This article was published in the July 1991 edition of my unit's newsletter. It still holds true today, however... - Jonah

Reenactors Revolutionize Grammar!

By Jonah Begone

Along with causing society to rethink its commonplace notions of recreation, reenactors are also revolutionizing boring, conventional English grammar. One of the oft-quoted motivations reenactors give for living history is "to educate the public," and one was sanctimoniously quoted as saying, "When people no longer recognize what this uniform stands for that's the day I weep for America." Physician, heal thyself. In support of my argument that history buffs be required to attend refresher English courses for spelling, syntax and clarity, I present the following excerpts from newsletters, event flyers, limited edition historical art print ad copy (a particularly good source for overwrought writing) and other reenacting "literature." (My comments in brackets.)

None of this is made up - it's all "authentic." I have copied it character for character. You may begin weeping.

"We spoke to you last month about our mailing cost increase. God was really in that also." [So think twice before you criticize the U.S. Postal Service!]

"Indeed, this chaplain had to leave Battalion drill in order to get things ready for services. Thanks be to God for His wisdom!" [ making sure battalion drill conflicted with services so he could skip out.]

Living History/Re-enactment at Bethel Baptist Church circa 1857 "First Funeral Service" for Gen. T.J. Jackson. [I thought he died circa 1863 - was this an 1857 dry-run?]

Georgia - 8th annual Battle of Resaca and Tactical. [The people in Tactical, Georgia always enjoy these...]

"Ya'll really help fill a great void for me when I am at events, as well as others." [As well as other's what?]

"I look forward to working with you while we recreate this historical part of American History." [This is better than recreating the historical part of American Proctology, for instance.]

"No modern vehicles will be allowed to remain in the camp area for more then 15 minuets." [My car prefers square dancing.]

"The use of National or Battle Flags during the battles is at the desecration of the Overall Commanders." [Well, if somebody has to desecrate the flags I guess it's better the commander does it...]

"Admirers of John Pelham held a memorial service at the Kelly's Ford monument erected 10 years ago at the approximate place where Pelham died in 1863 and attended a lunch." [I doubt it.]

"Still, for a brief moment, while the nation is split asunder, amid the uncertainties of military life in wartime, two lives are joined in marriage. West Point swords will cross again, and soon, in other more frightening and tragic circumstances." [Than a marriage?]

"The Cashtown area has changed little from the 1863 period." [Just how long was the "1863 period?"]

"One of the things that I hope to eliminate are the typographical errors in each issue. Of course, sometimes a type can be quite humorous." [I'll say! A typo in the word "typo!"]

"Major-General Nathanael Greene knew that the militia, armed with long-range rifles without bayonets, could not be expected to stand for long in close combat against bayonetted British Regulars and Hessians." [I fail to see why not; the bayonetted guys aren't about to do them any harm.]

"What mainly prompts this letter, however, is my desire to take issue with your editorial comments in the August issue regarding fun control and the upcoming elections." [Fun control seems to be an increasingly major part of Civil War reenacting.]

"In fact, the ladies programs are pretty extensive as well. The mess will be there." [Either these women aren't tidy or this is a uncharitable way to refer to them.]

"We will go to the NR meeting, march in the parade and have a huge party at the Hotel Gettysburg - right in the center of town. You can miss this." [I plan to.]

"The Dead and dying lay moaning in the trenches." [I doubt it!]

" raise funds to purchase a pipe organ for the Chapel, memorializing the memory of the 7th Cavalry." [Memorializing not the men of the 7th Cavalry, but their memory.]

"At dawn on December 13th 1862, the City of Fredericksburg, VA lay in the Rappahannock River Valley, engulfed in a shroud of fog." [The next day the city moved to a different location.]

"I have always been impressed with Joshua Chamberlain and his quality of leadership." [He only had one.]

"Larry Funk has been reenacting since 1878." [And he still isn't burned out!]

"Once I had walked this main street of the city, I knew this was where my painting would take place." [Being careful to avoid vehicular traffic while painting.]

"When I learned that no artist had ever painted Lee and Longstreet at Fredericksburg, that was the extra impetus I needed to begin the project." [Enamel for Lee, latex for Longstreet.]

"...the tragic, horrifying, fantastic centerpiece of a tragic, horrifying, fantastic war." [It was like, really awesome, dude.]

"The trenches will be approximately two football fields on each side." [And will be manned by four football teams.]

"He lives the War, because residing in Gettysburg, on land that felt the footfalls of the warriors, it's around him every day." [How does he get around without being shot?]

"...General Robert E. Lee, during the early part of the war at his headquartersquarters..." [Later in the war, due to scarcity of material, Lee's headquarters was forced to relinquish its own designated quarters.]

"The war had taken a vicious turn, as wars will." [Philosophical!]

"...this one lone gun..." [Not two lone guns.]

"We plan a complete military funeral for this gentleman before he leaves to go to Hollywood Cemetery." [Under his own locomotion?]

"Although not listed in any of the major scholarly dictionary, "farb" is a commonly used and accepted word for almost one million civil war reenactors, in addition to many other reenactor of other events." [There are almost one million farbs running around?]

"One has to commend our congressmen in office today, who when put to the test of sending men into harms way, did so in a dignified manor." [It's called the Capitol.]

"I don't have to bag your head against the wall about Batsto."

"Today's farbs may not be as visually incorrect as their predictors, but they are still in their thoughts and actions."

"...I hope you like his provocative, no holders barred style." [Pot holders?]

"Aiming was not necessary since anyone could hit the monument from that distance." [Reenactors are shooting at monuments?]

"And to live history, you've got to be history." [Fine. You start.]