Monday, June 4, 2018

Civil War Remembrance 2018: Spending the Memorial Day Weekend in the 1860s

~Here 'tis...my annual Civil War Remembrance Weekend at Greenfield Village blog post. And it is chock-full of photos (over 80!) with varying degrees of commentary and history lessons included.
It is my hope that the viewer will feel as if they were part of this reenactment, even if they didn't attend. Hopefully, I was a success at it~

This must be my, I believe, 15th Civil War Remembrance at Greenfield Village.
And I still look forward to it as if it were my first, for there is a very festive atmosphere about it.
Yeah, I know...to many people that can be a turn off. But, to me, it is exciting. It is not like other reenactments I participate in, that's for sure. And I believe that's why it's so anticipated by hundreds of reenactors, because it is like no other.
Through the Ackley "time-travel"
bridge we go...
And the quality of the reenactors are top-notch. From the clothing to the willingness to set up little scenarios and vignettes, I believe some of the best living historians anywhere are right here.
By the way, one thing you will notice about my campsite this year: I didn't have one.
Yes, it's true. This year I did not set up my tent as I normally do. You see, my wife, God love her, broke her leg right near her ankle just a few days before this event - on my birthday, in fact - and I saw no need to set everything up. But, being the wonderful wife that she is, she really wanted me to go for she knows how much I love this event, so we had a few non-reenacting friends "Patty-sit" each of the three days of this Memorial Weekend. Now, due to this situation, I came home nightly, but went back early in the morning and enjoyed the day.
God bless my wife for her thoughtfulness....
And my fellow 21st Michigan members (and good friends to boot) offered their tents to me as my home base, so I am very grateful to them!
Okay, well, the second thing you may notice is the location of the 21st Michigan camp area has changed. For over a decade we have called the area around the old silk mill our home during this weekend, but due to flooding in the area where we once created a tent city, it is no longer suitable, so we have been placed near Doc Howard's Office and the McGuffey Cabin. In all honestly, I believe this new site is more suitable, for we are civilians, and being around houses is more conducive to our role in this reenactment.
As always, my stealth camera was with me...and I tried to choose the best of what I took to post here.
Hope you like 'em.
For this year's Greenfield Village pictures, I thought I'd arrange them loosely by subject.

The first I will call - - 
Scenarios:
Some scenarios were for photographic purposes, while others were played out. Either way, we sure have some nice pictures to show, and we had a lot of fun creating them as well!
It was a blistering hot weekend, with temperatures hovering in the low-to-mid-90s all three days. Since our new campsite inside Greenfield Village was just a few feet from the original courthouse where Abraham Lincoln, as a circuit-riding lawyer, once practiced law (before the presidency), my imagination began to run deep into the past, and I wondered how it may have been for the mid-19th century people of the town of Postville, Illinois to have a court session in their midst. You see, people from all around the neighboring communities would travel to the court building to be enthralled by the legal battles that took place inside; I liken it to a modern-day court-room television drama that are always so popular today.
Research showed that when he was a young attorney Abraham Lincoln once practiced law in this walnut clapboard building, which was built in Postville (now Lincoln), Illinois in 1840. 
Being a circuit-riding lawyer, Mr. Lincoln would travel upon his horse to the tiny country towns within a certain perimeter - Lincoln and the other handful of circuit riding lawyer companions with him covered the Eighth Judicial Circuit which covered around 11,000 square miles - and they would follow Judge David Davis to the courthouses of the towns.
That's when I came up with an idea!
Since the Village was now swarming with mid-19th century folk, what a great opportunity to recreate what it could have looked like having the townsfolk await court cases. Now, the men were able to sit in the front seats while the women would have to sit toward the back and sides, and sometimes even peer through the open windows or doorway.
Of course, the local businesses always had red-letter days during the time the court was in session as well.
Even tin-type photographers.
Here are the ladies in the above photo as they looked in their tin-type:

It wasn't too difficult for me to find willing participants to help out in my little 1860s courtroom photography session.
Maybe one day we will be allowed to actually do a short court room skit!
I'm sorry, ma'am, but the front seats are reserved for the gentlemen.

Many of us arrived early and began to awaiting for the judge, lawyers, 
and jury to arrive.
Oh, and the defendants, too.
An original feature, long absent from the courtroom has made a return in time for the Civil War Remembrance weekend: the bar now stands again. Using the original set of wooden spindles, Greenfield Village has re-created their interpretation of what the rail, or the bar, that divided the courtroom may have looked like in the 1840s. By referencing images of other early 19th century courtrooms, and studying architectural features represented in Greenfield Village, a typical design was created.
(the above info came from the blog of The Henry Ford)
Court was in session only twice a year, and could be a raucous affair during the 19th century. It was quite entertaining for the folks sitting on the hard wood benches or peeking through the windows (which were usually opened due to the heat from all of the bodies inside). 
In fact, it added quite a bit of excitement for the country townsfolk, for this was about the only time a small town could have some real big-time excitement.

