This weekend was my first opportunity to visit Gettysburg on the anniversary of the battle. My wife and I had an incredible weekend with much of it spent on the battlefield. I so enjoyed finally having the opportunity to share this battlefield with her. Both of us were struck by the number of reenactors and impersonators in town on the anniversary weekend. They were everywhere. I saw multiple U.S. Grants at Little Round Top, Cemetery Ridge and our hotel. Continue reading
I’ve said it before, but I find most Civil War battle reenactments to be disrespectful to the memory of Civil War soldiers. The following reenactment, which will take place as part of the 150th anniversary of the Wilderness, takes the cake.
Carolinian Grief Mason, 21, will be beaten to death – again – in a field near Spotsylvania, Va., by Pennsylvanian Stephen Rought, 22, the Union soldier who was determined to get the regimental flag Mason carried at any cost on May 5, 1864.
Modern-day Charlottean Rex Hovey, a Civil War historian and re-enactor, is behind the event, which calls for about 20 local men and 50 or so re-enactors from around the state to play the part of the 13th NC Troops. The group will take on descendants of the original Pennsylvania soldiers who made up the 141st Pennsylvania Infantry.
Is there really no other way to honor these men?
What happens when a black man dresses up for a Civil War reenactment in a Confederate uniform? Watch the video to find out.
In more serious news, check out this interview that David Blight recently did with NPR’s Terry Gross about 12 Years a Slave. I am hoping to see it this week.
It’s a new web comedy series, but it’s not very funny.
Azie Dungey played a slave at Mount Vernon and is now sharing the colorful and not very thoughtful questions asked by visitors. I certainly appreciate the explanation and intent behind the project.
So, I wanted a way to present all of the most interesting, and somewhat infuriating encounters that I had, the feelings that they brought up, and the questions that they left unanswered. I do not think that Ask A Slave is a perfect way to do so, but I think that it is a fun, and a hopefully somewhat enriching start.
The problem is that Dungey’s own apparent frustrations are expressed through her slave character. There is no exploration as to why some of these questions are problematic. She merely pokes fun at the visitors’ questions. I suspect that there are any number of factors beyond mere intelligence that shapes the kinds of questions posed to reenactors at historic sites. I wonder what the staff at Mount Vernon thinks of this.
It’s still early in the production of the series, but as it stands Ask A Slave isn’t very entertaining and it doesn’t help us to understand the experiences of living history actors, especially those dealing with the tough questions of race.