Civil war re-enactors bring history to life

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Two soldiers from Michigan's First Regiment who set up camp outside Ring Lardner Middle School Monday didn't do it just to spend a day in the sun.
With reproduced tents, backpacks, muskets, uniforms, pots and pans, they did it to give the school's eighth graders a taste of how it was to be a union soldier during the American Civil War from 1861-1865.
Tom Traverse, when not a lieutenant in Michigan's First Regiment is Niles street superintendent. He has done big battle re-enactments for 25 years and small camps like the one at Ring Lardner for five years.
He said the intention with small camps is to give students an experience of what it was like to be a soldier back then, without glorifying war.
Traverse, dressed in a lieutenant's uniform, handed out salt pork and hardtack (a biscuit made of flour and water which was a staple for soldiers during the Civil War). His companion, Doyle Fuelling, re-enacted as a private, told students about uniforms.
Having only been a private in the regiment for three years, Doyle said he initially joined because he likes to camp and enjoys the outdoors.
Like Traverse, however, Fuelling too sees the value of bringing history to the students.
But he also said it's a good opportunity to remember those who fought and died in the Civil War.
Marti Wegner, a Ring Lardner eighth grade history teacher, said it's no coincidence the two regiment soldiers came to the school to set up camp.
Having brought in re-enactments to the school for the last five years, Wegner said it gives students a snapshot of what it was like to be a soldier during that period.
Eighth grader Jerome Warburton, who takes a special interest in the Civil War because his father's relatives from Pennsylvania fought in it, was excited about the re-enactment.
Warburton was able to put on a uniform and hold one of the long muskets Traverse and Fuelling had brought with them.
Warburton, who said he watches the History Channel a lot to learn more about history, said it's the first time he has worn a Civil War uniform.
Nick Guajardo, another eight grader, tasted the salt pork and the hard tack to make up his own mind of what Civil War soldiers' food was like. "It's a little plain, but it's all right," he said.
Guajardo said he probably wouldn't like to eat it for days on end, like the soldiers did.
Having tasted the food, seen the uniforms and the other equipment Traverse and Fuelling brought, Guajardo said he was better able to understand the hardships Civil War soldiers faced.

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD superintendent announces retirement

Edwardsburg

DAR marks grave

Buchanan

Buchanan celebrates ‘Nicest Place in America’ honor Saturday

Dowagiac

Honor Credit Union gives back

News

MDHHS issues Emergency Order updating requirements for residential care facilities to allow for indoor visitation

Breaking News

Saturday morning shooting causes property damage in downtown Niles

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Municipal Airport hangar project progresses

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD participates in teletherapy case study

Berrien County

Halloween activities coming to southwest Michigan

Buchanan

Districts grapple with school bus driver shortage

Cass County

Dowagiac man headed to prison on three counts of domestic violence

Cass County

Cass County’s 43rd Circuit Court awarded grant

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township seeks input on parks plan

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Rotary hosts Army National Guard

Berrien County

Brandywine Middle/High School to go remote Oct. 23 to 30

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 152,862 cases, 7,129 deaths

Cass County

Cass District Library to host annual book sale

Cass County

Missing dog found shot, family grieving after five day search

Dowagiac

Honor Credit Union donates to annual Tree of Love campaign

Berrien County

Spectrum Health reinforces commitment to equity

News

Candidates for 78th district seat participate in community forum

Berrien County

Berrien County Trial Court receives continued funding

Business

Niles businesses collaborate to sweeten their offerings

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien, Cass counties report one new COVID-19 death each