IMHO, a complicated discussion.
Largely due to the way "reenacting" evolved different branches over time.
The first branch being the concept of founding fathers/benign or not so benign dictators at the unit level also "rising" to amalgamated or combined batalion/brigade/armies levels. So, the is the mix of hereditary officers some actual leads, others socio-emotive figures.
And the other brand being part and parcel of the Authenticity Movement of 1998-2004 where the hobby-traditional units were eschewed in favor of messes and individuals constantly forming and reforming units-du-jour comng together to recreate specific units with specific command and rank structures on an event-by-event basis. And, with many of the leaders being asked or tapped to assume rank they otherwise avoided like the plague but had their arms twisted to capitalize on their leadership qualities and/or experience.
The other side of the coin, IMHO, is more "social." There is an appeal of sorts in adding perceived and to some extent hobby-granted recognition, prestige, reputation, etc., for made-up hobby and fraternal association "rank" that exists outside of "real" rank, title, position earned in the Real World..
But Society can be funny about that. America which is supposed to be classless, still has a class if not caste system giving some people title, position, and actually military or para-military (police) rank to add to one's name. OR, in some professions, the "legal right" to add letters in front of one's name or behind one's name such medical doctors or lawyers.
America can be odd about it, as compared to some countries. In America a field grade military officer might keep the title of his rank for the rest of his life even though he or she is no longer serving. Much the same with a politician.... "Governor So-and-So" remains Governor even if they served for half a term. Not so much for an NCO or company officer.
The other comment has a long standing past and tradition. "Academia" NUG criticizes reenactors as fools misrepresenting and getting history wrong. Reenactors, even at so-called Farb levels of Yahooism, criticize academics for beign snooty, snobby, and for failing to recognize their accomplishments or achievements even when truely bogus and outright wrong. And in Society, there is always the argument over who has the "right" to comment on and portray 'history?" Which reenactors usually buck or lose to as that is generally the self-claimed private domain of only academics, writers, and Hollywood.
And there are a small number of highly educated folks in the Hobby, as well as a few who can be found posting here with no prefixes, no suffixes, and not even the mention of a Hobby rank even if it is Rear Rank Private.
IMHO still, and for me personally, I was not a Civil War soldier and cannot lay or make claim to their titles even "private." But, portraying and intrerpreting, I do present or pretend to be when the occassion or scenario calls for (functional) rank.
But being pretend reality, as my old unit-mate Froggy John did, anyone can go to sutler's row or make an on-line purchase of colonel's or general's insignia and make themselves a colonel or general because....
And that is part of the "Hobby."
Others' mileage will vary...
Student of History Mess
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.