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Centralia battlefield commemorates 150 years

Reenactors fire antique artillery during a reenactment of the Battle of Centralia. Saturday marked 150 years since the historic Civil War battle took place.

Hundreds of people gathered at the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War to honor those who had been killed and watch a historical reenactment of the battle.

Friends of Centralia Battlefield member Jack Chance said the Battle of Centralia was one of the more important battles that took place in Missouri through the course of the Civil War.

"We had a full battle here of guerillas who fought against Union soldiers," Chance said. "107 Union soldiers were killed, and only two of the guerillas were killed at the time."

Saturday's reenactments included a three minute-long reenactment of the actual battle itself, then a longer, generic civil war battle later in the afternoon. "These battles are designed to give people an idea of what all battles throughout the Civil War were like," Chance said. "This gives people an idea of how close people were, what hand-to-hand combat was like."

Hillary and Brennen Lagemann said they participated in historical reenactments as kids. Now that they've grown up, they say it's more important than ever to give today's children the same experience.

"If you think about it, it's not that long ago," Lagemann said. "People's great grandparents, they were actually alive during this time... or great-great grandparents. There's a lot of history, a lot of local history."

Sons of Union Veterans member Larry Dietzel said it's that history that has descendants of Union and Confederate soldiers working together to educate everyone about all sides of a story that claimed the lives of so many.

"There are some folks that are still very staunch on their point of view of history and how their history went, but I think you need both sides to tell the whole story," Dietzel said.

The reenactments and festival will continue into Sunday afternoon.

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