The Civil War life of Union and Confederate soldiers will be re-created in southwest Rock Island this weekend.
Iowa's 11th Regiment, the 7th Kansas, 7th Illinois and Scotts Battery unit (representing the Confederate side), will set up camp at Mel McKay Park in Rock Island Saturday and Sunday for the Rock Island Civil War Re-enactment.
The event will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the park, 14th Street West and 92nd Avenue West, Rock Island. The re-enactment will include a series of drills, a ladies' tea, a ladies' fashion show and field church services. Battles will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $3 for all ages. The event is a continuation of the Civil War muster previously held at Lindsay Park in Davenport and most recently in Scott County Park near Long Grove, Iowa.
``This particular event has been around for many years and has the interest of the community,'' said Jennifer Walker, marketing representative for the Rock Island Arts and Entertainment District. ``That's why we decided Rock Island would be a great place to hold it. We're also looking to show off Southwest Rock Island, and how important and vital it is to the community. I don't know if people realize what that part of our community is about, but using a great park like Mel McKay for this weekend will give us a chance to showcase that portion of our city.''
Visitors can see soldiers engage in early-morning drills such as marching and firing practice. At midday, soldiers will break camp, open their coarse haversacks and take out their weekend's rations of salted pork, potatoes, onions, coffee, sugar and salt for open-fire cooking.
All of the soldiers will be carrying historically accurate gear: .56-caliber muskets, bayonets, cartridges, canteens and leather accoutrements for carrying their cartridges and rounds.
``What's special is those involved live the life,'' Ms. Walker said. ``Everyone wears the uniform of the day, lives out of a tent, and prepares food the way it was prepared in the day. It is true-to-life.''
Re-enactors of the Women's Relief Corps will knit socks for soldiers, invite park visitors to tea, and display clothing from that time period.
Later, the women will initiate their own war against drinking on the homefront, and lovers of the bottle should beware their afternoon temperance rally.
``The tea and fashion show of the times will add something to the weekend,'' Ms. Walker said. ``You'll get the feel of the times and the attitudes of those involved. You need to see what happens to really appreciate how special it is.''
Iowa's ``Angel of the Civil War'' also will come to life at the park when Carol Boomershine of Davenport acts out biographical sketches of Annie Wittenmyer. Ms. Wittenmyer, who established the Iowa Soldiers' Orphans Home in Davenport in 1865, realized the need for a soldiers' orphanage while nursing wounded soldiers on the battle lines during the war.
In December 1865, Ms. Wittenmyer brought 150 orphans to the old cavalry barracks-turned orphanage in Davenport with the consent -- not yet officialized -- of the War Department.
For more information on the Civil War Re-enactment, call Beverly at 788-6311.