A Conversation Among Giants

Imagine, if you will, Midnight in the Hell Tent. The interior is lit by the flame from one of Mal Stylo's cholesterol-burning oil lamps. Jonah Begone, Mal Stylo and Chef Enoch are all huddled inside, snug and warm. By the flickering light they inspect the photograph shown below...

JONAH: What on earth is that? A railroad bridge or a tool shed?

MAL: It's "Monacacy Junction," stupid. Read the sign! Really, I wonder, since the Civil War seems to have been fought by 10 to 20 guys in an "army," and only on occasional summer weekends, how anyone even noticed we were having a Civil War?

CHEF: It was the fine promotional work done by event organizers. As usual, however, the amenities sucked. There were many complaints from participants of inadequate straw, firewood, etc.

JONAH: I havta pee.

MAL: Chef, you're too modest - it was not event organizers. No, credit must go to the post-event reports and that forebear of the Camp Chase Gazette, Harper's Illustrated, "The Voice of Civil War Enacting!"

CHEF: The real problem with Civil War Enacting was that everyone was a farb. I understand they did no research, and just made it up as they went along. Is that any way to educate the public? No wonder people 135 years ago knew less history than we do today.

MAL: Knew less about history than we do? Ha! You have never heard of living history I guess. Granted, they were fuzzy on World War II enacting, but their knowledge of the Civil War was unsurpassed!

CHEF: Ha! yourself. If their knowledge of the Civil War was so great, how come Lee had Pickett march off across that field at Gettysburg? And why wasn't Grant ready for all those Rebs who showed up for breakfast at Shiloh? Any third-rate farb knows better than that today. I tell you, they were just winging it.

JONAH (zoning out of the conversation): If you two are done "Ha!-ing," I havta take a pee. Move over.

MAL: Ha! and Ha! again back at you! The Yankee enactors violated the scenario at Gettysburg (a trend continued to this day by the National Regiment's refusal to take hits). Grant at Shiloh was late with the registration fee money to the sponsor - he was threatening to boycott the event and was holding out for command of all union enactors, nationwide. Therefore he didn't get the event package in time. He assumed that the morning of 6 April 1862 was for "drill and camplife scenarios" and "ladies fashion show and other civilian activities." A U.O. Ohio unit, which had registered separately, did get the package and was more or less ready for the Reb attack. What's this puddle?

CHEF:The cooler I guess. Anyway, I'll see your two Ha's!, and raise you a Ha! The 0th anniversary Shiloh event fell apart because the organizers were more interested in lining their own pockets than in taking care of the enactors. Like I said, the amenities sucked, there was no organization, and access to the site was inadequate. There weren't even signs to direct enactors to the site. And the 0th Gettysburg was even worse. In fact, things were so badly run at the 0 events that the NPS hasn't allowed events on those sites since, queering it for the rest of us. If the enactors would have just woken up and realized that they were being taken advantage of, they could have changed things. After all, there could not be an Civil War without the enactors! That's who the people came to see, not the organizers! Yet, they remained divided up in their separate armies, the North never cooperated with the South, they were taken advantage of by the organizers and put up with being treated like crap, and what happened? They died in droves! Go on out, Jonah.

JONAH: Never mind.

MAL: I'll see your Ha!, raise and check.

Enactment (and subsequently reenactment) organizers have always been interested in lining their pockets -- it's called free enterprise. However, since the original enactments, few have done it successfully. Rest in peace, Napoleonic Tactics, and who was that guy who gave us the 125th Crater?

To say the amenities sucked is a bit unfair since true flush-type amenities are a 20th century and reenactors (i.e., hard-cores) wouldn't use them anyway. Besides, enactors could just march up to someone's house, town, plantation, etc., and take such amenties as they wished. If enactors woulda had 'em (toilets that is), they'd a used 'em.

"There weren't even signs to direct enactors to the site??" Balderdash! How do you think we know where the enactment was held if there weren't signs? Of course, Lew Wallace seems to have missed most of them, or been a victim of the typical event sign -- a white background, red-lettered sign saying "CW Event" (with an arrow pointing up).

"And the 0 Gettysburg was even worse. In fact, things were so badly run at the 0 events that the NPS hasn't allowed events on those sites since.... " I think not -- TNT coughed up bucks, Martin Sheen, and a great beard for the guy who played Longstreet, et voila! A pocket lining reenactment filmed on the site of the original enactment.

And what do you mean the North never cooperated with the South? Name me one enactment where the South showed up and the North didn't?