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The Great Plains Garrison Returns to Fort Hartsuff

Cannons will fire at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park once again as living historians and reenactors will occupy Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park (SHP) on May 17th-18th.

“Reenacting and living history mean different things to different people,” said Shane Johnson, a reenactor with the Great Plains Garrison, a volunteer living history reenactment group from Nebraska. “And there is far more to it then what one sees on the surface.”

Johnson, a rancher and teacher from Verdigre, has been involved in reenactment since 1997. To him, the experience of reenactment “means getting to play ‘dress-up’ and pretend for a little while that you are someone else living another lifestyle that has long since disappeared. And it means educating the public, and ourselves, about the real history that took place, not the history you find in textbooks or Hollywood.”

The Great Plains Garrison aims to educate the public about life on the Great Plains in the late 19th century, with both military and civilian impressions. The Spring Muster at Fort Hartsuff will include soldiers firing and drilling, sentries standing guard, officers present, barracks fully occupied and a civilian town of tents setup, a surgeon in the hospital, a blacksmith pounding away, and laundresses and cooks hard at work.

“Getting involved in historical reenacting means meeting lots of new people and making friendships that last a lifetime,” Johnson said. “It means traveling to all corners of our great country and visiting locations that are truly memorable.”

One such experience for Johnson and fellow re-enactors with the 4th Regulars U.S. Cavalry, was traveling to Utah and New Mexico for the role as extras in the movie The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp.

“In short, you get to collect cool gear and clothing, go sightseeing, spend time with family and great friends, and honor the experiences of our ancestors, all while learning at the same time.”

Shane Johnson of Verdigre (left) and Michael Sothan of Steele City return to Fort Hartsuff on May 17-18 for the Troop Muster.  Photo by Jenny Nguyen/NEBRASKAland Magazine
Shane Johnson of Verdigre (left) and Michael Sothan of Steele City at Fort Hartsuff with The Great Plains Garrison, a volunteer reenacting group that educates the public on the history of Nebraska and the Great Plains circa 1845-1900.
Photo by Jenny Nguyen/NEBRASKAland Magazine


The public is invited to experience the Great Plains Garrison at the following events in Nebraska:

May 17-18: Ord – Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park (SHP) Great Plains Garrison Muster

June 7-8: Fairbury – Rock Creek Trail Days at Rock Creek Station SHP, Living History and Skirmishes

June 21: Nebraska City – Mayhew Cabin, Living History and Skirmish

July 5-6: Kearney – Fort Kearney SHP, Living History and Skirmish

July 12-13: Fremont – John C. Fremont Days, Living History

August 30-31: Fairbury – Rock Creek Station SHP, 150TH Anniversary of 1864 Trail Raids in Nebraska

October 4-5: Nebraska City – Battle Reenactment

The Great Plains Garrison educates the public on the history of Nebraska and the United States Military, with focus on the period of the American Civil War, as well as American Indian Wars from 1850s-1880s.



About amy kucera

A Nebraska native from Verdigre, Kucera received an Associate’s degree in English Education from Northeast Community College, Bachelor’s degree in English Writing from Wayne State College, and English language teaching certificate through the Cambridge University in Prague, Czech Republic. In addition to writing, her interests include history, music, art and traveling— especially via foot, horseback, canoe and kayak. She is currently the Executive Director at the John G. Neihardt State Historic Site in Bancroft.

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