It wasn’t uncommon to hear the sound of cannon fire echo across Trailhead Park in Cottage Grove over the weekend. As part of the 60th Annual Bohemia Mining Days, a Civil War reenactment group set up camp to give people a glimpse of the past.
Members of the 1st Oregon Volunteer Cavalry and 2nd U.S. Artillery were dressed in period-accurate clothing and uniforms and set up four tents in Trailhead Park which included: beds, tables, chairs, décor, extra clothing and a cooking stove. Two horses also accompanied the group to represent the mounts used in the 1st Oregon Volunteer Cavalry.
Two cannons were present as well — one of which was fully functional — and visitors were given a chance to fire it. Gunpowder was pounded into the barrel by the reenactors, who then offered participants a tiny metal charge to place in a vent hole on top of the barrel. A cord was then pulled taut, setting off a thunderous charge that filled the air with a cloud of smoke. No cannonballs were fired, only blank shots, but the experience was just as realistic.
The reenactment was put on by a coalition of three separate reenacting clubs which are the 2nd US Artillery, The Maryland Line and the 1st Oregon Cavalry/4th US Cavalry.
Setting up this display was no easy task and took months to arrange. Preparations included everything from inspecting the park, to ensuring there was enough space for the camp, to getting authorization from the police department.
“We had to get everything worked out and make sure the police knew we were going to be firing the gun and different things. We had to have room for the horses and water and all of that,” said camp organizer Tom Warrick. “It’s a logistics you gotta go through but it’s really not too bad.”
Cindy Weeldreyer, Bohemia Mining Days Coordinator, helped make sure the reenactment made it to Cottage Grove.
“She came down last year and saw us in Oakland ... Cindy came and asked, ‘Can we get you to come to Bohemia Mining Days?” recalled Warrick.
A group of 10 volunteers were able to make it to Cottage Grove for the weekend. Some couldn’t be there because of a big event in Washington. Linda Steffen, one such volunteer, spoke about the history of the women and children in the Civil War, and the reenactment group’s goal to honor all those who lost their lives during that time.
“You would find, when the armies came through, the mothers would sometimes embrace these boys that may have been fighting their own children because it was somebody’s child,” Steffen said. “As a mother, you have a different feeling for the casualty of war. They would hope that somewhere, somebody was doing something for their child.”
“If you’re interested in history, this is a hands-on experience to see what was there, what was used and find out more information about it,” said Warrick.