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Weapons of War Cause Commotion at City Hall Park

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On a Civil War battlefield, a Confederate soldier named George Read made off with a .58-caliber musket, a spoil of war that likely belonged to a Union soldier killed during battle.

The musket and about $45,000 worth of other Civil War artifacts were on exhibit Sunday in Fillmore as part of a living history display sponsored by the Ventura County Federation of Republican Women.

In the park in front of Fillmore City Hall, Civil War enthusiasts from the Fort Tejon Historical Assn. reenacted speeches by the leaders of both the North and South, demonstrated spinning and weaving, and spoke about the weapons used by both sides.

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“I really enjoy coming out to these things,” said Ben Read, great-grandson of George Read. “I get to talk to people, and tell them things they didn’t know or don’t remember.”

For two decades, the 70-year-old Glendora resident has made annual trips to battlefields along the East Coast, metal detector in hand, foraging for artifacts. He admits a similarity to his great-grandfather, who like many Confederate troops had to forage for the most basic supplies, including weapons, he said.

“Both sides had to forage, but the Confederate soldiers had it real bad. They would leave men on the battlefield naked, foraging everything they could because things were in such short supply,” Read said.

Daniel Matthews, 11, of Camarillo, a member of Boy Scout Troop 249, said he liked the encampment because of its authenticity.

“Everything seems so realistic,” he said.

Matthews’ friend, 11-year-old Mat Freeman of Camarillo was taking pictures of the various displays that he will use to give a report to the Scout troop. “This is all pretty cool,” he said.

The day ended with a reenactment of the battle of Richmond, Va., complete with cannon fire and musket blasts, and a post-battle dinner hosted by actors portraying President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

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Before the battle, members of the historical association portraying the 1st Company Richmond Howitzers, a militia unit formed in 1859 in Richmond, Va., brought traffic in downtown Fillmore to a stop by firing an 1862 cannon.

The blast was received by hoots and hollers from the crowd of about 200, and was enough to set off car alarms one block north on Central Avenue.

As the smoke cleared and the crowd removed fingers from ears, a smiling Ed Allison of Fillmore, portraying a proud Confederate battery commander said, “We live for that.”

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