Wasioja seeks volunteers for Civil War re-enactment
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
WASIOJA — The drummer boy in the blue coat and hat knew his job in the storm and chaos of battle — communicate between officers and men.
When Civil War soldiers fired their muskets, smoke and noise would obliterate yells or signals but not the sound of a drum. So the little boys with the big drums would beat out advance, fire at will, retreat and other commands, said Samuel Moenning, 10.
The Hayfield fourth-grader is a fan of all things about the great war, the most horrific and important war in the nation’s history. He knows and reads about the great battles, such as Antietam, which was the bloodiest single day. "It’s weird how 12,000 men just got killed in one day."
And he knows why it was fought: "If the north didn’t react to the South rebelling and let them become their own country, we wouldn’t have a country we have today."
What makes him hesitate was whether the horrors were worth the gain. "I guess we could have talked with the South a little bit more than just going full-blown into battle and wiping out towns and stuff — I’m half and half," he said.
He was also a bit hesitant when asked what he, or his character, did in the Civil War. He knows he marched to Red Wing or Fort Snelling but wasn’t sure if he served in battle. "I’m new at this, OK?" he said.
He will, however, be at the recruiting station in Wasioja, the only one remaining west of the Mississippi River, May 1-3 as part of the recruitment for volunteers to serve in a 2011 re-enactment of a battle and other war history.
Samuel got interested in the war after reading a "Magic Treehouse" book on the war, in which the characters travel back in time. He thought about how that war, with most soldiers firing muskets, "would be more of a challenge" than modern war with machine guns.
His mother, Donna Moenning, said Samuel "does take it very seriously, the historical aspects and such. He’s a pretty thoughtful young man."
Last summer, Samuel set up an encampment with 20 friends to show what the war was like — 10 wore blue T-shirts, 10 gray. They ate beans and biscuits and beef and had a chance to run around. Samuel told them about the war, why it started and about the lives of soldiers.
It gave Samuel a chance to live history just a little bit more and put on the blue uniform and hat.
He likes that.
"I don’t know to explain this but I feel something when I put it on," he said. "I can’t really explain … I think it’s like a sense of pride, duty to country."
Some day, the boy in the blue coat and hat would like to wear the uniform of a U.S. soldier and go to West Point.
Staff writer John Weiss travels the region’s back roads looking for people, places and things of interest for this column. If you have ideas, call him at (507) 285-7749 or e-mail him at Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN.
Volunteers for the 2011 re-enactment in Wasioja of Civil War battles and other events are asked to enlist May 1-3 at the old recruiting station in Wasioja. You can also see three encampments of re-enactors at the station. Hours are 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 1, to see a camp being set up; 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. May 2 and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 3 for those who want to enlist or see the encampment. For more information, go to www.civilwarmn.com.