, this year’s reenactment was a larger battle than in previous years, giving bystanders a better glimpse into history.
“It’s easier to understand what was happening and how it would have felt to be there,” said Elgin resident Lauren Ozburn. “So it makes it more real.”
“Kids need more history and this is a great place to relive history,” said John Sikes of Joliet.
Residents also heard songs of the Civil War era and watched the grey and blue take their battle to the baseball field. Soldiers created the sport during the Civil War.
“Tedium and boredom set in then and now. Baseball relieves this tension,” said a Major General George Henry Thomas impersonator. “It gives the men something to do. It takes their mind off the possibility that tomorrow may be their last day on earth.”
Historical figures including Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Robert E. Lee visited the settlement during the event to talk about the civil war’s profound impact on our country.
“Before the war, people would say the Unites States are, as a collection of independent states,” said a Grant impersonator. “After the war, they’d say the United States is. We truly are one nation.”
During the war, a carpenter from Naperville played a pivotal role in what would prove to be one of the bloodiest battles in history. Sergeant Levi Shafer’s gun fired the first shot in the Battle of Gettysburg where more than 50,000 soldiers lost their lives fighting for what they believed in.
“We wouldn’t have all these marvelous surroundings had somebody not paid the ultimate price in doing so,” said a Lincoln impersonator. “I am very flattered that people are paying attention to this time period. It is the apex of this nation’s history.”
This is just the first of many events Naper Settlement will have throughout the next four years to commemorate the Civil War.
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