Civil War Reenacting is Hot!
What would make a person put on a wool uniform in the middle of summer and run around recreating the Civil War? I have heard that question a lot in my almost 20 years of reenacting. It’s a question I ask myself sometimes on a hot Saturday afternoon in the middle of a field with a few hundred of my closest friends.
The sweat is pouring, my feet are tired and sore and the nine-pound musket feels like 90 pounds. And then the crowd applauds and the smiling faces remind me that a little inconvenience on my part is worth bringing history alive. Inspiring a young person to dive into a little bit of history — because now it’s not so boring — is worth sleeping on the hard ground and eating soldier food.
One of the extra benefits in reenacting the Civil War in Ohio is the chance to see so many great towns and areas. My favorite? Hard to say as there are so many. Favorite memories might be easier. Like the weekend I slept in Ulysses Grant’s backyard. Or the time I slept in the Statehouse Rotunda. Or just sitting around the campfire at night telling stories and sharing memories.
If I did make a list of favorite reenacting places in Ohio, it would definitely include these two – Hale Farm in Bath and Zoar Village in Tuscarawas County. Both are filled with historic buildings and stage some of the best reenactments in the country.
Hale Farm is a great place to visit any time, but when it is filled with reenactors, it feels just like an 1860’s town. I especially like the stone buildings as they provide a cool spot on a hot summer day.
Zoar Village simply oozes with old-world charm. From the quaint small homes to the bakery (best bread I ever ate!) to the amazing gardens, you’ll find us reenactors walking through the town like tourists.
Of course, we’re there to portray soldiers and help visitors see into what life was like in the Union Army. And, that’s where the hot uniforms come in. Back then, wool was the most common fabric for clothing, winter and summer. Is it hot? Well, yes. It is hot, but we don’t mind as we know that air conditioning and other modern amenities await us at the end of the weekend. For the 325,000 Ohioans who served during the war, it was four years before they made their way home.
So, come August 13-14 (Hale Farm) and September 17-18 (Zoar Village), you’ll find me and hundreds of reenactors living the life of a Civil War soldier and loving every minute of it.