Civil War Days is an annual tradition in Naperville

  • Hear the cannon roar at Civil War Days from May 21-22 at Naper Settlement!Donna DeFalco

    Hear the cannon roar at Civil War Days from May 21-22 at Naper Settlement!Donna DeFalco

Dawn Hartman
Updated 5/16/2016 8:29 PM

Naperville, IL --Step back in time to a historic Civil War encampment where visitors can meet famous figures of the past and experience firsthand a turbulent time period in our nation's history from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 21-22 at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Hundreds of reenactors participate, staging a battle each day at 2:30 p.m. complete with raging cannons and marching infantry. Learn how the nation changed through the insights of legendary people who made a difference in history. Day-of-event tickets are $15 adults; $10 youth (ages 4-12). Save on advance tickets; children under 4 and Naper Settlement members are free. Visit

In the fight against slavery, Harriet Tubman was one of the most famous abolitionists. Her nickname was "Moses" because she helped hundreds of enslaved people escape to the North and Canada through an extensive network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Actress and historian Pam Welcome, who portrays Tubman, will take visitors on a heart-rending spiritual journey where they will hear about how the institution of slavery affected human beings and how that information correlated with Harriet's life and her experiences.


Welcome has portrayed Tubman for 24 years and feels a deep connection with her.

"I think about the horrific trials and tribulations that my ancestors and other African American ancestors had to endure just to survive," she said.

In honor of Tubman's legacy, the United States Treasury will feature her image on the $20 bill in the year 2020.

"It's a long time coming," Welcome said. "This country is finally recognizing the integral role that African Americans have played in the struggle to help make this country what it is today."

For the first time, the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band will be performing at Civil War Days. Originally mustered in 1861 at State Normal University (now Illinois State University) in Bloomington, Ill., the band was re-created in 1996 by musicians from Central Illinois.

Band Manager Darcy Ackley said, "We will have 16 players dressed in authentic reproduction uniforms that play on antique horns, playing the hits of the 1860s."

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The band not only plays music, but there will be commentary about the songs and the Civil War and singing. Their programs are family-friendly and the band members are very approachable.

"We are very excited to be participating in the Naperville event," she said. "Our motto is 'History through Music' and we live it."

During the presentation, "Rise of the Generals," learn about many of the important generals before they became famous.

"The generals will talk about the beginning of the war, why they chose the side they chose and where they were when the war began," said Paul Wood, who portrays Gen. Robert E. Lee. "All the officers will be the rank they were when the war began."

Wood said that when Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and J.E.B. Stewart graduated from West Point, they swore allegiance to their state, not the United States.


"The states pretty much operated independently 150 years ago," he said. "A lot of them had their own money systems, and they wrote their own laws in many cases. They felt like they were sovereign states and that is why they felt they had a right to leave the union."

Naper Settlement's historic buildings will be open for touring during Civil War Days. For more information and to purchase tickets,visit or call (630) 420-6010.

About Naper Settlement and the Naperville Heritage Society

Naper Settlement is an award-winning outdoor museum, nationally accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, set on 12 magnificent acres in the heart of Naperville, where history comes to play and the community comes to connect. For more information, visit or call (630) 420-6010.