Sunday, October 12, 2008

Civil War Reenactment

I hadn't been to the beach all year and I was really looking forward to it. I was driving down the Jersey shore on my way to Cape May. As I drove by the Historic Cold Spring Village, I noticed quite a few cars in the parking lot, but I also smelled something familiar: camp fires. I turned around and pulled in. When I found out where I was and what was going on, I decided to curtail my sunbathing plans and investigate.

The Historic Cold Spring Village consists of several historic (i.e., old) buildings recovered from the area, dismantled and rebuilt in their original form. The buildings are a fascinating step back in time. The village itself is animated by period performers familiar with the daily lives during this "homespun" era.

Traditional basket making.

Several groups of Civil War buffs had organized a battle reenactment in the old village. The rebels were camped on one side, the Union, the other.

The camp is peaceful and quiet.
The degree of authenticity of the performers was astounding. They use tents authentic to the era, complete with wool blankets and tared tarps to keep the rain off.

A game of chess eases the boredom as they wait for battle.
I had the opportunity to visit the two camps and chat with the animators. They do their best to keep the experience authentic. The one exception I saw was the modern design chairs. Although made with wood and canvas, they certainly didn't have them in the eighteen hundreds.

Muskets ready for action.
Like most specialists proud of their work, the participants were pleased to show off their uniforms and weapons. Many had complete back stories for the people they were portraying.

A naval officer grips his sword.
Inspection time.

Ready for battle.
When the battle lines were formed, the non-performing visitors were ushered into protected areas around a couple of buildings. The soldiers arranged themselves on opposite sides of the village and prepared for the attack performance.

From my "secure" location beside the ice cream parlor, I couldn't see all that was going on; which is probably what it was like for the soldiers themselves. In fact, once the fighting began, the air was so full of smoke it was surprisingly difficult to see through the trees.

The battle went back and forth for some time. I'm not exactly sure who won, but there were plenty of bodies lying around after the battle. The two "sides" lined up to clear their weapons then went back to their camps to get cleaned up and cook their supper.
Eventually, I did mange to get to the beach, just in time for sunset.

Sunset overlooking the wreck of a concrete ship.
See all the photos here.

No comments: