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SHERIDAN – For members of Kearny’s Frontier Regulars, a local living history group, history is not an old dusty relic to put on a shelf.
“It’s really true when they say history repeats itself,” member Robert Wilson said. “That’s why we try to let people know what our culture is all about, where we came from and how we got here.”
Because history is so important, Kearny’s Frontier Regulars travels the state and the nation each summer to present living history programs about frontier military life. Costumes, canons, artillery and other artifacts make the demonstrations entertaining and educational, Wilson said.
Kearny’s Frontier Regulars will present a Civil War demonstration from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Whitney Commons. The program is part of the traveling exhibit, “Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War,” which will be on display at Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library through May 15.
Intended to make history a little more tangible, the demonstration will feature period costumes, displays of artillery used in the Civil War, cavalry equipment such as uniforms and saddles and a replica of an enlisted man’s tent. Members of Kearny’s Frontier Regulars will fire a mountain howitzer canon, which would not have been used in the Civil War but will give people a sense of the set-up that would have been used on the 1,800-pound field howitzers that exploded over the fields of the south.
The Lincoln exhibit, which covers Lincoln’s presidency, the Constitution and the Civil War, features photos, educational panels and a computer program that helps participants work through the key questions Lincoln faced during his presidency. The living history demonstration and a book discussion about “Killer Angels,” a fictionalized account of the battle of Gettysburg, are the final events to be offered as part of the exhibit. The book discussion will be at 7 p.m. May 2 in the Inner Circle at the library.
“The tie-in for the living history demonstration is that when soldiers were released after the American Civil War, many of them went home to places that had been decimated, so many of them came West for all the opportunities it offered,” Debbie Iverson, programming coordinator for the library, said.
Sheridan was founded by John D. Loucks, who named the town for General Philip Sheridan, who he served under in the Union Army in the Civil War in 1862. Loucks said Sheridan reminded him of the Shenandoah Valley with its elk and bison, according to Judy Slack, Wyoming Room librarian.
“Quite a few of the early settlers in Sheridan had come through the Civil War,” Iverson said. “It was not an absolute cause and effect, but there certainly was a flow through the nation after the war.”
Kearny’s Frontier Regulars is hoping to participate in the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg this June. It is the largest re-enactment in the United States, Wilson said, and would be a good chance for the Frontier Regulars to represent the Sheridan area and Fort Phil Kearny. The living history group is always looking for new members and sponsors to help them keep history alive by bringing it to life through demonstrations, re-enactments and good ol’ fashioned fun with campouts, dances and target practice.
For more information on the Kearny Frontier Regulars, call (307) 684-7136. For more information on “Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War” call the library at 674-8585. Both the demonstration and the exhibit are free and open to the public.