The Truths Of Being A Civil War Reenactor

The Truths Of Being A Civil War Reenactor

I can't remember, was I born in 1995 or 1840?
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Usually when people first meet me, I don't really mind telling them about myself and things that I enjoy. However, there's usually a fact about me that I don't exactly lead with, and that's my beloved hobby. That's something I'll usually save for... eh... some other time. Usually people will stumble across it on their own as they go back through my Facebook or something. I'm not really embarrassed about my hobby, it's just a bit difficult to explain.

To condense it all, I really enjoy leaving all electricity and modern technology behind, wearing wool clothing in the summer heat, being strapped down with 35 pounds of gear and a 10-pound rifle, marching several miles a day in all my gear, speaking with a strange old-fashioned vocabulary, subsisting off meat that has spent a month in a barrel of salt and crackers with the consistency of a rock, and sleeping outside in the rain. Seriously, it's a passion.

I am a Civil War reenactor.

Nope, that is not a dusty old image from 150 years ago that is specially preserved in a photographic collection in the Library of Congress - that's me in the summer 2014. I do everything I can to get every detail as close as possible to what you would have seen in an original soldier of the North or South all those years ago. I style my hair and facial hair in ways that were popular with men in the 1860s - and conveniently enough are still kind of popular today. All my clothing was reproduced from original artifacts - the people who make all the clothing basically do it as a second job, they're that good at it. I read letters and diaries from the time period to help me replicate how these guys talked, joked, and viewed things. I won't lie, it can be a lot of work and a lot of money, but I positively love it.

Why reenact?

If I had a dime for every time I've been asked this question... Explaining why I reenact is tough for me. There's a lot that goes into it, and a lot that keeps me doing it, but I've got three big motivators.

1. I just love history

Everybody's got that one thing that they can look at and say, "That's my sh*t, man. That's my thing." My thing is - and always has been - history. I've loved it since I was a kid. History became my passion because I learned early that our heritage is part of all of us and everything around us. For instance, I've connected my beloved university's history to what I do. A lot of early Penn Staters joined the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteers and fought through the war. The picture above is me at their monument at the Gettysburg Battlefield, at the very spot where many of them laid down their lives.

Everyone in the past had a story, just like us. They had a home and people they loved, just like us. They laughed, cried, celebrated, mourned, got pissed off, had bad days, had things they were stressed about, had favorite ways to relax after a long day of work... just like us. The only difference is that we live in different circumstances.

I think about that all the time, and I want to learn the stories of these people. That's why history became one of my majors at Penn State. After writing a historical thesis the length of a small book, I'll shortly be getting my history degree with honors.

My love of history has branched out from just mid-nineteenth century America, and every now and then I'll start into a kick about some new topic (lately its been the Roman Republic). But the Civil War Era is what I'm best at, and what I feel the most emotionally attached to.

2. Reenacting has given me so many great friends and memories

(Yes, that's me in the center - it was fall of 2012, and it was one of the last times I wouldn't have a beard.)

This hobby has connected me to the coolest people, and they're from all different walks of life. I've stood shoulder to shoulder with punk rockers, pastors, bankers, construction workers, real-life combat veterans, movie producers, frat boys, people with Ph.D.s, you name it. We come from across the country - sometimes from across oceans - and from all different places on the political spectrum. When we get to the reenactment (what we call an "event"), all those differences go aside. For a weekend, we all have a release from the world of today, and we can escape into another life.

Now, don't get me wrong, we're just playing soldier here. But there's something about being in tough situations with folks that makes you really bond to them. We all have stories that we share a part of. My buddy Chase (the guy on the right in the picture) and I will always remember marching 17 miles in the blazing sun for 8 hours, walking across the Potomac River, and finally collapsing at the edge of a cornfield when we joined in an effort to recreate Confederate soldiers marching to the Battle of Antietam. Some of us will remember sitting in a dark forest last summer, telling ghost stories in the pitch black night while we sat on reserve on sentry duty and tried to pick out the sounds of Confederate footsteps from the croaking of bullfrogs.

I've made so many memories with these guys. Some of them are inside jokes, like the way the words "buttered carrots" can make us cringe and roll on the ground laughing. Some of them are moments that make me get goosebumps and say, "Wow, that actually happened," like very early one September morning in 2012 when a couple thousand of us watched the smoke from our rifles blot out the rising sun (which you can watch in the video below).



