On a recent familiarization tour of Georgia through Explore Georgia, I was excited to see my first full scale Civil War reenactment. It was the Battle of Resaca in Resaca, Ga. It was a stormy day, with sheets of rain coming down and warnings, as well as some actual flash flooding. A less than perfect day for a battle, but at least the cooler weather gave the soldiers, who are dressed in authentic woolen uniforms, a breather from the heat. To see photos visit our Civil War Reenactment Virtual Tour.
Over the next few years, in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, there are reenactments all over the country. You can find a list of 150th Anniversary Events. To get the best experience, learn what to expect before you head out to a Civil War Reenactment. Here are some things to consider.
What to Expect at a Civil War Re-Enactment: Sutler’s Row
We arrived with about 30 minutes until the troops moved out. Enough time to walk down Sultler’s Row, a section of the encampment where costumed retailers peddle authentic period wares. During the war enterprising businessmen and women followed the armies of both the North and South and were known as the Sutler’s. Some modern Sutlers only accept cash, but others will take credit cards too. After all, credit is as old as time. Even if you don’t purchase anything, this is a wonderful way to learn about items soldiers or anyone of the time period might purchase.
What to Expect at a Civil War Reenactment: Family Life
Farther down the road from the Sutler’s Village were entire families living authentic 19th century lives. In addition to soldiers, we saw women cooking and children playing. As the battle time drew near, we saw companies muster, including drummer boys and young buglers. An Officer gathered them together, gave a short speech and started them off to the battlefield.
What to Expect at a Civil War Reenactment: The Battle
As the artillery got into place, we saw the Calvary come over the hill. What started as a skirmish quickly escalated with canon fire that made me jump, no matter how aware I was it was coming. The smell of the smoke and the yells and jeers of the soldiers made the scene very realistic. If it weren’t for the fact that the ground was wet, we probably would have seen more wounded. A lady who had obviously been to several of these quoted “No one wants to die today, the ground is too wet.” If you go, bring earplugs, the Resaca re-enactment had almost 20 cannons and it was LOUD. Funny story about my oldest. When he was about 18 months we saw a cannon demonstration. I was a little worried that the loud noise would scare him. Afterwards he kept repeating with his fist in the air shoogunoff! shoogunoff! It took us two days to figure out he was shouting Shoot Gun Off. Apparently a love of firearms is innate.
Learn more about the Civil War with a visit to the Atlanta History Center. The permanent exhibit Turning Point: The American Civil War is a fantastic overview of the conflict. Kids can pick up a solider’s pack and gun to see how heavy they are and imagine marching for miles. The Atlanta History Center has a special website specifically designed for the 150th Anniversary with information on special exhibits and programs.