Civil War re-enactors spotlight personal side of war

2013-04-06T20:02:00Z 2013-04-07T00:17:06Z Civil War re-enactors spotlight personal side of warLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Dave Crane spent Saturday as his alter-ego, working to teach families about the local men who fought in the Civil War.

Crane and Steve Batey of Hammond shared information Saturday about Civil War soldier life with visitors to the Region United, Nation Divided: Civil War in the South Shore exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center.

Crane of Cedar Lake portrays Capt. Charles Bell, company commander for the Indiana Regiment Volunteer Infantry Company B.

Crane explained the use of a tear catcher, a glass vial a soldier would give to his wife or sweetheart before leaving for war. When the woman would cry for her beloved, she would catch the tears in the vial and cap it. When her soldier returned, she would give him the vial as a keepsake and proof of her devotion.

"Some guys are more interested in the Army stuff, but we want people to see the role the women played as well," Crane said.

Crane and Batey, who portrays Sgt. Edwin Sprague, showed visitors the tiny tents shared by two or three solders and the packs of gear they would carry into battle.

"It wasn't as bad as the weight a modern day soldier carries," Crane said.

Annmarie McDonagh, of Chicago, brought her 7-year-old daughter Nora Joan, 6-year-old son Seamus, and family friend J.J. Grealy, 8, to the exhibit Saturday.

"I just want them to understand the history and what it's all about and why we don't want war," McDonagh said.

The men said they feel an obligation to the soldiers who fought in the war to ensure their legacy is not forgotten.

"I feel like the history from the Civil War is lost," Crane said. "In school, the kids talk about it for a week, maybe two at most, and it's gone. It's important that the men who fought in the war, especially those from Indiana, are remembered."

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