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Re-enacting Civil War history in Batavia

Published: Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013 9:00 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 10:51 p.m. CST
Caption
(By Eric Schelkopf)
Civil War reenactor Mark Contratto, of Aurora, participated Saturday in a Civil War celebration at the Batavia Riverwalk. The event will take place again today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

BATAVIA - Soldiers fighting in the Civil War didn't just have to worry about getting killed in action.

"About 1/3 of them died from infections, and another 1/3 died from disease," said Civil War reenactor Mark Contratto of Aurora, who was portraying a private from the 104th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company H. "You had to worry about getting clean water, or getting water at all sometimes."

Contratto was one of those particpating Saturday in a Civil War celebration at the Batavia Riverwalk. The event, hosted by the Batavia Park District and Batavia Depot Museum, will take place again today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1-3 1863 in and around the town of Gettysburg, PA. The 8th Illinois Cavalry of Batavia was the first to fire shots at Gettysburg.

Bob Horbus of Batavia enjoyed learning about the history of the Civil War.

"If you don't know your history, you will repeat it, especially the mistakes of it," Horbus said.

Patrick DeGeorge of McHenry was portraying a soldier in Battery G, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery. He stressed that a lot of research goes into being a reenactor.

"We try to be as authentic as possible," DeGeorge said. "We research the uniforms, the styles. For the last six years, I have been researching the original soldiers of Battery G."

Illinois played a big role in the Civil War, he noted.

"Illinois carried the fourth largest number of soldiers to the Civil War," DeGeorge said. "Quite a few of them came from Kane County."

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