3. I want to commemorate our nation's greatest tragedy and teach people the lessons of our past

If there's something I want to make very clear, it's this - I hope to God I will never understand the things a Civil War soldier experienced. They saw their brothers, sons, or fathers cut down next to them on smoky battlefields. They watched their best friends waste away and die from disease. They felt pain, sorrow, and misery.

My own ancestor, Private Jeremiah Stailey served in the 7th Pennsylvania Reserves, and he felt those things. When the war began, he was so excited to march off to war that he lied about his age to enlist - he had only just turned 16. He was wounded in the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862 - the bloodiest single day in American history. He was captured at the Battle of Wilderness a year and a half later, and was sent to the infamous prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia. He almost starved to death in Andersonville, and when he came out, he was a walking skeleton. It ruined him. He went home and married, but he only lived another ten years or so. The man died in his early 30s.

I don't want to glorify war, killing, and death. This is where the deeper part of my soul comes into this hobby. There are some reenactors out there who just don't do it right. When they reenact a battle or something for the public, they make it into something like a carnival sideshow. I don't believe in that. Not all reenactors are exactly the same. Some just do it casually and don't really think about the bigger picture of what we're doing. My friends and I aren't those sorts of guys. Yeah, we have fun doing this. But there's a hell of a lot more to it.

See that picture? That's real. Those are real Americans. Dead and left out on the battlefield for days in the rain and sun. They were someone's husband, boyfriend, brother, son, or daddy. But no more. That's the truth of history.

I'm sorry if that's an unpleasant picture to look at, but that's why I do this. In the end, I don't give a damn about cool uniforms, fun times, and hanging with buddies. That doesn't matter compared to this.

I reenact to teach people what those men lived through, and to teach people what those men died for.

I don't participate in a whole lot of battle reenactments anymore. They can be really impressive and can help you get a sense of what a battle in the Civil War was like. But the thing is, we will never know. We'll never know what it's like to sob over your best friend's corpse after he died in your arms behind the firing line. We'll never know how it feels to march a mile over open ground, knowing that staring you dead in the face are thousands of rifles and cannons that will fire at any minute and wipe out you and your friends. We'll never know the horrific feeling soldiers wrote about when they spent the night next to a battlefield from earlier that day, and they were kept awake all night by the screaming and moaning of the wounded left out in the field. I hope we will never know what that is like.

Instead of battle reenactments, I prefer to do what we call living histories. In a living history, we'll set up camp somewhere and just show the daily life of these soldiers to members of the public. We'll do these at national parks or different historical sites, and anyone can come visit us free of charge. We'll do some drill, maybe do a firing demonstration, things like that. But the part I think is most important is just standing face-to-face with the public and just talking about what these men endured. Sometimes we'll speak in "first-person" and act like we actually are Civil War soldiers - this lets people get to interact firsthand with these men (kids especially love this).

But other times, we'll just talk normally. We'll be honest about who we are in real life. If someone asks, I'll tell them I'm a 22-year-old student at Penn State University, and I'll tell them why I do this stuff. I tell them why I'm so emotionally attached to this conflict and the men who fought it - because it's a part of me and my own heritage. I help them connect to it too, and soon they feel attached to it too.

The Civil War isn't always easy to talk about. It's something that's very much still apart of our country's passions.The controversies of that war are still with us today. Look for instance at the recent debates over the Confederate battle flag. There are questions remaining from the Civil War that we're still trying to answer.

Here's my view of it though:

Our Civil War was a national tragedy. Brother fought brother - at times, literally. Whole towns had their young men wiped out or limping home maimed for life. Some families lost everything in that war. There were a hell of a lot of widows and a hell of a lot of orphans. 750,000 people died in that war. That was 2% of the American population then. Can you imagine if 2% of our population died today? For four years, America's fields, rivers, towns, and streams ran red with the blood of Americans who should have lived in peace and brotherhood with each other.

But great good came from this tragedy. An entire race of people who were enslaved, abused, tortured, murdered, and traded like livestock were set free. From the fires of this war, African-Americans took their freedom and rose like a phoenix as citizens. America proved that democracy could survive, and that this nation would persevere. But this all is still relevant.

Racism is still alive in this country (that's right, I said it). Americans are becoming more and more divided by hatred and anger. People are forgetting the blood that was shed to keep this nation alive.

That's why I do this.

