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My Weekend in 1863 – Civil War Reenactment

Last weekend I spent three days in 1863.

I accompanied Nate Reidy to a reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg. Nate does this regularly. I tagged along because I had the weekend free, Nate is persuasive, and why the heck not!? At least I could say that I’ve experienced it.

Everything we did was “period correct”. We slept in period correct tents, wore period correct clothing, ate period correct food, and even sang period correct songs and fired period correct weapons (no bullets though). I got period correct sunburn. 1863 was very different than 2017.

In some ways.

I absolutely loved so many things about the weekend. We were unplugged from air conditioning, cell phones, electricity in general. We woke up and went to bed with the sun. We hid from the sun in the shade of our tents. We had to have face to face conversations the whole time. We didn’t waste anything. There were no plastic or disposable dishes. We washed and reused everything.  We went to fetch water and carried it in our canteens. It was so different than my normal life that it challenged assumptions.

I went into the weekend wondering why Nate reenacted the Civil War.

From an outside perspective, it seems like it glorifies war. It was the most deadly war in U.S. history. It was America fighting America. Families were split. Lives were cut short. It’s not like it is a fond memory.

But, after going through the weekend and being totally immersed in that world, I fell in love. I started learning and remembering the history. When I got home, I borrowed library books. I’m listening to a Civil War History podcast. I’ve watched documentaries.

The lesson that I’ve come away with is simple.

We should remember the Civil War because it was the United States in its most divided moment.

Remembering the war is remembering the victories won and the mistakes made.

I’m not trying to make any statement. I’m simply suggesting that studying and remembering the history of the Civil War might be helpful during, what I think everyone would call, this very divisive time in our country

1863 might be more like 2017 than we realize.


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