Naper Settlement displays Civil War lifestyle
Kean Wicklund visited Civil War Days at Naper Settlement because he likes learning about wars.
The two-day event, which opened Saturday and continues today, offers history buffs the chance to watch a re-enactment of a Civil War battle, meet an Abraham Lincoln impersonator and learn about a soldier's lifestyle during the early 1860s.
"I'm just interested in wars, so I like to look around," said Kean, 12, of Aurora, while browsing a display of medicines used during the War between the States.
Union medic Maj. Orange B. Ormsby, portrayed by Bob Fox of Oak Forest, showed Kean what a Civil War era bullet would look like before being shot and after being removed from a soldier's limb.
The soft lead bullets used at the time, Fox said, would not go straight through bones, but travel up them, causing them to shatter.
"The only thing you could do if you got hit in a bone is for me to amputate, otherwise the gangrene would set in," Fox told Kean and his parents.
As a light drizzle came down late Saturday morning, visitors under the hospital tent jumped then laughed, startled by an unexpected boom of artillery from the battle brewing on the settlement's lawn.
Teams of about five soldiers stood firing cannons at the settlement's fort.
During the Civil War, soldiers would fire cannons by loading a tin can filled with round bullets into the barrel and effectively turning the machine into a huge shotgun, said Greg Sylvester of Crest Hill, who portrayed a Union soldier Saturday.
And the pretend result of that cannon fire: a pile of fake arm and leg stubs sitting at the edge of the medical tent, offering visitors the chance to touch the severed limbs for payment of $1.
For those not interested in blood and guts, other areas feature demonstrations of campfire cooking techniques and soap-making, and vendors offer items such as Civil War stationery with designs representing different states.
Normal Naper Settlement areas, including blacksmith and print shops, also are open during Civil War Days, which ends at 4 p.m. today.