You're going to be discouraged with the responses you get because they're not telling you what you want to hear. You want to combine your interests in the Civil War genre. That's great. What you're not hearing is that the advice to find a unit first and follow their guidance. Artillery is a great place to start because you need the uniform, and no side arms. However, you need to drill with that battery to know the drill, know the people and know how they interact. You can't just walk up to them day of and ask to pull the lanyard. You want to include swordsmanship. Awesome. When I was an NCO I learned the fencing drill from the period manual. I feel that if I'm going to carry a weapon, I jolly well am going to know how to use it. So, learn to fence by the period manual. Find a friend who will par with you and do a demonstration at an event. But don't expect to do much with your edged weapon on the reenactment battlefield. The really big step you need to take is to sign on with a unit and follow the guidance of that unit, rather than the crowdsourced advice from internet fora, as excellent as it may be.