Civil War Photo Contest
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- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
Just in time for Valentine's Day, this week Throwback Thursday revisits a horrible and primitive early reenactment at an otherwise beautiful and romantic antebellum Louisiana plantation outside New Orleans known as Destrehan. Above, Yours Truly alongside one of the lovely volunteers I met there, Miss Jeannine Marie Louise Fontenot, at the inevitable Military Ball inside the Big House on Saturday night. Held January 21-22, 1977 this was in too many ways "typical" of early events like this: as usual in the Deep South there was a dearth of Federals so those of us who could "galvanized" for the occasion: I'm wearing the converted black masonic frock coat with appliqued artillery red piping and repro Federal brass buttons and white band gloves I featured in another thread last month; Jeannine is wearing a cast-off and recycled prom dress!
According to the text on the back of this period post card, d'ESTREHAN PLANTATION MANOR, DESTREHAN, LOUISIANA [was] Built in 1787 for Robin deLogny. The two wings were added in the early 1800's to accommodate the 14 children of deLogny's daughter Celeste and her husband Jean Noel d'Estrehan. The venerable old house had sat abandoned for over a dozen years when it was finally acquired by the River Road Historical Society in 1972 and who were attempting to restore it when they made what turned out to be the questionable decision to hold a reenactment as a money-raiser.
Unfortunately the event turned into a major fiasco for them for several reasons, including the decision to hold it in mid-winter, usually a wet time here in the South, and this was little different. There was no rain as I remember but a chilly fog that blanketed everything and discouraged spectator attendance. However, the biggest problem turned out to be the lack of planning: a Saturday skirmish covered an acre or more of woodlands in which the spectators were actually allowed to roam freely in and around the battle as it progressed free-form and spontaneous with little or no scripted plan! It should come as no surprise that some fool reenactor managed to get hurt while playing Cowboys-and-Indians, reacting as most do by flailing around looking for someone else other than himself to blame; naturally he wound up suing the River Road Historical Society since they had sponsored the event, thereby eliminating any profit they may have made.
Happily, they seem to have somehow weathered the event. It has now been many years since I visited; sometime in the mid-1980's my mother and I stopped on our way back from a New Orleans cruise on the Delta Queen. As I remember the empty and run-down manor house of the 1970's had largely been restored and decorated with period antiques, likely looking every bit as grand as it had over a century earlier.
Anyone else having (preferably) old photos, mementoes, or memorabilia from reenactments or other events or vacation or other travel is welcome and encouraged to share them with us in this weekly thread!