Charlie Troutner
Special to The Gardner News
Take a step back in history as the Gardner Historical Museum presents a “Civil War Expo”, on Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event on June 8, will provide a very interesting and educational experience for the public to better understand and appreciate the tragic events of America’s bloodiest conflict. Over 620,000 soldiers died during the Civil War.
“We are hoping to present a very detailed picture of what life was like during Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War, and want our visitors to walk away with a better sense of what really happened 150 years ago,” Shera Herman, Expo planning committee member, said.
The main entrance to this event, which is being held in conjunction with Gardner’s Festival on the Trails, is actually at the museum’s other property, the Bray House, directly north of the museum, at 207 W. Shawnee.
The Expo planning committee has been hard at work since January planning the event. The museum has held two smaller events of this nature in the past, but this is the first year that a larger and more detailed event has been held.
At the Expo event on June 8, there will be historical reenactors, portraying such prominent figures as President Abraham Lincoln, General Ulysess S. Grant, General Robert E. Lee, General James A. Garfield, and abolitionist John Brown.
There will also be live Civil War era music, a Civil War campground, several artifact presenters, regional and local authors, craft artisans, and vendors selling Civil War related merchandise.
One special highlight of the event will be periodic cannon loading and musket firing demonstrations throughout the day. In addition, the General Grant and General Lee reenactors will present two speaking sessions, at 12:30 p.m. and again at 1:50 p.m.
There is also a Civil War exhibit inside the museum, at 204 W. Main. This exhibit continues through June 18, and will be open the entire day of the Civil War Expo. The exhibit features several educational aspects of the American Civil War, which was fought from 1861 to 1865.
Some of the Civil War artifacts on display that day include medical supplies, a soldier’s personal belongings he carried in the field of battle, a large exhibit of Confederate items, Civil War flags, and guns and swords of all kinds from the Civil War.
There will be free pioneer wagon rides to the museum from the Festival on the Trails event three blocks away. Visitors can board the wagon on East Washington Street, between Cornerstone Park and the Johnson County Fairgrounds. There will be museum staff members there, dressed in period clothing, distributing Civil War Expo event programs.
The authors at the Expo will speak about their recently released books, but each one will also discuss different aspects of “Bleeding Kansas”…the several year time period preceding the Civil War. Many historians believe that the events that took place on the Missouri-Kansas border in the 1850’s, eventually led to the beginning of the American Civil War.
For more information on this event, please call the Gardner Historical Museum at 856-4447, or the Expo event coordinator at 893-6270.
The Civil War Expo is being sponsored by Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.
Editor’s Note: The writer of the article is a coordinator for the Civil War Expo event.