Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Shortage of Union Soldiers

Civil War Re-Enactors have been around for decades. They re-enact battles from the War Between the States and their “play acting” actually serves several valuable functions. Making authentic uniforms, equipment, and weapons tells us a great deal about how people thought and lived one hundred and fifty years ago (and how clever and inventive they actually were).

I was reading an article about what all it takes to put together and host the re-enactment of a Civil War battle and was pretty impressed at the detail and expense the members of these organizations go to in order to ensure accuracy.

One thing that did not surprise me was the lengths they went to in the south to find enough people willing to put on Union Blue and play the part of a Damned Yankee. It seems that most re-enactors in Southern States actually wind up bringing two complete outfits to the battles, one Confederate Grey and One Union Blue. They do that because who will be on which side is often not determined very far in advance –and since no one wants to be a Yankee, everyone is expected to grit their teeth and do it if asked.

What did surprise me was that this shortage of Yankees is apparently almost as true in the Northern States as it is in the South. Northern Re-enactment groups report that a majority of “new recruits” want to serve in Rebel Grey rather than Yankee Blue.

I know there are some people who would be quick to call this some form of neo-racism, because so many want to serve on the side defending slavery. That explanation is way off base. Many of the “new recruits” are Black, not White, and they certainly are not preferring Confederate Grey because they are defending slavery. The real reason is much simpler. We Americans are rebels by nature. We started by rebelling against the British and then we forged our own country out of a wilderness where there was no government authority most of the time –and when there was, it was often slow and corrupt. We learned to be independent as a way of life and suspicion of government and authority comes naturally to us. Being a bit of a rebel is part of who we are.

There may be another, even simpler explanation. As one Re-Enactor from Virginia put it, “Who wants to be a Chicken Stealing, Barn Burning, Damned Yankee anyway?”

The ladies often take part as well

Personal Note: I also picked up some good advice if you want to take part in a reenactment. If you're going to fake a death in the battle, choose a spot in the shade and watch out for ant hills.

Today's Reflection:
It is not possible to have a civil war.

Live Long and Prosper...

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