Having grown up in a Civil War border state, I am extremely interested in the time period. When there are reenactments and other events, my husband and I try to attend. This recent one caught us by surprise, which made it that much more fun…even though the war itself was anything but.
Strathearn House: Our city has two historical locations. Simi Valley is host to the Reagan Presidential Library. It also has Strathearn House, the home built for one of the largest landowners in early California history. It has many merits of its own and is worthy of a visit and tour. The large area in front of the various buildings often plays host to events such as the reenactment in this article.
Talking to the Commander: For some reason, I was the closest thing to a reporter they had that day. I was ushered into the commander’s tent and spent a pleasant fifteen minutes talking to him. Part of it was in character, but much of it was about the group and future activities. I am happy to “report” that there will be a larger event later in the year and I’m invited. Stay tuned for more information on that, as I will (hopefully) be in contact with the various people who portray medical folks for this much larger event.
The commander told me that several things originally planned weren’t going to happen as some of those involved couldn’t get to the site. He seemed to have spoken too soon…or without realizing that his troops would definitely be true to their assigned tasks.
The “Execution:” This wasn’t on the list of things to do, but it did portray a wartime event. An “enemy” was captured and summarily executed by firing squad. Someone then picked him up (he wasn’t light and it took two tries) and carried him to the barber shop…an appropriate place in those days. I followed, but they weren’t planning on doing any reenactments of that sort that day.
The Skirmish: This had been planned, but there were too few Federal troops…or so the commander thought. Much to the delight of the audience, the skirmish did take place and it was very well done. The most interesting factor was the fact that the Confederates were all proclaimed “mountain men.” These would not have been unlike some of my relatives who fought in the war.
Talking to Lincoln: The man chosen to portray Lincoln looked a good bit like him. I had a chance to converse with him briefly. One of his comments was that he should have brought Grant in sooner.
The Address: (This link goes to the Lincoln Portrait) Three youngsters were appointed to be Lincoln’s “guard” as he approached the area to give his famous address. These boys were very proud of themselves and aware of the honor. Before he spoke, it was explained that Lincoln wasn’t the main event in the dedication of the “hallowed ground.” An orator well known in that time spent two hours speaking before Lincoln. What struck me was the line that said “the world will little remember the words spoken here.” The world has not forgotten.
The Civil War was a terrible event. It killed and maimed over a million men. The reenactments are fun to watch, but they shouldn’t be watched just for that factor. They should be watched as living history that this nation never go through this horror again.