Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Civil War Hits Dexter (Michigan)

2015 marks the 5th year for this growing event in Dexter, Michigan, and I've attended all but the first one.  It takes place on the grounds of Gordon Hall, a beautifully large Greek Revival antebellum home built in the early 1840s for Samuel Dexter, who founded the quaint Village. The estate is named for his mother, Catherine Gordon Dexter, and included in its architecturally significance is the surrounding land also being preserved as well, "thereby retaining the panoramic context in which such a grand home was intended to present." The local historical society is in the process of restoring this magnificent structure one room at a time, and this little Civil War event has not only helped them financially, but it has also made more people aware.
Dexter, which is hosted by the good people of the 4th Michigan, is a relaxed event, and by "relaxed" I don't mean farby; I mean there is little pressure and little stress to be "on" all the time, and we, as reenactors, can have more opportunity to speak with the interested public. And there is more time for socializing with friends and neighbors, which can be really nice. If every event was high pressured, I believe it would take all the fun out of this hobby.
Then again, if all events were relaxed, that, too, would not be fun.
Dexter is a small town around 45 minutes from Detroit, and the folks who live there really appreciate what the reenactors do to help support their local historical society.
This will be another "every picture tells a story" posting, where I post a few photos with some commentary from the peanut gallery to accent.
Here is the Civilian camp with Gordon Hall looming in the background.

The 21st Michigan's own Robert Beech resides as the resident photographer, taking tintypes and teaching folks about wet plate photography in general. The man is a master at his craft!

No, this is not a Robert Beech original: I took this photograph of Dave Tennies (aka Senator Howard of Michigan) and good friend Carolyn Paladino - both members of the 21st Michigan.

The "gleesome threesome" travelling companions: we hung out together throughout the day, speaking with visitors here and there and and just enjoying our time in the past. Larissa and I are dressed in our farm clothes while Jackie, on the left, is dressed more for visiting and going to town. Good friends all.

Captured on digital wet plate film are members of the 21st Michigan. What I really like most about our civilians is you will see a wide range of classes, from the farmers to the tintype photographer to a telegrapher to a merchant's wife to a senator to a well-to-do lady. We run the gamut of class!

Now here are two finely dressed gentlemen of the 1860s, one of whom you already met. The other, veteran Civil War soldier Mr. Bucher (on the left), has been enjoying his time in the civilian world and even sews his own clothes!

The fine southern ladies of the 4th Texas: I remember the days when one didn't cross party lines - when members stuck to their own side of the Mason-Dixon Line, and even closer to their own units. Now, we all just enjoy each others company and even work out scenarios together. And that's a good thing.

Yes, even though it's not a major reenactment, there is still a skirmish between North & South. Here we find members of the 4th Michigan on the double-quick to fight a late-War battle.

Our Northern men are doing their best to keep the Rebels at bay. However...

...the boys in blue were far outnumbered and skedaddled back to the town where some Yankee-loving citizens hid them in their homes. The Confederates will have none of that, and went house-to-house a-searching for the blue coats

An obvious northern sympathizer (see her Mourning for Lincoln cockade?) trying to protect a soldier she was hiding.

They found the soldier hiding in the cellar and dragged him out. At least he wasn't wearing petticoats, right Mr. Davis? (Okay, so Jefferson Davis wasn't really wearing women's clothing when he was captured, but it was widely reported in the papers at the time that he was).

A prisoner of war. Well, not to worry, because General Lee had already surrendered so the imprisonment shan't be too long I'm sure.
Unfortunately, day two of this event was cancelled due to an all-day drenching rain. Yeah, I know it rained in the 1860s, too, but sometimes one just has to realize that rain is one thing, but frequent drenching downpours are another, and just pack it up.
There is always next year!
And next month!
Heck! Later this month!!
There are plenty more time-travel opportunities for those who want to.
By the way, this very same weekend found me swirling back in time even the 1770s.
Stay tuned for next week's posting to read about that one!
Until then, see you next time in time!


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