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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
The 20th Lincoln Days Civil War Reenactment was held this past Saturday and Sunday at Lake Pittsfield, attracting hundreds of reenactors from several states. Organizers estimate that there were 300 reenactors and up to 1,000 attendees over the course of the weekend.
Pittsfield Mayor Gary Mendenhall was on hand both days to help kick off the reenactment of the Battle of Vicksburg each day of Lincoln Days. Mendenhall said that the reenactment is an important educational event for Pittsfield and Pike County.
“Of course, it’s a great learning experience to see how the Civil War was actually fought,” Mendenhall said. “You can see the equipment, the dress – how they did things in that day and age.”
Just as important as the educational element of the reenactment, according to Mendenhall, is the economic impact that Lincoln Days has on the local economy.
“Economically, there are a number of visitors it brings to town – not just the people watching the reenactment, but the reenactors themselves,” Mendenhall said. “I’m told the reenactors usually get to town Friday and buy groceries, and the women like to visit Casteel’s and the other shops around the square.”
Co-Chair of the Abe Lincoln Project/Looking for Lincoln in Pike County Bob Norris said the 2022 Lincoln Days Civil War Reenactment represents the event’s 20th year.
“This year’s reenactment represents our platinum anniversary,” Norris said prior to this year’s reenactment. “That’s an important milestone, because there have been other reenactments here in the tri-state area that have since closed down. We’re still going and growing, so we must be doing something right.”
This year’s Lincoln Days reenactment coincided with the 200th anniversary of the birth of General and President Ulysses S. Grant. Grant commanded many Pike County soldiers in the western theater of the Civil War – including at the Battle of Vicksburg, which was the battle reenacted during this year’s Lincoln Days.
According to Norris, reenactors traveled to Pittsfield from states throughout the Midwest and South to participate in the 20th Lincoln Days.
“We regularly have reenactors from Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Tennessee, and Arkansas,” Norris said.
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Fellow Abe Lincoln Project/Looking for Lincoln in Pike County co-chair Kathy Zimmerman said that the number of reenactors may have been slightly down compared to previous years because of the high price of gas.
Lincoln Days attendees found many other activities throughout the weekend, including historical presentations, interactive displays, and food and craft vendors.
New this year were presentations about the role in the Civil War of the U.S. Christian Commission and the Soldiers Aid Society.
In addition, a period brass band accompanied performances by the Alton Jaeger Fife and Drum Corps this year.
Lincoln Days Civil War Reenactment is sponsored by The Abe Lincoln Project/Looking for Lincoln in Pike County and the City of Pittsfield.
Norris praised the City of Pittsfield’s support for the reenactment.
“The city really went all out to help with the reenactment,” Norris said. “I can’t stress enough how much their support helped make this year’s event a success.”