SIDNEY — Sidney, Ohio’s Civil War Living History Weekend, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17, and Sunday, Sept. 18, will include several period artillery pieces. The weekend’s schedule includes an artillery duel between Union and Confederate reenactors. That event will occur at 7 p.m. Saturday evening.
The other battles will also include artillery participation. The first, scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, will feature a battle for the Zenas King bridge. Sunday afternoon at 2:15 p.m., the final battle will be fought. It will be fought in the open area south-west of the Ross covered bridge.
Two of the re-enactors who will be participating in the event will be Cindy and Randy Jackson. Cindy, a 1975 graduate of Fairlawn High School, was a career teacher, retiring after 30 years in a high school science classroom in Troy Public Schools.
Randy, a 1973 graduate of Graham High School, attended Fairlawn Local Schools through junior high, when his family moved. He too, retired after teaching middle school in the Vandalia Butler School System.
Cindy has been re-enacting for more than two decades. Early on, she was encouraged to participate in Rendezvousing by her older brother Rusty.
Rendezvousing involves living as the French fur trappers lived. Most encampments include competition in events like knife throwing, tomahawk throwing, archery, and target shooting using muzzle loading rifles.
It wasn’t long before she became involved in Civil War re-enacting. Once she fired a cannon, was hooked on artillery.
“Every time I fire a cannon, I am awed by the power,” Jackson said. “After a short time, I was able to convince Randy to go along with me, and he was hooked on artillery as well. We joined the 4th Indiana Light Artillery. It is a great group, and we’ve developed some great friends within the group. Randy and I almost always fire their 3-inch ordinance rifle.”
The 3-inch ordnance rifle, model 1861 was a wrought iron muzzle-loading rifled cannon that was adopted by the United States Army in 1861 and widely used in field artillery units during the American Civil War. It fired a 9.5 pound projectile an approximate distance of 1,830 yards.
Her older brother also got the Jacksons involved with the George Rogers Clark Heritage Association. It is the mission of the group to educate members and the public about the history of the Northwest Territory between the years 1700 and 1850, emphasizing the Ohio Country and the life of George Rogers Clark.
“A few years ago, the group received a grant and were able to purchase a reproduction 6-pound cannon,” Jackson said. “Randy and I enjoy firing it as well.”
“We generally participate in four Civil War reenactments a year,” Jackson said. “This will be our second time to participate in the Sidney event. We were disappointed when the event was cancelled in 2020, but given the pandemic, certainly understood the need to do so.”
The Jacksons so much enjoy artillery that they have even obtained the certification needed to teach others how to safely fire historic artillery pieces. “Until you’ve fired one of the ‘big guns’ and witnessed their power,” Jackson stated, “it’s hard to explain the awe-inspiring feeling you get.”
“Randy and I participated in the Gettysburg 150th Anniversary Re-enactment in 2013,” Jackson stated. “There were a tremendous number of cannon there for the reenactment. The muzzle flash as the cannon were fired, the smell of the gunpowder, the thunderous noise all made me think back 150 years. As the earth shook, I could only imagine the original battle, with the Union Army’s 372 cannon and the Confederate Army’s 281 cannon, and how the adrenalin must have been pumping through the veins of the participants.”
Interestingly, it is believed that at least 250 women fought on the side of the Confederate Army, and at least 400 on the side of the Union Army. While both the Union and Confederate armies forbade the enlistment of women, women fought for various reasons.
As a result of being forbidden from fighting, women soldiers assumed masculine names, disguised themselves as men, and hid the fact they were female. Because they passed as men, it is impossible to know with any certainty how many women soldiers served in the Civil War. In many cases, it was not until they were wounded or killed that their fellow soldiers came to know they were women.
Sponsored by the Shelby County Historical Society, Sidney, Ohio’s Civil War Living History Weekend is made possible through donations from a number of sources, and a generous grant from the city of Sidney’s Lodging Tax Fund. Additional information about the weekend is available online at www.sidneycivilwar.org.