Charleston is about to be overrun by Civil War reeenactors getting ready for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Secessionville. I checked the schedule to see if there was a way I could manage to crash the party and pick up a bit of atmosphere, but my schedule will not allow it. The only free day I have is Friday, when they are putting on a program for schoolchildren. (don't think I can pass!)
However, it may be for the best. I just looked at some of the pictures from previous years and decided that the historian in me would best be served by staying away.
First of all, the battle was waged on June 16th, 1862 -- not early November. Oh, I understand. There are no mosquitoes now, but if the soldiers of 1862 had to deal with them, why not make it more realistic.
Then there's the terrain. The reenactment is out in a large flat pasture on Boone Plantation, while the real battle took place over cotton stubble, overgrown forest areas, and swamp. Here's what the battlefield really looks like:
I took that bit of video with my iPhone on Monday, when we went out to the actual battle site and walked the ground once again. My Uncle James is buried in a mass grave near the spot where the video ends, so it has special significance for me.
And here's the reenactment.
I could go on about the ladies' tea (really?), the sutler's tents (not in that swamp!), the officers on horses (uh-uh!), and the uniformed nurses out in the grassy battlefield.
But what I really don't understand is why these guys do this if the reenactment bears no resemblance to what actually happened. I'm sure they have fun, but as in all cases like this, I worry that too many people see the play-acting and accept it as gospel truth. I know, I know! I'm a kill-joy!