by Charlie McCulloh
I would suppose that this falls in the
category of a critique, although it really is just a personal observation. Some
of these observations come from recently attending “Ham & Yam”
reenactments in Georgia and
Tennessee, while the majority come from several years of experience.
The average Civil War reeneactor has read no more than 3 books on the War. Most
are general knowledge books and they usually get their rudimentary
information from trade magazines like “Civil War Times”,etc.
75% of reenactors strive to look and act like other reenactors, they do no
research on what the original soldiers themselves actually resembled or the
functions they preformed.
I used to think that 75% just needed guidance to improve their impression. I was
wrong, I now believe that they honestly do not care. Doing research and
improving will interfere with their “fun”.
A large percentage of Civil War male reenactors use reenacting as an excuse to
get away from “the ball and chain” and get knee crawling drunk.
A large percentage of Civil War male reenators care nothing for the minutia of
drill and soldier life and are here to play a structured form of “Cowboys and
Indians (invariably the Yankees)”. I believe the quote is “lets burn some
The larger the reenactment the more proportional is the Yahoo factor. Large
reenactments draw every marginal psychotic and part time Yahoo reenactor. Event
staff protest loudly but do nothing as this will decrease their
numbers. While our Battalion stands in line for uniform and equipment inspection
some Yahoo is crawling out of his truck with his cowboy boots, drop fly cotton
trousers, wool blend sack coat and leather Confederate kepi complete with
crossed muskets and “Rebel” flag decal. He will stand next to you in line
during the scramble of battle and desperately try and shoot your ear off.
If a commander institutes stringent requirements for authenticity he will
probably loose a large number of
troops. He will then loose his basis for command. This is wrong and the whole
system is set up for the lowest common denominator.
It appears that the reenacting community “General Staff”, which includes the
various commanding generals of the different Divisions, Battalions, etc.,
can be stricken with petty politics at any given time. I wish they could
do what dogs do and just sniff each others butts as this establishes the
dominance order quickly with little
fuss and no politics.
The reenacting community continually gives mildly
retarded, borderline psychotic and socially challenged people rifles and
sends them out on the field to boost numbers. This is wrong and dangerous.
Reenacting has begun and will continue to divide along the basis of
authenticity. The marginal units and the progressive units will drift further
and further apart and in 5 years will not be at the same events. Good? Bad? I
don’t know but it’s headed that direction even now.
this what you will, “living history”, “reenacting”, “applied
archeology”, or whatever.....it’s changing. We need to be at the forefront.