An Insider’s Guide to The Civil War Muster

Jackson’s Civil War Muster draws people in from all around Michigan and beyond!

If you have never been or if you are like the hundreds of people who show up just before 2 pm to watch the battle, you are missing out on some of the best parts of the Muster.  The 2 pm battles on Saturday and Sunday draws thousands of people who scale the hill, sit in the hot sun and enjoy a moment in history.  But, the Civil War Muster is much, much more than just battles.  Here is an insiders list of the top things to bring, see, do, and eat to truly EXPERIENCE the Muster.

See & Do

Be sure and pick up a program.  They are usually $2.00 and you will find Boy Scouts and Civil War Muster volunteers and the JROTC all around the park ready to sell one to you.  In the program you will find a map, a list of the activities, information about the battles and thank you’s to all the people who make this event possible.  Once you have your program in hand, you are ready to take a trip back in time.  Be sure and take the walk to the settlers’ encampment.  The reenactors set up tents, cook over open fires and live the life of the Civil War Era.  Next, be sure and walk through the “village”.  Here you will find craftsman showing off their skill and selling their wares.  Everything from blacksmiths and dress makers to candle stick makers.  Don’t miss out on the formal ball or Lincoln’s speech.


You can’t talk about the Civil War Muster without talking about food and most importantly the Root Beer and Lemonade stand.  It’s easy to find on the corner of Brown and Randolph streets.  It’s always easy to find, just look for the longest line.  Yes, there is always a line but it’s because it is worth it and part of the Civil War Muster experience.  They have root beer and lemonade that is ice cold and unlike any other that you have tried.  The best part is once you purchase your bottle (they offer a variety of sizes) you can take it back and have it refilled at a discounted price.  It is usually our first and last stop to ensure we get enough. Usually very close to the root beer stand is the kettle corn.  Don’t worry you won’t have any problem finding it.  Just take a deep sniff and follow your nose to the sweet smell of cooking kettle corn.   Once you have your drink you will of course need something to eat.  You won’t be disappointed in the amount of choices of food.  Food vendors line the main drag of the park and you can get everything from a pulled pork sandwich to deep fried Oreos.

What to Bring

Let’s face it, the Civil War Muster is always in August and August in Michigan is hot.  Come prepared.  Bring something to sit on while watching the battle, blankets or camp chairs work just fine.  Bring or be prepared to purchase water!  There is little shade at Cascades Falls Park and you will want to stay hydrated. Wear, and bring, sunscreen and slip on your comfy walking shoes.  If you have little ones, or someone that is sensitive to loud noises, consider bringing a set of ear plugs.  The battle gets very loud.

Bonus Info

This is a FREE event.  You can come and enjoy the Muster, walk around, see the battle and never have to spend a dime.  Parking is run by the Boy Scouts and you will be directed into a spot that you will easily be able to get out of when you want to leave.  This event happens no matter the weather so as long as you come prepared you will be able to experience everything the Civil War Muster has to offer.

Author Bio

Valerie Herr is a lifelong resident of Jackson County who has worked for nonprofits for the past 15 years.  She is a mother of two boys and is involved with Rotary, Business and Professional Women, and contributing writer for J.A.C.K.S. and Experience Jackson.

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