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Re-enactors offer visitors a taste of Civil War history

Re-enactors offer visitors a taste of Civil War history

March 14th, 2011 in News

Katherine Cummins/FULTON SUN photo: Roy Barham of Auxvasse (right) explains to (from left) Tracy Royer, Heidi Royer and Mollie Huff, all of Fulton, how hand and leg shackles were used when transfering prisoners during the Civil War.

Visitors to the Callaway County Public Library's Friends Room Saturday afternoon were taken back in time as the Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage and Elijah Gates Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans hosted a special children's program to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

History enthusiasts of all ages had the opportunity to taste hard tack, see the various uniforms and other styles of dress from the time period and hear presentations from several re-enactors regarding various aspects of the war.

Nine-year-old Heidi Royer, of Fulton, said her favorite part of the event - now in its fourth year - was learning about the role Native Americans played in the war.

"I just thought there were Americans fighting, I didn't know the Indians were fighting," Royer said. "I like learning about the Civil War because it's part of our history."

Her friend, Mollie Huff, 9, said she came with Royer because the event was centered around the Civil War, which she thinks is interesting.

"It was cool. My favorite part was learning what they wore," Huff said.

Visitor Victor Karnes said he attended Saturday because he is a history and Civil War buff.

"It's been pretty interesting," Karnes said. "(These events) are important to keep it alive. It's pretty important to our history, whether you like it or not."

According to the re-enactors that sort of interest - especially from the youth - is exactly why they are so enthusiastic about participating in such events.

"It's important for the kids. In today's schooling they don't tell you everything that went on," said Roy Barham of Auxvasse, who was teaching visitors about the Cherokee Braves - a Native American mounted regiment led by Gen. Stand Waite that fought with the Confederate Army because they were promised a return of their ancestral lands. "When you ask what the war was about, many will say slavery, but it was about more than that. It was about fighting for your homeland and agricultural issues, economics and politics - slavery was the scapegoat.

If you give them more information and knowledge, maybe they will change the way they think about it."

His wife, Christina Barham - who said the couple have been doing Civil War re-enactments for four years now - agreed that "we do it because the kids nowadays don't really know about it."

"We really care about it and about trying to get more people involved to show our history," said Christina Barham, whose great-great-grandfather was Gen. Joseph O. Shelby and also claims Jesse James as a distant cousin. "To me, history is a big part of who we are."

Richard Houf of Fulton- one of the few Union re-enactors present Saturday - too shared the assessment that "schools now just kind of skim over it."

"They don't get too involved (in the Civil War), there's a lot of political correctness," Houf said. "It's important to teach youngsters the history of the country, state and community."

Fellow Union representative Jerry Morelock, of Fulton - who had brought a number of pieces of his collection of Civil War militaria - said he is not a re-enactor, but he helps out at the library presentation every year because he appreciates the opportunity to offer hands-on learning about one of his favorite subjects.

"It's another way to study history," Morelock said. "By actually seeing what a soldier had to carry; to see and understand and touch, makes history come to life for them."

That is exactly what drew Mexico resident and history enthusiast Sandra Allen to the library in Fulton Saturday.

"We love this stuff, we go to all this stuff," Allen said. "Actually seeing it is different than just reading it in books or sitting and watching it on TV."

The Elijah Gates Camp also will host a program geared more toward adults, "Armchair Tour of the Gray Ghosts Trail and the War Between the States in Callaway County" at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on March 19 at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Museum, 513 Court St. in Fulton.