In The News

Civil War re-enactment set for Watseka

This article originally appeared in the Commercial News.

WATSEKA — On Aug. 26, the Iroquois County Historical Society will present a Civil War Living History on the grounds of the Old Courthouse Museum, 103 W. Cherry St.

The event will begin at 9 a.m.

“Furlough from Camp Worchester” will mirror actual historic events that took place in August 1862.

About 30 re-enactors, organized by Rod Miller, will camp out at the courthouse on Aug. 25., with activities on Aug. 26 including breakfast, church service, knapsack inspection and drill.

Participants will portray local residents and soldiers of the 76th Illinois Volunteer Regiment on furlough before being sent south for active service. The public is encouraged to come, interact and ask questions of the re-enactors.

Dave Corbett with the Battlefield Balladeers also will be part of the day’s activities, performing songs and music of the American Civil War. Their repertoire consists of patriotic, sentimental and comic songs of the period along with minstrel favorites and the melodies of Stephen Foster. They have performed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Chicago History Museum, First Division Museum, Kenosha Civil War Museum, numerous libraries, museums and historical societies, as well as on the battlefields of Gettysburg, Perryville and Selma.

Unamplified acoustic instruments played by a variety of personnel in uniform bring to life the sounds of the Blue and Gray for all ages. Each selection is prefaced by an introductory statement of why the song was popular or important using the quotes of Lincoln, Lee, Douglass, Mary Chestnut and Mark Twain.

Audiences are encouraged to join in, sing along and clap as the Battlefield Balladeers celebrate the musical heritage of the Civil War era.

At 3 p.m. the re-enactors, accompanied by Watseka High School band members and members of the Watseka American Legion, will march toward the GAR cemetery east of town for a memorial service, scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. Descendants of Civil War veterans, especially of the 76th Infantry, will be recognized and asked to participate in the memorial service. The Historical Society asks that descendants attending on the 26th register at the museum table on the museum grounds to receive a name tag.

The Old Courthouse Museum will be open during the day Aug. 26 as well for visitors to view the Civil War exhibit on the first floor. A PowerPoint “Civil War Losses from Iroquois County” will be continually playing in one of the exhibit rooms.

The day’s activities are made possible through the Illinois Humanities Council, the Illinois General Assembly, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.