Wasioja Civil War Days aim to entertain and educate - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Wasioja Civil War Days aim to entertain and educate

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WASIOJA, Minn. (KTTC)- Even though there were no official Civil War battles here in Minnesota, that is not stopping war enthusiasts from dawning the colors of the Union and Confederacy for a chance at replicating a piece of our country's history.

Just for a moment, people in Dodge County took a glance back to 1862 and the Battle of Mill Springs; the American Civil War.

"We came in to the middle of the battle and were drawn in by the cannon fire," says Shawn Lavelle, a visitor from Golden Valley, Minnesota. "It was fun to watch and see the maneuvers and watch the cannons go off."

For those that took up arms, it was a chance to portray a significant member of a key battle.

"We were initially surprised by the rebels coming in after us, but we rallied," says Union Gen. George Henry Thomas. "I understand we even killed their Confederate commander, Zaulicoffer, which disorganized their troops badly enough that we were able to counter-attack and drive them off the field in great disorder."

But putting their characters aside, the actors know the biggest goal of Civil War Days is education.

"How 625,000 men died to form the United States we know today," explains the man portraying Gen. Thomas, Larry Werline. "I personally believe that if you don't understand the American Civil War, you don't understand our country and where we came from."

Events like Civil War Days are well attended by those who want to understand history, and a full-emersion into history is exactly what they're going to get. Visitors were able to see life in the camps of the Union and Confederate soldiers and understand the motivations behind why they took to arms.

"We're led to believe that the war was over slavery," says Werline, "but the average man, north and south, didn't go to fight for or against slavery, they went to fight for their section of the country because each of them felt their way of life was threatened."

They are lessons that do not go unnoticed by those who are there.

"To know what divided us before and how far it actually broke us down and remember that as we consider our own battles today and whether they are significant," says Lavelle.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Wasioja Civil War Days plan a full reenactment of the battle on Sunday afternoon.

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