The great, vanishing, Civil War re-enactor
As someone with lots of friends that are into living history, a former period Texas cavalryman (have you ever priced a workable McClellan Saddle or sweated through a pair of wool pants in Vicksburg in July?!) and a frequent visitor to the Fall Muster at Beauvoir, I found this interesting.
The Week has a great piece on the modern reenactor or lack thereof.
“We try to be as authentic as we can without getting dysentery,” Brennan said of his unit, several of whom were frying bacon and brewing coffee over a fire. They were camped in a sea of canvas tents that housed many of the 6,000 re-enactors at the event. Beyond the spectator stands and hot dog stalls, the Confederates were camped just out of sight.
The 155th Gettysburg anniversary re-enactment, which was held over the second weekend in July, was a chance for dedicated hobbyists to blast away at one another with antique rifles and rekindle old friendships over campfire-cooked meals. Spectators paid $40 to watch nearly a dozen mock skirmishes over the course of four days, and there was an old-timey ball Saturday night. An Abraham Lincoln impersonator was on hand to pose for photos.
It was also a snapshot of a hobby in decline. Gettysburg is among the biggest re-enactments of the year, and it still draws thousands to the sweltering Pennsylvania countryside in the middle of summer.
But that’s nothing compared with the re-enactments of the 1980s and ’90s, when tens of thousands would turn out. In 1998, at the 135th anniversary of Gettysburg, there were an estimated 30,000 re-enactors and 50,000 spectators.