Saturday, May 31, 2014

Greenfield Village Civil War Remembrance 2014 in Photographs (with an explanation on photography at a reenactment)

Before we get into the photographs from this most terrific reenactment weekend, I would like to explain something here that I wrote about a couple years ago:
taking photographs at a historic reenactment.

Strike a pose: Lee Cagle, the unofficial Greenfield Village photographer, takes a picture of 21st Michigan member Beckie.
I've had some ask me about all of the photos I take at not only this event at Greenfield Village, but at any of our events. 
Here is something I wrote a couple years ago that gives as good an explanation as any on my taking pictures while participating in living history:
For me, taking photographs at reenactments is kind of like an extension of the event itself, and many of my living history friends feel the same way. Some have told me they don't feel like the event is complete until they see my photos posted here on this blog or on Facebook.
It makes me feel good knowing that so many feel that way about my pictures. But I do understand concerns about seeing such a device as a modern digital camera while at a reenactment, especially with patrons around. Even more important, at an immersion event. I so try to be inconspicuous with my camera for the most part, and will try not to pull it out in front of visitors except under rare circumstances.
Yep - that's me taking a picture of a scenario that's been set up. The girls hammed it up pretty good for this one!
However, there are times when it almost doesn't matter. 
For instance, at a battle reenactment. 
First off, most of us in the civilian contingencies are usually sitting amidst hundreds (or more) of very modern patrons in their lawn chairs. It's kind of hard to chastise a period-dressed reenactor for taking a few photographs in this situation, wouldn't you say? But as long as the reenactors don't mind and the camera is quickly hidden and not left it in plain view where the public can see it, I see no problem here. I still believe that as living historians we should do our best to stay in time-travel mode as long as we are in our period attire no matter where we are.
"But," you may say, "there are the times when one is surrounded by all things historically accurate; out comes the camera and there goes all sense of authenticity."
I see your point...but once a 21st century visitor enters the 'scene,' I try to make sure the camera is stuffed away in my always nearby carpetbag and no one is the wiser. In fact, I have had quite a few non-reenacting friends mention that they never even seen me take pictures at events and wonder how the heck I get so many shots. And most reenacting friends are usually ready and willing to pose. 
The lovely ladies of the Michigan Soldiers Aid Society & friends head out for an afternoon tea at Cotswold Cottage, but not before stopping to pose for this crazy guy with a camera.
Yeah, it is true that at times, like during immersion, it can be obtrusive...and that's where I've been learning to understand that, though this may be a really 'cool' event, the camera may have to be put at bay.
Or does it?
I have many opportunities to reenact inside period homes where we try to attempt immersion, and that's where I will set up photographic scenarios as a sort of souvenir to that particular 'moment in time.' 
by having us arrive early enough to spend time posing in various scenarios before the immersion begins.
  Sometimes I've had photographer friends take photos during immersion time, unless it is a non-public event, in which case it will only be staged photos beforehand. The photographers are usually respectfully unobtrusive, plus, as living historians, we also learned to block modern-isms out.

Yet, I will admit that I have pulled out my camera at times when maybe I shouldn't have. I suppose it's just me getting over zealous and excited about the situation at hand. As a historian, that happens quite often. But I'm getting better.
Interestingly for me is the way my reenacting/living historian friends feel about modern photography at events; by far the greater majority are extremely happy that I am out there recording for posterity our "time-travel" experiences. 
Hangin' with the Rebs
I haven't met any who adamantly stated that they disliked it, though one or two have asked if I could abstain during certain times. I've tried to tone it down a bit when I feel it can take away from an experience...but, boy! it sure is difficult sometimes!
I have seen other reenactors carrying (or wearing) their cameras around their necks via a long strap. This I am vehemently against; to not even make an attempt to hide your farbiness  goes against all of what we are trying to do. If this is the case then why cover your cooler?
As I said, unless it's a posed picture, I do my best to sneak my camera out of the carpetbag, snap the photo, then slip it back in.
No muss - no fuss.

And little - if any - notice.
I'm sure that, for the most part it's a personal issue. As I alluded to a few moments ago, if I am at a full immersion event I will try and refrain from taking pictures accept at an appointed time. 

I hope this has explained a bit about how I operate.

