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This past weekend our family celebrated fall with a visit to the pumpkin patch. But not just any pumpkin patch. This one featured the biggest Civil War reenactment we’ve seen so far.

This pumpkin patch featured the biggest Civil War reenactment we’ve seen.

Every year Dollinger Farms in Channahon, IL features a fall Civil War Weekend. And if your family is planning on taking a Civil War road trip, as ours is, brushing up with a little living history is not a bad idea.

Here comes the cavalry

Here comes the cavalry

This battle was representative of the Battle of Belmont that took place in November 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War.

I have to say, however, with the kids being so little and my interest in the Civil War being a nascent one, we attend these reenactments not to really get a grip on the historical accuracy of the particular battle being represented. Rather, we go to get a feel for what it was like for people living during that particular episode in American history.

Vivandiere

A reenactor dressed as a vivandiere, a woman who provided support and care for soldiers in the battle

For example, we get to see firsthand what is meant by the saying the ‘fog of war,’ and why there were some battles with so much friendly fire – because you really can’t see who you’re shooting at with all the smoke from the gunpowder lingering in the air.

Additionally, my son is fascinated with the uniforms and the weaponry, specifically the functionality of the weaponry and what steps the soldiers had take in order to properly load their weapons. We also get to look at and touch authentic period artillery. And we get to learn about the roles of women and children in the war.

Union soldier reloading his weapon

Union soldier reloading his weapon

An added benefit is that we get to talk with people (reenactors, others that have an interest in watching reenactments) about what got them interested in the first place. By doing so, I, personally, am trying to get some insight into my son’s brain. I’m trying to figure out why he became so interested in the Civil War at such a young age. (My brother thinks it’s because my son must have been a Union soldier in a previous life, but that’s another story.)

Living history helps children understand the complicated world around them.

Authentic 1861 artillery

Authentic 1861 artillery

Confederate soldiers receiving their orders

Confederate soldiers receiving their orders

Living history is a way to truly bring history to life! So many young people are so bored sitting at their desks reading about the past. It’s so important to get these kids out and experiencing what it was like to live through past events. Their understanding of the importance of history increases tremendously, which then helps them put into context and understand the complicated world around them. It’s the least we can do for future generations.

Oh, and we did get to see some pumpkins too!

Pumpkin siblings

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