Cannon fire in the Coalfields: Twin Falls hosts 8th annual Civil Wars Days

(Brad Davis/The Register-Herald) Beaver resident Chris Moore, left, gets a chance to fire one of the cannons on site as Civil War re-enactors Doug Letteer, right, and Linda Hoffer (behind Moore) cover their ears to the massive boom during Civil War Days Saturday afternoon at Twin Falls Resort State Park. The event continues today.

To the sound of musket fire and two booming cannons, members of Chapman's Battery battled Union forces at Twin Falls State Park in Wyoming County on Saturday.

While not original members of the battery, more than 150 years after the Civil War, West Virginians are keeping history alive through re-enactments for the public.

"I love history in general, but this is the best part to me," Chuck Clark said of re-enacting.

Clark noted that although Chapman's Battery was organized out of Amherst County, Virginia, its leader, Capt. George Chapman, was a native of Union in Monroe County.

Clark said he has been re-enacting for nearly nine years and points toward the younger generations as to why.

"We go around trying to teach the kids, especially the kids, but any parents or adults that come around more about the Civil War then textbooks do because they don't really touch on a lot of it," Clark said.

From Huntington, the re-enactor said he became inspired by history's events at an early age.

"I've been hooked on the Civil War since the sixth grade," Clark said.

Along with the battery, the event was put on by the Wyoming County Historical Museum.

Pat Adams with the county's historical society said historical events can get the public educated about their past.

Selling Wyoming County historical books, Adams said she was talking to a visitor who told her that kids in schools really don't even learn their own history.

She said that history in Wyoming County goes back a long way with the county's history museum in Oceana hosting a lot of it.

"We love Wyoming County," Adams said. "There is a lot of history here that a lot of people don't know about."

For Clark, learning about history is key.

"If we don't learn from history, we're going to wind up repeating it," the re-enactor said, adding that today's political divisions in many ways mirror the time before the Civil War.

The war itself has become a political hot topic, with Clark saying that its ethical dilemmas cause a hard time in recruiting members to re-enacting groups.

"The whole thing has a bad reputation now," the re-enactor said.

While struggling to recruit the next generation of Civil War living history teachers, Clark said that his group stays busy, performing at least one weekend a month from April through November, adding that his unit will be at the re-enactment for the Battle of Dry Creek at Greenbrier State Forest on Aug. 16, 17 and 18 with follow-up dates listed on their Facebook page.

The group will also be performing a final battle at Twin Falls today at 1:30 p.m.

— Email: mcombs@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @mattcombsRH

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