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Now, here is a question I ponder every so often: how is it that we can participate in the same reenactment for a decade or longer and yet still find it every bit as fun and exciting as the very first time?
That's the way it is for me and so many others who partake in Greenfield Village's Civil War Remembrance every Memorial Day Weekend. 
Many of the members of the 21st Michigan were very excited about being back at Greenfield Village's Civil War Remembrance!
And we are there the entire weekend: from the line up on Friday through tear down on Monday, most reenactors spend the entire weekend there, camped out in tents.
(Unfortunately, due to personal reasons, my wife and I did not camp this year, though we set up our tent).
It's not very often that museums of this sort allow for such a thing. I mean, they trust us explicitly. And we, in turn, do our best to give the historic village our utmost respect and care.
We want to keep this relationship going, and so do they.
The weather for Memorial Weekend 2014 here in the metro-Detroit area was picture-perfect: 70's and low 80's with lots and lots of sun.
And, as you shall see in the following photos (and from the pictures above), we took full advantage of it!

 I'd like to begin with showing an opportunity I had to take part in a wonderful special interpretive scenario. There is a living history group, The Petticoat Society, that was asked to transform the tintype studio inside Greenfield into a Loyal Union League, presenting content related to the 1864 election and The National Union Party. I was one of a very few who had been asked to participate in bringing this rarely presented election to life. It is quite an honor, though I did not have the knowledge to interpret this oft-forgotten part of the Civil War. But they certainly taught me a lot and have piqued my interest.
The transformation of the tintype studio into a Loyal Union League meeting place was as eerily authentic as any transformation I have seen, inside and out.

(From the Union League historical marker): "On June 25, 1862, the Union League of America was founded at Pekin, Illinois, to promote patriotism and loyalty to the Union. Its members hoped to counter Northern disillusionment with President Lincoln's military policies after early Union defeat in the Civil War. Although closely allied with the Republican Party, the League sought to enroll all Union supporters, regardless of party. the league developed into a statewide and then a national organization. By December, 1863, it claimed 140,000 members in Illinois and almost a million nationwide." 
Kimmy Young is ready for visitors

Despite Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg a year earlier, the Southern armies came back fighting with a vengeance. During three months in the summer of 1864, over 65,000 Union soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing-in-action. In comparison, there had been 108,000 Union casualties in the first three years.
In the Border States, War Democrats joined with Republicans as the National Union Party, with Lincoln at the head of the ticket.

Kimmy Young, Becky (Young) LaBarre & Steve LaBarre: These three did an amazing job in their presentation. I did little more than sit there and watch in awe. I mean, they really drew the people into the world of the 1864 election through site and sound. Hopefully next year, if they do this again (and I hope they do!), I can play a larger role, if they'll let me.
War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were adherents of the Democratic Party who rejected the Copperheads/Peace Democrats who controlled the party. The War Democrats demanded a more aggressive policy toward the Confederacy and supported the policies of Republican President Abraham Lincoln when the Civil War broke out a few months after his win in the 1860 presidential election.
As you can see, they did a phenomenal job decorating for their interpretation as well.

The National Union Party was a temporary name used to attract War Democrats and Border State Unionists who would not vote for the Republican Party.
And, well, this IS a men's club, so we played a little poker while discussing our political opinions.

Also, a commemoration/reverberation took place this weekend:
To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of General Grant’s Overland Campaign of 1864, Greenfield Village had partnered with the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park for a special tribute program that all CWR participants are asked to participate. To mark those events, Greenfield Village will be taking part in Reverberations, an innovative program initiated by the National Park Service connecting three national parks in Virginia and eight communities around the country to illustrate the devastating impact of the Civil War on communities across the country.
Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan is one of those communities.
This special candlelight illumination ceremony with John Hennessy, Civil War historian and chief historian/chief of interpretation at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park military park, will be simultaneously conducted by the partner communities both North and South.This illumination ceremony will culminate in taps being played in Greenfield Village and echoed to these other locations virtually as the event will be streamed live in conjunction with the other ceremonies. The activities will ultimately conclude with a grand illumination ceremony at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery in Virginia.

The following photos show this wonderful tribute:

The military marched to the Village Green first. Note the men carrying the lanterns...

...followed by the civilians, also carrying lanterns.

It was truly a beautiful sight.