(Many thanks to the presenter who was working inside the courthouse for taking this picture!)

We were also camped near the office of Dr. Alonson Howard of Tekonsha, Michigan (not far from the Jackson area), an actual mid-19th century doctor.
So...another opportunity arose for some action photos. 
Since this was a last minute idea, I assumed the doctoring role.
Poor Jenny...the extreme heat had overtaken her, so her friends, Jackie and Carolyn, brought her to see the local doctor.

"God-dee Almighty, lady! You're on your way to Glory!"

"Miss Jackie, would you fill this bowl I have in my bag with extract of butternut bark? I believe that may cure her ills."

The barrels in which you see here are the real deal - 

they originally belonged to Dr. Howard and were kept inside 
this building, just as he left them, 
after he passed away in 1883.
And that's how Greenfield Village found them when it was all donated in the 1950s. 

This extract should cure Mrs. Long's ills.
Shortly after Howard's death, his wife, Cynthia, promptly padlocked the building, which her husband had used as his office for 28 years, and it remained mostly untouched; it remained as Doctor Howard left it until 1956 when their great grandson donated the building and its contents to Greenfield Village.
The presenter inside the building thought Jenny truly was ill and came a-rushing up to us to help. We let her know immediately that we were doing a photo shoot.
Good times!


One of our 21st Michigan members, Mrs. St. John, got a few of the ladies together to make poke bags for our guys in the military. 
Mrs. Cary & Mrs. St. John fill the bags with peanuts,
thread, necco and coffee beans.

Our newest 21st Michigan member, Mrs. Isaacson, also joined in the poke bag party.

And then it was off to the camp of our boys in blue to deliver the little tokens of appreciation from the local ladies.
And their gifts were appreciated.
Just like the military in our modern times, it's the little things 
that tend to mean so much.

Next we have a couple of young ladies who came up with the idea of a Confederate spy scenario. Like many of our scenarios, it was more for our own entertainment than the public, though if any of the modern visitors happened to be around (and we did have more than a few), good for them, for they got to witness something a little different. The young ladies did a fine job ad-libbing - most of what we do is unscripted.
The two young ladies on the right were seen moseying about the Union camps, holding a Bible and asking questions about the men who, they claimed, they would pray for.

But a few of the other ladies had their suspicions about the two young girls snooping around the camps, for they were known to be southern sympathizers and were not to be trusted.

They seemed to be asking too many questions - enough to rouse the suspicion of the men, who didn't hesitate to take the young ladies into custody.

Of course, the local women were up in arms, and the speculation - gossip, rather - begun to run rampant.

At gunpoint, the two girls were taken to Colonel Eichler,
who was set up behind the Susquehanna House.

Initially Colonel Eichler didn't seem too concerned...

...that is, until he looked at what was inside the frontispiece of their Bible:

Doesn't look like much praying for souls going on here!

Seeing that the girls were of a young age, they were sent back to their mother...who was none to happy of their shenanigans!

This family, however, will be watched closely, and I am certain they will be shunned by the others citizens of town.
This was a fine scenario in which a good number of the Union men were happy to take part.
All in the name of history.
You know, it's not too difficult to come up with snippets of the past during reenactments. And I found that most reenactors are very willing to participate. These vignettes don't have to be very long - just enough to show a little about life in the past. The military have their battles - it's time for civilians to show life (beyond cooking over a fire) as well, don't you think?


Fashions about Town:
Two always fashionable ladies preparing for the day - - - - 
But first, let's speak a little about the men...
When you really look at men's fashion changes as compared to women's, there is no comparing the two, for the styles men have worn since roughly the mid-19th century onward has changed very little in the scheme of it all while woman's clothing has changed quite dramatically over time.
That's not to say men's clothing hasn't changed at all, mind you, but, rather, the basics have pretty much remained the same: shirt, vest, coat, pants, shoes, and even ties (to an extent). Oh, yes, they have been modified over the years, but the basics have remained the same.
Hats, on the other hand, are where the real fashion changes occur for men, in my opinion.

You can see Dave, in the above two photos, is a very
fashion-conscious gentleman, that's for certain. 

And then there is the, as my friend Jenna called us, "the linen suit brigade"!
There were a few of us with white linen jackets hanging about a-waiting for the memorial service to commence when I pulled us all together for the photograph.

