My Life as a Civil War Reenactor
I began reenacting in 1994 at the reenactment of the Battle of Prairie Grove, which is located in Northwest Arkansas. Since then I have participated in about 21 major reenactments with participants ranging from 750 to 20,000, such as the 135th Gettysburg.
I also participated in the 2nd Red River Campaign in 1999, which lasted for 8 days and entailed marching 56 miles, 2 pitched battles, skirmishes, and just living as our ancestors did 135 years ago. Over the years there are many living history and small reenactments that I have been also attended.
I originally started with the 6th Arkansas Infantry and ultimately moved to the 3rd Arkansas Infantry, in which I am considered a High Private by my Captain. This means I do what I’m told and have served in various positions, but mostly in the second sergeant post.
In 1995 I became friends with Walter Smith, a retired government workers, who was a volunteer and guide at the Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD. I got a chance to get close to him and really enjoyed his options about various aspects of the Battle of Antietam. I considered him my mentor. Unfortunately, he died in 1996 with his hand on the cannon in front of the Visitors Center at Antietam getting ready to give a lecture. From that day forward I periodically started to receive words that came to me in the form of poems that create such a surge of emotion that I have to put them down on paper to have a release. This first poem was Our Guide, which was about Walter. Most of the words come after a reenactment. Sometimes the words describe a person.
One of my aims in life is to buy privately owned land that was a part of the Battles at Antietam, Turner’s Gap, Fox’s Gap, Crampton’s Gap or Shepherdstown, WVA and give it to the National Park Service in the name of Walter Smith.
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