U.S. Cavalry Cpl. Kit Barlow, left, leads a “kiddie drill” at Eagle Point’s recent Heritage Day celebration.

Civil War re-enactors move to Stewart State Park

When the blasts of cannon crack through the early morning air at Lost Creek Lake in June, late-sleeping campers at Stewart State Park had better be ready for war.

The flash of gunpowder from muzzle-loaded rifles, the barrage of artillery, and the dismounted cavalry charges with sabers raised high will depict the latest confrontation between "Johnny Reb" and "Billy Yank," in an annual re-enactment presented by the Cascade Civil War Society.

The event, which was held for years near Lake Creek, has moved.

This year, the group is camping 20 miles due north at Stewart State Park, where four noisy scuffles have been scheduled for the June 16-17 weekend.

Kit Barlow, chairman of the Rogue Valley chapter of the society, said they have about 60 re-enactors on the roster now, and just like a modern army, they're always looking for new recruits. A visitor is likely to be shown enlistment papers more than once.

"There really is no special requirement to join," said Barlow. "You just need a love of history. You pick it up as you go along.

"When I joined about eight years ago, all I knew was there was blue and gray, and that was it."

Barlow, accurately dressed as a corporal in the U.S. Cavalry, was leading a "kiddie drill" at Eagle Point's recent Heritage Day celebration.

From early teens to toddlers, the children formed a line, standing at attention while holding wooden rifles on their shoulders.

Barlow ran the young volunteers through the manual of arms and then marched them around the parking lot. Like most recruits, many didn't know their right foot from their left.

"I do this after every battle," he said. "I go out and get kids from the audience. They really love it."

Immaculately dressed as a Confederate 1st Lieutenant in Maryland's cavalry, Jim Kingery, of Eagle Point, said he started re-enacting 15 years ago hoping to preserve history.

"You choose what you want to do," he said. "Your rank, your unit, how you dress — it's all up to you."

Uniforms and equipment are either purchased or handmade, with accuracy being very important.

"I've seen people start out as low as $300, with a used uniform and a borrowed rifle," Kingery said, "but I've also seen people drop $3,000."

Kingery said joining the group is an educational experience. "It's a place to learn things about the war that you never hear in school," he said. "It's also a tribute to our veterans."

Not everyone who re-enacts has to be a soldier.

Jonna Bolenbaugh has been recreating her third great grandmother for nine years, by wearing a handmade 1860s-style dress. Bob, her husband, acts as a town marshal.

"We go to the schools quite a bit and do living history for the children," said Jonna Bolenbaugh. "It's really a lot of fun and you meet some wonderful people."

Barlow said that in addition to the troopers there will be medical and merchant tents in the civilian encampment area, period musicians and plenty of re-enactors offering raffle tickets for a replica 1861 Springfield rifle and a Colt Walker pistol.

Bill Miller is a freelance writer living in Shady Cove. Reach him at

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