July 4th saw a real cattle stampede down Moscow Road in old Duncans Mills. The annual rounding up and relocation of the cattle is part of the advanced preparation for the Civil War Days which is set for this weekend, July 20-21. If you have never been, go. It is loud at times, the battle reenactments that take place twice a day are noisy. There is no side to root for, the casualties get up after a few minutes and start shooting again. The whole thing is impressive, mule drawn ambulance, cannon and wagons of war rip around the field. The haze created by the musket fire and cannon looks and smells like the real deal, it is the real deal, black powder creates authentic smoke.
Between battles you can mosey through the various camps and talk to the reenactors who speak in pseudo-Virginian of the time. The equipment is really spot on for the time, some of the staff actually sleep in their military tents during the event.
Possibly the best ‘Abe Lincoln’ you will ever meet delivers the Gettysburg Address in front of the grandstands. After the excitement you can shake old Abe’s hand and pose for a photo, kids get so excited they jump up and down in place. Visits to some of the war horses and war mules, is always high on the must-see list. During some ‘ground work’ for the event, Paul Casini worked two mules, Grasshopper and Gumdrop, typical mule names, he shook off some dust and said, “I’m mostly calming down Grasshopper. She is young but already showing signs of being more relaxed. She’ll do just fine. Gumdrop is mostly asleep. Except when she sees the ducks. She can’t figure out how chickens can float.” If you bring apples or carrots for the critters, be sure to ask the owner before feeding his animals, also if this is the first time your child has offered a big animal a treat, mind your fingers.
For more information visit their web page at: www.civilwardays.net or check out their Facebook page. Gates open at 9 a.m. both days. Food vending is minimal so pack a picnic and leave it in the car for later retrieval. Do visit their page and click on Reenactors for details on safety and other requirements. Be sure to bring water and possibly a folding chair, the grandstand fills up during the shows. Plan on buying a souvenir program to relive your visit.
Admission prices are; Adults $12, Juniors (7 -12) $6 kids under 6 are free. Parking is $5 they do not accept bank cards or bit coin so plan to bring real money. All proceeds support the artillery horses of the California Historical Artillery Society. You may also call at (707) 922-5901
If you do go and have never visited Casini Ranch take the time to check it out. For beginning campers, it is great, they offer some, In-place facilities for those who don’t do dirt. Be sure to stop at the store for an ice cream on the porch and buy a cone of duck chow to toss to the horde, gaggle? No that is for geese, ducks in a row? No. Flock!
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.