The ceremony, which took place on the Village Green, was very touching and was a wonderful tribute to the men who fought in that war 150 years ago.
The above four photos were taken by Lenore Jordan

Next up we have some pictures from our camp site. We always set up our tents 'neath the shade of the mulberry trees planted by Henry Ford back in 1932, right next to Hank's Silk Mill (built in 1810). Or, as I like to call our spot, Shady Grove (after the old American folk song from the 18th century and was still popular during the Civil War).
Peaches in the summertime, Apples in the fall,
If I can’t have Shady Grove I’ll have no love at all.
Shady grove, my little love, Shady grove, I know
Shady grove, my little love, I'm bound for shady grove.

"So, git outa de way for old Dan Tucker,
He's come too late to git his supper.
Supper's over and breakfast cookin',
Old Dan Tucker standin' lookin' "
And breakfast was certainly being cooked in campsites throughout
Greenfield Village! And Old Dan Tucker just stood there lookin'!

Some folks cook on stoves –
Some folks do, some folks do…
More breakfast a-cookin’!

The ladies readied themselves for the busy day ahead. (Yes! I received permission to publish this photo from the young lady at hand!)

The lost art of visiting without the use of smart phones (and any other hand-held electronic devises) prevailed.

Mother and son prepare to take a stroll through the Village.

My wife and I enjoying a respite from the crowds that attend Civil War Remembrance (photo by Lee Cagle)

Oh Man! That cherry pie looks good enough to eat! Too bad it was for a friend and not us! Maybe next time...!!

These patriotic ladies (including my lovely wife in the middle!) let everyone know where their allegiance lies!

Mrs. Cook tries to make ends meet by making a meager living doing laundry. She truly does wash the clothing for reenactors in exchange for pie or some other delight.

No Reb shall enter the camp of this young lady! Few things are cooler than a girl and her gun!

The 1832 Eagle Tavern
Our Saturday afternoon consists of dining at the 1832 Eagle Tavern, a place where locally-grown non-GMO food of the season is served. It is perhaps my favorite dining experience, especially when I have my entire family dressed in period clothing with me, including my daughter-in-law who does not reenact, but dressed in period clothing for me!
I love having my family (and a couple of very good friends) with me here at the Eagle Tavern!

Friends always join us when we dine here.

Having friends join us always makes it that much more special!

And I found the lovely Samantha McCarty, from The Couture Courtesan, dining at the Eagle Tavern as well.

Then there's the Grand Ball at at Lovett Hall, adjacent to Greenfield Village. Few period balls are as grand as the one Greenfield Village throws for the participating reenactors, I'm sure you'll agree after seeing the following photographs:

Off to the ball... (photo by Larissa Fleishman)

Lovett Hall was built by Henry Ford in 1929 to be used specifically for balls. You can almost hear the swishing and twirling of the dancers!

The lovely Mrs. Giffin and her partner during the Grand March.

The Grand March continues...

Let the dancing begin! Calling provided by Mr. Glen Morningstar, and music provided by Picks 'n' Sticks.

The lovely Miss Mansfield and her partner seem to be having a wonderful time.

A was able to grab many of my friends (and even my son) there to pose for a group picture.

And here is another group photo of (mostly) 21st Michigan members.

Here are a few shots taken as I was roaming around Greenfield Village. One of the neat things about reenacting in an open-air museum atmosphere are all the great historic backdrops:
21st Michigan member Jillian is also a historic presenter at Greenfield Village, and she had to work one of the three days that Civil War Remembrance took place. Here we both are at the Susquehanna Plantation House, she at "work" and me at play.

A few of the guys from the Sally Port Mess on the back porch of Susquehanna Plantation. Yep, that's me with a guitar, and I do know how to play it.

The local tinsmith prepares for his upcoming busy day.

The Dodsworth Saxhorn band entertained all passersby with the hits of the (18)60's.

If you reenact in the mid-west then you know David Walker. That's him on the left. Beckie and I are next to him.

And now the reason for Civil War Remembrance in the first place: to honor all those in the military who have either given or are willing to give their last full measure for their country. Greenfield Village does one of the most touching of all Memorial Day services, as these pictures will attest:
It's during the ceremony that the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the military are honored by being called onto the Village Green to a round of applause from thousands of onlookers. This truly does bring a tear to one's eyes.

Then ladies will walk up to lay a wreath to honor those military heroes who have died.

