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Civil War recruitment 'drive' set in Lisbon

September 18, 2012

LISBON - Like Uncle Sam before him, Jason Leggett wants you!

The Lisbon resident is a member of the 66th Ohio Reenactors, a group of local Civil War re-enactors hosting a mock military enlistment in town on Saturday. Leggett said the event is to be a living history, with re-enactors and other participants showing what a recruitment drive would have looked and sounded like in 1862 Lisbon.

They would also like for the public to show up in Civil War-era clothing, if possible, and participate in the event by becoming part of the crowd that would have listened to the speeches used to encourage area men to enlist in the Union Army.

"Kids in history classes today, they really don't talk about recruiting, they don't talk much about the homefront. They only talk about the battles," he said.

Recruiters, often soldiers themselves, would travel from town to town, and with the help of community leaders, would hold a enlistment drive that featured motivational speeches.

"They would have talked about patriotism, helping the cause, preserving the Union. And the local townsmen would have given similar speeches in favor, but you would have the occasional speaker against," Leggett said.

One speaker might have been Dr. George McCook of the "Fighting McCooks," who will be portrayed by Ken Schreffler.

Participants in the crowd will represent the various political opinions of the day and they will not be shy about sharing them during the re-enactment. "The crowd will have all types of views. You'll have some with Copperhead sentiments and then some who are Southern sympathizers," Leggett said.

He said people joined the Army for various reasons besides patriotism and that they were fighting for a noble cause. Some were looking for adventure, while others needed the money.

"They were going to make $15 a month in the military, more than they could make at home working on the farm," Leggett said.

The government was also offering re-enlistment bonuses for those men whose short-term enlistment had expired. "I've seen some as much as $300. That was big money" back then, he said.

Leggett said enlistment would have been a tough sell on Sept. 22, 1862, because the war was not going well for the North, and the Union Army had suffered significant casualties at a number of battles.

"The Union was losing just about every battle and they needed troops in the field ... Once the body counts after Shiloh, once the Shiloh records came back, no one wanted to join," he said.

Leggett hopes the event will also serve as a real recruitment drive for the 66th Ohio, which is looking for new members, as well as providing a snapshot of what might have been happening in Lisbon 150 years ago.

"It teaches the people something about what went on beyond the battlefield that is often not covered," he said.

The recruitment re-enactment is to be held at the gazebo from 10:30 a.m. to noon, followed by a 90 minute break during which the public can view Civil War window displays in the building next to Bye & Bye Hardware, the Happy Clipper Hair Salon, the historic train depot, and the genealogy office on South Market Street.

The public can also visit the re-enactment camp to be pitched in the vacant lot at the corner of West Washington and South Jefferson Street.

The event will resume at 2 p.m. at the encampment, where new recruits will be instructed in the manual of arms and basic drill.



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