CORUNNA — McCurdy Park and the Corunna Historical Village will undergo a transformation Saturday, as re-enactors representing the Union and Confederate armies take over the space in support of Corunna’s first Civil War Day.
The encampment, organized by self-described “history nut” David Kimble, will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and is free. The event will feature a variety of artifacts on display, including authentic bullets from the Battle of Antietam and shrapnel from Gettysburg, as well as musket demonstrations and, likely, a simulated battle.
Kimble, 60, of Owosso, said the idea for the event was sparked by former State Rep. Francis “Bus” Spaniola.
“He came to me in July and with it being Corunna’s 150th anniversary this year, he wanted me to try to organize a Civil War day in the old village,” Kimble said. “I told him, ‘You know, it’s kind of short notice. You usually have to do a lot of planning for this stuff.’ He said, ‘Even if it’s something small, we just want you to do it.’”
Kimble is the camp commander of the Austin Blair Camp No. 7 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), the second oldest camp in the state. The group meets the second Monday of every month in Jackson and oftentimes members can be found helping people uncover their Civil War ancestry, according to Kimble.
Members of the group also plan and participate in Civil War re-enactments, and care for the headstones of Civil War soldiers.
Kimble joined the group in 2012 after meeting members during a memorial ceremony near Chesaning.
Since then, he’s collected a number of Civil War artifacts and has traveled to approximately 13 historic battle sites.
Saturday, Kimble expects at least 20 re-enactors.
“If anybody has any questions, they want to know about the Civil War, the life as a soldier, come and ask us, we’ll fill you in on what they went through, how they lived, what they had to eat,” he explained.
“I always have extra uniforms that I bring,” Kimble continued. “I’ve got a lot of different extra uniforms so we’ll let the kids dress up. We’ll probably do some drilling (marching) as well, going through the different steps.”
Tables displaying artifacts ranging from muskets to literature will also be set up in the park, according to Kimble, in addition to a computer that will allow visitors to research their ancestry to see whether or not a family member fought in the four-year war.
Kimble, who gives presentations on the war to eighth-graders at St. Paul Catholic School in Owosso each year, said it’s important that people know the history of the war because its impact is felt to this day.
“It formed our country, you know, and it changed the way we did things in our country,” Kimble said. “Before, you had slavery. Once it was over, you didn’t have slavery any more. The worst thing that happened was (President) Abraham Lincoln being assassinated, because he was not going to do anything to the people in the South, he wanted us to come back together as one big country…And that’s really what changed our country, I think, for the better.”
While Saturday’s event is free, donations will be accepted with proceeds going toward the city’s parks, according to Kimble.
He hopes to make Civil War Day an annual event.
“I’m hoping this will grow. I would like to see it evolve into something that’s like a full weekend where we can get businesses that sell Civil War paraphernalia,” Kimble said. “I’d like to see a cavalry unit or two, get some cannon units, artillery units to come in.”
Buildings in the Corunna Historical Village will be open from noon to 3 p.m., according to city officials.