Recreating History: Civil War Reinactors

A brief overview of Civil War reenactors who recreate battles of the American Civil War with startling authenticity, from clothing to muskets to accents.

From movies to television, from books to figurines, there is a fascination with the soldiers and tactics of the American Civil War. The era of the Civil War is looked upon with somewhat of a romanticized light, painting over some of the atrocities and bloodshed with a vision of the beautiful manors of the Old South and the fierce determination of the generals involved in the bloody conflict.

There are, however, groups of people who wish to show both sides of the war... the horrors and death as well as the beauty and majesty. They study and research the soldiers and tactics of the war, and strive to create an authentic reproduction of the battles and events that took place between 1860 and 1865. They are the Civil War reenactors, one of the most widely recognized living history groups.

In order to recreate the battles and times of the Civil War, reenactors invest a lot of time in research and preparation. There are often entire military units that have been recreated for battles, adding to the authenticity of the event. Everything that the reenactor does, says, and even wears and carries are as close to authentic to the period as they can get. Many reenactors even wear clothes of heavier, older materials simply because it is the same material that made up the uniforms that members of their unit would have worn during the war!

Most major Civil War battle sites have anniversary reenactments of the battles, with spectators coming from all over to watch. Battles and skirmishes will go on for hours, creating the look, noise, and feel of the battles that took place at the site over a hundred years earlier. Though surrounded by the modern world, many who have come to watch find that time is briefly suspended as they watch US history come to life before their very eyes.

Of course, there's more to Civil War reenacting than just taking part in recreations of battles. Many groups will also hold balls and parties much like those that would have occurred during the wartime era. During reenactments, the soldiers will usually have period encampments set up, and will go about the day-to-day activities of soldiers from the 1860's. The only major difference from the soldiers of old and those of today is that the modern soldiers eliminate the hatred and bigotry that was present on both sides of the battlefield during the original war.

In addition to recreating Civil War life and warfare, many reenactors actively work to preserve the heritage of the Civil War era. Whether it is making sure that accounts of battles that are being taught are as accurate as possible or campaigning to keep old battlefields from being destroyed by modern progress, the reenactors work to make sure that a vital piece of American history is neither lost nor forgotten.

For more information about Civil War reenactors, you can do an internet search for "Civil War Reenactors", or visit the forums and websites of groups such as The Civil War Reenactors Home Page. You can also check with local Civil War historical sites, as many will have contact with reenacting groups in the local area. Should you wish to become a reenactor yourself, the first step is to get in touch with a local group and talk to those in charge. They often have lists of equipment that you'll need depending upon the side that you prefer, and can usually recommend the best places to get it.

Regardless of whether you decide to become a reenactor or not, if you're a fan of history and warfare, it's highly recommended that you attend a reenactment if you should get the chance.

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