The Portage County Historical Society will hold its annual Civil War Encampment Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 25 and 26, at Pfiffner Pioneer Park in Stevens Point, where more than 100 men and women will put on a live event exhibiting camp life from the Civil War.
Re-enactors will set up a fully operating Civil War camp, complete with camp fires, tents and artillery. People in uniform will represent both the Confederacy and the Union, and these soldiers will perform drills and marches for onlookers to watch, as well as organizing a drill and march for children to participate in. Displays will include a surgeon’s tent showing the kinds of tools used perform operations at the time of the Civil War. Also included in the event will be live music, children’s activities, and food and beverage vendors.
There will be demonstrations of cannon fire throughout both days, including a night-time fire when all the cannons will be fired. “The night fire is one of my favorite parts,” said Julie Richards, volunteer coordinator for the Portage Country Historical Society. “It is spectacular.”
Some of the men and women will even camp in the park overnight in order to make the experience as real as possible. The re-enactors will supply their own uniforms and Civil War paraphernalia. Many bring and prepare food that soldiers from that time period would most likely have eaten. The re-enactors travel from surrounding areas like Madison, Milwaukee and even as far Michigan.
“It gets bigger every year as more people find out about it,” said Dave Simonis, a PCHS Board member. He said the encampment used to include demonstrations of skirmishes, but as the number of people attending increased, room to hold the skirmishes diminished and the safety became a concern.
Attendance is expected to be around 400 to 500 people over the course of the weekend this year.
Sam Solberg, a Civil War re-enactor, started the first encampment in the area in 2008, and the tradition has carried on annually since. The event was originally held in Plover but outgrew the area and relocated to Pfiffner Pioneer Park. There are usually four or five other encampments such as this one throughout the state, many of which are attended by the same re-enactors.
The encampment will begin on Saturday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. and will run until dusk. It begins again the following day at 10 a.m. and will run until 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $1 for students and free for children younger than 5.