I do this so we may never make the same mistakes that we did over 150 years ago. I reenact to teach people what that war was like and how terrible it was. I reenact so that, in the immortal words of Lincoln, "these dead shall not have died in vain." That's how I honor the men in blue and gray who laid down their lives. That's why I do all this crazy stuff. Don't get me wrong, from a distance, this hobby looks weird. But beneath the surface, there is a deep and heartfelt purpose.

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100 Instagram Captions You'll Want To Use Right Now

Quotes, lyrics, sayings, and other ideas for Instagram captions!
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When it comes to Instagram we are often thinking about what to use as a caption for our photos that we take that we really want to post on Instagram. Sometimes we post the photo without a caption and sometimes we just use an emoji because we're stumped on finding a good caption to use for the photo. So we go the short route and just put an emoji as a caption for our photo. Well whether it is a selfie, a friend pic, group pic, or just need a caption for the photo, here are 100 captions to use for a photo. Some are lyrics, some are quotes and some are just a quick caption to use on your photo. Also here are some accounts you can follow that are worth following:

-@brandonwoelfel

-@tess_and_sarah

-@brandymelvilleusa

-@goldenretrievers_

-@cats_of_instagram

-@zodiac.signs

-@thegrilledpineapple

-@jazzjennings_

-@chipper_thegolddog

-@llauratheleo

-@heyshalice

-@sailorhaley

-@sandcloudteam

-@photosabss

-@sharkbaitblond

Here are Quotes To Use As A Caption/ Lyrics To Use As A Caption/ Quick Little Sayings To Use As A Caption: for your instagram photo that you wish to post !

1.Life goes on, with or without you.

2.Don't Worry Be Happy ! Bob Marley

3. Be Happy

4.Be Confident

5. Be Positive

6. Don't be a liar, everyone hates a liar

7. Chillen With My Peeps

8. Go Big Or Go Home

9. What's the deal?

10.The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it's all that matters.

11.Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

12, You couldn't handle me even if I came with instructions.

13. You couldn't handle me even if I came with instructions.

14. Forgive, yes. Forget, never.

15.There's a hole in my heart where you use to be.

16. I don't need any part time people in my life.

17. Get the Gist

18. Boy, it's the 21st centurey get with the program.

19. Hey, I just met you, this is crazy

20. I woke up like this

21. Keep smiling because life is a beautiful thing and there's so much to smile about.

22. Beauty is power; a smile is it's sword

23. Last Day Of Class

24. I Donut Care

25. Got my donut and coffee today

26.Happy as a clam

27. Beach Days are the best

28.A friend will always make you smile, especially when you don't want to…

29. Always classy, never trashy, and a little bit sassy.

30. If only we could turn back time...

31. With You, I forget all my problems. With You, Time Stands Still.

32. Life's a climb, but the view is great

33. Ohana, means family, family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.

34. We come to love by not finding the perfect person but by learning to see imperfect person perfectly.

35. If I ever write a story about my life, don't be surprised if your name appears billion times.

36. "She's got that red lip, classic thing going on"

37 .I don't know what's tighter, our jeans or our friendship!

38. Best Friends make good times better and hard times easier!

39. Not sure what I did to deserve you as my best friend :)

40. I don't need your approval to be me.

41. So call me? maybe

42.I am who.I am, I am what I am, I do what I do and I ain't never gonna do it any different. I don't care who likes it and who don't.

43. Take me as I am, or watch me as I go.

44. Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars - Ed Sheeran

45. Cause you're a sky full of stars- Cold Play

46 . I keep dancing on my own- Calum Scott

47. Can't keep my hands to myself- Selena Gomez

48. I just want to look good for you- Selena Gomez

49. Kill em with kindness -Selena Gomez

50. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. But when I say Sorry… I mean it!

51. Me? Weird? Please! I am Limited Edition

52, Turn that frown upside down

53. Smile its the best thing a girl can wear

54, Stay true

55. Laughing is the best medicine you can ever get!

56. You're the king, baby I'm your queen

57. Best Friends Forever !!!

58.Throwing it back to the good ole days!

