Civil War re-enactment fires off throughout Deerfield Park

Tim Stebleton, center, talks to the other members in his group before getting ready to fire off a cannon during the Civil War Reenactment Sunday afternoon at Deerfield Nature Park. "I love this because I am a history fanatic and like to make loud noises," said Stebleton. (Charlotte Bodak/Staff Photographer)

Thunderous cannon blasts shook Deerfield Park this weekend during a Civil War re-enactment.

The re-enactment, which took place on Saturday and Sunday at the park, 2425 W. Remus Road, is one of many events Union Township has held throughout the year to celebrate its sesquicentennial anniversary.

“After my husband bought a cannon, he formed a unit around it,” said Pau Pau resident Debbie Phillips. “My husband is a history teacher so that’s why he does it, to educate people in a fun way.”

Phillips said they based their unit off of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his raiders.  She said the reason they chose to be Confederates was to change the misconceptions about the South.

She said Morgan fought in the war because he believed in separating from the U.S. government.

To keep the re-enactment accurate, Phillips said the Southern camps and Northern camps were quite different.

“Because the Southern homes were being burnt, the women would have to escape into the woods,” she said. “With them they would take all their fine possessions, clothing, furniture and china.”

Along with the different camps, the event featured costumes and marching demonstrations.

Garden City resident Bill Wall said the cannon he manages is more than 150 years old and has been in two wars.

“This is what we do for fun,” he said. “Forty-thousand other people share my insanity as a hobby. They put on a grey or blue uniform, and they fight.”

Big Rapids resident Ed Deming said he is glad he spent 20 years in the modern army, because it’s somewhat easier than Civil War times. He said re-enacting is very  different compared to the modern army, especially how the soldiers camp in the field.

As a way to entertain his fellow Union soldiers, Deming said he plays the fiddle.

“I’ve been playing for 20 years,” he said. “Music was an important part of soldiers' lives. Music was one of their only forms of entertainment.”


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