Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Reliving the Civil War

A detachment of Confederate cavalrymen await the call to enter the battle.

 Over the years I've had a number of friends who participated in Civil War reenactments. They seemed to enjoy it a lot, going to various encampments and making sure their uniforms, guns, and other equipment were authentic.

Myself, I didn't see all that much fun in camping out in the heat and mosquitoes, wearing heavy woolen clothes on hot days, and marching back and forth. But to each his own.

  The lieutenant leads the charge.

But for me as a photographer, reenactments were a target-rich environment, with lots of people in costume doing their thing.

The first time I photographed one was in 1975. I was using a Nikkormat loaded with Kodachrome film and made the photographs below with that combination, including one of my all time favorites, the Civil War bugle. The two pictures at the top with made around 1990 with an Olympus OM2sp and probably, with a Tamron 100-300mm f4 lens.

A rifleman checks his weapon.

Reenactments were declining in popularity by 2010, but the 150th anniversary of the Civil War brought about a new surge of popularity, even though reenactments can no longer be held on battlefields controlled by the National Park Service, except living history reenactments.

The reenactments I photographed were held at the Chickamauga Battlefield in northwest Georgia, the site of an horrendous battle in 1863; a battle in which there were terrible casualties on both sides, and which neither side won.

A camp follower watches as the cooks prepare a meal.

Women are also involved in reenactments, as they were in the war itself. There were the "camp followers," of course, and sometimes the wives of soldiers traveled with them. (People were tougher in those days.) Researchers have also documented approximately 700 women who fought in the war as soldiers.

A soldier occupies his time between battles by practicing his concertina.

Many of the hobbyists who participate in reenactments do it for the activities and fellowship of camp life and as a welcome break from their everyday lives.

The bugle. One of my all-time favorite photos.

Signed copies of my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia are available. The price is $22.95 plus $3.95 shipping. My PayPal address is (which is also my email). Or you can mail me a check to 8943 Wesley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922. Include your address and tell me how you would like your book inscribed.

Check out the pictures at my online gallery:  Looking is free, and you might find something you like.

Photography and text copyright 2023 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Tags:   photography     Georgia    Civil War     Civil War reenactments    Chickamauga Battlefield  Nikkormat camera    Tamron 100-300mm lens     Olympus OMsp camera


  1. Dave, I know several who participated in reenactments in the 70's and 80's they really enjoyed it.
    In the book written about the 86th Indiana published in 1895, the thing that shocked me was that they had very little to eat, no shelter, and slept on the ground in the rain.
    Most didn't have a blanket or coat, three hard tack crackers and a pound of flour was rations for two men for a day at Chickamauga.

  2. I knew that many people died of disease, exposure, etc., but I didn't realize conditions were that bad.