COPPER HARBOR - Susan Mueller was sitting outside one of the buildings at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park Sunday, enjoying the presentation of a traveling "miracle elixir" salesman, who was part of the Battery D 1st Michigan Light Artillery Civil War re-enactment group.
Mueller, who was visiting Fort Wilkins with her husband, John, from St. Paul, Minn., said they didn't actually know about the Battery D event, but she's glad it was going on while they were there.
They had been to other much larger Civil War re-enactments, such as at Gettysburg, Pa., Mueller said.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Dr. J.J. Bandit (Dr. William George of Cadillac, Mich.) talks about his “miracle elixir,” with Lucas Bongard (who played a young member of the Battery D 1st Michigan Light Artillery), which allowed the boy to “beat” a man in arm wrestling. The two are members of the Civil War re-enactment group, which gathers at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park each summer.
Mueller said she enjoys presentations, such as the Battery D event.
"I love history," she said.
John Clark, of Sherwood, Mich., who played a 1st Lt. in Battery D, said the re-enactment group formed in 1979 in Coldwater, Mich., and he has an academic and personal interest in being part of the group.
"I'm a trained historian," he said. "I had ancestors on both sides of the conflict."
Clark said he also enjoys being able to teach the public about certain aspects of the Civil War era.
The contingent of Battery D at Fort Wilkins was composed of about 30 members, including 19 soldiers, a medical group and several civilians.
Most of the re-enactors are from the Lower Peninsula, Clark said, but some are from Indiana. There were two members from Calumet and Lake Linden, also.
This was the 28th consecutive year Battery D has been to Fort Wilkins, and Clark said that's because the park officials allow them to use the grounds as they need to do to make their presentation.
"We love the setting," he said.
Clark said besides Fort Wilkins, the re-enactors enjoy stopping at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee, also.
"These are hidden gems," he said.
Many spectators travel behind Battery D as they make their stops, Clark said.
"We have groupies who follow us," he said. "We hate to disappoint them."
The number of spectators at Fort Wilkins this year was particularly high, Clark said.
"We have seen tremendous crowds this weekend," he said.
Mueller said if possible, she'd like to see the Battery D re-enactors again, or just visit Fort Wilkins again.
"It is fun," she said. "The fort is very well taken care of."