BATSTO - A Civil War camp came to life on Saturday at Batsto Village as reenactors from the 12th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Company K sought to preserve and teach the history of the war.
The 12th setup an authentic Civil War camp in the field behind the Batsto Visitor’s Center on Aug. 12. The camp included tents — each of which included authentic items of a Civil War soldier — a campfire and command tent. Visitors were welcome to walk through the camp and ask questions of the reenactors, who were all dressed in authentic Civil War outfits.
At one point, members of 12th “captured” Confederate prisoners and marched them through camp to their commanding officer. President Abraham Lincoln also made an appearance and the 12th asked him what they should do with prisoners. Lincoln felt that the 12th had things under control and left the choice to the commanding officer of the unit.
“I just enjoy Civil War history and educating people,” said Rich Haines, a reenactor of the 12th New Jersey for more than 20 years.
“The 12th distinguished themselves at Gettysburg. They helped to repulse (Confederate units) at Pickett’s Charge,” said Paul Saia, also a reenactor with the 12th New Jersey. According to Saia, the original 12th New Jersey was the only unit recruited from South Jersey.
“It brings awareness to the public. We are trying to keep their memories alive,” said Howard Salmon, also of the 12th New Jersey, when asked why living history reenactments of Civil War life are so important. “Don’t forget,” Haines implored about the importance of Civil War history.
If Chris Neff, 9, is any indication, the members of the 12th New Jersey need not worry about preserving the memory of the Civil War. Chris, who serves as the drummer boy of the 12th, reenacts with his parents and brother.
“He really loves history and is our little expert,” said Tina Neff, Chris’s mom. Each side of Chris’s family had ancestors who fought in the Civil War. Chris was the one who got the family into reenacting after seeing a parade in Gettysburg a few years ago.
“It was really everything, the outfits and playing army,” said Chris about why he was drawn to reenacting. “I love doing it.” Chris has even had the chance to camp on Civil War battlefields and he does not find it intimidating, “I think it is an honor,” he said.
For more information on the 12th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Company K, please visit its Facebook page under the same name or visit its website at 12thNJVICoK.org.