SIDNEY — The rumble of cannons could be heard, and felt, during the first battle of the Civil War Living History Weekend at Tawawa Park Saturday afternoon’s battle between the Union and Confederate soldiers.
Presented by the City of Sidney and The Shelby County Historical Society, Civil War Living History Weekend first debuted in September 2016 and will continue as a biennial event.
Re-enactors from throughout Ohio, as well as some from out of state, were dressed to the nines in Civil War-era ensembles and, paired with the scenic landscape of Tawawa Park, set the stage for a rather convincing interactive theater experience.
Michael Reinhart, of Sidney, played the part of a Union soldier at Saturday’s event.
This is Reinhart’s second year as a Civil War re-enactor, his first appearance being in Sidney’s inaugural Civil War Living History event in 2016.
“I’ve always loved history, especially Civil War history,” Reinhart said. “I also like (learning about) the American Revolution and World War II. A friend of mine had been doing this for awhile and he got me into it.”
Other re-enactors had taken their dedication even further than just a hobby.
She Dunn, of West Virginia, has began Civil War re-enactment four years ago when a re-enactment was held at a museum near her home.
“I happened to be at the museum and I was talking to everybody and thought, ‘This looks like so much fun!’”
Dunn said it was easy to get involved and that she was able to find information online about local re-enactment groups and events to attend.
“I just showed up as an individual,” she said. “I bought a cheap costume, showed up to see if it was for me, fell in love with it, then took on a character.”
Dunn’s character, Belle Boyd, is a true historical figure of the American Civil War. Boyd worked as a Confederate spy, providing valuable information to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson in 1862.
“I have been doing my character for four years,” Dunn said. “I do probably three to six re-enactments per year.”
Prior to participating in these events, Dunn said she had no experience, nor much interest, in acting.
“I have two medical degrees by trade,” she said. “I don’t know how I ended up here! I like to dress up, I love history, and I love the way that it’s told this way.”
Dunn is currently associated with an official re-enactment unit, the 5th Ohio Light Artillery.
Saturday’s event attracted spectators from out of town, as well.
Carol and Dean Donovan traveled from Celina to Sidney to watch the re-enactments.
“We really enjoyed it,” Carol said. “(Tawawa Park) is such a beautiful setting, and a perfect area for this.”
The Donovans said they have also attended re-enactment events in Hartford, Indiana.
“I’m interested in the Civil War,” Dean said. “I like reading about it.”
Along with the battles, the weekend included educational segments focused around the Civil War.
Saturday included presentations about Harriet Beecher Stowe, an American abolitionist and author, Jefferson Davis, an American politician who served as the only President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, and Morgan’s Raid, a diversionary incursion by Confederate cavalry into the northern U.S. states of Indiana and Ohio during the American Civil War, taking place from June 11 through July 26, 1863, and multiple segments regarding the participation of black Americans within the Civil War.
Sundays activities began with a Catholic Mass at 7:15 a.m., followed by a performance by the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regimental Band, and a Methodist Service as 8:30 a.m.
Educational segments were held throughout the day, as well as another battle reenactment.
In continuance of the biennial tradition, the next Shelby County Civil War Living History Weekend will take place in 2020, which is the 200th anniversary of the city of Sidney.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.