Friday, July 26, 2013

My First Reenactment

I don't remember where I found this, I think it had been used as a bookmark a very long time ago and forgotten about.  This is a scanned program from the first Civil War reenactment I ever witnessed, it was in May 1994 at Brandywine Creek State Park, a large field on a hill with a stone wall less than 3 miles from where I live.  This was a year after the Gettysburg movie came out in theaters, and there was a brief resurgence in mainstream popularity similar to 1989 when Glory made its debut.  I would have been nine and a half years old at the time.

The only things from this event I can remember with any clarity are: my brother tripped and fell near the Confederate camp and hit his knee on a rock. He started to make a fuss and, staying totally in character, a Reb soldier walked up, knelt down beside him and said "Are ya wounded, sir!" and washed the cut with some water from his canteen. At one of the sutlers I bought a small set of plastic Blue & Gray army men with little cannons and horses.  They sold Sarsaparilla in old glass bottles and it was delicious. 

Interestingly, this reenactment was sponsored by the Fort Delaware Society and the Second Delaware Volunteer Infantry, the first reenacting group I joined. There were two separate companies within the 2nd DE and were both a part of Smyth's Brigade, an organization which no longer exists.  They were not a part of Vincent's Brigade with the 20th Maine, as they are now. On the flip side of this you can see how the camps and skirmish areas were laid out.

Every time I go to the ground this battle took place on, I think about how I was there years ago and what a great place it is to have a battle. With the stone wall on top of the hill and a long slope leading up to it, you could hold a variety of scenarios there involving the high ground and the strategic advantage it offers. It appears this event in '94 had a small scale recreation of Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg on Saturday, and a scene from the stunning southern victory at Chancellorsville on Sunday.

 It would be fun to have another reenactment so close to my home.  I sorta want them to have another one.  Currently Brandywine Creek only hosts one annual reenactment, and it's a Rev War event. (The land itself was part of the enormous Brandywine Battlefield in 1777, which spanned a huge area from Wilmington almost up to Valley Forge) I cannot picture the Fort Delaware Society being able to raise the funds for another one of these, as broke as historical places are these days.  Or maybe the people who organized this one aren't alive anymore.  Who knows, maybe someday...

At that age, the battle seemed quite scary and dangerous.  I vaguely remember asking my parents "what if someone had a loaded gun and he shot and killed you by accident?" 

I never dared to imagine that almost twenty years later I would be doing this.

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