Many, but not all, of the ladies will wear mourning clothing

It is quite an honor to be chosen to take part in this ceremony.

The infantry from both sides of the Mason-Dixon will then fire a volley.

Now, let's show some of the military side of the reenactment.These photos concentrate mainly on the unit I belong to, the 21st Michigan.

Members of the 21st Michigan march off to the Memorial service.

A few of the men of the 21st Michigan military pose similarly in the manner of what's been seen on some of the old CDV's.

Brothers: two of my three sons, Rob and Tom. Dreads on a Civil War soldier? Hmmm...

My son Tom minds camp as the others are marching and drilling. He also cooked for the men.

Members of the 21st Michigan mixed in with other units.

Michigan Senator Jacob Howard (Dave Tennies) speaks to the men on the importance of their service in the military.

A few of the men from the 21st Michigan

And finally we took a group photo. This proved to be a great time, though a little trying. It can be rather difficult to have a gathering come together in one place at a reenactment such as one this large, but they did. Well, most did. Some could not make it while there are others who did not even come to the event. But, as you can see, we had quite a showing.
That's the ca1830's Susquehanna Plantation house we are standing in front of.
How the future will see us...
To me, one of the best parts was seeing all of the modern 21st century visitors with their cameras all taking pictures as well. It was like the paparazzi! All in good fun, however. we see ourselves.
Greenfield Village is always such a top-notch event for us. A lot of planning goes into it, beginning in early March at the planning meeting and continuing on until Memorial Weekend itself. It's a celebration of sorts: of our country's history, of the great men who gave their all for fighting for something they believed in, for those who are willing to give their all, for the beginning of summer and the reenacting season, and of life itself.
I thank the great open-air museum of Greenfield Village for allowing and trusting those of us who reenact to take over the historical property for three and a half days.
And I thank the nearly 30,000 visitors who continue to come year after year to see us, as well as to the new-comers who have never been and were pleasantly surprised, especially the woman from Vancouver, Canada who recently moved to Detroit and knew very little of our American History. She was extremely interested in knowing not only about the Civil War but about the Revolutionary War as well, and we happily obliged in giving her a quick overview and guiding her in the right direction to learn more.
My son Rob: after three days we were all ready to head into the future to reenact the 21st century  (Photo by Carole McMann)
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 Outtakes and Bloopers From Civil War Remembrance at Greenfield Village
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Hey! They do it on TV, right? So why can't I do it here!
I don't think I've met a reenactor who doesn't like to take a goofy picture every once in a while. I mean, except for immersion events (no modern anything allowed!), I believe most of us like to have a little fun, especially when an opportunity arises that you just can't pass up.
That's what I'm showing here: the fun, mostly private behind-the-scenes photos we sometimes will take when the public is not around.
I know, I know...there will be some out there who will be greatly disappointed in me for not only posting these, but having the audacity of actually taking these pictures in the first place!
But, you know what? Look at the original tintypes from the past: many are posed as fun, goof-off poses. I've seen numerous pictures from the past where people are emulating the humor of their time.
If they did it, then so can we!
So, without further ado, here are the childish outtakes, bloopers, immature, nonsensical, muddle-headed....actually, let's just call them fun! Get the picture (get it? "Picture"??)!
Here you go!

"We need more firewood!! You push and I'll pull!"

Every rose has her thorn. And these ladies nearly got "stuck"!

Mike with his parasol - a match made in...well, not sure if it's a match or not!

"Oh! Oh! My man has been shot!!"

"Sisters, who would do such a dastardly deed?"

"Ha! It was ME! And I'd do it again! He was a bad, bad man!"

"No! 'twas I who did the deed! With this here stick!"

It was was the rancid meat he ate that killed this poor man!

Okay...let's take a nice pic-----MIKE!!!!

Awww...Ian just adores his new bride!!

I caught Dave doing his best Charles Dickens impression (see photo below)

Wherever she lays her head is her home!

Recall seeing the wonderfully elegant Victorian folks at the ball? Ha! Hoodlums!!

Wonder Woman's great great great grandmother!

I believe this picture speaks for itself!

"Hey! How many of us can fit under the mourning veil!"

Howdy! Ya'll wanna dance?

Nothing comes between a woman and her gun. Nothing!

If any of these pictures gave you a smile or brightened your day in any way, then you just made mine!
Have a wonderful week!