Civil War Roundtable: Learning How Things Used to Be

It's been 150 years since the Civil War, and in Woodbridge over the weekend, it looked like things hadn't changed a bit.

They encamped at the edge of downtown Woodbridge, and taught modern Americans how things were not so very long ago. 

The held their reenactment, an annual event, at the over the weekend, where area residents came with their kids and learned the world wasn't always limited to iPods, cell phones and Facebook.

This particular reenactment held special meaning, as it marked 150 years since the Civil War.

"I've been doing this for about 15 years," said Jim Donovan of Bayonne, who was appearing as a sergeant with the 7th Virginia Calvary. "We're all amateur historians. We love doing the portrayals."

Donovan, seated near his model tent - complete with a camp bed and an old fashioned quilt - had on a resplendent uniform and an old fashion gun tucked in his boot.

"That's to show that when you had to spend so much time reroading a rifle or a gun, you needed as many firearms that were loaded as possible. You didn't have time to wait," he said.

Children love hearing about how things were in the days of yore, and they're particularly fascinated with the firearms, Donovan said.

Six-year-old Dennis Sasala of Perth Amboy certainly was. He took home a handmade wooden long rifle, purchased from one of the 'suttlers' - traveling merchants who would follow army encampments and offer for sale all the things soldiers needed during the war, and which the Army at that time didn't provide.

The rifle was $10, and Dennis was thrilled, if a little confused about when aircraft appeared in modern warfare. "It makes a sound like a helicopter firing!" he enthused as he aimed his wooden rifle at imaginary enemies.

Nearby, Bruce Form, who is with the Robert E. Lee Roundtable, was selling all the "necessaries" that soldiers would need - and Civil War enthusiasts like to purchase. Form explained that he and wife Mira were "suttlers", too.

Form himself also designed a plethora of tee shirts for sale, as well as many of their items for sale. Some things were genuine antiques, and others, reproductions. Mira, he said, does much of the handsewing for wares in their stock.

"History is a wonderful thing. We're always anxious to get more people involved," he said.

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