Railroad Days

Jack Provines of Council Bluffs, a Civil War history buff, holds a piece of wallpaper similar to those ripped from the walls of southern mansions so Union soldiers would have paper on which to write letters home.

The Council Bluffs Public Library will host Civil War hobbyist and reenacter Jack Provines at 6:30 p.m. July 31. Provines will present: “The Life of a Civil War Soldier.”

When most of us think of the Civil War, we generally see it in large-scale terms: North vs. South, authoritarian control vs. self-determination, slavery vs. liberty. We see a tragic struggle that split a nation, affected millions of lives, and literally changed the world.

But what was it like for a single, ordinary Civil War soldier living day-to-day? Provines will help answer this question.

Dressed in a replica wool uniform, Provines provides a sensory experience of real life in the ranks: the questionable food rations, the endless mud in the camp and on the march, the itch and smell of days in the hot sun with no bathing. The boredom. And the fear.

Provines has been as close as anyone living can be, having participated in reenactments for three decades, including the Battles of Gettyburg and Shilo. His passion even brought him fifteen minutes of fame, acting as an extra in the film, “Dances with Wolves.”

Provines’ goal is to communicate “authenticity,” getting as close as possible to “the real deal.” He enjoys speaking about this subject whenever he can to make sure the lives of millions of soldiers are remembered with veracity and with respect.

This program will be in Meeting Room A at the library and is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the library at 712-323-7553 ext. 132

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