Monday, September 16, 2013

Historic Fort Wayne

Built in a four-pointed-star shape in 1845, Fort Wayne stands across the river from Canada. It was constructed to protect Detroit from attack if need be. Luckily, a treaty was signed with Britain even before any cannon were procured. The new Fort was re-commissioned as an infantry garrison, but did not see any troops until the outbreak of the Civil War, when the first Michigan soldiers reported for duty. 

Because of new relationship with the Britain and later Canada, Fort Wayne never saw a shot fired in anger. The peaceful location became a primary induction center for Michigan troops entering battle in every U. S. conflicts from the Civil War to Vietnam. Among other duties over the course of its 125 year use as an Army base, it served as an infantry training station, housed the Chaplin school for a few years, and was the primary procurement location for the vehicles and weapons manufactured in Detroit during both World Wars. Also during WWII the Fort housed prisoners of war from Italy.

The houses in "Officer's Row."
Inside one of the houses.
Outside of the fort

Exploring the fort

Mom and I went to go watch the battle, but instead I was kindly invited to play some parlor games with some of the members of the 21st Michigan in one of the officer's homes. The games were quite fun and it was nice to be a bit farther away from the cannons. They shook the house we were in!

The smoke and horror of war outside... contrast to the smiles and laughter inside. (Picture borrowed from Ken G.)

If only our brothers and fathers weren't off fighting this dreadful war and they could join in our merriment... We met Dr. Richard Gatling who gave an explanation of his new invention of a gun with revolving barrels which is supposed to quicken the end of the war. I found something that I think will work even better...

This is a Sherman, if you were wondering.  :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Van Raalte reenactment

On the 8th Mom and I headed over to the Van Raalte farm, a large 160 acre farm in Holland. The grounds are a mixture of fields and forests of apple trees. The apples were ripe and as you walked beneath them, you could smell the sweet scent of them. (They also tasted pretty good!) I believe the event is a newer one, but it was very well put together. On to the pictures!

One of the Union cannons overlooking the battlefield. The reddish-brown thing in the middle is part of a wooden split-rail fence put up as a prop. 
In addition to the apple trees, there was also a lot of poison ivy!
Some of the lovely cavalry mounts. 
A sign in the Confederate camp.
I'm not sure who set it up, if it was the park who did or something reenactor-related, but there was a tent with 1860's games. Mom and I played the game of Graces for quite some time. Here is a link to more information if you want to learn how to play. 

It was very windy, which is why my skirt looks so weird...

At 11:00 was a concert by the 5th Michigan on the farmhouse steps. You may remember them from my Jackson post. They played quite a few new songs and also some of our favorites.

After the concert we listened to a speech by President and Mrs. Lincoln.

My dress fabric
Southern men marching off to war. 
Led by General Lee! Traveler was taking the day off.
The boys in blue getting ready to meet the Confederates on the battlefield.
Southern artillery

Here you can see one of the fences I referred to earlier.

If I remember correctly, the first part of the battle was Pickett's Charge, while the second part was the battle of Little Round Top. There were three Southern cannons and four Union. One of the Union cannons was sending out a smoke ring with almost every shot! 

The smoke ring is in the middle of the picture, above the trees. This was about a quarter of the spectators - quite a good turn out!
Aren't they a cute couple?

The circa 1870's farmhouse
This reenactment is definitely one I will go to again. It was very nicely organized and well planned in an interesting setting. The only thing that Mom and I agreed on was that there were too many Gators driving around. It takes you out of the 1860's mindset when you have to keep stepping off the road to let one pass. I can see, however, how people who have a hard time walking would miss out on a lot of things on the beautiful grounds if they didn't have the four-wheeled access. It's a fine line to tread.