The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

June 30, 2013

Troops flock to state capitol

Local re-enactors step into mid-1860s

(Continued)

Most of the remaining buildings from the early 1800s have an antique look and feel to them. That doesn’t give you the real sense of what people of that time period saw because the furnishings were relatively new at the time. In the 1960s, the Old State Capitol was taken apart and carefully reassembled stone by stone. Inside, replica furnishings were built to give them the look they would have had in the time of Lincoln and Grant, rather than looking old and worn like 175-year-old chairs and desks.

My wife, Rhea, portrayed Mrs. Grierson. I also participated in a “Meet the Generals” program there along with a Chicago-based group portraying Generals Grant, Lee, Custer, Jackson and Stuart.

Tara Auter told the story of Jennie Hodgers, who had taken on the identity of a man. She called herself Albert Cashier, and served as a private in the 95th Illinois Infantry. When “her” identity was revealed several years after the war, many of her fellow soldiers expressed shock that Albert was a woman, having played the role of a man so well. They also cited her bravery in battle. She was buried with full military honors near Saunemin in Livingston, County.

Emily and Eugene Bencomo of Oakwood were among the event organizers. While his wife operated their sutlery — a kind of traveling general store to serve the soldiers — he sat outside the tent and talked about medicine in the Civil War time period and also entertained with a pennywhistle musical instrument.

Don Smith of Tilton took on the role of a Union artillery officer, and with his cannon crew demonstrated loading and firing one of the big guns from the 1860s. His wife, Marilyn, who is a nurse, answered questions about the nursing profession during the Civil War period.

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