A friend from my Civil War reenacting days (which are firmly behind me now, I think) passed on this account of an event he attended in upstate NY some years ago which sounds worse than anythng I ever attended (and I could tell some stories). The advertisement for the event included the promise that “indiscriminate firing in camp is encouraged” gives you some idea of what a sterling historical event this was. Here’s a taste of his description:

“The weapon of choice was the chromed Remington revolver, with at least two extra cylinders. The “battlefield” was a baseball field next to a bar (yes a saloon, tavern). When any of the combatants needed to reload, they entered the bar, ordered a beer and sat on the bar stool to reload. [An amenity.] Our mouths were agape by time the “battle scene” was ready to start, as there’d been continuous firing going on all day. The small valley, where the camp was situated, was covered by a thick cloud of burnt powder smoke.”

You can read the whole grisly thing here.

Coincidentally I was going through some photos the other day and found this one of the group I belonged to, The Columbia Rifles, back in their heyday. This photo was taken at the Genessee historical village near Mumford, NY, in 2000, I believe. I’m second from left, year rank. Steve Tyler, who offers thoughtful comments to this blog from time to time, is centre front rank with the big blanket roll.

I was really proud to be a member of the Columbia Rifles. They were serious historians who cared about the quality of their impression (impression is a reenactor term meaning the kind of soldier and historical period one is trying to portray). We wore authentic natural fabrics, many of them made by hand, and limited the gear and comforts we allowed ourselves in the field. In this picture you can see our basic impression, that of generic Union infantry from the eastern US Army of the Potomac. We eschewed fancy and overdone impressions like Zouaves, US Marines, or dismounted cavalry.

I had to give up the CR after I got busy in parish ministry. The organization is still alive, though we are older and busier than we were back when this picture was taken. Maybe one day we’ll get together as old men and portray the Grand Army of the Republic, the post Civil War social organization of Union army veterans.