My Life as a Civil War Reenactor

April 18, 2012 by vdut7091 | Leave a comment | Edit

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.

About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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