(Host) A hundred-and-fifty years ago this month, more than 1,000 militiamen from across Vermont traveled to Rutland to officially join the Civil War. Costumed re-enactors will commemorate that event Saturday in Rutland. VPR’s Nina Keck has more.
(Keck) When the call came from President Lincoln asking for 75,000 troops to quell what was then seen as a rebellion, Vermonters answered.
State lawmakers agreed to provide $1 million for the effort – twice what was asked. Then part-time soldiers from all over the state traveled to Rutland, by foot, by horse and by train to join the First Vermont Regiment.
Castleton resident Jim Proctor is one of about 40 history buffs participating in Saturday’s re-enactment.
He says back in early May 1861, people didn’t expect a lengthy war and the men who gathered in Rutland signed up for just three months of duty.
Many of course ended up serving much longer.
Jim Proctor says while you can read about that first troop mustering in history books, experiencing the event hands-on with the help of re-enactors is a lot more fun.
(Proctor) "If I can get a young person to pick up a musket, and maybe putting on my coat, and feel what it was like and make them think of leaving home and going away and maybe never coming back – to defend something that’s so important to you that you’re willing to give your life for. Just to instill them to start to look into the history."
(Keck) He says anyone interested in attending should take the time to stop and ask a soldier what he’s been through.
(Proctor) "I want whoever comes to the reenactment to stop and ask a soldier what he was going through. Because each individual soldier that reenacts has an individual story. Myself, I’m into the civilian side of it more – what the home life was like, what the individual was giving up. Others are into the individual battles."
(Keck) Visitors can learn about Civil War era rifles and cannon, clothing, cooking utensils, medical equipment and many other items.
All of which Proctor says help bring history to life.
For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.
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