Three Reasons to Attend a Civil War Reenactment with Kids

Battle of Resaca
Hearing the soldier’s jeers, smelling the gunpowder and hearing the artillery brings history to life.

By Sue Rodman
Recently I attended a Civil War reenactment during a familiarization trip with ExploreGeorgia. We watched the Battle of Resaca in Resaca, Ga., almost two hours from Atlanta. Even in the pouring rain, and slugging through the mud, it was the highlight of my trip and I don’t think it’s just because I’m a history geek. Seeing history behind a glass case is fine, but watching it up close is an entirely different story. Immersing yourself, and your children into a certain time period really makes you think about what it was really like. A reenactment not only lets you view life in a different era, it helps you experience it. Here are five reasons to attend a Civil War Reenactment with Kids.

1. Shop at Sutler’s Row: Sutler’s were merchants who followed the troops around from battle to battle selling their wares. I never really thought about how soliders sustained themselves in battle. I guess I just assumed they didn’t, or just got what they needed when passing through a town. Often in addition to basic supplies like coffee, tobacco or sugar, the Sutler’s offered recreation options to the soliders, drinking, gambling and prostitution. You won’t find any madams at the modern Sutler’s Row, but you will find merchants in period dress selling all kinds of historic and modern wares.

Civil War Re-Enactment
Bring earplugs to a Civil War Reenactment. The cannons and gun fire can be loud.
Sutler's Row
Along Sutler’s Row, visit with craftsman and retails in period dress selling authentic merchandise.

2. Witness Family Life: It’s not just soldiers that get into reenacting, it’s entire families. As you walk through camps, you can see women cooking over open fires and kids playing as the men drill. Drummer boys and young buglers join muster and marched to battle. On our visit to the Battle of Resaca, it had rained and three inch high field grass was wet and uneven. Muddy puddles formed in well traveled areas. Seeing the bottom two inches of the hoop skirts soaked and muddy made me think about walking on unpaved streets without sidewalks and how you’d keep the mud out of a simple tent.

3. See, Smell, Hear and Feel the Battle: This was the most interesting part for me. Although we were spared the cries of agony from fallen soldiers, hearing the jeers of the warriors, the boom of the cannons, coupled with the smell of gun powder and the feeling of the earth moving as the calvary stampeded by really brought the event home. No matter how many books you read or movies you see, it doesn’t give you the same feeling as actually being there.

At the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg, tourists recreated Pickett’s charge. Running through the actual fields where soldiers fought gives kids a reference point for what they read in their history books.

Civil War Reenactment with Kids
The Civil War began in 1861 with the attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston S.C. and ended with the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia in 1865. We’re in the middle of 150th Anniversary celebrations throughout the country. To find out about celebrations near you, visit the Civil War Trust website. One of the best Civil War exhibits in the country is located at the Atlanta History Center. To find out about Civil War Reenactments in Georgia, visit the Explore Georgia’s The Civil War in Georgia page.

Civil War Reenactment
My youngest was thrilled to take pictures of soldiers and monuments, which make it even more interesting.
Waiting for Pickett’s Charge


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