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Shadows of Blue and Gray: Behind the scenes

See a piece of American history this weekend

Published: Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 4:07 p.m. CDT
(BCR photo/Dick Todd)
Confederate and Union soldiers take to the battlefield during a Civil War re-enactment during he last Shadows of the Blue and Gray weekend event in Bureau County. This year's Shadow of the Blue and Gray is set for this weekend at City-County Park on Route 26, just north of Princeton.

PRINCETON — History will come alive this weekend at the 15th annual Shadows of the Blue and Gray event, complete with Civil War re-enactment battles, period artisans and musicians, and a visit from President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary.

As in previous years, the Oct. 13-14 event will take place at City-County Park on Route 26, just north of Princeton.

Serving as co-chairmen for this year’s event are Jeff Freeman and Randy Woodbury. Both men said they first started going to the Shadows of the Blue and Gray as spectators, enjoyed what they saw, and became involved several years ago in the planning committee. Being involved with the Shadows of the Blue and Gray has been a great experience, the men agreed.

“The thing I love most about being personally involved with Shadows is that when I show up at the park early in the morning of the first day of the event, looking at the tents and seeing the park transformed back to the 1860s,” Freeman said. “That is an awesome sight!”

For Woodbury, he’s enjoyed participating in all the behind-the-scenes planning which goes into the Shadows of the Blue and Gray, getting to meet other people with shared interests in the Civil War, and having the chance to get to personally know a lot of the re-enactors.

“I love to be a part of something that presents history in a real, personal way and bringing it to this area, since there is so much Civil War history here in Princeton and the surrounding communities and counties,” Woodbury said.

Looking at this year’s event, Freeman and Woodbury also agreed the Shadows of the Blue and Gray will be a great opportunity to experience history in a unique way.

“I think hardcore history buffs will enjoy it, but people who may know very little about the Civil War, who are just looking for something fun and interesting to do, will also enjoy it,” Woodbury said.

Remembering the Civil War is more than just learning the facts of history, Freeman said.

“I think it’s good to remember the Civil War because I feel that many of the issues of that time are still ongoing issues today,” Freeman said.

From his viewpoint, the Civil War re-enactment is also a great way to learn about a difficult time in the country’s history, Woodbury said.

“I think we have to be very careful that we don’t glamorize war. Make no mistake, this event is not about glorifying the Civil War but about presenting this time in our nation’s history in an up close and personal way,” Woodbury said. “When people come to our event, they will have fun but will also learn about the hardships and struggles that our ancestors experienced during that time. They will smell the gunpowder and the campfires. They will hear the music and sounds of the era.

“There will be lots of fun and exciting things to see and do, but we also try hard to present the realities of war. They will see people wounded on the battlefield and will see medical demonstrations which are at times a little gruesome, but that’s what it was really like. And we won’t glamorize it or cover it up. I think this is a good way to present and remember the American Civil War because it allows people to experience just a small part of what it really was like. They don’t just have to read about it or watch a movie.”

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