Civil War history will come alive May 21-23.

That will explain why “President Lincoln” will be in Milton on May 21 and 22, and the sound of cannon fire will be heard.

After taking a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Civil War Living History Days, an event with free admission and free parking, returns.

With reenactments, demonstrations and scheduled programs, Milton Historical Society Executive Director Keighton Klos said, “It’s a unique experience and opportunity for people to engage with history on a more personal level.”

For history to have an impact, Klos said, “it’s got to get you on an emotional, personal level. When you meet reenactors and you see what they’re doing and they can talk to you in much more detail, it makes it a lot more about individual people. And, you realize that these were people who had hopes, fears, dreams, lives they wanted to get back to (after the war).

“I think it’s really important for everybody but children especially to engage with history that way. That’s what makes an impact.”

Traditionally a couple thousand middle school students made Friday during Civil War Days their field trip day. That’s not the case this year. Students who are home schooled might visit, but Friday will primarily be a day for reenactors to set up camp in North Goodrich Park, across the street from the Milton House Museum, 18 S. Janesville St.

The reenactors are members of Company K, a group of Civil War enthusiasts dedicated to keeping military and civilian history alive through living history. The group’s primary portrayal is of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Iron Brigade, Army of the Potomac.

New this year are the following presentations that will require tickets:

• Hoopskirts to Bustles, 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 22 -- From undergarments to bonnets, this presentation will explore the world of fashion at the time of the Civil War. Cost is $5. Meet at the Milton House.

• Historic Weaponry, 1 p.m. Saturday, May 22 -- View a number of historic weapons held in the Milton House Museum collections. Ranging from swords to rifles, this presentation will interest any weapons enthusiast. Cost is $5. Meet at the Milton House.

• Living Cemetery Tour, 2 p.m. Saturday, May 22 – During a tour of the Milton Cemetery, interact with a select number of residents of the cemetery. Hear the stories of people who lived and died in Milton and their Civil War experiences. The tour will last approximately one hour, and guests will be required to be on their feet for the duration of the tour. Cost is $10. Meet at the cemetery on North Janesville Street.

Advance reservations are preferred by calling 608-868-7772.

Although “President Lincoln” will be in town, dinner with Lincoln will not take place this year.

Civil War Days general admission is free thanks to sponsorships from local businesses.

A food truck will be on site and bottled soda will be available for purchase.

The Milton House will be available for tours and the gift shop will be open.

Saturday, May 22

  • 10 a.m. – Opening ceremony
  • 10:30 a.m. – Lincoln speech and announcement of coloring contest winners
  • 11 a.m. – Artillery/infantry demonstration
  • 11:30 a.m. – Hoopskirts to Bustles (tickets required)
  • 12:30 p.m. – Artillery/Infantry demonstration
  • 1 p.m. – Historic Weaponry (tickets required)
  • 2 p.m. – Living Cemetery Tour (tickets required)
  • 3:30 p.m. – Artillery/infantry demonstration
  • 4 p.m. – Camp closing
  • 5 p.m. – Wine and history trivia at Fermenting Cellars Winery. (Tickets available from Eventbrite.)

Sunday, May 23

  • 10 a.m. – Worship service with soldiers
  • Noon – Artillery/infantry demonstration
  • 1 p.m. – Milton Junction Cemetery tour with Rod Hilton
  • 2:30 p.m. – Closing ceremony
  • 3 p.m. – Artillery/infantry demonstration

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