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Civil War Reenactors Coming To Mahwah

Living exhibit Saturday will show what life was like for soldiers 150 years ago

This Saturday afternoon, Mahwah will get to witness a living scene depicting what life was like during the Civil War.

The 15th New York Cavalry, a Civil War reenactor unit, will be camped on the lawn outside the from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, creating a live demonstration of how soldiers lived during the war. “The group is doing an encampment, which means they will actually set up tents, have six to eight people in uniforms, and act as is they lived in a Civil War era camp,” Tom O’Brien, the Mahwah Museum exhibit coordinator, said. “The encampments show lifestyle between battles, what it was really like to live as a soldier.”

The Cavalry will not be reenacting a battle scene. Instead, O’Brien said, the encampment will allow Mahwah residents to get a “more realistic” picture of what soldiers did “most of the time.”

The 15th NY Cavalry was a real division that fought, mostly in upstate NY, during the Civil War. It reformed in 1993 in an effort to preserve the era’s history. This will be the first time a Civil War reenactment happens in Mahwah.

The encampment Saturday is part of the Mahwah Museum’s "New Jersey Fights In The Civil War - Remembering Soldiers Buried in Mahwah" exhibit. The exhibit, which will be displayed inside the museum while the encampment is happening outside, showcases Civil War era artifacts, photos and documents.

“I’m actually quite proud of the exhibit,” O’Brien said. “Its emphasis is on Civil War soldiers who were buried in Mahwah, so they are all listed, we have photos of all of their gravestones, and many of their stories.” O’Brien said so far, he has found 38 Civil War soldiers buried in Mahwah, and information about each is on display.

The exhibit is in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

The encampment “is a living exhibit,” O’Brien said. “I think it will be good for both children, who may be amazed to see how people lived without the things they have grown up with all of their lives, and adults, who will be able to slip back into history, when people didn’t have all of the things we are used to today.”

The encampment is free to anyone who stops by the Museum between 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday. Visitors wanting to see the inside exhibit will need to pay the Museum’s entrance fee - $5 per adult, $10 per family, and nothing for kids under age 18. Get more information at the Mahwah Museum’s website.

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