David Walker with the Carlsons 


Mr. Purdue, the Lutheran preacher, with Miss Jones and the Morgans.

Looking to have an over-night stay at the Eagle Tavern before rising early for the morning stage.

The Masciale's - wonderful period musicians
and genuinely fine people!


Memorial Service:
Pic by Bob Jacobs

It was fifteen years ago, when I first attended the Memorial Day service here at Greenfield Village, that I began 'celebrating' Memorial Day quite differently than I had before.
In previous years Memorial Day Weekend was summertime fun at the beach, hot dogs & burgers, and parades, with nary a thought of what this holiday was actually meant for - to remember those who have fought and died for our great nation during times of war, as well as for those who continue to willingly serve in our armed forces.
The women you see in the following pictures are the participants in the special service held on Memorial Day itself. They will carry flowers and place them at a makeshift memorial near the front of the Martha-Mary Chapel in honor and remembrance of those who have given "their last full measure of devotion" to their country.
These two ladies were at the head of the line, and they carried the memorial wreath to the garden at the front of the church.

It was not necessary for the women to dress in mourning clothing to take part in the ceremony, for they were not necessarily in mourning, but honoring the fallen.

Each moved up, two by two, with flowers in hand. They were not honoring only the men who fought in the Civil War, but of all who fought, including the women, in all American wars.

As well as those who are still serving today.

To me, this is what being a reenactor is all about:
paying homage to those who we emulate in numerous
different ways, such as what you see here.

And reenactors - both male and female - do their best to be 
respectful in their representations of those who have gone 
on before us, whether military or an everyman/everywoman:
those who built our great nation.

For the women here, I know it is an honor for them to 
pay tribute in such a manner.

Greenfield Village has brought out the true meaning of 
Memorial Day, like I've not seen elsewhere.

This is truly a touching ceremony, and there were many, including your friendly historical blogger, who has tear-filled eyes every time I witness it.

My top hat is off to these women, dressing to the sevens and nines in the raging heat (low to mid-90s) to pay homage. 

Here is a group shot of the ladies who participated in the 
Memorial/Decoration Day service.
And...
...in the center of this photo (flanked by Jillian and Beckie) you see Lorna, who topped off the ceremony by directing the ladies you've seen in these pictures, ensuring for a smooth and honorable commemoration.

Relaxing before the memorial service.
That's the back of the Logan County Courthouse you see there. 

Now we see the military marching onto the Village Green...

Many of the reenactors are also veterans themselves - and a few are still in the real (modern) forces.

General Lee's Army were also part of the parade/ceremony
The solemnity of this special ceremony cannot be overstated, and I wish we, as a country, took more time to appreciate what the men and women of the service did and continue to do for all of us who are citizens of the United States. Yeah, I may sound corny here, but I don't care - it is the way I feel.


Military:
Of course, what would a Civil War reenactment be without the military?
And we had both the Union and Confederates representing both sides: infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
Showing her Yankee pride.

Hmmm...I think I would like to expand on this scenario for next year.

The military had their own scenarios (other than the battles). On the porch of the Susquehanna House, they showed what it was like for the soldiers to get paid.
Here is the man with the money; of course he's going to have guards!

The men lined up in order.
Okay, not quite as orderly as they could have, but all went well, and there was nary a fight amongst the men awaiting their pay.

Replicated period currency and a list of the men who received it.

Of course, not far from the paymaster was a sutler enticing the men to spend their hard-earned cash on the necessities he had for sale.

I apologize for the glaring brightness of the photo here. I did not realize it when I took it. But items such as cigars, tobacco, paper, pie, and other notions were available for purchase.

The men were warned by their superiors of such sutlers selling their wares, claiming each to be a necessity.


In fact, some were even willing to do a bit of gambling...

Meanwhile, over at the cavalry camp...

With the morning sun a-rising, the area next to the Sarah Jordan Boarding House was where the cavalry camped, and it was a beautiful sight to see.

The Michigan Cavalry Brigade Association

And to hear them blow the bugles as they moved about the Village...
This was a real treat to witness.


Around the Village with Friends:
Here are some pictures I took throughout the three days, mostly of the 21st Michigan members. GFV is one of the most picturesque places around, and having period-clothed reenactors everywhere you looked made it that much better.
The 21st Michigan group shot. 
This is a little more than half of our total membership. 
Not a bad looking bunch, eh?

The group picture and this one were taken after most visitors had left the Village, 
so we pretty much had it all to ourselves. 
Well...okay, so we had to share with the other reenactors...!

