Cicil War re-enactment

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Living history: Why bother?

By Marty Hoffman

A strange thing happens every Winter in Florida.  No, it is not that the roads get full nor the stores crowded.  Rather a group of individuals reach back into their closets and pull out wool uniforms, dust off their muskets, and check their camping gear for the Living History season.  
All over Florida, from Fort Clinch on the Georgia line, to Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West events are held portraying life during the period of our Nation’s history known as the Civil War.
Perhaps you have wondered why anyone would want to reenact life from 150 years ago.  
Yet a whole host of individuals and families do.  They load up horses, tents, and even cannons and head out for the various battlefields and forts scattered throughout Florida. They battle the elements and each other in mock battles.  But the great question is why do they bother?  
The answer to that question are many.  For some, it is the experience of re-living history.  
As a history buff myself, it is what first drew my attention.  
There is nothing quite like walking back into time and seeing how life was 150 years ago. For some it is a social event.  
Walking through the camps you see many gathered around a camp fire listening to a banjo play and visiting with one another making plans for the evening Ball.  
For some it is the Military comradery as the various units form and line up drilling and marching.  For some it is the food, from Kettle Korn to Fry Bread.
 I am getting hungry thinking about such.   
And of course, for many it is the muskets and the cannons.  Where else can you go to see and hear 150-year-old military equipment still in use being fired?  
Why did I bother?  With 2 children as teenagers at the time, we were looking for something that the whole family would enjoy.  
We found it in living history.  My son loved horses and soon found himself linked up to a local Cavalry Unit.  
My daughter loved the flowing gowns and found the evening Ball her delight.  It was the only place she ever found that Dad was willing to allow her to dance as she waltzed and twirled about in the “Virginia Reel’.
 Little did I know that one of those events would lead to her being swept off her feet with the love of her life.  Mom enjoys cooking and found many challenges as she prepared delicacies over the open fire like ‘swamp cabbage’ and ‘fresh rabbit or venison’.  And me?
 I loved American history and always wanted to shoot one of those cannons.  The climax being a few years ago when I was able to light the fuse of a period cannon during the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on the actual the battle grounds.  
Having descendants that settled in Maryland in the 1700’s I had family that fought on both sides.  Living History wasn’t just about obscure names and places, but it is my history.  It is the history of my Nation and the history of my family.  
I hope you can stop by camp, take a ride on the old Steam Engine, and step back in time as we participate in the 20th Anniversary of the Nature Coast Civil War Reenactment held at Kirby Farms March 10-12, in Williston.  

For more information go to: http://naturecoastcivilwarreenactment.com/