Union soldiers fire cannons at the Confederate Army at the Battle of Antietam.
Photo by Alexa Nash
By Alexa Nash
History affects the present in more ways than one, and learning and remembering it is an important thing to do. To be able to participate in a moment in the past is an incredibly rare and exciting opportunity. Wasioja Civil War Days, started seven years ago, is one such instance where all of it is possible. From the children's tent to the talks on historic figures, the event has the past reviewed and ready to show to everyone who comes.
A fun place to visit with the young ones, or even those of an older age, is the Children's Tent. Run by Deryl Hrdlicka and Alicia Bayer and their children Alex, Jack, and Annie, they teach people how to play old games such as Game of Graces and Hoops. It's their first time in Wasioja, but the family has been doing presentations at many other reenactments for six years. Deryl also teaches about homemade instruments, some made by him, and telegrams at other events from all parts of Minnesota.
"You can learn so much from everyone else, and the kids get a lot out of it," Alicia says. "It's like going back in time."
Another interesting tent is the blacksmith's tent. Run by Sherri Kessler and Jim Jorgenson, Sherri has been doing her job for over 6 years and Jim since September. They teach blacksmithing full time and they sell the items they make. They go all around the country spreading their knowledge and influence.
"I like to take an idea and make it possible in metal," Sherri explains, when asked about her favorite part of her job.
Part of the festivities also included its many talks on parts of the Civil War. Ranging from Antietam to the traditional tea party make-up, they covered a variety of interesting and rarely discussed topics. One of the most interesting was the Abraham Lincoln event in the main tent where Abraham Lincoln himself discussed his relations with his wife's family, the Todds, who were an influential part of the Confederate side, with the help of his sister-in-law Emily Todd. Emily, aka Polly Blanshan, just started in the reenactment business with her father Joel Howard, aka Mr. Lincoln, who has been doing it for four years. He does such speeches frequently at schools, museums, and other events as well.
With so much to do and many ways to do it, history has made itself accessible for people young and old at this incredible event.