MOWEAQUA, Ill. — Hunter Gregory is the 10-year-old flag bearer for the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry Regiment.
He delights in dressing up in an 1860s uniform and being a Civil War re-enactor in simulated battles throughout the Midwest.
During a summer re-enactment in Keokuk, Iowa, a photographer/reporter for the national children's magazine AppleSeeds spotted Hunter. He's pictured on the cover of the latest issue, along with a story about Civil War kids.
"Yes, I was always interested in history," explained the fourth-grader at Decatur Christian School in Forsyth. "I first was interested in World War II, because my great-grandfather was in the Navy. Now I'm interested in the Civil War. I found out about the re-enactments and wanted to do it."
Scot, Hunter's father, said Hunter learned that kids were accepted by the 10th Cavalry group, based in Springfield. Accepted, that is, if accompanied by dad. So Scot became a re-enactor.
Together, they dressed in authentic gear purchased on the Internet and, starting in May, traipsed through Illinois to one battle after another, to Danville, Princeton, Galesburg, Peoria, Pittsfield.
"We spent the weekends outside in a tent, cooking over a campfire, lining up for the battle charges," Scot said. Hunter carries a pistol, unloaded. Scot has a black powder 1860s rifle. Sometimes 200 to 300 "soldiers" are involved.
Hunter's favorite part of the battle is when he falls to the ground and "dies," midway through the shooting.
One other boy is in the regiment. Boys such as Hunter, 10 to 14 years old, were indeed in the Civil War, although not in combat. They were musicians, message carriers and cooks. Some dug trenches and built roads. The magazine article also points out that young boys served as "powder monkeys" on Civil War ships, delivering gunpowder and ammunition to gunners.
The re-enactors are not paid. They receive meals and often are given a small gift.
Hunter wants to be in the National Guard when he grows up. His Civil War interest was stirred when the family visited the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa.
His father works in food service for Aramark. His mother, Wendy, works for Wallender-Dedman printing company in Decatur. The family lives in Moweaqua.
"We mainly do the re-enactments for enjoyment," Scot said. "We meet a lot of good people; we enjoy the weather. It's fun."
Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.herald-review.com