Mustering our troops

Even though every day is different around here (should I mention I had to help catch an escaped rooster yesterday?), it’s still possible to fall into ruts. A museum educator’s creativity can only go so far before it fizzles. We have a series of recurring events at DHV, and when you start entering into that era of planning the same event 7 or 8 times, well, the ideas for fun and creative learning opportunities start to fade. One event I’ve always struggled with is Civil War on the Home Front.

Confession time: even though I am a self-proclaimed history nerd, I’ve never gotten really excited about the Civil War. I’ve always been more attracted to lesser-known stories, and most people at least know the basics of the War Between the States. But visitors love the Civil War, and we have a great group of re-enactors that make this event possible every year. However, at certain points over the years, I feel like I’ve run out of ideas.

Enter Johna. She’s our Family Programs Manager and has worked with us for just over a year. And she has lots of fresh new ideas for which I’m incredibly grateful! We’ve been bouncing around ideas for the last couple of months, but the best ideas have come straight from her. And suddenly, I’m really, really looking forward to this year’s event.

The standard elements aren’t going anywhere—re-enactors from the 9th Texas Infantry Regiment and the 1st US Infantry will be setting up camp, talking with visitors, and getting in some sort of battle at 2:00 p.m. This year, we’ll also have a Confederate Dentist and Doctor ready to talk about the physical requirements for new recruits. Did you know you had to have at least 4 teeth to join the Confederate Army?

We’ll bring back the bartering activity, with a few new items to trade or earn by doing some chores. The rope machine is making a return as well.

But then there’s all this new stuff. Ed Chytil, a local author and historian, has been working on a beautiful new book series, published by Burnished Bronze Press ( He’s putting together a talk that will appeal to all ages, all about the Confederate Home Front and the lead up to the Civil War. One of his books, Tupelo, will be available for sale. It’s not often that we’re able to combine a lecture with a special event.

Friends we’ve made through the Old Time Music Jam (which meets here twice a month) will be performing on Main Street. The Buttermilk Junction Old Time String Band has a great repertoire which includes music from the war era. Can’t wait to hear them!

Finally, the thing I’m most looking forward to—the War Room. Did you know that toy soldiers were invented around the Civil War to help generals plan battles? Me neither! But they were and we have quite the assortment of toy soldiers ready to go. Johna has designed a great map that should be somewhat familiar to visitors. So, boys of all ages can map out their battles with the toy soldiers and draw their own maps to take home. Did I mention boys of all ages? Gary got this really excited look on his face when I mentioned our latest acquisition for the education department, and he’ll be playing “General” from 12:30 to 1:30.

Now all that’s left to do is put together the program, buy a few supplies, and keep fingers crossed for beautiful weather. Hope to see you there!

Full event details—and link to purchase discounted tickets (by Wednesday, November 9): Events

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