Thursday, September 8, 2011

Creativity in the Civil War Camps

Creativity isn't limited to text or paints. Recently, we enjoyed it in the form of a historical re-enactment at a seaside community.

On a turquoise-sky day at a park, we came across the tents of the Union Army soldiers, though they were not all at their camp. They were in a far-flung corner of the park, and only a few milled around the tents.

As we walked deeper into the park, we got closer to the heart of the camp. Here, we spotted the campsite of the Irish Brigade.

This ragtag group was just one of the many areas we came across. In both the Confederate camp and the Union camp of the U.S. Civil War, actors participated in games of cards and dice, enjoyed long sessions of storytelling, and played camp music

Not content to just dress the part, myriad actors took time to share about Civil War life while staying in character. The love that they have for this time period truly showed in how they were patient, considerate, and downright interesting with all the facts they shared. 

The kind woman in the picture below took time to explain every item of her camp tent to my children. Because she was unhurried, they felt comfortable with her. She did not rush them along, and they spoke glowingly of her, even when we returned home.

The park then began to grow loud with the sounds of marching soldiers in every color possible. In the early battles of the Civil War, troops sometimes were confused about who was Union and who was Confederate, for there wasn't a set uniform. Seeing the various troops in greens, reds, butternut, etc., we could easily see how that would have happened.

We saw drills, heard practice shots, listened to soldiers break into song, and the entire feeling of the park was of movement. A battle would be fought shortly.

And then, the battle was fought.

What amazed us was how loud and smoky the area became. The boom of the cannons resonated in our chests. Everyone had hands clapped over their ears. Boom, boom, boom. Around us, the sky was clouded by the smoke. We saw these huge, heavy smoke rings from the discharge of the cannon hang heavy in the air and rise and rise and rise until finally, they disappeared.

The amount of creativity, detail, and love of history that fueled these volunteers to craft such a huge demonstration was truly inspiring. We can read about history, but a re-enactment adds a completely different layer to our learning. The sound of cannons is now very real to my children, and the songs of the soldiers came alive to them. And the many women, teenagers, and children are dressed in period clothing kept the spirit of the time.

It made us all come home and dig into our U.S. Civil War books and want to keep growing in our knowledge of American history. 

Many thanks to the countless volunteers who brought this event to life.


Vanessa said...

We went on Sunday - I would have liked to spend more time there than we did, but we were with G's cousin who has autism and was afraid of the cannons. Maybe next year!

Jennifer Gregory Miller said...

Oh, we had a reenactment in our community recently, also, and I was so impressed by the creativity, also! I enjoyed your post!

Vee said...

Same here. I could have easily spent far more time there! Most of our time was enjoyed pre-battle. During the battle, the cannons were just so incredibly loud. Sebastian had a hard time with the sounds, so we had to clap our hands over his ears and just saw part of the battle.

Thanks, Jennifer! :D

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