09 January 2010 by Published in: General musings 6 comments

With special thanks to reader Chris Evans for providing this link, I give you some more moronic re-enactors, written be a re-enactor of the 4th Virginia Cavalry:

About six years back, my pard and I decided to see how many events we could do in one year. [Obviously single or well on the way to a divorce.] We do not venture north of Gettysburg much, as we are spoiled on all the wonderful events on the actual battlefields here in Maryland and in Virginia. I was however intrigued by an ad in the Camp Chase Gazette, for an Analomink, NY event. Soon after arriving at this event, we forever after called it “Analmink”. The ad stated, “Indiscriminate firing of weapons in camp is encouraged!”

I’m convinced that surveyors within 70 miles of this place would have been put out of business, for lack of yellow survey tape, as it had all been bought up and sewn to the uniforms of these guys. 99% of the people there were dismounted cavalry.

The weapon of choice was the chromed Remington revolver, with at least two extra cylinders. The “battlefield” was a baseball field next to a bar (yes a saloon, tavern). When any of the combatants needed to reload, they entered the bar, ordered a beer and sat on the bar stool to reload. [An amenity.] Our mouths were agape by time the “battle scene” was ready to start, as there’d been continuous firing going on all day. The small valley, where the camp was situated, was covered by a thick cloud of burnt powder smoke.

Suddenly from out of nowhere, a dilapidated pick-up truck hove into view with fenders flapping and dragging what was supposed to pass as a horse trailer. The engine gave off a cacophony of grinding noises and smoke. Various and sundry engine parts and tools were in the bed, along with a rebuilt “big horn” saddle with the horn cut off. The doors were emblazoned with a crude, handwritten legend: “Rebel Construction Co.” Out jumps a young man, somewhat lost in the cloud of dust, exhaust fumes and the accumulated pall from the morning’s unbridled skirmishing. He stood akimbo, hands on hips and announced for all to hear: “I’m Lt. (name deleted). I’ve just completed officer’s school, so I’ll take charge of all “Rebel” cavalry.” [Assertiveness training obviously formed a part of officer school.] We looked at each other with mild amusement and continued to stir the beans we were preparing for lunch. Somehow the Lt. had enough native savvy to realize that he was not going to be carried into battle on our shoulders and he went about his business, tacking up his horse.

He was the only other local reenactor who was mounted, except for Rush’s Lancers. This group contained 19 troopers, all of which had deadly-looking lances to go with their chromed Remingtons, but only one horse among them. Their cavalry boots were home-altered Dingos that had extra leather sewn on the tops. They all wore scarlet hankies about their necks and appeared very serious about their impression. [Well, at least they were all attired the same. You have got to give them that.] However, we did have to stifle laughter when their bugler called them “to horse.” They all lined up with their lances, dismounted, except for the one guy whose turn it was to use the horse. Once the battle was joined, it overflowed the ball field and continued up the mountainside. At one point we spotted a Louisiana flag and rode over to warn, what we mistook to be a true southern unit, of a Yankee flanking move. The “Col.”, covered in yellow survey tape and with an obvious NJ accent rallied his men with the cry: “Git youse guns goys, we gotta killed some Yankees heah!” It was not hard for the spectators to know where the combatants were, for the cloud of gun smoke that continually shifted back and forth across the face of the mountain.

Later, when we figured all black powder had to have been expended, the weary fighters came off the mountain and entered the bar to reload and refresh, immediately after which, the combat was renewed. Nobody was safe, even in the portajohns (doors were kicked in, in order to fire upon the hapless occupants). [!] As we continued to observe this spectacle, an officer entered our camp to assign picket duty for the night. We allowed as how we did not mind standing guard, but what in God’s name were we to guard against, as every “no-no” of reenacting was already being carried on in the open during daylight? The officer told us that we needed to guard against “civilians” participating in the skirmishes. “Well, golly Sir, look at this herd. Most of these guys are wearing Levi’s and white shirts. Who can tell who’s a civilian?” He blew off our concerns and assigned us an hour to “stand watch.”

At 2330 hrs., we were sitting in the bleachers with a cold beer watching in amazement as the lines formed for yet another charge. These guys never tired of burning powder. When we loaded our mounts for the trip back to Maryland, one of the “organizers” came over to shake our hands and express his hope that we had enjoyed the “premiere Civil War event in NY!” Our stomachs hurt and tears ran down our cheeks from the laughter that was generated on the ride back home. [Sounds like a successful weekend, then. Laughter will add years to one’s life, authentic reenacting won’t.] We relived what we’d seen, but we still did not believe it. I’ve related this story several times and even carried the ad for awhile. The ad said it all:”indiscriminate firing in camp is encouraged!”

Steven in Maryland, 4th Virginia Cavalry

As Bugs Bunny would say, “what a bunch of maroons!” Thanks, Chris. I needed the laugh.

Scridb filter


  1. Chris Evans
    Sun 10th Jan 2010 at 12:27 am

    I’m glad I could provide the laughs by posting the link. Jonahworld! has some absolutely hilarious stories on reenacting and reenactments. Here’s another link where Jonah himself describes some of the worst events he ever attended (I think you’ll like it too): http://wesclark.com/jw/worst_events.html

    It’s refreshing to read these articles by someone like Jonah who doesn’t take his reenacting too seriously compared to the two people in the article that you posted who showed such idiotic behavior.


  2. dan
    Mon 11th Jan 2010 at 2:05 pm

    >They all lined up with their lances, dismounted, except for the one guy whose turn it was to use the horse.

    This may be one of the funniest civil war-related lines I’ve seen on the web in some time.

    Will future generations be “re-enacting” the “war on terror”? The thought is too disturbing on too many levels to even consider.

    Excellent post, and thanks for the laugh!

  3. Kent Dorr
    Mon 11th Jan 2010 at 4:47 pm

    The event described happened in 1990…twenty years ago. While that particular incident show the ability of folks at the lower ends of the gene pool to defy common sense, safety etc at the expense of real living history, I would hope that readers understand that the vast MAJORITY of reenactors do not behave like this, especially after extensive efforts to rid ourselves of these types over the last two decades.


    Kent Dorr

  4. Chris Evans
    Mon 11th Jan 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I too have known many good, honest reenactors. This story is still one of the funniest I have ever read about reenacting.

  5. Mon 11th Jan 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Sadly, I have seen too many reenactments fought on the nice cut grass of some local park…been there…done that…won’t do it any longer.

    Great article.

  6. Major Lay
    Tue 08th Jun 2010 at 2:47 pm

    As a long time Dismounted trooper or commander, I see the behavior described above as a terrible slap in the face to those of us who try to do it right. I have never heard of such “obscene” behavior at an organized(?) event in my life. As bad as this news is, thank you for enlightening us as to what we are up against and why so many people do not like dismounted cavalry. Idiots like those described here by Stephen and Chris should be asahmed of their pitiful if not disgraceful portrayal of our honorable ancestors.

    Though it was 20 years ago, there are still some who would like to do teh same thing. Whenever we encounter persons of great excitement and lack of historical knowledge, wanting to become reenactors, we have to reel them in quickly. I am sure the ignorant have great fun doing the “yeehaw” thing but we highly discourage it and do all we can to prevent it. If disgraceful behavior such as that previously described cannot be done away with in individuals we invite them to leave our unit without giving them a say. Our unit has integrity, historical accuracy and honor for all those who fought in the War Between the States as a first priority over ourselves and everyone who fights with us.
    Don Lay
    4th Alabama Cavalry, Co. F
    Russell’s Rangers
    (4th U.S. Cavalry)

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