American History

Civil War re-enactment visits Rim Country

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Photo courtesy of We Make History

The Battle of Payson, a Civil War re-enactment, will be presented between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., Saturday, April 4 at Green Valley Park by We Make History. The story has the Confederate Army garrisoned in Payson and the Union Army on the attack in an attempt to capture the community for the North.

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Photo courtesy of We Make History

While there never was a Civil War battle in Payson, many of the early settlers in the community had either direct experience in the War Between the States or had relatives who participated on one side or the other. The opportunity to learn from a re-enactment gives a special perspective.

Where would your loyalty lie?

What if Payson had been at the crossroads of the grand drama of the American Civil War?

Suspend your modern-day reality and go back in time this weekend at Green Valley Park for the Battle of Payson, a Civil War reenactment to be presented starting at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 4.

This special event goes beyond a mere re-enactment. It will immerse you in the midst of a large cast of characters in 1862 as they face the many challenges of both combat and civilian life at the crossroads of the War Between the States.

It is spring 1862 and this is a border town. The citizens of Payson have been of divided sympathies in the great conflict between North and South. Cries of “Save the Union!” and “States Rights and the Constitution!” are heard with equal passion on the streets of this formerly peaceful town.

But then came news that Confederate artillery had fired on Fort Sumter — and that a Northern army had invaded Virginia.

Rhetoric quickly gave way to organized force.

Confederates were first in garrisoning Payson, but the Union has also recognized the town’s strategic value and has sent a force to drive the Southerners out and claim Payson for the North.

Will the North succeed in capturing the town? Or will Southern forces mount a successful defense?

If the Union forces succeed in driving out the Confederates will they be viewed as conquerors or as liberators?

It is a question of perspective, a question upon which the townspeople will have much to say.

Where would your loyalty lie?

We Make History presents “The Battle of Payson” — a first-person, interactive drama featuring soldiers and civilians of the North and South, live battle re-enactments and interaction with historic townspeople, historic military personnel and renowned historic personalities such as President Abraham Lincoln and General Robert E. Lee and then finally a special tribute to all of America’s veterans both past and present.

Saturday, April 4 the public is encouraged to arrive at 11 a.m. at Green Valley Park for a family-oriented day of education, inspiration and highly interactive living history.

Local food vendors and merchants will be present. Festivities are planned until 5 p.m. and there is no admission.

“We are very pleased to be working with such a professional group of actors,” said Cameron Davis, director of Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

We Make History is a nonprofit educational organization devoted to family-friendly education that is creative and interactive, making inspirational use of history and the arts by honoring those who went before us. Nationally known and nationally active, We Make History has served families, communities, schools, historic sites and more in its educational mission through many of its historical re-enactments.

We Make History was formed in Arizona, but is

now “bi-coastal” — offering events and involvement on the East Coast in Virginia. Grand historic balls, historical re-enactments, family-focused re-enacting groups, workshops, seminars, speeches and dramatic portrayals are just some of the means utilized by the organization.

We Make History is particularly known for its historic dances. Each historic ball is set during a certain themed time period such as Jacobean, Baroque, Georgian, Colonial, Regency, Civil War or Victorian. Over the years We Make History has helped thousands to become interested and involved in historic dance, fashion and etiquette, and many of these people have found inspiration toward being ladies and gentlemen, toward living at a higher level.

One of the organizations annual re-enacting events, the American Heritage Festival, is the largest multi-era educational living history gathering to take place in the Southwest and is gaining national attention.

Its family-friendly historical re-enacting groups involve men, women and children. Among the organization’s groups are the re-enactors of George Washington’s Army of the American Revolution and The 1st Virginia Infantry and The 1st Minnesota Infantry of the Civil War.

Its 1st Virginia Infantry alone, involves more than 100 persons and has won acclaim and an unprecedented honor on the East Coast.

The organization is in the early planning stages of building a Center for Heritage, Education and the Arts, which will include a historic ballroom, performing arts center, formal garden, educational space and even a small living-history village for ongoing historical re-enacting.

The We Make History family is made up of homeschooling families, living historians, couples, singles, high school and college students, church groups, educators, political figures, business owners, doctors, dentists, lawyers, actors, musicians, ministers, farmers, television producers, ballroom, ballet and folk dancers and other enthusiastic people looking for the elegant, formal and respectful experience of another time. The great majority dress in period-style clothing, recreating historic fashions as per the period setting of the particular historic event.

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