Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012
by Ned Wazowski
Civil War - Back to the Battlefield
Drama, special effects, rounds of applause. Forget Broadway, try Gettysburg.
Civil War re-enactments might sound like a just a bunch of history buffs with guns, but you couldn't be more wrong. Some of us in the office took a trip to the Annual Spring Civil War Re-enactment at the Vista California Antique Gas and Steam Museum (with Margie in a full hoop-skirt, naturally), where there was something for everyone.
It might have been brother against brother during the war, but the re-enactments are as welcoming as can be. We were struck with how positive everyone was and how excited all the re-enactors were to share information with visitors. The focus is on fun at the re-enactment, and everyone is eager to include visitors in that fun. While there may be some unseen snobbery about anachronisms among the members, they're only too happy to see visitors in bonnets or buskins, even if they might not be perfectly period.
For an event that revolves around a war, you won't find any politics here. The focus in much more on what life was like back in the late 1800s, and in experiencing that life first hand. (Hint: beware of the dentist!) Still, President Lincoln put in an appearance. He gave us the Gettysburg Address and handed out limited edition pennies. He posed for pictures and, like any politician, worked the crowd shaking hands and kissing babies. (Though he looked considerably less presidential coming out of the portapotty.)
The war touched all lives back in 1864, so to experience the re-enactment, you've got to see a battle. (We caught the afternoon matinee.) From the thundering hooves of the cavalry to the cannon fire, there's plenty to keep weekend photographer's own Canons firing. What really makes it is the energy everyone puts in. Talk about your Confederate Majors with a minor in drama! Imagine all the best death scenes from your favorite films played out right in front of your eyes. The winning side alternates between battles, so each side knows whether they'll make it or not (not even sports are so fair), but we wondered how all the deaths were choreographed. So we asked one of the Confederate Privates who told us that you drop when it just feels right (and when the other guys are firing).
We'll be back to the Antique Gas and Steam Museum (Mr. Druthers can't resist a horizontal trane return flue boiler), and we'll definitely visit another Civil War Re-enactment (otherwise Margie's just going to start wearing that bonnet to work).
When my Mom was little, they kept all of their Bunchy bottle caps in an...