Civil War Days at Conner Prairie is one of those must-see events that anyone with an interest in history needs to visit at least once in their life. I took my kids out to Conner Prairie today to see the recreation of a real Civil War battle, complete with gunfire, explosions, and casualties.
On the way to the battlefield, we stopped by the living history portion of the event, checking out an army hospital, the Signal Corps (they used to use hot air balloons to scope out enemy artillery positions. Of course, to see the artillery also meant the artillery could see them, often with devastating results.), and even got to see General Lew Wallace talk about his days as a general and as an author.
The battle commenced at 2:00 at the bottom of the hill, and thousands of us lined up to see these history buffs line up across from one another, and open fire with their rifles and cannons on one another. The cannon fire was massive — I had never heard anything that loud, except for 33 Indy cars racing past me.
What was surprising to me was the way the battle unfolded. No one was racing around, diving down to take aim at someone. Rather, they marched in groups, turning and marching into position, loading their rifles, and turn and marching to the rear when it was necessary.
After several minutes of this, some of the soldiers — at least on the Union side; we were sitting on the union side of the battlefield — began to drop, either completely dead or merely wounded. Having learned about what went on in an army hospital, the dead ones may have had the more merciful of endings.
For anyone who wants to know more about American history, and one of our most defining moments as a country, you need to check out a Civil War re-enactment whenever you have the chance. And if you’re in Central Indiana in May 2012, check out the Civil War Days at Conner Prairie. Visit their website at ConnerPrairie.org to find out more information, including dates and ticket prices.