Thousands expected to attend Civil War reenactments - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Thousands expected to attend Civil War reenactments

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PERRY CO. -- This weekend at Pyramid State Recreation Center, you can take a step back into the 1860s with Civil War reenactments which are open to the public. 

On Friday, nearly 1,100 students from across the region will watch cavalry, infantry, and artillery units in action on the battlefield. They will also take part in educational demonstrations on the era's lifestyle and military techniques. 

Events taking place on Saturday and Sunday are open to the public. Visitors can get a firsthand look of Confederate, Union, and civilian camps on Saturday at 8 a.m. with the first battle reenactment taking place at 10 a.m.

On Sunday at 9 a.m. there will be a church service and then the last reenactment will portray the Battle of Belmont, which many southern Illinois service members fought in. 

Thousands of reenactors are expected to take part. Some of those are Major Wesley Neeley and the rest of Neeley's Roughnecks artillery Battalion, who drove from Texas and New Mexico. Neeley says his family fought on both sides of the war and the group dresses up as Confederate and Union soldiers depending on what is needed, "Up here I think there is a shortage of confederates, so we get to be Confederates."

His ancestors were all cavalry men, but Neeley was always drawn to artillery. "I was in the Marine Corps and I was native to it. Kind had a taste for it," he recalls. 

The group will be out on the battlefield firing off a 3-inch harness rifle and limber. "It was one of the first rifles cannons of the Civil War. We have a lot of fun with it," Neeley says with a smile.

Over at the Union camp is Terry Leggans from Willisville, he's been interested in Civil War history since a young child. "My father, when we were little, would take us to battle fields all over the Midwest and southern states," he recalls. 

Leggans was inspired by the Battle of Belmont to portray a local soldier, "Joshiah Reynolds, Company C. He was a private in the Civil War. He joined up in Jackson county." 

He brought along his son to pass down the tradition, "Come out here and play and not have to worry about the T.V. and the iPads." 

The event is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $10 for people ages 13 and up, and is free for children 12 and under. For more information click here.

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