Above / A battle is staged at 2:30PM during Civil War Days at Naper Settlement. Of course, the Riverwalk, downtown Naperville and North Central College are just steps from Naper Settlement. Make it a day of history and discovering plenty that’s new and established in the heart of the city!
Experience a weekend of raging cannons, marching infantry and fascinating presentations to see what life was like at a Civil War encampment.
The event takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21 from 10AM to 4PM at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Hundreds of reenactors participate at Civil War Days by staging a battle each day at 2:30PM and by performing as famous historic figures. Learn how the nation transformed through the insights of legendary people who impacted United States history.
Advanced tickets are $13 for adults; $8 for youth (ages 4-12). Day-of tickets are $15 adults; $10 youth. Children under 4 and Naper Settlement members are free. Visit www.napersettlement.org/civilwardays to save on advance tickets.
Portraying Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln for almost 30 years, Max and Donna Daniels have retired as reenactors, but have decided to make an exception for Naper Settlement’s Civil War Days.
“Naper Settlement was the first Civil War reenactment that we had ever done,” said Daniels. “We were actors in the community and we were originally looking for a venue to do our play on the Lincolns. When we asked Naper Settlement, they asked us to be a part of their Civil War Days instead. So we kind of owe our career in reenactment to [the museum]. It’s like a homecoming each year.”
Still performing in schools and libraries, the Daniels feel incredibly fortunate to have had a career depicting history in a relevant and entertaining way imparting the stories of prominent figures in U.S. history for younger generations.
“Lincoln is a symbol of what America can be,” said Max Daniels, who was first casted as Lincoln for his close resemblance to the 16th President. “A young man who started out life with literally nothing – in a log cabin with a dirt floor – his story shows that there’s nothing this country cannot give you to overcome. It’s a very powerful message if people are willing to listen.”
Donna also looks forward to portraying Mary Todd Lincoln each year for the opportunity to explain the women’s side of the Civil War. She says that people tend to only think about what the men were doing, like the politicians and generals, but there’s a lot to learn, especially about the stress Mary was dealing with as the first lady and the criticism she endured.
Presentations and debates will also take place throughout the weekend, including a discussion between Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Topics will include the Dred Scott decision, where an enslaved man was denied the right to sue for his freedom which ultimately led to the nomination of Abraham Lincoln; as well as the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed people in Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders which infuriated many in the North.
“I’ve always felt that both sides need a proper story told, without the South just being about the slaveholders,” said David Walker who performs as Jefferson Davis. “My job is to educate using primary sources, and to be very authentic.”
Visitors will also need to keep an eye out for Chris Dosch, who will be participating in the battle, dressed in red pants and a gold-buttoned coat, as part of the Chicago Zouaves, Company A. The Zouaves were popular in the beginning of the Civil War and were known for their light infantry tactics and drill.
“I look forward to showing the spectators firsthand what the Zouaves were like in the beginning of the war,” said Dosch. “Most of the union outfits are light blue, which is the standard uniform. However, I’m doing another aspect of the union infantry, which was a very expensive unit, but had its importance on the Civil War.”
This family-friendly event features food, fun, music and shopping on “Sutler’s Row” for traditional Civil War-era reproduction products. Naper Settlement’s historic buildings will be open for touring during Civil War Days. The Weed Ladies will also be selling spring silk and dried florals in the Daniels House. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.napersettlement.org/civilwardays or call (630) 420-6010.