Civil War battles will be re-enacted in Half Moon Bay this weekend in honor of Veterans Day.

More than 100 Union and Confederate soldiers donning period uniforms will establish camps, where they’ll live through the weekend, in front of the historic Johnston House. The grounds will offer a glimpse of life on the front lines at that time, and roughly 30-minute battles will break out in the morning and afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. 

“Everything is in period right down to the children’s wooden toys and the medical instruments and the actors never break character,” said Charise McHugh, who is organizing the event. “This makes history come alive. It’s educational and they’ll teach people about why the war was fought and emphasize the horrors of war to prevent future wars.”

The event is also a fundraiser for the Johnston House, which is in need of maintenance. Built in 1853, the home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the first salt box-style house constructed on the West Coast. It will be open for docent-led tours throughout the weekend.  

Civil War re-enactment

Armed with replica weapons, soldiers will be in every rank one can think of and there’ll be cavalry, sharpshooters and cannon crews, among other units. During the battle, each side will fire black powder blanks at each other and “wounded” soldiers will be treated in a medical tent. 

In addition to the soldiers, there will be at least 50 actors portraying wives and family members, doctors and merchants, among other roles. After dark, only those in period clothes will be allowed on the grounds and during those two days, everything from showering to cooking will be done as it was during Civil War times. 

“They will live completely without modern conveniences,” McHugh said.

The re-enactment is being put on by the National Civil War Association for the first time in Half Moon Bay since 1997 and is expected to attract several thousand people over the course of the weekend.

Between the battles, some tents will sell Civil War-era merchandise, including petty coats, bonnets, army uniforms, water canteens and history books. 

Sunday will begin with a Victorian-era church service with a choir and hymn books at 9 a.m. followed by a Veterans Day memorial service and ceremony at 11:30 a.m. 

Two local nonprofits will serve up tamales, tacos, pumpkin pie and sausages and there will also be beer and wine booths.

The Johnston House is located at 110 Higgins Canyon Road. The event is open to the public Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Battles occur at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. each day. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and children aged 10 to 13, while children under 10 can enter for free.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

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