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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Local Civil War buffs relive the historic event

The Civil War has now been over for 150 years, but some people are determined to keep this historical event alive.


This April marks the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War; but here in Southern California, history fanatics are reliving the historic event nearly once a month.

The Knott’s Berry Farm Park Pavilion in Buena Park looked like a history text come to life, as hundreds of spectators and re-enactors gathered on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to recreate a Civil War encampment from the year 1862.

Edward Mann, who has been reenacting the Civil War on a regular basis for the last 22 years, said that these living history events are like being involved in a great outdoor play. But dressing up as a confederate solider is just a hobby for Mann, who is actually a lawyer by trade.

“In the daytime I fight with attorneys and on the weekends I fight with Yankees,” said Mann.

Also in attendance was the 16th President of the United States of America. William Peck has been delivering the Gettysburg Address at living history events for 30 years.

“You go to school as young people, history is boring. We have to go through it. But they don’t really get into it and understand it until they get older,” said Peck.

And they certainly get into it. Paul Chaffey, a history teacher who gave a demonstration on the Union infantry, said that some re-enactors like to be as true to the time period as possible.

“Some are less authentic, some are more authentic, some like to sleep in the dirt and not wash and bathe,” said Chaffey.

Maggie Dougher spent the day much like a woman would have in the year 1862, washing the soldiers’ soiled clothing on a washing board.

“It gives you an appreciation of the artistry that went into living back then,” said Dougher.

This appreciation and understanding of the past is what Julie Fleschner hopes her three nieces and daughter will take away from the time they spent at the event together as a family.

“It’s more fun than learning it in the classroom and reading the books,” said Fleschner’s 10-year-old daughter, Jenna.

One of Jenna’s favorite parts of the day was when Peck gave her a limited edition penny featuring President Lincoln on one side.

“If I can turn a young student into history and really enjoying history, then I’ve accomplished a great thing,” said Peck.

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