Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bennett Place - review and critique

I'm back from the Bennett Place, and I have a nice feeling of satisfaction with this event. Ah, the beauty of small events! This event was to prove a nice break from the other two powder burners of the year, Carolinas Campaign and Cold Harbor.

First off, I do have to admit a slight bias with the Bennett Place. Years ago, I went to the living histories there, and did one of the surrender events. It was all great fun, and I have to say my other reviews did not have that advantage.

The Bennett Place is a great place to have a smaller to-do, and this year was to be a humble event with many civilians, a few down-and-out Confederates, and some lootin' bummers from Uncle Billy's army. And for the most part, this is how everything went.

For an event like this, it was very well attended. It was not unusual to see a reenactor talking to three to fifteen people most of the morning. Everyone was full of questions, and it bore out one of my comments from this post. There were no "dumb" questions, and everyone seemed to eager to listen up to the reenactors. My pard for the day, who usually wears the name "Parson Cannonball", said he had a field day. Talking to folks about Civil War history is his biggest passion, and every time I looked in his direction, he had an audience. But the good Parson wasn't the only interpreter, another fellow who was actually steady Rev War reenactor (with an occasional CW event thrown in) was also wowing the spectators, from making coffee to drilling his squad (we called him the "Corporal") to talks about the usual. Sounds mundane, but the Corporal was very engaging.

The interesting happening was a small impromptu skit by the Corporal, Parson, the Recruits (two park volunteers that the museum outfitted who incidently looked like the illustration of the recruits in Hardtack and Coffee), and yours truly. The scenario was to go to the Bennett homestead and catch and "oath" as many conscription-age men we could find. I ended up in a confrontation with the local doctor and his "patient" - a young man with a "broken" arm. Needless top say, the doc covered well for his man, and the patient made a run for the back door and through the fence. Luckily, Parson was right there and managed to chase the patient down to receive the oath of allegiance.

After that bit of excitement, we all donned the grey - or variation thereof - and did some drill for the spectators. It was the usual stuff, but the crowds typically enjoy seeing the troops do their thing.

The last skit on the schedule was a raid by Uncle Billy's bummers, who ransacked the Bennett Place of food and valuables.

As far as the critique, there isn't too much I can really say that remotely struck me that was done wrong. As a matter of fact, the event was slightly handicapped. Some reenactors had a schedule conflict, which caused the organizer to pull in unfamiliar reenactors, a gamble that paid off. I will write a larger post for the Anatomy of an Event serial that will detail what think might be a refinement of the Bennett Place event.


Blue Bellied Yank said...

Sounds like such a wonderful time at Bennett Place!!
I guess 'Parson Cannonball' is a made up character?!
I think it's great that the audience is so involved with all of you reenacting living -historians!!

Blue Bellied Yank said...

Is that you in the photograghs?

mntineer said...

"Parson Cannonball" is so nicknamed because 1) he wears the 'parson'-style hat, and 2) he did artillery before becoming a ground-pounder. The name fits.

I'm the chubby guy in the bottom photo!

Blue Bellied Yank said...

I really enjoyed the earlier post with link to the story about 'Dr. Ann Ortiz, who plays civil war tunes with her band, “The Huckleberry Brothers.” I have a mountain dulcimer that I play.