ACW Reenactments.... Why?

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archieclement

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It's a teaching experience for the youngsters/ spectators who might be watching and a "warm + fuzzy" experience for the old guys who put it on.By youngsters I mean folks who aren't really into it yet but just may get hooked. And old guys, I'm sorry but truth hurts don't it?
Here, I get same impression. Alot of local schools send classes on field trips to them, think it's great if it sparks some interest in them they otherwise might not have gotten.

And alot of the older attendence seems to be from heritage and historical societies, and friends of the battlefield interested in preservation.
 
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7thWisconsin

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"Reenactment" isn't just the "battle re-creation" or "tactical demonstration." Nor is it just the "public hours" of a weekend. "Reenactment" really should be about the entire time a reenactor is recreating the past. My goal, often attempted and occasionally achieved, is to live during the period I'm there using only period items. Clothing, cooking gear, camping and sleeping gear... etc. I consider a completely successful event to be one in which the only modern items I touch are my car keys. Obviously, this isn't beginner level - I recommend the goal of being able to do all period correct things during the "public hours" for someone just starting out, or with some restrictions. A lot of what I do isn't for "public consumption," either. "Reenactment" is anything which creates or enhances the period experience for myself or others around me, to include other reenactors.
 

captaindrew

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For me it's two fold. For one on a personal level like @7thWisconsin I'm really interested in the uniforms, weapons, and gear and it's a ongoing learning experience trying to get it all as right as it can be. The 2nd part is the comraderie. Spending the weekends with like minded folks who you enjoy is priceless. And if along the way you can spark that interest in someone else that's a real bonus.
 

poorjack

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First of all, my post is not in any way, shape or form meant to step on anyone's hobby/passion.

Secondly, I have never attended a reenactment.

Thirdly, I have had the opportunity to visit the majority of major and minor American Civil War Battlefields. With this stated, I have never found an interest to attend a reenactment in person.

Change my mind?

Bill
Change your mind? Sounds like it's already made up.

I reenacted for about 15 years through the 125th-35th events. 125th of Gettysburg was the largest ever held in the US. For me reenacting was a way to learn history on a much deeper personal level than reading. Most books and battlefield tours are about Gen SoSloppy or Col McNugget etc and don't give a view of what the common man experienced. In learning the drill, handling the guns, camping and living the 19th century lifestyle, you do gain a much, much deeper appreciation of just how tough those folks were. If nothing else, it will make you very grateful for air conditioning, a flush toilet and a modern kitchen.

So I no longer reenact. My guns now are used for live fire and I shoot live fire competition with Civil War guns in the North South Skirmish Association. We compete with pretty much all the arms from muskets to mortars to artillery, yes Virginia, we shoot cannons for score.

Here are the choices and they're all equally valid-
1) Be a tourist
2) Reenact and get intimately familiar with the "life and times"
3) Live fire and learn the weapons much more intimately than any reenactor ever would
 
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3rdTennCo.C

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I find reenacting to be a combination of things, it's a hobby, it's something we all enjoy and do it with pride. It's a learning experience, we learn more about the time of our interest from other more knowledgeable reenactors around us. It's a teaching experience, I find it to be the ultimate class room, it's a very immersive way and opportunity to I form and teach the public about the time. Personally I think people ultimately go to a reenactment to learn, but it's a cool way to learn to see it all I front and around you, otherwise we can just stay home and watch the history channel. I try to do as accurate of research as possible and have the most accurate portrayal as possible to show and teach people the history of the time.
 

Package4

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Change your mind? Sounds like it's already made up.

I reenacted for about 15 years through the 125th-35th events. 125th of Gettysburg was the largest ever held in the US. For me reenacting was a way to learn history on a much deeper personal level than reading. Most books and battlefield tours are about Gen SoSloppy or Col McNugget etc and don't give a view of what the common man experienced. In learning the drill, handling the guns, camping and living the 19th century lifestyle, you do gain a much, much deeper appreciation of just how tough those folks were. If nothing else, it will make you very grateful for air conditioning, a flush toilet and a modern kitchen.

