A Slice of Civil War Life

Article excerpt

Byline: Marco Santana msantana@dailyherald.com

"Jesse Martin" leads a simple life. A DuPage County farmer, he says he has spent more of his life behind a horse and plows than he has riding one.

He did not graduate West Point. He does not have friends in high places. Instead, he rose to the rank of cavalry chief in the Civil War because of his experience in the Mexican-American War in the 1840s.

That's the back story Warrenville resident Jesse Martinez, 39, holds to on the battlefield.

The story has evolved during his 11 years as a Civil War re-enactor and, he says, "is essentially a part of me out there."

"It is a character that has been developing for years and based on the experience of real officers," he said. "It keeps on evolving as I gain new information."

Martinez will be among between 100 and 125 Civil War-era re-enactors and impersonators expected on the grounds of the First Division Museum at Cantigny this weekend. The activities will run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, and 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, on the grounds of the museum, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton.

A small skirmish will be among the many activities during the event's two days, and Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman impersonators will roam the grounds.

Although the skirmishes remain popular among attendees, Martinez said his love for military strategy and history drives him to participate in eight to 10 re-enactment events per year. Martinez usually serves in a leadership role during the events.

He spends a lot of his time reading and learning military tactics of the Civil War era, generally the 1860s. …