We’re back from Wasioja! It was so much fun and so much work, and I’m so glad we did it.
We learned so much I couldn’t possibly share it all, and it was so incredible. I really recommend taking part in Civil War reenactments, not just as a visitor (do that the first time) but also as a volunteer/reenactor.
Here’s just a bit of what we learned….
- How to do a field amputation. In detail!
- Why so many body parts were amputated.
- The medical degree requirements of the time, and the medical “wisdom” (egads!). It’s a wonder any human beings survived at all.
- What it was like to be a southern woman in the south during the war.
- The drugs (prescribed) of the day and how common they were for man, woman and child.
- The language of the fan.
- Battles, generals, songs and traditions.
- What foods and materials were substituted during the shortages and blockades. Roasted beet coffee, anybody?
- The real casualty numbers of the Civil War and why they were so off (it’s actually closer to a million, they think).
- And so much more.
We stayed with a fabulous unschooling family on their dairy farm Saturday night (Alexandra and her whole family are just delightful, and her Brazilian mother is a magical creature in her own right…. such neat people!!!!).
(Photo of Cupcake by Anna Bayer)
We got filmed for several news reports and for the Wasioja video, and interviewed for the local paper (note: How funny that the reporter managed to spell Hrdlicka right but misspelled Daryl, and that we have three children named Jack, Alex and Annie… reporters invariably get almost everything but your planet wrong even when you give them a direct quote and spell it all out!).
Jack and Alex worked tirelessly to teach kids (and some adults) how to roll hoops, play the game of graces and do other old-time games. They also disappeared into the tall grass with our toy rifles to play war all weekend.
Daryl had a constant crowd in front of him to learn about old time musical instruments from the spoons to the dulcimer to the one string. I hardly got to spend a minute with him the whole weekend because he was so popular.
Anna spent the first day in full costume (corset and all!) with me, but chose to go modern for the second day and be a little more comfortable. 🙂
(Anna has taken part in the Wilder Pageant enough to know that you’re never supposed to smile in old time photographs!)
All of the kids (minus Victoria, who was up with friends in the Twin Cities for two weeks) helped out in the children’s craft tent where we were stationed too, and made me proud in the way they chipped in there.
Fiona stole the show on both days, waving and saying hi to every passer-by and even charming Abraham Lincoln.
We will definitely take part next time (two years from now). Pipestone is next year again. I’m so happy they stagger them so there’s one every summer.
It was a lot of work, but good work. And we really came home with such a feeling of the realities of the Civil War times, minus the romantic movie versions and sound bytes. We have a deep appreciation for the many ways it affected everybody.
If you have never taken part in a Civil War event, I highly recommend it. Ren Fests are so popular but there are lots of historic times worth visiting. Why just play in the Renaissance era? 🙂