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Thread: Sooooo....Why do it?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    91

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    I started getting interested in reenacting when I was in High School doing a family history assignment, and discovered that my father’s family actually became divided because of the war. (And they’re still divided today about it), my dad’s family split over the right to self governs and not be told how to live by the central government. I had one relative that died at Gettysburg, and one that was captured in the battle of Nashville, taken prisoner and died of dysentery in Camp Chase. While doing all the research and talking with living relatives about all of the family fighting over states rights, the right to own slaves, and heavy tariffs on imported products, my mother mentioned that she had a relative that also fought in the Civil War, and she had a bunch of his stuff!
    My mom was a Shaw, so guess whom was her relative? Robert Gould Shaw, of the 54th. Mass. I have his 31. Colt that his parents bought him, it is beautifully engraved and addressed to him from “Mom and Dad”, I have a set of his Colonel shoulder boards, his collapsible silver drinking cup, also engraved, his match safe from his wife to him, and a fife from the 54th. With the lead mouthpiece so African Americans could play it easier.
    In the beginning I joined a US unit in 1991 and then after a couple of years noticed that the confederate units were actually having more fun at camp, so I decided to try CS and have never gone back.
    I would suggest that you visit several units in your area and barrow equipment if you can to try it out. A good unit is hard to find, many want new recruits for the numbers, and will make you feel welcome, but later you find out it just is not the one for you and your stuck with so and so unit style “Kit” and it is expensive to change. You need to figure out what kind of reenacting you want to do, and how “Farby” a unit you want to belong to. How accurate do you want to do an impression, do you want to ruff it so to speak or have a cot, stove and tent. Do you mind drinking out of a semi-rusty tin cup or a farby stainless steel one. Talk and ask lots of questions of someone that you like their impression when you visit reenactments. Buy the best equipment you can afford, there is a lot of junk out there and a lot of not so accurate uniforms and clothing. Remember that you need good shoes, buy a very good pair of brogans, don’t go for the off the rack Mexican junk. If your thinking of doing both sides, then buy a US musket not a Richmond so no one gives you any greif when your in a Union camp. Read true accounts from the war written by veterans, visit museums, and talk to your local round table folks. Learn as much as you can so that you can make informed decisions on what you want to do and get out of this hobby.

    Gerald Drake

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    185

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    Like many hobbies, you will find a broad spectrum of people who reenact for different reasons. Yes, some people can take this hobby to the extreme and/or in the hobby for the wrong reasons. Confederate reenactors can have an especially tough time with pubic image given the slavery issue. However most educated people understand confederate reenactors are in the hobby for historic interest.

    I have been in this hobby as a Union reenactor a little over a year and have heard nothing but positive comments when I share information about the hobby! So, for the most part people seem curious but not negative.

    First, in regards to falling in with the wrong crowd, I would make this judgement based on the actions and attitudes of the people in your unit, not the hobby in general. If you don't feel comfortable with the people in your current unit or there are obvious negative actions going on, check-out another unit.

    Second, tell people what you have told us. Your love for history. Honoring your ancestors. Communications does wonders to promote the hobby in a positive light.

    Personally I reenact because:
    Always had an interest in history including the Civil War Era.
    Being an "Ambassador of History" and teaching people about the Civil War
    "I'll admit it" The little boy in me!
    Hanging out with a bunch of history nerds!

    Joe Musgrove
    "I fight for Uncle Abe"

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    2,430

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    I do it as a performance based postmodern critique of 21st century consumerist ideology. And I like pie.
    M. A. Schaffner
    Midstream Regressive Complainer

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    418

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    Its a special something inside of you that drives the need.
    -Patrick Q.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Savage, Maryland
    Posts
    596

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pvt Schnapps View Post
    I do it as a performance based postmodern critique of 21st century consumerist ideology. And I like pie.
    Say, Moderators -- is there a "Like" button around here somewhere?

    B.C. Milligan
    Syncophantic Mess

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    603

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    Sir,my father actually use to write for Salon.com.When I asked him about this article months ago,he said it was no shock to him.From what he has said,Salon is an anti-southern,hateful magazine.The people who wirte for it are generally New Englang WASPs that,though they claim to know reality of the avaerage person,really are out of the loop on most things.They look down on anything that is not New England,NYC,or west coast because they claim that it is "anti-intelliectual" when in reality most simply do not understand nor do they wish to understand.

