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updated: 5/15/2014 5:06 PM

Flash back to 1860s during Civil War Days at Naper Settlement

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  • Civil War Days returns this weekend to Naper Settlement with mock battles on both Saturday and Sunday.

    Civil War Days returns this weekend to Naper Settlement with mock battles on both Saturday and Sunday.
    Daily Herald file photo

By Donna DeFalco, Naper Settlement

Civil War Days returns to Naper Settlement this weekend with mock battles scheduled for 2:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, at the living-history museum.

More than 300 re-enactors will portray the life and times of soldiers and civilians of the 1860s during the annual event at the settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville.

In addition to the daily battles there will be infantry and artillery drills, first-person historical interpretations, period music, recruitment rallies and drills, a cooking show and living history demonstrations.

Visitors to the family friendly event can meet famous people of the past, including President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for youths ages 4 to 12.

Presentations will focus on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with an emphasis on the events of 1864. Paul Wood, who portrays Gen. Lee, and Larry Werline, who portrays Gen. Grant, are members of the performance troupe Grant, Lee, Custer & Co.

During Civil War Days, these titans of history will discuss their strategies of 1864 and the pivotal battles of that year. Troupe members Andy Hare as Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and Tom Peacock as Gen. George Armstrong Custer will talk about the critical role of the cavalry.

"Some of the most vicious fighting of the war took place in 1864," Wood said. "The Overland Campaign, which was fought from the Wilderness to Richmond, began to close the door on the Confederacy."

Several new presentations this year will focus on women's roles during the war, including an "Interview with the First Ladies," featuring Donna Daniels as Mary Todd Lincoln and Roberta Grenz as Varina Davis.

"They had fairly similar backgrounds -- both were well-educated, very knowledgeable about politics and were able to help their husbands advance their careers," Daniels said. "Both also lost a child while their husbands were president and both had family members fighting for the other side."

Mary Todd Lincoln and the relationship with her half-sister, Emilie Todd Helm, who was married to a Confederate general, will be explored in "Divided." Valerie Gugala as Mary and Gina Payne as Emilie will portray the two sisters.

"Our presentation really illustrates how the war not only divided the country, but divided families, too," Gugala said.

Another new presentation is the "Great American Medicine Show with Music, Magic and Mirth," featuring Professor B.T. Farquar, portrayed by Sanford Lee. He is assisted by his wife, Mary Kay Lee, who portrays Polecat Annie, a character Lee said is inspired by Annie Oakley.

They will perform three shows each day, and in between, Annie will teach juggling and Victorian games, and do palm readings, which were a form of entertainment in the 1860s.

"I have always had a great love of American history," Sanford Lee said. "Our show offers a little storytelling and comedy and old-timey music and magic. Every show is different."

For more information about Civil War Days in Naperville, visit