Civil War Re-enactment Explores Canadian Connections
Did you know that more than 53,000 Canadians fought in the Union army during the American Civil War? During this conflict, twenty-nine Canadians were awarded the Medal of Honour for gallantry. Four Canadians, Henry Benham, Jacob Cox, John Farnsworth and John McNeil, attained the rank of General in the Union Army. William Winer Cooke joined the 24th New York Cavalry in 1862. Fourteen years later, while serving as General Custer's adjutant, he perished at Little Big Horn, and is buried in Hamilton, Ontario. Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott, born in Toronto in 1837, completed his medical degree in his home city at the age of 23, becoming the country's first black doctor. Offering his services to the Union Army in 1863, he was appointed surgeon. Abbott was later given responsibility for Camp Baker and Freedmans' Hospitals in Washington, DC, where he met and became close friends with Abraham Lincoln.
More than eighty Civil War re-enactors and historians set up camp at Westfield on Sunday June 24th, allowing visitors the opportunity to learn about some of the the Canadian connections to the war. Authentically dressed and equipped Union and Confederate re-enactors, sleeping in canvas tents and cooking over campfires, allowed a glimpse into the life of soldiers, camp followers, merchants and civilians during this tumultuous time. Exciting and dramatic demonstrations of artillery and cavalry were topped off by a battle in the meadow. The day was a great opportunity for photographers, who snapped away happily.