American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Civil War Reenactment: Living History

Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

Civil War Reenactment in the United States
War reenactment is by no means an American phenomenon. Both the Greeks and the Romans had battle scenes in their dramatic cultures. Among the great reenactments is the 1066 Battle of Hastings that gave birth to modern England, and the number of reenactors can reach 5,000. The dressing up in 11th century war gear (medieval steel helmets, etc) takes place under the guidance of English Heritage, which is closely associated with the British government. In the U.S. no was has spread the reenactment like the Civil War - and right now many reenactors are gearing up for a round of 150th anniversary encampments to begin in 2011 at Fort Sumter.

Re-enactors in full uniform enliven Civil War walking tour
It seemed to be a ghost, awakened after 150 years -- wearing the dark blue uniform of a Union officer from the American Civil War, a pistol strapped to one hip, a sword hanging from the other, a clay pipe between his teeth. He was not a ghost, of course, but Ernest Dollar, the executive director of the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill, and a Civil War historian and re-enactor. Soon he'll be in in his Union blues again to lead "O' Cruel War," a walking tour of Civil War sites in Chapel Hill. The historical tour will stop at several sites along the way, and characters portraying famous figures will tell their tales.

The Battle of Chickamauga: The biggest Civil War re-enactment in the west
The 145th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga, September 18-20, 1863, aims to be the largest re-enactment in the west this year. During the re-enactments, expected to attract 50000-100000 people, spectators can take part by riding to the site on the Tennessee Valley Railroad from Chattanooga with Confederate General James Longstreet's Army. A full-scale Union field hospital with surgeons and nurses will be in place, with the HQ encampments of General George Thomas, Patrick Cleburne and Ulysses Grant. Chickamauga is second only to the Battle of Gettysburg as to the number of casualties.

Civil War re-enactor accidentally shoots himself in foot
A Civil War re-enactor taking part in a mock skirmish at the American Civil War Museum was injured in an accidental self-inflicted "gun shot." The re-enactors were using blank cartridges - which lack a projectile and consist only of black powder. Re-enactor Patrick Williams, with the 42nd Mississippi, id'd the injured compatriot as a member of the 15th Alabama. "The shooting was almost over, when the victim accidentally shot himself and got the very tip of his boot." Period muskets, even replicas, can shoot a sheet of flame up to 3 feet just from a powder charge.

Civil War re-enactors create cottage industry   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A line of Rebels in itchy wool pants stand in the hot sun near a line of cannons, waiting for the battle to begin. They look across the field at blue-coated Union soldiers stuffing their 1860s rifles with gunpowder. "Ready to take them Yankees, boys?" a commander asks. "Let's get 'em!" a solider yells back. Rooted partially in a 1960s centennial commemoration, Civil War re-enacting across the nation has grown to include hundreds of battles and 40,000 hobbyists - some spending $30,000 on a working cannon, hours practicing how to look dead and crash-dieting to resemble a starving rebel.

Civil War re-enactment battle at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista
Civil War re-enactors faced off for a noon battle at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista, and though the air soon filled with the rifle fire and the boom of cannons, nobody went down. It wasn't just because the clash was all noise and smoke, no bullets. "Would you want to be the first one to fall down?" asked re-enactor Al Haun. The soldiers had been planning this event for weeks. Most had about $1,600 worth of equipment: uniform, musket, canteen, cartridge box. They wanted to use all of it. For Thomas Scofield authenticity means owning military uniforms for both the Union and Confederate armies.

A Civil War re-enactment without the soldiers - Life in the home front
A Civil War re-enactment without the soldiers. Few have heard of such an exploit, but two women took part in one. Debbie Douglas and Patty Payne acted in a Civil War documentary shot in late January. The film focuses on the diaries of 3 women during the American Civil War. They portrayed two of the characters and did voiceovers for the roles. The documentary will show what the war was like on the home front. When completed, the scenes will be a part of a permanent exhibition of the East Tennessee Historical Society for the History Center in Knoxville.

Civil War buff, author Marty Bertera tries 1812 re-enacting, too
Marty Bertera, author of 2 books about the Civil War and owner of 20 uniforms from American wars, enjoys time spent re-enacting battles at Gettysburg, Antietam and Vicksburg. Each year, he spends countless hours performing at Living History events or doing research about the Civil War. He even has a chess set with figures dressed like soldiers from the Union and Confederate armies. But he's not afraid to role play in other conflicts. Last month, he put on a blue frock coat and rifle and stepped back even further into time to take part in the annual Battle of the River Raisin in Monroe. It was his first time in the 1812 battle as a foot soldier in the 1st Michigan regiment.

Reliving the Civil War - Battle of Camino Real reenactment
The sound of cannons and gunfire echoed across Lake Madison Park as the bodies of injured and dead soldiers lay across a battlefield. When the smoke cleared on the Civil War re-enactment set, men and women in Union and Confederate uniforms began piling people onto wagons, and they were hurried to a tent for treatment. From the costumes to the cookware, along with the tools from the 1860s, the weekend let reenactors and visitors to the camp take a trip back in time. Area students visited the camp for a living history "education day," in which reenactors demonstrated weaving, weaponry and 1860s crafts.