So I no longer reenact. My guns now are used for live fire and I shoot live fire competition with Civil War guns in the North South Skirmish Association. We compete with pretty much all the arms from muskets to mortars to artillery, yes Virginia, we shoot cannons for score.

Here are the choices and they're all equally valid-
1) Be a tourist
2) Reenact and get intimately familiar with the "life and times"
3) Live fire and learn the weapons much more intimately than any reenactor ever would
With all due respect, the 135th Gettysburg has been acknowledged as the largest reenactor attended event ever. Over 35,000 registered from all over the world, which still pales compared to the 175,000 in 1863. The event did have a full scale Pickett’s charge with just under 15,000 charging across the field.

We joke that the NSSA is where reenactors go to die........the NSSA is a great organization and I have attended many events.
 

poorjack

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With all due respect, the 135th Gettysburg has been acknowledged as the largest reenactor attended event ever. Over 35,000 registered from all over the world, which still pales compared to the 175,000 in 1863. The event did have a full scale Pickett’s charge with just under 15,000 charging across the field.

We joke that the NSSA is where reenactors go to die........the NSSA is a great organization and I have attended many events.
I may well have had that backwards as I was at both the 125 and 135th

And WE JOKE that when reenactors demonstrate they don't eat crayons and paste glue, then we'll let them shoot live rounds:bounce:
 
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Package4

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First of all, my post is not in any way, shape or form meant to step on anyone's hobby/passion.

Secondly, I have never attended a reenactment.

Thirdly, I have had the opportunity to visit the majority of major and minor American Civil War Battlefields. With this stated, I have never found an interest to attend a reenactment in person.

Change my mind?

Bill
Just my reasons, but I have had an interest in the ACW since I was 6 y/o, when I was old enough to afford collecting, I was amazed at what was available. I did not have the the knowledge to know how the leather should wear, what a parts gun was or even what an original forage cap looked like compared to a repro.

I decided to join a re-enactment unit in order to learn how the leather reacted to continuous use, how brogans looked after hard use and who made the recreations.

There were and are so many repros being sold as original and I wanted to know the difference.

Along the way I learned incredible aspects that one would only learn through use of the accouterments, footgear and uniform pieces. My collection benefitted greatly, but I also gained many friends along the way.

Sitting around a campfire discussing the Civil War, drinking adult beverages and sharing unbelievable camaraderie, that many of us have not experienced since sports team or barracks “pards”. The additional benefit is to educate through two different aspects of re-enactment, living history and battle recreation.

The appreciation one garners for those who tread 160 years ago, is astounding. The wool, the brogans, the heavy pack, the single blanket, though they didn’t know better they were incredible marching machines.

The many vets in my particular group are in awe of what the ACW soldier had to go through. We have a Ranger who participated in the Mogadishu action, 4 Vietnam vets and 3 Iraq/Afghan sandbox vets, who to a man, marvel at the soldier of 1861.

The hobby is waning and as such numbers have become more important than authenticity, so attending a re-enactment may not be the way to view what it was like. The fields are too small and distances compressed, too many animal parts on uniforms, but better than nothing.

Just MHO, try it sometime.......
 

Buckeye Bill

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Change your mind? Sounds like it's already made up.

I reenacted for about 15 years through the 125th-35th events. 125th of Gettysburg was the largest ever held in the US. For me reenacting was a way to learn history on a much deeper personal level than reading. Most books and battlefield tours are about Gen SoSloppy or Col McNugget etc and don't give a view of what the common man experienced. In learning the drill, handling the guns, camping and living the 19th century lifestyle, you do gain a much, much deeper appreciation of just how tough those folks were. If nothing else, it will make you very grateful for air conditioning, a flush toilet and a modern kitchen.

So I no longer reenact. My guns now are used for live fire and I shoot live fire competition with Civil War guns in the North South Skirmish Association. We compete with pretty much all the arms from muskets to mortars to artillery, yes Virginia, we shoot cannons for score.

