Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Irreverent Guide to Civil War Reenacting, Pt 4

It's back! Now to continue the series. Way back when, the series looked at the major players in a Civil War reenactment, the infantry, cavalry and artillery. Now is time to look at the bit players; surgeons, signal corps, civilians and anyone else I can think of.

I think CW surgeon reenactors are the mad scientists of the hobby. In my observations over the years, they seem like the type of people who feel at home in Halloween haunted houses and laugh at the gory parts.

To visit the hospital in the Civil War was horrible enough. You usually came out missing parts of your body, if you *lived* through the surgery or even general care. Almost all reenactor surgeons seem to strive for that vision. And more. Blood everywhere. Enterprising surgeon reenactors may even go for the cut vein shtick, and send blood spraying everywhere.

One day, some surgeon will do Big Red* busting through a hapless victim's chest. (*Big Red was a commercial parody done on Saturday Night Live. It featured a toy of a viking whose head spun like a water sprinkler. All you had to do is fill the secret reservoir with the fake blood provided and pull the string. The head would spin and the blood came out the horns on his helm. Fun for all!) Even more so, I fully expect to hear the same surgeon suddenly burst out in maniacal laughter, shaking his bloodied instruments of destruction surgery at the sky.

OK, it's out of my system. Needless to say, a surgeon's exhibit is worth at least one visit!

Signal Corps
I've always thought the Signal Corps reenactors were kinda weird, but in a good way. When they are on the field, they add to the event. But they seem to rarely interface with other reenactors during the action parts of an event. They some signalling, but to whom I'm not sure.

When I was at the event at McDowell a few years back, the SC guys built an impressive signal tower. They finished it on Sunday. But it was impressive.

There has to be an attraction to the SC, plenty of reenactors seem to have an interest in doing the impression. It might be worth your while to ask an SC guy what's he's up to. Then again, you may get so much detail that your brain cramps. That's what happens when you talk to the silent weird types.

I've never seen the real use of a sniper in a CW event, other than the fact they tote some nice and heavy scoped weapons. But then again, because you're unique doesn't mean you're useful. In a noisey recreated battle, a sniper is typically ignored. No one knows that they're around, laying imaginary waste to their enemies, who never seem to notice that they're being sniped. Someone may catch the faint cry in the distance:

"Hey man, I hit you! You're dead!"

There's a lot of ways of looking at the civilians in a reenacting camp. Some have purpose, some don't. Some are "retired" reenactors, some are attracted to the clothes and fashions of the period. Some you simply wonder about.

Nowadays there seems to be a renewed interest in doing civilian impressions, with battlefield journos being the more popular choice.

Next: What really happens in an event


scarlett said...

great post!

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