Fake war is hell, to organize -- Busy reenactors
General Mike Hardy, in his Confederate uniform, can identify with film director Cecil B. DeMille. For the past 8 years he has been responsible for supervising the Brooksville Raid's "cast of thousands." From outlining troop encampments to directing battlefield traffic, it's a monumental job that requires patience and tact. "I guess you could say I'm part choreographer, part timekeeper. Mostly what I try to do is keep 3,000 people happy." Hardy's interest in the Civil War led to him take up re-enacting 30 years ago. In addition to functioning as coordinator of various re-enactments in Florida, he also commands a 600-soldier Confederate unit, Hardy's Brigade.

Women re-enactors keep Gettysburg history alive without firing a shot   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Spectators at Civil War battle re-enactment are not likely to see a woman on the battlefield. But hundreds of female re-enactors come to Gettysburg each summer to take on the roles wives, mothers, sisters and daughters played in the 3-day battle. "Some dressed as men and fought alongside their husbands, but mostly they were nurses or took care of fires, cooking, cleaning, sewing, and everything else that needed to be done," said Andrea DiMartino. Female re-enactors stay in both the military and civilian camps on the Gettysburg farm where the re-enactment is held, but most are stationed in the living history area of the site.

Photo gallery: Civil War reenactors at Gettysburg
Photographs of Civil War reenactors at Gettysburg. As part of the 21st annual Civil War Heritage Days at the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park in Pennsylvania, volunteer groups of reenactors offered visitors a look at camp life during the war. Among them were the 20th Maine Infantry and the U.S. Sharpshooters, who also demonstrated battlefield tactics.

Civil War buff: "I for a while made my living as a Civil War re-enactor"
C.J. Roberts got his first sword when he was 7. The second one came a few months later. Not the plastic swords: Civil War authentic. He kept them in his room, along with other Civil War treasures. "If you asked me where I wanted to go on vacation, it was generally to a Civil War battlefield." Roberts is chief executive officer of the Tampa Bay History Center. He has had a thing for the Civil War, history and museums, for as long as he can remember. "I feel very fortunate to be in a career that combines both." The Tampa Bay History Center is moving to a new location, and Roberts, who helped build the National D-Day Museum, was hired to lead the mission.

Battle of Shiloh revisited - 8,000 re-enactors for 145th anniversary
For the past few days, members of the Armies of Tennessee have been preparing a 1,100-acre site for a history-making event. Saturday morning, the small Hardin County community of Michie will host one of the greatest battles of the Civil War: the Battle of Shiloh. The sounds of muskets and cannons will rocket through the air as the smell of gunpowder hovers over the landscape like a cloud. Organizers anticipate more than 8,000 re-enactors for the 2-day event depicting the 145th anniversary of the-battle. The site of the re-enactment is south of Shiloh National Park, where the actual battle took place April 6-7, 1862.

Past inspires vows for Civil War enthusiasts
When the staff at Idlewild Park were looking for something new to feature during the Ligonier attraction's annual Memorial Day Salute Civil War encampment, Sam Foster stepped forward with a novel idea: a military-style wedding. Sam and his wife, Cindy, are both Civil War reenactors, and they were preparing to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary when he brought the idea up within his unit. "You have to be correct, because you have people coming out to see you," Sam said. Achieving authenticity comes with a price: A basic uniform will set a reenactor back about $500. Once the cost of rifles and artillery is included, that figure can soar to $1,700.

The 1864 Battle of Olustee Civil War re-enactment
The Battle of Olustee Civil War reenactment is 3-day event, and one of the first big re-enactments of the year. Vendors, called sutlers, allow participants to stock up on vintage military uniforms, guns and gear, said Lane Palmer, dressed in a Confederate uniform. "We kind of use it as the kickoff to the season." The event re-creates the largest Civil War battle (2,807 deaths) in Florida. The Confederacy won the battle. The Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park is home to an annual re-enactment that attracts tens of thousands visitors. At the conclusion 2,400 participants donned Civil War gear and re-created the battle.

Civil War Re-enactors take roles seriously - the Battle of Olustee
Over the past 30 years, Jeff Grzelak has been Yank and Reb, brigadier general and private. He's been shot, blown up and run over by a cannon - for real more often than he'd like. This weekend, he will be one of 2,400 Civil War re-enactors to take part in the 31st annual re-enactment of the Battle of Olustee, the bloody fight near Lake City in Feb 1864 that claimed more than a quarter of the men on both sides. The annual event draws about 40,000 visitors and carries a $3.1 million economic impact, said Dewey Weaver, commanding general of the Blue-Gray Army, the organization that sponsors the festival.

