"Dirty" Mike Shurig is also known as "the Civil War Guy" ("the Fun Way to Learn History!") and puts on educational shows for the public - oftentimes, schools. Here's his account of an especially graphic educational session for the kiddies. Generally speaking, spurting arteries and minor burns should not be included in programs for children. (Well, it was never of part of my school demonstrations when I did them.) But we reenactors are charged with educating the public. Just because it traumatizes some of them for life is no excuse to go wobbly. - Jonah



The Fun Way to Learn History


By “Dirty” Mike Shurig




The Civil War Guy had his last show Wednesday.

I had run out of percussion caps (the little things you put on the musket to ignite the gunpowder) and found these "extra powerful" copper caps in a gun shop. I usually use brass caps. During the program, I usually bring a girl up from the audience and teach her how to load the musket.

A little girl came up and when she shot the cap on the musket, a shard of copper from the cap flew off and hit me in the thumb. Although it only made a 16th of an inch gash, it was deep. It must have hit a small artery because the blood started pumping out in spurts. It bled like a sonofabitch. Blood started gushing out and dripping on the floor.

I stood there dumfounded watching myself bleed in front of 80 kids until a kid came up and said he'd take me to the nurse's office. When I got in there, this little Indian kid who couldn't handle the sight of blood followed me in and collapsed on the floor. He rolled around moaning then got up and puked in the toilet.

Then the little girl came in, complaining of a burn on her arm from the cap. I was freaking out. I finished the program then came in and talked to the principal. We had to call the girl's mother. I was scared to death the parents were going to sue me for everything I have. The mother was not real pleased but didn't make an issue of it. There was no visible mark on the girls arm. She just caught a little spark and was unharmed. I was lucky the cap didn't hit and cut the girl.

When I shoot the musket, I always bring it up to my face. I'm lucky one of those caps didn't hit me in the eye. I had been doing this for nine years and never had an incident. It was those damn new caps. I made a solemn vow never to let a kid even touch the musket let alone pop a cap. And those new caps are going in the garbage. So it's over for the year and I am a little wiser for it.

Dodged that bullet, sorta speak.

The Civil War Guy