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Hundreds live through history at Mariposa Civil War Days

Civil War Days took place last weekend in Mariposa. Sponsored by the Las Mariposas Civil War Group, about 150 men, women and children participated in the Civil War reenactment.
Civil War Days took place last weekend in Mariposa. Sponsored by the Las Mariposas Civil War Group, about 150 men, women and children participated in the Civil War reenactment. Sierra Star

History buffs from throughout Central California and beyond visited Mariposa March 8 and 9 to see history come alive during the 11th Annual Civil War Days.

The colorful and exciting event was held at Long’s Mariposa Ranch, once part of John C. Fremont’s historic 44,386-acre Las Mariposas Land Grant.

Sponsored by the Las Mariposas Civil War Group, in partnership with the American Civil War Association (ACWA), about 150 men, women and children participated in the Civil War reenactment.

The American Civil War Association of Northern and Central California (ACWNCC) recreates the most trying period in our nation’s history, from 1861-1865. When it finally ended, the United States was again one nation but no less than 620,000 men, 2% of the population, had perished for what they believed. This outnumbers the 405,400 soldiers who died in World War II and the 116,516 killed in World War I. Two-thirds of soldiers killed during the Civil War died from disease.

Visitors, who braved inclement weather on Saturday, were invited to tour the military and civilian encampments where they found firsthand what life was like during this time in American history.

Attendees could also visit with both Confederate and Federal soldiers and see how they lived while on campaign, and take a walk through the town of Longville to see how the war touched the lives of the civilians as well.

With the uniforms, clothing and equipment of the period, one can get a small sense of how the men, women and children lived through the hardship of the Civil War.

Norah Jennings is a Civil War reenactor who traveled from Carson City, Nevada with his horse Blue Steel to participate in the event for the sixth time. When not participating in Civil War reenactments, he is a military police officer with the Nevada National Guard.

Portraying a First Sgt. of 7th Michigan Calvary Company F, Jennings said he looks at these events as a way to help supplement public schools and history teachers.

“It seems all across the country schools are emphasizing the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, math) and that is where the majority of funding is going ... and not enough going to history,” Jennings said. “We spent a lot of time Friday talking to the students about the Civil War. As much as I like history, my real passion is working with the horses.”

More than 1,100 elementary school students from throughout Central California had pre-registered for the free education day on March 7, but the forecast for heavy rain that day forced many schools to cancel, although about 250 students braved the rains to learn about the Civil War. That included Oakhurst Elementary School fifth grade teacher Robin Ward and her class.

“I love the Civil War Days because the characters are a real life example of the life and times of those days,” Ward said. “This really solidifies what the students have learned all year about pioneers and those times.”

Ward explained that although she touches on the Civil War with her fifth graders, it is studied more in depth in eighth grade.

“The Education Day in Mariposa gives the kids a great jump start to what they will learn in eighth grade,” Ward said. “I have an amazing unit I put together where the students come across some pictures of facets of the Civil War and have to put the pieces together using clues from the back of picture note cards. Then they put it together to see if they can make them chronological and we discuss it.”

Mariposa County employee Gavin Iacono is president of the ACWNCC , and served as event coordinator.

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