One of the very cool things that Greenfield Village does for reenactors, besides the Grand Ball, is to open up the Eagle Tavern in the evening...and it's strictly for us. No modern-dress allowed.
Due to my wife's lame leg (remember---she broke it the week before) I could not attend, but Larissa did and took the following picture:
Not quite yet dark, but the evening sure does give the
tavern a very different atmosphere.
(pic by Larissa Fleishman)

A mother and her son.
The two in this pictures here are new members of our group, 

and I believe this is their first time out. They did a great job!
Even though I posed this picture, I'm not quite sure how
to quote it. I'm not certain what she is thinking here.
Is she angry at him for some reason? 

Maybe she is concerned because of the War? 
Is he defiant?
Hmmm...what do you think?

This is a fine photograph of my son Robbie and I over at the military camp of the 21st Michigan.
He is his father's son in that he strives for authenticity and accuracy.

(Pic by Denise Tononi)

The civilian members of the 21st Michigan are truly an awesome group, and early on Sunday morning a few of us left for a sort of photo shoot. We didn't do anything too dramatic, but we did have a lot of fun and a lot of laughs.
Yeah...good friends all.
Of course, the Ackley Covered Bridge, built in 1831/32 may be considered the most picturesque area inside Greenfield Village.
Again, I hope a scene like this evokes the past. I can tell you that was the feeling I had when I looked up and saw what you see here - - I had to whip out the stealth camera, for it did feel like I was transported back to the 1860s.

Henry Ford dredged out a pond when he had the bridge relocated to his Village in the 1930s, and ducks & geese have made it their habitat.
Again, the past lives on...

Larissa, Beckie, and Jillian 

Greenfield Village added to the ambiance to the reenactment by including a few of their own workers into the picture, such as these two who rode their horses throughout the Village during the reenactment.

Staying out of the heat of the sun was key here, for on this day the temperature rose to 96 degrees.
The house here - Susquehanna Plantation - belonged to the Carroll family in Maryland. 

The long wood porch of the Susquehanna House, where generations of folks rested upon for, um, generations.
No, I am not portraying one of the Carrols here. I just like the look of this scene.

Some of the local youngsters decided to have picnic 'neath the shade of a weeping willow tree near the covered bridge.

And next to the kids was Meg, who was out with us earlier but decided to change into her bathing costume and also sit beneath the same shade of the same willow to read her newly purchased replicated mid-19th century book.
Peaceful, easy feeling in the time of the Civil War

With the Noah Webster House, built in 1822, looming nearby, this photo almost has a southern feel to it. 
This is what is so wonderful about this reenactment - there are so many photo opportunities that it is easy to fill your memory card with period-style photos you just can't get at other places.

And finally...Church:
The Martha-Mary Chapel, built inside Greenfield Village in 1929~
The bricks and the doors came from the building in which Henry Ford and Clara Bryant were married in 1888 - the Bryant family home in old Greenfield Township (from which the Village name was taken), and the bell, according to the 1933 guide book, was cast by the son of Paul Revere.
The name "Martha-Mary" came from the first names of
Henry Ford's mother and mother-in-law..
The Village allows reenactors to attend a period church service, and the preacher preaches like a southern Baptist. Pretty hard-edged!
I caught some of our members as they exited the service - - -
As a Catholic, the style of preaching is not
particularly favorable to me, so I decided not to attend.
But for those who do enjoy it, I am glad for them.

So to sit and wait for the flock to exit the church
paid off greatly in the images I was able to capture.

And the scene was truly out of the past.

From church to home...where the Lord's Day can be passed by visiting with friends and family...

There you have it, my friends.
Civil War Remembrance 2018, though three days long, seemed to go oh-so-quickly - much too fast for my taste. I enjoy this reenactment greatly, not only because it is held at Greenfield Village, but because the quality of those participating is first rate. And even though the heat was oppressive - even attendance was a bit lower because of the high temps - we still made the best of it and, as you can see, we enjoyed ourselves to every extent.
Many thanks must go out to everyone, including the wonderful folks at Greenfield Village who work so hard to make this happen. And the reenactors, especially those who were willing participants in some of the living history that went on. A special thank you to you all.

Until next time, see you in time.

















~   ~   ~

2 comments:

tnphotobug said...

Thanks so much for sharing. I have visited Greenfield Village for the last 14 years with my grandparents, but this year was the first time I got to experience the Civil War programming. So much fun!! Having grown up in Chattanooga (TN) in close proximity to Chickamauga, I have seen a few rangers dress up in period clothing now and then but nothing on the scale of Greenfield Village. It was so much fun to see the past come to life!

Bama Planter said...

I love the tintype. Also, your son has achieved the authentic look, as if he just stepped out of 1864. I think the one of the lady in the shade in front of the Noah Webster house was grand. It reminds me of life down here today! Marshel in Alabama