I Believe in Civil War Reenactment

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I believe in Civil War Reenacting. I believe in donning my 19th century clothing and stepping back in time. And during the Civil War’s 150th Anniversary, I’m especially proud to be a Civil War Re-enactor and Living Historian.

Reenacting has been a part of my family’s life for almost 13 years. My younger son Matthew brought it into our lives. He’s the history buff and I’m the threatre artsit. It turned out to be a perfect match for both of us and something we could do together.

Friends, family and spectators wonder at why I long to wear period clothing (corset included), eat victuals of the day and slumber wherever I can over the course of a weekend. But for those who share the passion, the experience is more than worth it.

Most people aren’t aware that there were tens of thousands of displaced people during the Civil War. One of the roles I reenact is that of refugee. I portray a single woman dismissed from her teaching position in the South because of her Northern affiliation. I sleep on the ground or under a tent fly. And I assist the camp cook with kitchen work in exchange for meals as I work my way back North to my family. In a diary from the Civil War era, I found documentation of my persona’s survival strategy.

I believe in being as accurate as possible in my impression of a refugee. Being true to their way of life is the highest honor we can pay to those who came before and the struggles of their time. Research is the key to creating an honest impression and being period correct. Being familiar with as much as possible from the 1860s can bring one closer to what life may have been like then.

Details are very important. is the fabric correct? Will plastic flowers do on a hat? Is the garment of the right cut? Small details make a big difference. When it’s right, people notice. I once had a gentleman remark, “You look real.” I couldn’t have asked for a greater compliment.

Reenacting has given me a sense of belonging and some deep rooted friendships. It’s enriched my life in many ways and satisfies my need to perform. Each re-enactor brings their knowledge and interests to events and shares it with others. There’s this vast exchange of information going on between re-enactors and spectators too. This continuing education spills over into every aspect of my life. Reenacting is a chance to study a fascinating time of United States history. It was a turning point in this country. We are Living Historians and we learn by doing. Reenactment values preservation and education. And I believe in Civil War reenacting.

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