Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Camp Gives Taste of Civil War ; Camp: Attendance Upward

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Camp Gives Taste of Civil War ; Camp: Attendance Upward

Article excerpt

History came alive Thursday for about 30 children who were "mustered into the Union Army" in front of Topeka's Historic Ritchie House.

The youngsters, all participants in day camps offered by the Topeka YMCA and Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, learned about what life was like for Civil War-era Union Army soldiers in Kansas.

They then went on a brief march led by Civil War re-enactor John Hart, who was dressed in a blue wool uniform while portraying a Union colonel.

Many of the children wore blue caps and carried haversacks like those used by Union soldiers. One pounded a drum as Hart barked out: "Left. Left. Left, right, left."

The march came near the end of a 90-minute History Camp for Kids, which is being offered each Monday and Thursday morning over a six- week period by the Shawnee County Historical Society. Grant funding covers that group's expenses to run the camp, which is available for participants in day camps held by various local groups.

Each session takes place at the Ritchie House, which is located at 1116 S.E. Madison and is on the Register of Historic Kansas Places.

The house was built in about 1856 by John Ritchie, an ardent abolitionist who later served as a Union brigadier general in the Civil War.

Adult participants in Thursday's camp included a volunteer portraying Ritchie, who was dressed in civilian clothes, and three volunteers wearing Union Army uniforms. One was Hart, the historical society's public relations director.

More than 3,000 children attended camps last year that the historical society offered to educate youngsters about their Kansas heritage during the summer and school year, Hart said. That organization is on pace to see more than 6,000 youngsters attend the camps it is holding this year, he said.

This year's summer camp focuses on historic trails of Kansas. …

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