What About Confederate Reenactors?

Confederate Reenactors

Over at Civil War Memory, Kevin Levin reflects on Confederate Civil War reenactors in a post-New Orleans, post-Charlottesville world.

Here is a taste:

It should come as no surprise that reenactors who don Confederate gray and display the Confederate battle flag are meeting more and more resistance from people who question their motivation. A group of Maine men, who reenact the 15th Alabama, have experienced this firsthand in the form of heckling during parades and from those who question their racial motivation.

Read the entire post here.


2 thoughts on “What About Confederate Reenactors?

  1. Reading Confederates in the Attic along with Andrew Ferguson’s Land of Lincoln a number of years ago made me aware of these reenactors and their complex reasons for doing what they do. The Lincoln book had a section on Lincoln haters that was informative. I especially liked the Lincoln book because of its humor, but also Ferguson shows the difficulty of doing history in the quest for the historical Lincoln.


  2. As a former Seven Years’ War and Revolutionary War reenactor, I had a lot of opportunities to interact with people who also did Civil War reenacting. More often than not, those who portrayed Confederates did so out of a desire to hold on to a fantasy of white nationhood. To be clear, I met many who would have easily gone through their day without causing violence or mumbling racial slurs under their breath. But there was something about wearing gray that felt like a safe space for them. I would argue that this is a far more subtle and pervasive kind of racism. Intellectually they may admit that slavery was indefensible, but they also relished the opportunity to at least escape from the hard work of undoing slavery’s legacy.

    Staying away from this part of the reenacting mentality was what drew me to earlier eras. I did so to connect with my family’s history–Scottish soldiers who fought for the British in both wars–as well as the material culture. But as a British reenactor, I did not have the same political or social investment in the portrayal.

    Although I should add, that I eventually left the hobby because some of those same politics–in this instance a glorification of white imperialism–either began to creep in or were there all along and I was only then noticing.

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