For a family day out that's not only fun but also educational, nostalgic, exciting and full of historical drama, make a note on your calendar for the weekend after Mother's day and get yourselves down to the Old Bradford Pioneer Village, Nashua and enjoy the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Old Bradford.
As the Confederate battle flag flutters in the breeze and the air is filled with wisps of campfire smoke and the strains of Dixie music, the re-enactment society time machine kicks in. Young men dressed in authentic vintage-style military uniform and carrying antique firearms stroll across the battleground for all the world like ghosts from the past in their thick grey uniforms, slouch hats tipped against the afternoon sunshine.
Authenticity is all-important. The Brogan shoes, woolen uniforms, leather backpacks and canvas A-frame tents are all paid for by the re-enactors themselves and there is clearly great pride in getting everything absolutely accurate in honour of their predecessors. The re-enactors are all unpaid volunteers and are passionate about their country's history and the preservation of its cultural heritage. Many can actually trace their family line back to ancestors who fought in the Civil War and some even play the part of a relative who was alive during the days of the war.
The Civil War re-enactment event takes place over two days and provides visitors with an opportunity to learn all about what life was like for a soldier in the 1860s. Both Union and Confederate encampments are open to the public during the event and you can take a step back in time to wander freely among soldiers and period-dressed civilians. There are demonstrations of open-fire cooking, medical treatments of the time and even marching drills. Listen to famous speeches of the time, read important letters between military strategists and love letters to young girls waiting for their soldier sweethearts to return safely home.
All the re-enactors are experts on all aspects of 1860s life from weaponry, ammunition and battle strategy to surgical procedures of the time, sanitation and disease and they are more than happy to answer any questions you might have. The most exciting of the demonstrations is the battle re-enactment itself where live mortars and artillery are used as the two sides march into battle.
The Old Bradford Pioneer Village Museum is situated on Highway 346 east of Nashua and is open to visitors between May and October, from 9am to 5pm, closed on Sundays. The museum office can be contacted on 641-435-2567.