Current Events that Resonate with My Research Topic and Interests

As many of you may know, or for  those of you that do not know, I am a Civil War reeanctor and living historian. As you read through many of my blog postings, you can see that have a great passion for studying the American Civil War. My research topic for my thesis is based upon dispelling the myth surrounding the “Ragged Rebel” of Southern history notoriety. Obviously, I am not the only reenactor or living historian out there, as there are thousands of people who are serious students of history, that reenact the American Civil War. The opportunity to meet with kindred spirits, who are just as passionate about the study of the American Civil War, who portray both Northern and Southern soldiers, gives us many opportunities to network and fellowship with people who are studying many different aspects of the American Civil War. These reenactors encompass a wide array of professions, such as doctors, lawyers, contractors, students, teachers, college professors, professional historians, truck drivers, real life soldiers, and many others from various walks of life.

I wrote the previous to explain the types of people that you run across at various events in this fascinating hobby. I am writing about several events over the next few months that will give rise to talking with a lot of different people who are experts on many different parts of my research.  For example, I will be attending the North Carolina State Historical site in Newton Grove, NC for the 150th Anniversary commemoration of the battle of Bentonville, the last major battle of the American Civil War in North Carolina. Then I will be attending an event to be held on part of the original battlefield at Sailor’s Creek, VA, where Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia lost over 6,000 men captured on April 6th, 1865, leading to the ultimate defeat and surrender at Appomattox Court House. I will also be working very closely with the National Park Service at Appomattox Court House on the 150th Anniversary commemorative, providing “real time” living history programs for thousands of visitors.

While attending these events, there will be many speakers and lecturers on topics which will help with my overall research. In the past, I have been able to work with park historians, museum curators, archivists, etc to network and work with them on various research topics.

Past and present have a unique way of interacting with each other when you are involved with living history and reenacting. It presents a way of actually experiencing an inkling of what the soldiers themselves did, minus the fleas, lice, sickness, death, fear, hunger, loneliness, homesickness, and any number of other obstacles. However, you do get to experience the sight of thousands of men in formations, under arms, the heat,the cold, the miserable food, the drill, the camaraderie, and yes the wool uniforms.

While experiencing some of these things, you get to meet historians such as Robert Krick, “Bud” Robertson, Ed Bearrs, Chris Calkins, John Heiser, and Rod Gragg, just to name a few, as well as many thousands of people who have an interest and possible research leads into the past and often on your particular topic of research.


4 thoughts on “Current Events that Resonate with My Research Topic and Interests”

  1. Tiny,
    It’s clear that reenactment events spur your passion for Civil War studies. I wonder how the reenactment movement impacts your own historical research — how do reenactors dress when they portray the average southern soldier? Do they go for rags and try to capture a look of despair? In which case the memory lives on?

    1. I first started out as just a reenactor who wanted to go out and have fun, I was 10 at the time. However, soon afterwards, I started noticing other guys in the hobby who looked a little different. These guys had been doing research on how Civil War soldiers dressed, wore their equipment, camped, etc. I started getting involved with them and found that there were lots of resources out there for anyone who wanted to learn. They wanted to have fun, but at the same time they were interested in historical accuracy and educating the public. I learned so much just from cracking open books and looking at photographs. This group, however was and still is a small minority within the reenacting world. There still persists a mentality of having to look ragged, as the myth of the “ragged rebel” still lives on. A large portion of the reenacting hobby, do not even care about “doing it right”, they just want to go out and have fun and sadly, care little about educating themselves or the public.

  2. Tiny,

    Like Dr. Jones I am curious how, and if, you can incorporate reenactors into your project. They offer an interesting case study if they do in fact dress in ways which support the myth of the ragged rebel. If like you said many don’t care then this may not be a good idea, but their portrayal of Confederate soldiers could impact visitors not involved in the reenactments. This seems important if you are seeking to dispel the myth. Just a thought!

  3. As a reenactor myself, I’ve actually actively worked to distance myself from the reenacting community–there is a certain non-academic stigma associated with the term and the group that I am uncomfortable with! Instead, I’ve focused on material culture in my research and wonder if that might by a good route for you to follow. Instead of discussing “reenacting,” perhaps discussing modern interpretation of Civil War military material culture might be possible? Just a couple thoughts!

Leave a Reply