History weekend: Bringing out the big guns

It was a loud and rugged couple of days outside the Albemarle County Office Building. October 4 and 5 marked the All American Military History Weekend organized by the local non-profit All American Honor Guard.

The event, an outdoor living history exhibit, included re-enactors from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and current US conflicts. The reminder of American wars was not only educational, it was also fun for the kids (but scary, perhaps, for peace lovers).

The big draw is the "firing time line." Re-enactors and soldiers demonstrate (with blanks) firearms and weaponry used throughout our history: muskets, rifles, machine guns, and even a Civil War cannon– the force of which is so powerful that it shook the earth like a dump truck had fallen out of the sky. With their ears ringing, the crowd applauded from under a huge cloud of smoke.

Other interesting exhibitions included the WWI Salvation Army donut "lassies," deep frying for the WWI re-enactors and visitors– and also for the macabre Civil War doctor. The lassies volunteered for duty to make donuts for GIs in Europe to provide the soldiers a little taste of home and bring a little reminder of Christianity to the battlefield.

A Civil War "doctor" demonstrated how pills were made using a gummy substance and raw drugs like opium rolled over a ribbed washboard apparatus. In character (and with a straight face), the field surgeon also demonstrated an amputation: Cut into an arm, roll the skin back, repeat until you reach bone. Then cut with a butcher blade saw. Was the red color on his tools rust or 150-year-old blood?

Driving by late Saturday night, one could still see some Civil War soldiers sitting by fires near their tents. It was a chilly night, but these folks were determined to keep it authentic. And unlike the boys at Bull Run, in the morning they could always nip up to Bodo's for breakfast.

Firing off the big one.

Kids love to play with guns...

...and dress up as soldiers.

Andrea Wilson plays a "lassie."

The good doctor demonstrates.

But some kids have fun without guns.

Some kids have fun without guns.