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The Civil War comes to Mifflin County - abc27 WHTM

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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