I was asked if I'd like to attend a Civil War reenactment
When I was asked if I'd like to attend a Civil War reenactment, I pictured a field the size of a large backyard with about 40 guys milling around. I pictured them in whatever blue or gray winter Goodwill overcoats they could find, running at each other with fake muskets until they were tired (I gave them 20 minutes) and then rising from the dead, and squabbling about who won. We arrived at the 15th annual Battle of Townsend's Plantation and Civil War Festival and found not a handful, but an RV park-full of people: men, women and even kids in perfect period costumes, including real Colonel Sanders suits and mustaches (not so much on the women).

The fifth annual "The Blue and The Gray" reenactment
Underwood Farms will be the scene of the greatest battle of the Civil War, the bloody meeting between North and South at Gettysburg in July 1863. Soldiers in authentic uniforms, shooting cannons and speaking the same language as if plucked from the annals of history will reenact several key battles of the Gettysburg campaign, the turning point of the war. In addition to infantry clashes, cavalry charges, artillery barrages and cannon explosions, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and President Abraham Lincoln will make his Gettysburg Address of Nov. 19, 1863.

Re-enactors - Civil War Uniforms   (Article no longer available from the original source)
An average Civil War re-enactor spends at least $800 on his civil war uniform and supplies, according to Michael Mescher. Cannons can cost a unit up to $10,000. He is a member of the 42nd Virginia Infantry, a Confederate regiment. Most of the supplies come from Civil War vendors called Sutlers, after the real Sutlers who sold supplies to both armies during the Civil War. "We started this so people could find out more about what Civil War soldiers did instead of just knowing about huge battle scenarios."

Romney changed hands more than 50 times - Reenactment
The town of Romney changed hands between the Union and the Confederacy more than 50 times. Re-enacted battles are being staged as part of Hampshire County's annual Heritage Days. If you are imagining a handful of rag-tag Civil War buffs shooting blanks at each other - think again. This event will involve as many as 36 Confederate and Union army units, numbering from 350 to 500 soldiers. They will have from 4-8 cannons and 40 mounted cavalry. The strategy and outcome of the battles will be determined by the generals commanding the troops just as they did during the actual war.

Reenactment honoring female Civil War soldier of 95th Infantry
Albert Cashier was the name taken by Jennie Hodgers when she enlisted in the Union Army in 1862. Hodgers came to the U.S. from Ireland. Her true gender was discovered only a few years before her death in 1915 and she was buried wearing a Union Army uniform. She was a member of the 95th Illinois Infantry, which fought in bloody battles including the battle of Vicksburg. Civil War reenactment groups will mount "living history" displays in the Saunemin Summer Celebration, one of them will depict Albert Cashier. Watchers can guess who is depicting Cashier. The winner will be able to fire a cannon.

Civil War Re-Enactors for Movies and documentaries
Russ Richards plunged into Civil War re-enacting as a hobby, at times playing an extra on film. He didn't like what the camera usually showed: Re-enactors and living historians appeared older and heavier than the soldiers who would have fought. Now he runs Historical Entertainment out of basement. There, amid movie posters, he and Jodi Nolan review projects and keep records on their re-enactor clients and props. Richards can provide young, authentically dressed soldiers for film, but not for free. Most movie sets and documentaries pay re-enactors little or nothing. He also has lined up an array of historically accurate props: carriages, wagons, cannons...

Reenactors Revive Civil War Struggle
45 years ago 2,500 soldiers marched on Manassas National Battlefield Park to mark the Battle of First Manassas (First Bull Run). Dressed in cheap blue and gray work shirts (as uniforms), they ran and fired blanks. Stuffed dummies were set to look like corpses. There were 50,000 spectators, and the hobby of Civil War reenacting was born. The crowd took a heavy toll on the park, and that was the last time the National Park let reenactors use the battlefield. But the hobby has grown and so has the dedication to material authenticity. It's one of the fastest-growing hobbies, and there are about 150,000 Civil War reenactors.

General Marmaduke honored during Civil War re-enactment
A small cross made of sticks, the sword of a fallen soldier and the Confederate flag were part of a ceremony for Major General John Sappington Marmaduke. He led several successful cavalry raids into Missouri. Battle of Chalk Bluff took place on May 1-2, 1863. He commanded the Confederate cavalry, Brigadier General William Vandever commanded the Union`s 2nd Division, Army of the Frontier. Vandever pursued Marmaduke to the point where he planned to cross river at Chalk Bluff. Marmaduke set up a rear guard in an effort to protect crossing. The rear guard got heavy casualties, but hold off Vandever. Due to the casualties, Marmaduke was forced to end the expedition.

Authenticity reigns at Civil War Days   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Vickie Verstraete has been participating in Civil War re-enactments since she was a little girl. Now a mother of four, she and her husband bring their own children to re-enactments. As she ripped pieces of white cloth into bandages Saturday afternoon, one of her sons tended the camp`s fire. The re-enactors including the `civilians` sleep in tents, use period-specific tools and wear clothing representative of the Civil War era. "We strive to be as authentic as possible," she said.