Civil War reenactment, Haunted Mile in Mason

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/22/2021 11:31:06 AM

This weekend, Barrett Hill Farm in Mason will be transformed into a scene straight from the Civil War. At least 40 historical reenactment actors will descend upon the farm to set up camps, cook all their food over open fires, and even engage in battle. This will coincide with Barrett Hill Farm’s annual Haunted Mile, a spooky walk through the farm Friday and Saturday evenings. This year the Haunted Mile will pass by fire-lit union and confederate encampments, a cornfield with soldiers hiding like ghosts, and other scary surprises.

Tom Connell, current captain of the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and unit chaplain, said the reenactors will spend the whole weekend fully immersed in the Civil War era. The actors wear clothes the soldiers would have worn, sleep outside in camps, and even carry real rifle muskets, loaded with black powder (but no bullets, of course). Connell said it is a weekend of “no social media, no electronics, just each other. It’s a wholesome form of entertainment.” He has been part of the reenactment community for 10 years now and his kids act with him as well. For history lovers like Connell, it’s a perfect way to dive into the past and educate others in a way that feels “real and concrete.”

The camps open up to the public at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and close at 3 p.m. Attendees will be able to walk through the living history event and observe life as it would have looked in a Civil War camp. There will be children playing games, a tinsmith and military blacksmith, soldiers preparing for battle, and a Louisa May Alcott actor reading letters Alcott had written as a nurse in the war. The soldiers will start each day with a morning parade. On Saturday there will be a drill demonstration and load and fire competition in the morning and a period baseball game in the afternoon. On Sunday at 10 a.m. there will be a church service true to the period, which the public is welcome to attend. For those interested in watching the skirmishes, there is one at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and another at 11:45 a.m. on Sunday. There will be food options at the farm as well.

Connell said the reenactment community has gotten smaller in recent years. The pandemic has certainly made it difficult to put on events, but that’s not the only thing that has decreased Civil War reenactment enthusiasm. Connell explained that debates over confederate statues and imagery have led some people to question whether the confederate flag should be shown in a reenactment. Connell would argue that in order to depict what the Union soldiers are fighting for, “there has to be another side.” 

Connell described walking into a reenacted battle as “exactly what it was like except I’m going to live today.” He added that learning about the Civil War is especially important now. “As the country becomes more divisive it would really pay for people to pay attention to history and what happened in the Civil War.”

 There is a $5 charge to witness the living history events and the haunted mile costs $8 for children five and under and $12 for individuals six and over. If you wish to come with a group, there is a special $40 group charge that maxes out at five people. 

Connell wanted to mention that “the reenactment community is very grateful to Beth and Matt at Barrett Hill Farm.” And next year the event might be a whole a lot bigger. He said they are planning an event with 300 reenactment actors early in October 2022. 

In other Halloween events planned this week, visit downtown Wilton this Saturday for the “Haunting of Wilton.” The event starts at 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., with a downtown Merchants’ Trick-or-Treating event. Dress up and collect the first candy of the season from Main Street retailers. Then, at 4:30 p.m., kids can show off their costumes in a parade down Main Street.

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., there will be a Costume Dance at the Wilton Main Street Park. And spooky figures created by Witches Spring will haunt the park all through October.

In Rindge, the Ingalls Memorial Library is hosting Halloween festivities throughout the week of Oct. 25. Children are invited to paint or decorate a pumpkin (without carving it) to look like a character from a book. Drop off decorated pumpkins at the library youth department on Oct. 25 through Oct. 27 for display.

On Tuesday, Oct. 26, teens can drop in between the hours of 6 and 7:30 p.m., to create a graham cracker haunted house. All the supplies needed will be provided by the Friends of the Ingalls Library.

For adults, the Friends are also sponsoring the First Annual Haunted Cupcake contest. Bring a plate of cupcakes decorated in a Halloween or Fall motif to be entered into the contest. Voting will take place on Oct. 28. Residents can stop by anytime between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. to cast their votes.

Any resident who joins the Friends of the Ingalls Library this month will be entered into a raffle for a Halloween themed cake.


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