Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Civil War Reenactments - The Subculture

One cannot live in the South without hearing the almost daily reference to The Great War of Northern Aggression - called the Civil War by Historians and Northerners.  Now, I don't wish to get into a long discussion of the aggression of the north, the way in which it has always been depicted or the color of the uniforms.  (Grey? Seriously?  All the colors of the rainbow and they chose GREY?) 

This week, I'd like to take a few minutes and share with you information about a subculture of individuals (of both north and south) and their love of the war. Well, not really the war, I mean how can someone 'love' a war?  What they love, what they live for is the reenactment of the major (and even some minor) battles of the war itself.  

This is not a bad thing, and I wish to clarify that anything that allows us to learn from history is always a good thing.  The part that amazes me is how these people (women included) go out into the hot, humid and sometimes cold weather and stand around for hours just to reenact one battle which may only take a few minutes to complete.  If it were me? I'd be in an RV watching the entire thing on closed circuit cameras mounted on the roof along with the requisite mosquito cannons pointed in all directions.  (Hate them skeeters, I duz!)  

In addition, I must admit that there are groups of enactors across the country, in the north, and even as far west as Oregon.  Not only THAT, but within the subculture of  "Re-enactors" you have factions or subcategories of enthusiasts, according to their dedication and accuracy in the performance of their roles.   

There are basically three:  
  • Hardcore: This is the true passionate re-enactor who goes out of his way to buy period manufactured hardware or period accurate clothing.  They wear the same clothes, carry what a soldier of that time may have carried and even cut their hair with a rusty sabre while sitting in an old barn. They are careful not to use any modern fabrics or comforts.    It should go without saying that they look with hard 1800's disdain on anyone who is not in this category. 
  • Farbs:  Farbs are, to the best that I can tell, the direct opposite of the Harcore ReEnactor. They try to be authentic, but get outfits made by costume shops, or buy props rather than official period pieces.  They enjoy the hobby but don't get too wrapped up in its authenticity.  (And before you ask, no one really knows where the term FARB originated.) 
  • Mainstream:   Right in the middle are what both sides call 'mainstreamers'.  These are the people who don't fall exactly into either camp.  They may buy authentic clothing, but still keep their prescription lenses, and comfy underwear.  Its sort of based on what is important - to them.  Comfort, and their own level of need trump what is authentic.  
Of course, none of these categories mentions anything about an RV, cameras or mosquito cannons. I don't think anyone is going to let me set my own category, so I guess I will fall into the one category not part of the re-enactment: Spectators.

Yes, make your own category in life. That's the true southern way.  

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