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North Iowa to Mark Start of Civil War with Weekend Drill


This news story was published on April 12, 2011.
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Clear Lake, IA— North Iowa isn’t forgetting that the United States is marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War this week.

Hostilities began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina by Confederate forces on April 12, 1861.

Several Civil War re-enactors are expected to spend part of their weekend in Clear Lake for a spring drill.

32nd Iowa President Dave Grill is anticipating that members of the unit (that takes its name from the 32nd Iowa Infantry Regiment which fought in the Civil War) will begin converging on the Iowa Trolley Park, in the 3400 block of Main Avenue on Friday.

The Civil War buffs will camp overnight and are inviting the public to watch their training sessions on Saturday.

A majority of the soldiers are from North Iowa and they will be using the opportunity to practice for up-coming re-enactments this summer and fall.

Saturday will start with a 7 a.m. reveille and roll call. After breakfast, the soldiers will begin drilling while dressed in period uniforms at around 9 a.m.

The 32nd will hold what’s being described as the school of the soldier. Grill said the lessons will be structured using the same training manual and instruction that the military used during the war.

For the first time this year there will be instruction for Privates and a separate session for Sergeants and Corporals.

A Union Brigade Commander is scheduled to offer lessons on battalion maneuvers and parade formations.

The troops will receive inspections of their packs and equipment.

They’ll learn how to properly arm, load and fire a musket. There will also be a cannon demonstration.

Neighbors should also not be surprised to hear some loud noises coming from the direction of the Iowa Trolley Park as weapons are fired.

Grill said it will be “an opportunity for the public to get an up-close look at these technical aspects.”

He said visitors will be encouraged to talk to the soldiers during breaks to understand what the re-enactors are doing.
At the same time, the soldiers will attempt to stay in character as they explain the purpose of their drill.

Grill will be portraying a Lieutenant who was an actual member of the 32nd Iowa.

Grill chose the Mason City soldier because his re-enactor service record mirrors that of the man who started the war as a Private, but was promoted to Corporal, then to Sergeant and finally an officer.

Grill says he and other re-enactors have a love for portraying history, “there’s a lot of things you learn that the history books don’t tell you about the Civil War.”

If enough troops turn out for Saturday’s drill, a skirmish will likely be held at around 3 p.m.

The Iowa Trolley Park will serve as the backdrop for that battle and another attraction.

The Railroad museum is reopening for another season of visitors during the warmer months.

It allows rail lovers the chance to ride a handcar, get a look at a speeder, a caboose and hop aboard a diesel yard locomotive.

The museum is currently working to build a working replica of an 1870’s wood burning locomotive. The V & T Lyon is similar to some engines used during the Civil War.

The 32nd Iowa hosts its annual Civil War re-enactment weekend in Mason City.

This year it is planned for September 9-11 to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

See photos of other Civil War re-enactments:


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