KING CITY — Canon fire, brother versus brother, Harriet Tubman, President Abraham Lincoln — San Lorenzo County Park was busy Friday as Chalone Peaks Middle School eighth-graders re-enacted the Civil War.
Students dressed in Union and Confederate uniforms to re-enact the First Bull Run, which was a battle that took place July 16, 1861, under the Brigade General Irvin McDowell. The Union Army marched from Washington against the Confederate Army, who was behind Bull Run.
McDowell attacked the Confederate left flank on the 21st. The Confederate soldiers were able to break the Union right flank but the battle raged on and Lincoln’s administration was convinced the war would be a long and costly affair with battle casualties estimated to be 5,000.
Following the first battle on Bull Run, the students broke off into grounds and learned about reloading canons, what it was like to be a slave, about being a soldier, and more.
“It was fun, the whole dying part and coming back to life,” said Eduardo Ochoa, who played a Union soldier.
Because there were strong winds on May 12, the “ammo” for the small toy guns kept blowing away, said Anna Valencia.
Throughout the battle on Bull Run and the second battle before Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address included canon fire.
Zoie Roseli liked interacting with the many re-enactors who were part of the event.
“What I liked about the Civil War was the battle and the canons,” Jennifer Lugo said.
Harriet Tubman, played by Nancy Whittle, helped more than 300 slaves escape slavery to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
“Slaves were property,” Whittle said. “You were not considered a human being, you were considered someone’s property.”
According to Whittle, slaves couldn’t read or write, but some secretly taught themselves to do so, though Tubman was not one that could. The consequences of a slave master finding out that a slave could read or write was being whipped, beaten or killed.
The idea for the Civil War Re-enactment came from history teacher Chris Miller, who brought it to John Miller and Robert “Bob” Walton. From there, the idea grew to be an 18-year tradition.