Location: Jackson, Michigan
General Description: Every year, Jackson, Michigan, holds a Civil War Muster where Civil War enthusiasts gather to stage a couple of battles, put on demonstrations, listen to lectures, and generally enjoy a weekend during late summer in southern Michigan. Visitors can watch demonstrations on cooking, medical treatments, blacksmithing, sewing, and other activities. Many of the products produced can also be purchased. Throughout the weekend are invited lectures by noted historians, as well as, reenactments of speeches by historical figures. The highlight of the weekend are reenactments of significant battles that took place during the Civil War where Michigan regiments played significant roles. This year the battles were the Battle of Bull Run at Centreville Heights in 1861 and the Battle of Malvern Hill in 1862.
1) This is a pleasant way to spend a day watching all of the people in period costumes either walking around or conducting demonstrations of various camp skills. There are multiple tents or booths selling all kinds of crafts or providing historical information about the Civil War.
2) Throughout the weekend are invited lecturers and performers on many subjects about the Civil War. We attended a lecture by a high school teacher and historian talking about the Michigan regiments and notable Michigan officers during the war.
3) The most interesting demonstration was watching the cavalry doing their field exercises where they move across the field in a tight group executing turns and different formations as a group. They even had a training course set up to practice their sabre skills and shooting while on horseback.
4) The highlight of each day is a reenactment of a Civil War battle. Of course the battle did not occur here, so all they could really demonstrate was the general plan of attack. I suspect that every battle they reenact looks very much the same. The battle opens up with cannons firing at each other from across the field. Then a large Union force marches onto the field in direct opposition to a ridiculously small Confederate force. They fire their muskets at each other with a few falling to the ground every once in a while. Periodically their small cavalry unit races on onto the field to trade shots with the Confederates before racing back. After a while, the Confederates retreat and the Union army holds the field. It was still a lot of fun to watch, even though it had very little to do with the actual battle. They even had a loudspeaker giving a play by play announcement of the action!!