Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Port Sanilac 2017: The Cure for What Ails You

Port Sanilac, though not considered a "major reenactment" by some, is a favorite by those who regularly attend. It seems everyone who comes to it tells me it is an awesome event - they love it and continue to return.
And I do appreciate that!
Port Sanilac is a bit more relaxed - after such wonderful but intense events as Greenfield Village (where over thirty thousand people came to see us over the three day Memorial Weekend) and Charlton Park (where we do immersion/1st person) - it's nice to do a regular reenactment where there is little pressure and loads of fun.
And quite a few pictures were taken, too.
There were many more camps than you see in this photo. And, with around a dozen historic buildings on the grounds, the Port Sanilac Historic Museum site has wonderful grounds for such an event.

We'll begin with the military end and then continue on to meet the civilians - -
Here we see the Confederate Camp.
For a few of the southern boys, this was their first time attending Port Sanilac.

"Them fellers out thar you ar goin up against, ain't none of the blue-bellied, white-livered Yanks and sassidge-eatin'forrin' hirelin's you have in Virginny that run at the snap of a cap - they're Western fellers, an' they'll mighty quick give you a bellyful o' fightin."
Robert C. Anderson, 2nd KY Inf.

(The fellas in this picture above are members of the 8th Arkansas)

On the opposite side of the property, under a patch of trees, the Union army was encamped.
This year, for the first time, the 102nd  U.S. Colored Troops participated, and all the northern men proudly fought under their flag. 

Union troop inspection...
"You want to know what it was like to be a soldier? Boredom, exhaustion and terror with a bit of dysentery thrown in for good measure. But every memory tendered with the realization that we did our country a great service."

Let's meet some of the folks of Shiloh, Tennessee - - those who were there to witness and even play a part in the upcoming battle.
I mean seriously meet them....
You see, 21st Michigan member Carolyn researched her family history and found a whole slew of her ancestors living in that battle town of Shiloh during 1862. And since Shiloh was the battle reenacted this year, it was a no-brainer to agree when she asked if we, the civilians, could bring her ancestors to life:
Saturday's fashion show participants. 
But it wasn't only about the clothing; bringing the past to life is what we all love to do as reenactors, right? So when you can bring back the ancestors of 'one of your own,' well, it just makes it all the more heartfelt!
You see, each one of us upon the stage took on a role - an ancestral persona of Carolyn's - and portrayed her people in a 1st person manner.
In the photo below you will see Sunday's participants:
I would like to thank Carolyn for all the hard work in putting the information together.
What an honor!

As for the battle:
there was a different part of the Shiloh battle (also known as Pittsburg Landing) shown for each of the two days of the reenactment. What I did for this blog post was to put the two together rather than split them as we did at the event. I feel it works a bit more cohesive as far as this blog is concerned.
Members of the 102nd U.S. Colored Infantry.

"You can whip them time and again. But the next fight they go into they're as full of pluck as ever." 
Unknown Union officer referring to his men.

Many thanks to our lone cavalryman, Marty Jr., for coming out and giving the visitors that extra bit of realism.

"In this army one hole in the seat of the breeches indicates a Captain, two holes a Lieutenant and the seat of the pants all out indicates the individual is a private."

What a little adrenalin can do: Jillian does her best to drag a wounded soldier off of the battle field and out of harms way.
At the battle of Shiloh in April 1862, a wounded soldier who had been told to leave his weapon and go to the rear soon returned, saying, "Gimme another gun. This blame fight ain't got any rear."
"The discipline was better, the marching better... our men larger, tougher and sinewy... then we marched with heads straight to the front...”

"Sherman will never go to hell. He'll flank the devil and make heaven despite the guards."

"We loaded our muskets, and arranged our cartridge pouches ready for use. Our weapons were the obsolete flintlocks and the ammunition was rolled in cartridge-paper, which contained powder, a round ball, and three buckshot."
Henry Morton Stanley

"We'll fight them, sir, 'til hell freezes over, and then, sir, we will fight them on the ice."

"Sgt if a Texan is merely a Mexican who couldn't make it further north... then by God give me ten thousand of those Mexicans and I'll whip the Yankees clean to hell."

On April 7, the fighting grew so intense that General William T. Sherman called it "the worst musketry fire I ever heard."

"The horrible sights that I have witnessed on this field I can never describe. No blaze of glory, that flashes around the magnificent triumphs of war, can ever atone for the unwritten and unutterable horrors of the scene." A Union officer.

"The scenes of this field would have cured anybody of war," said Sherman.

Ambrose Bierce visited the scene and found the remains the soldiers: “Some were swollen to double girth; others shriveled to manikins. According to degree of exposure, their faces were bloated and black or yellow and shrunken. The contraction of muscles which had given them claws for hands had cursed each countenance with a hideous grin.”

We prefer not to have the 'dead rise' after the battle. Rather, we like to show snippets of scenes of the citizens of the nearby towns running out after the battle to help the wounded.

"If they let the soldiers settle this thing it would not be long before we would be on terms of peace."

The local minister comes to attend the wounded and pray for the souls of the soon-to-be departed..

And it's great that the soldiers are willing to play along to add a little bit more realism to the scenario.

"These women of the South are a queer sort. They beg us for rations and at the same time they curse our existence."

