Civil War in Your Backyard
Civil War Reenactors Bring History Alive
| Rick Ebb
Take a step back in time to 1863. Our country was in the midst of the Civil War, and the future of our fledgling nation was at stake. To experience what life was like during that historic period, come out to Greenwood VFW Post 5864 on the weekend of June 28-30. In conjunction with Greenwood’s Freedom Festival, the Greenwood VFW at 333 South Washington Street (behind the Bureau of Motor Vehicles) will host its second annual Civil War encampment featuring units of the 44th Tennessee, 4th Virginia, 42nd Indiana, 19th Indiana, plus a U.S. Army medical unit.
The festival begins on Friday night when the Civil War re-enactors will present historical music and period comedy at the Post. For those who are history buffs, this is a great opportunity to hear and experience the life of a Civil War soldier through music and entertainment. The festivities continue all day Saturday where spectators can stroll among Civil War tent sites and speak with members portraying historic individuals.
The goal of a Civil War re-enactor is to experience the 19th century soldier’s lifestyle. The majority of units attend one or two re-enactments or encampments a month during the season, which begins around April and continues until October. In addition to re-enactments, groups and individuals provide educational presentations at schools and community events. Most units try to attend at least one national event where re-enactors from all over the world participate. The units that will be participating in this year’s Freedom Festival come from Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and many re-enactors will be celebrating in Pennsylvania.
At re-enactments, you see only history – modern items are hidden. Re-enactors eat the same food the Civil War soldiers did, wear the same wool uniforms, shoes, weapons, and gear. Equipment is all reproduced from the original equipment. Uniforms are based on original patterns. Most often, they are purchased but may be custom made after research of the unit the re-enactor chooses to portray. Everything they use during the re-enactment is real – except no bullets. You will see the difference in material used in the eastern forces verses the west. For example, many western troops wore wide brim hats – they were farm boys and they knew how to keep the sun off their faces. Medical surgeons use replicated instruments and re-enact medical activities just as they occurred on or off the battlefield. This year’s encampment will include a surgeon’s tent where people will be able to witness recreations of medical procedures.
Civil War re-enacting is a family hobby. Many of the wives and children are involved in re-enactments but as civilians. They wear period costumes and do only things that people in the 19th Century would do. That means no electronic devices for the kids. To entertain themselves, they can use only what children would have played with 150 years ago.
The Civil War event at the VFW is free and open to the public. In addition to the displays, the VFW Ladies Auxiliary will be hosting their annual Fish Fry.