A step into the 27th annual Civil War Revisited at Kearney Park takes one back to the 1860s when Confederate and Union soldiers battled in the nation’s most significant war.
“You can read it in a book, but to actually experience it gives unique perspective into the past,” said Austin Bettencourt, the sergeant major for the Confederate Army at the re-enactment.
Battlefield re-enactments, military encampments and civilian towns are among the features set up at the southwest Fresno park. The annual event is hosted by the Fresno Historical Society and the American Civil War Association.
People from throughout the West come to the living history to camp out for four days and experience life of that era.
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Bettencourt, a Turlock resident who has participated for 11 years, said taking part is his hobby. Through camping, he recognizes the conditions the soldiers were in as he, too, has to clean his equipment, cook and get up to fight. He loves the camp life and having a feel for why it was so important for soldiers to keep fighting.
“There’s a lot of things to learn from this era,” said Andrew Hill, a surgeon for the Confederate side. Hill and his wife, Sheryl Hill, have participated in the event for more than 20 years, spurred by their son who played an infantry solider when he was 8 years old.
They enjoy when the schoolchildren come because they want young people to learn so that such a war does not happen again, said Hill.
For many this event is a chance to reconnect with ancestors. Dwayne Penner is a broom maker, a skill his grandfather taught him.
“I was in a broom shop since before I was born,” he said.
Like Hill, Wayne Raschdorf, a Marine Corps veteran, is passionate about history and explaining what the Confederate flag meant to soldiers.
“I don’t like having only one side of the story presented,” said Raschdorf at his Confederate flag booth. “What we pick up in school, in history, is absolutely useless if it’s biased.”
The flag today is shunned because of how it is a symbol of the slavery era in U.S. history. But Americans should be open to discuss the true meaning of the Confederate flag, he said.
If you go
Civil War Revisited will continue Sunday at Kearney Park, 7160 W. Kearney Blvd., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. While parking is free, adult admission is $10, children 6 to 12-years-old are $5 and children 5 and younger are free.