The Civil War comes to Mifflin County

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Frank Jost
says it's something the whole community looks forward to every year.

“Reenacting
gives people the chance to see what life was really like during the Civil
War,” said Jost, as he walked among the troops at the 4th annual Sparks in
the Park Civil War encampment at Derry Township Community Park. “Not only
for the people who do the reenacting, but also for the spectators that come out
to watch.”

The popular
recreation park just outside of Lewistown is not a place typically associated
with the Civil War, but the area certainly has real-life ties to the war
between the states.

“I
don't know the exact number,” said Jost, Director of the living history
event, “but somewhere in the vicinity of at least 2,000 or 3,000
individuals from Mifflin County served during the time of the Civil War. It was
quite a large number.”

On one side
of the creekside setting, the Union encampment staged a field hospital, an
embalming station, and chow over an open fire.

Jost's wife,
Crystal, playing the part of a soldier's wife, oversaw the food preperation.
“Whoever wins the battle today gets to have supper tonight,” she
said. “And tonight's supper is chicken corn soup.”

Somerset
County native Ralph Lincoln was on hand as Abraham Lincoln, noting a personal
distant blood relation to the 16th president.

“I wish
you well. And God go with you all,” Lincoln said, trying to encourage his
troops before the upcoming battle.

A few
hundred yards away, it was life in the field for Confederate soldiers; how they
lived, the weapons they used and the brother-like camaraderie they shared.

“Hip,
hip, hooray…hip, hip, hooray….hip,hip, hooray!,” the soldiers cheered
minutes before the battle.

The
highlight of the day was a “what-if” battle with Union troops
defending the rail manufacturing site at Freedom Forge in Burnham. The forge
had been an actual industrial site that some historians feel might have been on
General Lee's target list. And, on this day, in this battle, the fight went to
the rebels.

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