Wow!!! It was truly a dream come true to attend my first ever Civil War reenactment! (drum roll please). From watching the battle, to building a fire, to dancing the evening away, it was such a great experience!
Thank you so much Sara Gonzalez (EnsemblesofthePast.com) for taking me!
We arrived on Friday afternoon and started setting up camp. My teacher, so kindly, let me borrow her extra canvas tent. It was hot and sunny, though everyone was worried about a bad storm coming, I chose not to worry, after all I was too excited!
We got a perfect camp site on a hill removed from all the others. It such a cozy little spot. The rest of our group arrived and we finished staking up our camp. Using a canvas fly for better weather protection.
I volunteered to start the fire, I have always enjoyed it. For some reason it makes me feel very competent and skilled. So I got to it, stopping every now and then to go gather more brush. (humming civil war songs of course) LOL.
When it was finally going strong (‘some’ people were really doubting it would start) but both it and I prevailed. I was able to roast an apple. (it’s sorta my tradition at campfires). If you have never roasted an apple over a open fire you definitely need to!
The evening settled in and after some popcorn…
We sang some hymns and then retired to bed. I do have to thank my friend for removing the large June bug from my tent though. (ewww creepy)
The temperature had been in the 80’s, over night it dropped at least 20 degrees, causing a huge thunderstorm….
The lightning would flash and light up my tent, while the thunder cracked like 1000 canons. Easy to say I don’t think any of us got much sleep. And it was with great relief that I saw the morning dawn and trying to keep warm, quickly changed into my dress again.
I have to say there is something very peaceful about waking up early, something about looking over at the other camps and watching the soldiers slowly begin to rouse and small campfires flicker to life. Something peaceful.
The stillness…. before the battle, like calm before a storm.
So while I waited outside I ate my breakfast,
I was bundled up to the gills and felt like some sort of baggage lady waiting in the corner of a train station. lol
Then we headed over to the barn and I participated in a fashion show! I represented a working class maid!
After that I spent the rest of the morning and the early afternoon trying to get warm. I mostly stayed in my tent, thankful for the extra blanket I had brought, and dozing in and out of sleep.
The funny thing about these canvas tents is that they don’t have bottoms, so I was sleeping on a tarp but you could watch the rain dripping off the bottom of the tent and running in little streams on either side. Kind of funny actually. After a slightly miserable morning our group of SASSM members (Soldiers Aid Society of Southern Missouri) gathered to collect song sheets and walk through the camps singing to the soldiers.
This was definitely a highlight for me! We walked around requesting to sing a hymn, handing out 1860’s Bible tracks, and cookies.
It was funny how many of them asked us, after we sang, if we would be at the dance that night. We also got some very funny replies, and were even once asked if any of us were single? (I died laughing some of these soldiers have a good sense of humor.)
Most were very nice and really liked our singing, I found it such a amazing unique way to evangelize and I was so excited to bring Gods light to some of these people!
Afterwards we hurried back to our tents to get ready for the ‘afor mentioned dance.
I didn’t snap any pictures as I was busy dancing, but it was such a marvelous time and terribly exciting! The dances were simple and fun to follow. The callers were very entertaining and played the fiddle and guitar, supplying live music as they called out the steps.
I had been concerned I would have no one to dance with, but surprisingly that didn’t happen. And I actually got to dance my first waltzes ( though I will admit I didn’t really remember what a waltz was in the beginning lol)
Well this story is kind of funny and embarrassing but, lets not let that stop me from telling it. So I was terribly upset no one was asking me to dance, so, exasperated I put my hands and my hips and turning to a group of idle soldiers exclaimed dramatically “Won’t anyone dance with me?” (I know I’m so embarrassing, ‘ahhhh’)
Anyway one of them did, but I still can’t believe I was that bold, LOL (cringes)
Anyway so the night went on and I really did have a marvelous time and had some great conversations with some of my dance partners! I love the old fashioned rule where the man must escort the lady to and from the dance floor! The one thing I am still upset at myself for is not catching some of the soldiers names, and I will try harder next time. I was even waltzing with myself at the end (its tradition) when someone ‘cut in’.
Afterwards, I went back to my tent to write down many a story in my diary (no you don’t get to here all of them, sorry). Finally warm from all the exertion, I fell asleep.
The next day dawned slightly warmer, and again waking up early I enjoyed the quiet and read more of my ‘Victorian flower Dictionary’ again bundled up like Eskimo baby
I took a short walk and found some flowers to make a small bouquet!
We then headed to the church service, it was a very nice sermon, taken from the 1860s. There were both spectators and reenactors in attendance.
Afterwards my teacher set up her sales table..
I went into the sunshine with my book and actually fell asleep right on the hillside lol (again I embarrass myself). As you can see I look really sleepy lol (the spectators must have been so confused)
Then after lunch I walked over with a friend to watch the battle up close!!! (The canons were really loud.)
After a lot of back and forth canon fire the troops marched out to meet each other in combat. I do have to say everyone did a very good job!
It was very epic, and I will definitely be watching the next ones up close to!
Right after, however, we had to change and pack up, while this was definitely sad, I was very excited about the thought of a soft warm bed and to not be freezing anymore. LOL
We got to work tearing down our camp….
And a little dandelion was blooming in my tent!
It had been so good getting to meet the members of our group, and sad to say goodbye.
And you know even with the nasty weather and the cold I got from it. I don’t regret going for a moment. I’m now totally in love with Civil War reenacting and have like a thousand projects I desperately ‘need’ to make. And I’m so excited to do it all over again!
What’s the best part of Reenacting, you may ask?
The answer is simple: “Your surrounded by hundreds of others who are just as crazy about the past as you are. And for the first time, in your life, you have found a place where you fit in.
8 thoughts on “My First Reenactment!!!”
I used to take the kids to these as a spectator as there are several that happen every year in our area. They were always lots of fun to attend. Glad you had such a good time.
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I didn’t know that, very fun!!
Thank you, it really is splendid!
Sounds really awesome! I love going to re-enactments. It’s great that there are so many people who are “crazy about the past”.
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Hahaha, yes it really is!!!
Glad you had so much fun. I’ve done some Victoian Tea serving dressed in beautiful old Civil War Ballgowns.. so much fun. I just wrote this quote that I saw; The past is your lesson. The present is your gift. The future is your motivation. Now you can learn more about reenactments and have more fun. So happy for you Mindy.
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That is so much fun!
And what a great quote!!!
That’s a great account of the reenactment. You really have a God given gift for telling these stories. Reenactments give good snapshots of history. I personally enjoyed the dance and getting to tell spectators the little details about the battle of Carthage. I also enjoyed experiencing an authentic 1861 church service. It’s always great reading other perspectives of reenacting and you’ve got an awesome perspective!
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I love writing!