Civil War Reenactment – Is It Curious They Have Such Appeal?

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reenactmentReenactment. Perhaps the most significant war in any nation is an internal war, a civil war. This is doubtless because a civil war threatens the very existence of a nation.

Since technology within a nation is likely accessible to both sides, it might be expected there would be heavy damage, including considerable mortality, inflicted on both sides.

Motivation for the Civil War

The United States engaged in civil war during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, from April 1861 until the Spring of 1865. There are any number of opinions as to what motivated the North to take a stand against the South. One person will say it was because of slavery. Maybe this was the primary motive, but others think it was not. Perhaps it was a bit more like killing two birds with one stone… The primary cause was a financial concern. What concern?

Some have suggested there was a North-South division when it came to material goods. Manufactured goods were produced in the North, but the raw materials (such as cotton) were grown in the South. The South desired to safeguard cheap labor, its slaves, and wanted to secede. The North maintained no such incentive, but it would lose its supply of raw materials if the South seceded.

Civil War Results

The bloodiest of wars Americans call the Civil War ended in “victory” for the North and defeat for the Confederacy. The catastrophe that scarred the national conscience resulted in some 620,000 deaths. Such devastation could not be completely forgotten. The memories, even today, more than 150 years later, are recalled, pondered over, reenacted.


Memories of major events are often recalled most strongly during anniversaries of the events. So it proved to be with regard to the U.S. Civil War, only with a curious twist.

The Civil War is commemorated in the Southern states by battle reenactments. It is not that way in the Northern states. Why is that curious? Because, from a military standpoint, the South lost the war. It might be conceivable if the North engaged in reenactment, since they were the victors.

A friend of mine brought the subject to my attention. He wanted to know why anyone would want to be reminded, year-to-year, that they were the losers? And why would they put up the flag they used at the time of the loss? He further likened it to sporting events. He said, would anyone want to, again and again, relive losing the Superbowl?

Here is a fine example of a Civil War Reenactment, a YouTube video concerning Gettysburg made in 2017.

What do you think are the reasons for reenactment?


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2 thoughts on “Civil War Reenactment – Is It Curious They Have Such Appeal?

  • We all see history from our own perspective. Regardless of the true reason for that war (there were probably multiple factors) the Confederate states still seem to regard their defeat as an heroic failure – ‘Ok, we lost, but we put up one helluva fight!’

  • Horn

    It’s pitiful how one overlooks the intrastate-interstate taxing power the federalists wanted. In short, the war was about the overreach of federal power vs. states rights. I guess that to many governments hundreds of thousands of casualties to achieve their goals is OK; their victory is sweet. I’m not a re-enactor, but for a southerner to display what his family stood for in any small way, is honorable.

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