Sunday, June 5, 2011

Civil War Remembrance 2011

As Civil War reenactors/living historians, many of us spend our time over the Memorial Weekend Holiday at Greenfield Village, as my family have been doing since 2005. Now, I am not going to write another day-by-day journal this year of our daily activities as I did last year (Decoration Day at Greenfield Village), or recite the reason why Greenfield Village does this special event annually as I did in this posting in my Greenfield Village blog: Civil War Remembrance Weekend. Both cover well enough this event and, except for some different scenarios, it doesn't change too much year to year. And that's not a bad thing. In all honesty, I believe this event improves every year and, noticeable this year were the lower number of farbs. Maybe word is catching on...

I am including in today's post a few photos with little blurbs connected to each one to help tell a bit about the scenario that we presented on this wonderful weekend. It is, by the way, written with a northern bent - I hope my southern friends do not get offended. It's all in good fun!

Imagine if you will... is the spring of 1861. The United States is at war with itself – brother against brother - a war that we know will only last a few months at the most. President Lincoln has called for volunteers to join up to help end the tom-foolery with the seceding southern states.

There, on our town's village green, were a group of Northern soldiers marching and drilling and preparing to go off to fight the rebellion in the south.

A large group of locals are watching, both men and women, admiring the boys in blue. Many of the farm boys are there watching as well. Of course, fathers, mothers, sisters, beaus, and friends are all goading the farm boys to show they're not cowards and to join up with the military to squelch the rebs.

Most, if not all of them, do show an interest, and are lined up by the recruiting officer there on the spot. He wants to make sure he gets as many boys from our village as he can. After speaking to them and making sure they wanted to join, he and the soon to be military men are paraded, amidst hurrahs and whoops and song, down the road to the Smiths Creek Depot.

The townsfolk are filled to the patriotic brim with all the vim and verve they could muster

Our beloved Mayor Morgan gave another rousing speech...

...and the chaplain said a prayer, the townsfolk bowed their heads solemnly, and then the boys are sworn in.

After they are sworn in the recruiter notices that one of the boys seems to be a bit too effeminate to be a...well, to be a boy! He asks the young man to remove his hat. The young lad, in a higher voice than normal for a young man, refuses to oblige. The recruiter asks again, a bit more sternly. The hat is removed and long sandy blond hair came flowing down around "his" shoulders in ringlets. Gasps were heard amongst the townsfolk - - wait! I recognize that 'boy' - "That's my neighbor's daughter!" I yelled as I grabbed her by the arm. She struggled to get away but I held her arm tightly, letting her know I was taking her home where she would feel the sting of her father's anger. She pleaded with me to please do not take her home, to no avail. She must learn that she is a young lady, and young ladies simply do not have a place in the military.

(I'm sorry that no photos have showed up of this part of the scenario. Perhaps some will but, alas, not at this time)

After the raucous, the final goodbyes were said, with tears flowing and calls of “see you at harvest time!” between the new recruits and those who will remain home.

All of the recruits then march into the depot to prepare to board the train to go off and fight to keep our country as one.

This scenario was one that we in the Michigan Soldiers Aid Society put together and, with the help from the members of the 21st Michigan, as well as a few other units, it was presented to the public at Greenfield Village. I am very happy and proud to say that this year we had record-breaking crowds - nearly 35,000 - in spite of the evening showers that graced our area Saturday and Sunday. But the daytime hours were almost perfect! And Monday - whew! - it reached a humid 88 degrees!

A few of the military members of the 21st Michigan (including my two oldest sons: 2nd from left and far right).

Just Before the battle Mother....the boys in blue prepare for battle



Richard Cottrell said...

OMG. What work goes into this event. I wish I could arrange for you all to come to My Old Historic House for a special event here in Middle America, Missouri. Thanks for sharing. Wonderful. Richard

Historical Ken said...

Richard - Yes, a lot of time and planning went into this but it was well worth it. We may do it again at another event coming up.
By the way, don't be surprised if you see a family of period dressed nuts knocking on your door one day! That would be fun!!

Nose Pierced Beauty said...

Very cool. Yesterday I went to one as I always go to at Pennypacker Mills in PA. I will be posting later, but check it out and please follow.

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

What a great scenario! A little snippet of possible history. Brilliant. I love the way you and others are photographing these events, with the great backgrounds, costumes and proper period scenarios. And I'm a sucker for the old tintype/dag/sepia look in keeping with the theme!


Historical Ken said...

Thanks Pam. The scenario really went well, but it's heck to make sure everyone's on the same page!
I do enjoy trying to make the photos as authentic as I can. I must admit, however, that sometimes I cheat - I will erase the modern items here and there...

An Historical Lady said...

Wonderful post with great photos!