But our reenactment wasn't only about the War!
On the homefront, life continues as the battles rages.
It's always nice when friends stop by to visit, such as when the lovely ladies here came over.
Whether we portray the north or the south, my wife always shows her patriotism.
Michigan is a beautiful state - a vacationer's paradise. We are a double peninsula surrounded by three of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, and Huron), meaning our state has the longest fresh water shoreline in the U.S. and the second longest total coastline in our country, with only Alaska topping it (World Book Encyclopedia - 2000 edition).
And, whenever possible, we try to take advantage of it:
A day at the beach in the 1860s. That is Lake Huron you see in the background.
(This is not an actual tintype, but I tried to make it look like one)

With that being said, a few of us took the opportunity to head down to the nearby beaches of Lake Huron while in our period clothing. In fact, a couple of our ladies even wore their 1860s bathing costumes (yes, they were called "costumes," from what I understand).
It was unfortunate that there was very little beach where we were at, though the girls still enjoyed getting their feet wet at the water's edge.
Meg and Samantha dipping their toes in the sandy water of Lake Huron.

As I walked up the steps, I turned to look back and saw the scene you see here, and it just looked Victorian!

A few modern folks at the beach enjoyed seeing the bathing attire of 150 years ago - it was a great teaching moment.

Another young living history couple joined us - not to bathe, but to spending some time enjoying the wondrous beauty of Michigan's water wonderland.

The young couple then spread out a blanket to have a picnic on the bluff 
over-looking the lake.
They did an exquisite job in their period detail.
Well done!

Meanwhile, back at camp...
Some fathers use a musket to scare off their daughter's potential suitors. I don't mess around - I use the big guns!
We also have our pup, Paul Anka, to watch out for my daughter.
Yes, his name is Paul Anka - can you guess where and how we got his name?

In Michigan we have, perhaps, the finest President Lincoln since, well, the real President Lincoln, Mr. Fred Priebe. We also have the finest Mary Todd Lincoln since...well, you know! Meet Fred's actual wife, Mrs. Bonnie Priebe. The two are quite a team, they are!

We had a couple of period photographers attend this year's event:
Robert Beech is the man who I normally will highlight in my postings. Unfortunately, I did not see any of the tintypes he took during the weekend.
But I know the quality of work the man does and it is top notch.
I certainly appreciate his talent!

We also had another photographer there with a different kind of set up.
I caught him photographing a picnic - - -
It's interesting to note how the picture is reversed when developed.
Here is the likeness, saved for posterity
I would also like to show a couple more images taken:
The 102nd U.S. Colored Troops
Marty Jr. atop his horse.
We take our reenacting/living history pretty seriously at nearly every event. But, more than ever, this year's Port Sanilac was an important respite from the modern world; a few of us were having very stressful moments during the week and weeks leading up to this event, and the need to let loose was something we felt we had to do - - and it was just what the doctor ordered!
The following pictures are probably as farby and off-the-mark as we have done in, well, since maybe ever!
The pictures you are about to see are just plain old fun...pure and simple. We laughed so hard during many of the poses that our stomachs were aching - more for the corseted ladies than for me - and it was the perfect medicinal cure for the previous week's mental ailments.
I thank God that I am able to call these people my friends - my good friends (with some of my awesome family thrown in!) - for I do consider each a blessing.
Ready for some Victorian silliness?

Welcome to Shiloh High School: Class of 1862:
Here are our yearbook advisors

Class just started and look who is in the corner...wearing a dunce cap!

Learning about financial business - - - 
Get it? Get it? The sock market! Oh you kid!

Passing notes in the 1860s.

Potatoes or potatoes? Or hard tack?

Jillian---this could get you sent to the corner!
Miss Jacqueline is watching your every move!

Well, there you go! 
*sigh* Jillian! 
Looks to me like Beckie may have had a hand in this.

Yes! Very good Beckie! Common Core math says your answer is correct!

Larissa, are you spreading gossip?
Tsk! Tsk! Abe and Mary run in two different social circles.
It'll never work.

Such an exciting class! Must be history.

Oh, these girls are trouble!

Let's see...we have the teacher's pet, the class clown (she's certainly not an artist!), the class worry wart, and, um...not quite sure what the other sign is about.

"And then George Washington said, "I cannot..tell..*yawn*...a ...lie........"
History: what an exciting subject!

I told you that was not a kitty cat!

Two of the students won the Friday prize of having lunch with the teacher because they were "good students"!
um...notice which two students won?
The teacher, on the other hand...

Shiloh High cheer squad

Go Rebels! Get them Yanks!

Go-o-o-o-O REBELS!!!!

Class Picture

A sort of American Gothic? We're just so happy to be here!
The couple most likely to farm.

The couple most likely to get married.
My actual wife and I are replicating a pose our son and daughter-in-law did at their wedding. 
It worked...and they both recognized it when posted on Facebook.

Thanks to Meg for the fun ideas for the above pictures. Yes, we all put in our two cents, but she got the ball rolling!
Now...remember I mentioned the fashion show earlier?
Well, our hostess, Kristen, is describing undergarments to the audience.
Beckie looks none too happy - - -

...and yet - - !!!

A much calmer Beckie twinkling her toes into the wet sands of Lake Huron...

Paul Anka: "I think I can! I think I can!"
A few years ago there was a cartoon meme about a male and female pilgrim that made me literally laugh out loud.
So, I decided to make a "living version" of it:
heh heh - - you like?
And there you have it!
If we made you grin, smile, or even laugh out loud, then we've done our job, because, believe me, we were laughing so hard we were crying.
And if it somehow offends you because we're not taking it too seriously...oh well. I suppose you'll just have to deal with it because we do enjoy having fun like this every once in a while.

Until next time, see you in time.

~   ~   ~

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I was there and missed so many of the moments and details that you captured in your blog. This was such a fun read. Folks who attended this event are still talking about the great fun and living history they learned that day. We more than doubled our numbers in attendance this year, so please, please do come back. We are so delighted that you too enjoyed our historic village and I particularly love the schoolhouse shots taken and shared. What memories you have captured!

Leigh Marciniak
Sanilac County Historical Society