    As far as the article goes,do not take it to heart.They write on the 150th Moultrie.I was there,and there were a number of reasons that the mortor was not proper scale and fired at 6:30.Mostly because of Federal regulation.Instead of going to the event,I get the feeling this fellow simply read articles offline and went from there.For the whole "Neo-Nazis" recruiting,that is just total bull$h1t.You will find racists in this hobby,but you will find that everywhere.Most of the people I know in this hobby have the thinking of Dr. King and many other civil rights leaders of the 50s and 60s;judge by the person,not by race.Those that are racists do not count in my book,nor should they count in yours.

    The article also seems to have a sense that we have no idea of real war.I can not speak for myself about actual warfare (thank God),but this hobby is full of veterans,many of whom have been in warzones.They would be better to write on this subject then I can.I can also say that out of my experience,about half in the hobby are active duty or retired military,law enforcement,or firefighting.Again,those that are can explain better about their reasons behind the hobby.

    If you truely wish to understand the hobby,go to a few events,and meet the people.You can get the first hand knowledge you wish to see if you like the hobby or not.You may come to find out that it is something you don't wish to do.Or you may find out you truely love the hobby.You must first get the experience,than decide.

    Just my 2% of 100 pennies.
    Cullen Smith
    South Union Guard

    "Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite, and furthermore always carry a small snake"~W.C. Fields

    "When I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey; and when I drink water, I drink water."~Michaleen Flynn 'The Quiet Man'

  7. #17

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    Hallo!

    Life and Reality can be different depending upon whether one is inside of the fish bowl looking out, or outside looking in.

    More times than not "reenacting" carries a VERY negative association and reputation in both Academia and the broadcast and print Media. The fight is a socio-cultural one, as the issue is who can (legitimately) own history and in what ways.

    Sadly in many instances it has been earned by rampant Farbery and gross Yahooism, and maybe throw in a bit of Lost Cause Mythology. And triply sadly because it usually always totally ignores the social history, material culture, preservation/conservation, and even academic contributions that segments of the Broad Umbrella have made over the years.
    Instead, there is derision, ridicule, quick laugh, and the overwhelming desire to present and portray 'reenactors' and 'reenacting' as either half-wits or idiots dressed in costumes playing Cowboys-and-Indians, , or a collection of bigots and racists.

    Sigh.

    Double sigh.

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    109

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pvt Schnapps View Post
    I do it as a performance based postmodern critique of 21st century consumerist ideology. And I like pie.
    Proof that brevity is indeed the soul of wit.

    Similarily, one of the the reasons I do it is an escape from the modern pressures of our hectic 24-hour techno-culture, a short vacation from both time and place.
    Scott Lawalin
    Pvt., 49th Indiana

    "You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; [then] beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." - General Sir James Napier

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Expatriate Kentuckian in Florida
    Posts
    108

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    Quote Originally Posted by welshman15 View Post
    Proof that brevity is indeed the soul of wit.

    Similarily, one of the the reasons I do it is an escape from the modern pressures of our hectic 24-hour techno-culture, a short vacation from both time and place.
    I'll sign up for that reason too; the only way I can ever get away from the smartphone/email.
    _______________________
    Greg Walden

    4th Kentucky Infantry, Cotton States Battalion

    Honoring Ensign Robert H. Lindsay, 4th Ky. Vol. Inf.
    KIA Jonesboro, GA August 31, 1864
    Roll of Honor for Murfreesboro and Chickamauga

    __________
    Member, The Company of Military Historians

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    348

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    I'm originally from England, I have no ancestors who fought on either side of the conflict. My first experience of reenacting was watching a Napoleonic War event in Scarborough when I was nine years old. I got involved with Civil War reenacting through a shooting club which I was a member of when I was 14 and have been doing it ever since.

    I've always found reenacting to be a hobby/lifestyle/passion which crosses boundaries within society. It is a demographic cross section of society. You have reenactors from every profession, upbringing, background, religious alignment, political affiliation. I really do think their are few hobbies like it for bringing people together. People who you would not even talk to outside of reenacting, or who you may actively try and avoid outside of reenacting, are suddenly wearing the same uniforms, your mess mates, and even sleeping next to you.

    That said, I understand why some people outside of reenacting have a negative view of the hobby. A lot of the conversations that come up regarding the Civil War are about why we're fighting, and, when done for the public, the conversation generally will swing around to subjects that are taboo within modern sensibilities. In a number of cases that I have seen, reenactors are talking about issues with "the darkies" and the public to whom they are talking leave the conversation believing they were talking to a racist or a person with an extremist viewpoint, when, in actuality they were doing a presentation in first person of a person with a real - and publicly acceptable - viewpoint from the 1860s.
    Simon Taylor
    Comp F, CVG (Rowdy Boys)
    Comp E, 28th NY
    Rochester, NY

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