Living History Day celebrates Tropic Lightning Week

| October 21, 2015 | 2 Comments
Eric Mueller of the Civil War Round Table of Hawaii re-enacts a Civil War battle “charge” for the audience at Living History Day at the Tropic Lightning Museum.

Eric Mueller of the Civil War Round Table of Hawaii re-enacts a Civil War battle “charge” for the audience at Living History Day at the Tropic Lightning Museum.

Story and photos by
Don Robbins
Contributing Writer
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Military history admirers gathered at the Tropic Lightning Museum for Living History Day, here, Saturday.

This annual event celebrating the inception of the 25th Infantry Division in October 1941 featured music by the Tropic Knights’ big band and Celtic Kula Bagpipers, the Hawaii Jitterbugs swing dancers, activities such as camouflage face-painting for children, and presentations by historians from the Hawaii Historic Arms Association, the Single Action Shootists of Hawaii and the Civil War Round Table of Hawaii.

The event also included a color guard from the Farrington High School Army JROTC to begin the ceremony, and a demonstration by K-9 Military Working Dogs.

Members of the Hawaii Historic Arms Association wear a historic military uniform with firearm at the Living History Day event.

Members of the Hawaii Historic Arms Association wear a historic military uniform with firearm at the Living History Day event.

Military life
Eric Mueller, a living historian (re-enactor), who was dressed in the traditional uniform and gear of a Union Soldier in the Civil War, described to museum visitors the details of Army life in the 1860s.

Depicting a sergeant in the Union Army, Mueller, a member of the Civil War Round Table of Hawaii, had a rifle musket, a cartridge box of ammunition, a canteen, a bayonet and a haversack.

The haversack held food rations and important things that the Soldier didn’t want to lose, such as maybe a Bible and treasured personal items from home.

“The entire equipment is going to weigh about 40 to 60 pounds. He (the Soldier) will be loaded up to sustain himself in the field for three to five days, depending on the campaign,” Mueller said. “The cartridge box he would have carried held 40 rounds of ammunition, which would sustain him for about 20 to 30 minutes of combat time.”

After listening to Mueller, children in the audience volunteered to try on a Civil War-era uniform. Patrick Brown, age 12, suited up in the traditional woolen clothing of the Civil War Soldier and his gear.

“It (the uniform and gear) was heavy, but it was really cool to know what it was like in the field. Wars have changed history,” Patrick said.

He attended the event with his father, Staff Sgt. Shawn Brown, who works in the chaplain section of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.

From left, Eric Mueller and Justin Vance of (dressed as members of Spencer’s Invincibles) of the Civil War Round Table of Hawaii re-enact a Civil War battle.

From left, Eric Mueller and Justin Vance of (dressed as members of Spencer’s Invincibles) of the Civil War Round Table of Hawaii re-enact a Civil War battle.

“This event was a chance to let him (Patrick) see history and how wars have changed and progressed as we’ve gone on,” Shawn said.

Dressing up as a Civil War Soldier gave his son a chance to get a hands-on visual and physical sensation of what it was like back then, Shawn added.

Mueller also gave out some samples of hardtack, a cracker-like biscuit that Soldiers on the march would eat.

Although Living History Day celebrates the history of the 25th ID and the Civil War was fought many years prior to the establishment of the 25th ID, members of the Civil War Round Table of Hawaii pointed out that there is a direct connection between Hawaii and the Civil War.

Living-History-Day_003Anita Manning of the Round Table said that there were many Native Hawaiians and others from the Kingdom of Hawaii who traveled to the mainland U.S. to participate as individuals in the Civil War as combatants, the vast majority of whom fought for the North.

A group called Spencer’s Invincibles, led by Hilo merchant Thomas Spencer, tried to form a company of recruits to join the Union cause, but was not allowed to join as a company.

“It would have crossed the neutrality line for them to go as a unit,” said Manning.
Besides the Civil War activities, at the tent set up by the Hawaii Historical Arms Society, visitors saw a display of memorabilia and weapons from a more recent era, from World War II to the Vietnam War.

Living-History-Day_005“One of the purposes of the Hawaii Historic Arms Association is to educate the public. We’re pleased to come here to Tropic Lightning Museum and let folks who are serving and visitors see some of the history, as expressed in the firearms we have on display here,” said Brian Isaacson of the Hawaii Historic Arms Association.

Soldiers from today’s Army at Schofield Barracks represented the present with modern military technology. They were at a booth on the opposite end of the lawn from the Civil War Round Table and the Hawaii Historical Arms Association demonstrating (unloaded) weaponry currently used by the Army.

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Category: Community, Community Relations, Observances

Comments (2)

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  1. Mark Brown says:

    To the Editor,

    My late father served in the 161st Infantry, part of the 25th Infantry Division during WWII. He served in the Phillipines and later Japan.
    Do you recall ever doing anything on the 161st. I am a great fan of the
    25th and found out much information in his later days about his experiences in the Phillipines. I hope to visit the 25th if we ever get to Hawaii again.

    Sincerely,
    Mark E. Brown
    Summerfield, NC, USA

    • haw says:

      Hello, Mark — Apologies, our WordPress was down. No one on staff has completed articles on the 161st, and our files do not go back that far. The Tropic Lightning Museum maintains copies of old newspaper binders. Call the museum at (808) 655-0438. You may also review information about the Tropic Lighting Division at 222.25thida.com. Aloha, HAW staff.

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