59. Ugg Life

60. I know you like first name basis

61. *Sends selfie to NASA cuz I'm a star*

62. Basic white girl

63. Frisky Friday

64. My thoughts are stars that I cannot fathom into constellations,

65. Maybe our okays will be our infinities - The Fault In Our Stars

66. So hold onto me because i'm a little unsteady - Unsteady

67. This has got to be the best day of my life - Best Day Of My LIfe - American Author

68. She;s the beauty and he's the beast

69. All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. -Walt Disney

70. If you can dream it, you can do it.-Walt Disney

71.Hakuna Matata it means no worries for the rest of your days - The LIon King

72. "The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it." — Rafiki,

73. "Remember you're the one who can fill the world with sunshine." — Snow White, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

74 ."The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." — The Emperor, Mulan

75. "You don't have time to be timid. You must be bold and daring." — Lumière, Beauty and the Beast

76."All it takes is faith and trust." -- Peter Pan (Peter Pan)

77."A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference." -- Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh)

78."If you focus on what you left behind, you will never be able to see what lies ahead." -- Gusteau (Ratatouille)

79. "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." -- The Emperor (Mulan)

80."A true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart." -- Zeus (Hercules)

81."Life's not a spectator sport. If watchin' is all you're gonna do, then you're gonna watch your life go by without ya." -- Laverne (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

82. "The things that make me different are the things that make me ME." -- Piglet (Winnie the Pooh)

83."Giving up is for rookies." -- Philoctetes (Hercules)

84.. "Happiness is the richest thing we will ever own." -- Donald Duck

85. "Change is good." -- Rafiki (The Lion King)

86."Remember, you're the one who can fill the world with sunshine." -- Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)

87. "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." -- Walt Disney

88.Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. Rabindranath Tagore
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/sunset...

89.The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_in...

90.The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire. Pamela Hansford Johnson
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/sunset...

91.Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. Swami Sivananda
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_in...

92..Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain... To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices - today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it. Kevyn Aucoin
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_in...

93.Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'! Audrey Hepburn
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_in...

94. Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you. Walt Whitman
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_in...

95.My power's turned on

Starting right now I'll be strong Read more: Rachel Platten - Fight Song Lyrics | MetroLyrics

96.Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. Buddha
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_in...

97.Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf. Rabindranath Tagore
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_in...

98.I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.' Muhammad Ali
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_in...

99. Why don't you be you

And I'll be me

Read more: James Bay - Let It Go Lyrics | MetroLyrics

100. Life is like a camera, we focus on the positives and develop from the negatives.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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The Best Lesson College Has Taught Me So Far Is To Live In The Moment

Go out and meet new people and explore new things because if you don't, you may regret it.

Ivana
Ivana
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My whole life, I've never been impulsive. I've always thought about the consequences of my actions and how things will turn out for me in the future. I ALWAYS stayed in my comfort zone. I never thought that was a problem until I realized that I'm a college student. If I'm not impulsive now and make the most out of my everyday life, when will I ever have the chance again?

College is the time to explore everything and find yourself. In high school, I rarely ever stepped out of my comfort zone. I did what was expected of me: I was the captain of the volleyball team, I got good grades, and hung out with my small group of friends, but that's it. I didn't try any new clubs, I didn't try to make new friends, because I already had an extracurricular and I already had friends, so why would I? I was completely content with never trying anything else.

Recently, I felt myself falling into the same pattern in college and I had to snap myself out of it. I started to feel content and comfortable with my life just the way it was and didn't want to step back out of my comfort zone to explore new things. I was doing the bare minimum that was expected of me to go through college and make it into medical school. The same high school thoughts were getting to me again: If I'm already in a club, why join another? If I already have friends, why put myself out there and make more? But then I realized: Do I really want to glide through college, not making the most out of my life here?

Not everything is about preparing yourself for the future! After college is when you have a job, bills, and complete, utter responsibility. I'm really working on not just focusing on the future because I have my whole life to do that. For now, it's just not necessary. Yes, there are some things you have to do in order to have a successful future: you need decent grades and maybe at least one extracurricular. But don't do the bare minimum. Go out and make more friends because that's what college is all about. Meet as many people as you can and get as many life experiences as you can. Yes, you're already in a club, but why not join something that you've never done before and see if it's interesting? Why not join the culinary club just because you can?

When you're out in the real world with a real job, you may have a hard time finding the opportunities that college is literally handing you. So for now, go get involved with any club that seems remotely interesting, go dye your hair pink if you really want to, go try that new hip-hop class even though you have zero swag, go study abroad in Prague, or simply go talk to that person next to you in lecture even though you feel awkward. Why? Because you can. Because now is the time to do it. And if you don't, you may regret it.

Ivana
Ivana

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