Visitors at Hale Farm and Village in Bath were able to experience a taste of history with the Western Reserve Historical Society's annual Civil War Reenactment and Encampment Aug. 10 and 11.
Alyssa Purvis, communications assistant with the Western Reserve Historical Society, said that at least 650 reenactors, including 45 cavalry, attended the event, and that Hale Farm estimated about 2,000 visitors on Aug. 10 alone.
A big draw was the reenactors staging the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. This is the 150th anniversary of this pivotal battle, which took place over three days and, according to information provided by the Western Reserve Historical Society, is believed to be one of the turning points of the Civil War.
A big change this year, Purvis said, was that the reenactment was staged throughout the Hale Farm and Village property, and not just confined to the north pasture.
Angie Baer of Marshallville said she came out to Hale Farm for the first time with her five children.
"This is really awesome," she said. "We're home schoolers, and we are doing a unit study on the Civil War in the fall. This kicks it off. These guys did a good job. When we study this, the kids will have something to refer to."
Much has been written on the battle's impact on the soldiers, but the battle at Gettysburg had a major impact on the residents of the small village as well. Several civilian reenactors shared stories about what the residents of Gettysburg had to face when the war literally came to their front door.
"I would imagine, as far as being a resident of Gettysburg, dealing with the cleanup of all the bodies, that would have been horrible," said Regan Garrisson of West Salem, whose Civil War-era character is Lucinda Desiree Tavington, a New Orleans bordello madam.
Lisa Ann Maxwell of Medina, known as "Miss Lisa" related the story of Elizabeth Thorn, a woman whose husband was the manager of Gettysburg's cemetery. Like so many men, her husband was away fighting.
"She was pregnant," Maxwell said. "She helped dig graves and bury many of the soldiers."
Maxwell also told about Mary Virginia "Jenny" Wade, the only civilian killed at Gettysburg.
"She was baking bread when the bullet hit," Maxwell said. She added that statues to both women can be found in Gettysburg.
In addition to the dangers the battle presented, Garrisson said that residents had to contend with both water and food shortages, as the occupying soldiers consumed what they could find. Also, residents also found themselves scrambling for cellars and other places to avoid the gunfire.
Photography in the Civil War
History buffs also can view The Western Reserve Historical Society's "Photography in the Civil War: The WRHS Civil War Collections." This exhibit, which can be seen at The Western Reserve Historical Society's center in University Circle, explores the many photograph images, stories and interpretations of images resulting from the rise in military photography during America's most deadly war. The WRHS's Civil War collection provides a unique glimpse into 1860s America, featuring prints of civilian life, military encampments, battles, and the lives of slaves. The exhibit includes reproductions of photographs that offer a look at Northeast Ohio's participation in the Civil War.
The exhibit features:
Reproductions of selected images from the WRHS's extensive collection of 10,000+ Civil War photographs and prints
Images taken by famous Civil War photographers, such as Henry P. Moore, Samuel A. Cooley, Washington Peale, and Philip Haas
Prints of military encampments in Cleveland, Canfield, and Northeast Ohio.
The Western Reserve Historical Society History Center is at 10825 East Blvd. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10a.m. to 5:00pm and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free to members of WRHS and for children 2 and under. Admissionis $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 12. The main entrance is off Magnolia Drive by the Museum's parking lot. Parking lot fees are paid at the admission desk during museum hours. For details, call 216-721-5722.
Hale Farm & Village is at 2686 Oak Hill Road in Bath.
For further information, visit www.wrhs.org online.