Our Adventure At Charlton Park
Imagine my surprise when a bucket list item and my wife’s suggested Saturday activity intersected! I have always wanted to attend a civil war reenactment. Most of them are located near where actual battles took place, far from Michigan. Therefore, I never made a strong effort to attend.
Last Summer, I learned that a weekend civil war muster was taking place at Historic Charlton Park, about 6 miles south and east of Hastings and a little over an hour from downtown Kalamazoo. So my wife, 5 year old son and I headed out on a Saturday afternoon to view the event and I was pleasantly surprised to observe the authenticity and professionalism of the reenactment. I would encourage anyone with at least moderate interest to attend the event.
Historic Charlton Park is a real jewel as it houses a replica town that looks like it was built in the latter half of the 1800’s. The weather was beautiful and the town at the park was idyllic and reflected the slow pace of life in a small town during the 1860’s. Within hour, the Union Calvary regiment and the Confederate Infantry would meet for a skirmish.
So what was impressive?
- Seeing tent cities set up by the Union and Confederate Armies. I estimate over 500 reenactors participated in the event.
- My son enjoyed the cannon demonstration where artillery aficionados demonstrate and discuss how accurate the cannons were during the 1860’s.
- Several “stores” were set up and you could observe what was sold to soldiers and townspeople during the civil war era. It was fascinating to see how primitive life was at that time.
- Observing a field hospital and how wounds were treated by amputation.
- How the townspeople initially viewed the battle as a spectacle, to be watched. Quickly they realized the need to run and take cover for safety.
- How loud the guns were and how much smoke they produced. At times you could barely see the soldiers because the smoke was so heavy.
Recommendations From A Parent
Here’s a few recommendations based on our experience:
- Take time to walk around the village before the reenactment begins.
- Take hearing protection for everyone. The sound level of the guns can be loud.
- After enjoying the day, head over to Hastings and enjoy a meal at one of their restaurants. They are located in older buildings and many have a nice family atmospheres. If you enjoy lakeside dining, the Bay Pointe Inn at Gun Lake is a great choice.
The Civil War Muster is scheduled for July 16-17, 2016 – see history come alive with hundreds of re-enactors depicting Confederate and Union Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery units. Shop on Sutler Row, play parlor games, see military demonstrations.
Admission is Adults $6.00, Kids $4.00 ages 5 – 12 years, 4 and under are free.
If you have any interest in the Civil War or would like to teach your children about history, you will enjoy attending. These re-enactors take their hobby seriously and do an outstanding job.