Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Battle

Canon fire shatters the peaceful morning. It is the battle of Gettysburg. Not the original, mind you, but a re-enactment fought in the fields of the farmer down the road from our house. Union soldiers in their blue wool frock coats with original Waterberry brass buttons swarm from their parked cars while Confederates in jean wool sack coats swig diet cola from authentically detailed canteens. Some woman in a hoop skirt twice as wide as she is tall and wearing a polyester dress with more flounces than taste mutters under her breath about the nerve of those "stitch-counters" in their cage crinolines and authentic underpinnings "...well, what's wrong with my dress anyway?" And someone rides a white horse. There's always a white horse.

It is a scene worth seeing -- once. After one look, most locals consider it a scene worth avoiding. It gets pretty crowded.

Among the faux dead of the day's battle, are some dozen or so cases of dehydration and heat stroke, a few of which will be serious enough to warrant an ambulance ride. EMTs also treat the burns and abrasions of those new to the period lifestyle and unfamiliar with campfires and chopping wood with an (invariably dull) axe. And occasionally, a tree gets shot by some untrained soldier who forgot to remove the ramrod from the barrel of his musket before firing.

For all the jumble of good and "farb" mixed together in this hobby it still attracts thousands of people. Reenactments flourish: Civ War, Rev War, Great War, Lost War, French and Indian, 1812... and in the midst of this I wonder. What battles do we fight in our daily lives that so many seek this outlet? Is there something to the idea of a time "when men were men" and women wore skirts? Is it all just romanticized honor and a longing for a simpler time?

What do you think?

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