Here are the choices and they're all equally valid-
1) Be a tourist
2) Reenact and get intimately familiar with the "life and times"
3) Live fire and learn the weapons much more intimately than any reenactor ever would
I disagree with your assessment on my mind change.

I was asking out of curiosity. So I decided to start this thread. So far, I am leaning towards attending a reenactment next year.

Bill
 

poorjack

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Back when I started reenacting, the battles were exciting and lots of fun. As I spent more time in the hobby, the battles got to the point of almost being boring at most small events. I was getting more into the living history aspect and did quite a bit to improve my kit and knowledge of the era. For instance, I see lots of "authentic" reenactors stress out over small euqipment details, but they can't tell you one thing about the popular music of the time, anything at all about the politics of the state they are ostensibly from, or any other detail of 19th century living. Let's face it, they were civilians first, soldiers second. For me, that's when reenacting got really interesting.
 
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Change my mind?
I get what you're saying.

Like anything else, some events are great, others are not.
The quality of any reenactment rests upon those participating.

I'm not trying to change your mind either way, but I would suggest to attend at least one well produced reenactment.

Do some basic research, and there's no doubt you will find an event in your area that's actually decent.

The days of the grand 10,000 plus reenactors seem to be over.
But that's probably a good thing.

Just my opinion as a spectator.
I'm sure our reenacting members will have much better advice.
 

111thNYSV

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Well I love camping and I love history especially the Civil War era. This hobby lets me merge those two. I also like working on my impression and teaching other reenacts and the public.
 
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RoadDog

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We had two re-enactments canceled here in northeast Illinois this past summer. One was because the president of the Lake County Forest Preserve District didn't like it. The other one in Naperville was canceled because of attendance issues.

I always enjoy re-enactments and getting together with like-minded folks.

RoadDog
 

Eric Wittenberg

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First of all, my post is not in any way, shape or form meant to step on anyone's hobby/passion.

Secondly, I have never attended a reenactment.

Thirdly, I have had the opportunity to visit the majority of major and minor American Civil War Battlefields. With this stated, I have never found an interest to attend a reenactment in person.

Change my mind?

Bill
I've been to exactly two, Bill. I'm right there with you.

Cavalry reenactments tend to become what I call "the dance of the saber fairies". There just wasn't that much mounted hand-to-hand fighting, and it certainly wasn't dainty like the reenactors make it out to be.
 
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Story

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Change my mind?
Bill
If you're fit enough, why stay on the sidelines when you can step into the pages of a history tome?

The first reenactment I got Tom Sawyer'd into was an English Civil War event 25 years ago, because the friends who were going had enough spares to outfit me and I knew my left foot from my right. So I pushed a pike across some field in southernmost Virginia while the BBC filmed us.

Fast forward to the 135th, with multiple stories.

Then there was Battle Road 2000, where 1,200 Colonists bounded ahead of the poor sweating Crown column as it retreated from Concord to Lexington in front of 100,000 spectators.

For close to a decade, I got to watch bubbles of art-imitating-life firsthand while sweating in wool and lugging around excessively heavy weapons. I got to see chaos unfold when command groups had no cell phones, in clouds of black powder. I got to get as close to being inside of history as I could with contracting chronic diarrhea or septic poisoning from a GSW.

The smell of sweat, wood smoke, bacon and cigars.

The silence of a pre-dawn woodline, where 80 men wait as to ambush a Grenadier company.

The sight of Cushing's Battery firing on an ever-dwindling wedge of Rebels until their last gun is overrun and your own Regiment moves forward.

The way peach schnapps or a cheap bottle of Gewürztraminer cuts the taste of black powder on a crisp night.

Tents lit by candles and campfires as far as the eye can see.

Drunken Irish singing around one of those campfires.

Then it was 2001 and I had to go do different things.

As mentioned above, the age of huge reenactments is probably over for good. Maybe you can find someone to invite you to a 'tactical' event ( not open to the public) and you can catch a glimpse or two of what I've tried to share above.
 
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