Civil War Reenactors

Each autumn, men, women and kids gather from all parts of the country to a tiny Nebraska town on the Missouri river , to don civil war era clothing, live in encampments appropriate to the period, and to stage civil war battles. Respectful of those real soldiers that came before them, they try their best to portray the soldier’s role with historical accuracy. No detail is overlooked, from clothing,

to their tents and cooking utensils, to the horses’ harness,

to guns and cannon.

Harland and I made the short trip up to Brownville last Saturday to view the encampments and to see both battles scheduled for that day. First, we visited the Union Army encampment. The soldiers had finished their breakfast cooked over an open fire,  and were getting ready for the day. Some soldiers practiced drilling  near the encampment.

During the drill practice, several Confederate soldiers stole to the edge of the camp, picked off  a couple Union Army soldiers, and then retreated back into the town. The Union Army pursued them, and a battle ensued in the town’s streets and residential yards culminating near an old bridge with cannon fire wiping out a large number of the Union forces.

Afterward, the “dead” from both sides lay in the streets.

I have to say that the “dead” were so realistic to me as to be kinda disturbing, especially this young boy whose picture I had taken earlier in the day as he was practicing drill. (see above)

Later in the afternoon, there was another battle. Nurses stood by at the edge of the field to help the injured.

The fatalities were very realistic, especially this soldier who was “shot” not too far from us.

What we saw in these staged battles made us think about not just the Civil War itself, but also all the wars since then, and the resulting pain, suffering, and deaths.

It was one of those experiences you think about for days afterward.


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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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26 Responses

  1. Lee Ann L. says:

    Yes, these always leave you both thoughtful and disturbed. There used to be a civil war enactment on a smaller scale in Huntsville, Texas. I haven’t been in ages; but, these pictures sure do remind me of the events. By the way, awesome capture of a soldier getting hit and yet, it’s so realistic. Sometimes, it is hard to believe it’s not real.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Suzanne says:

      Lee Ann,
      I’ve been to 4 or 5 reenactments now, and never tire of it all. So interesting, exciting, and thought provoking.
      Thank you!

  2. Peggy says:

    Oh my goodness. I haven’t see one of those in years. I was a lot younger. Your photos were awesome! I’m always impressed how much everyone pays such close attention to detail. Even the fabric in the uniforms. Thanks for sharing.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Peggy,
      Thank you. I love the detail too. I had a 200 mm lens that day, and was able to get close shots without getting in their face.

  3. Teresa says:

    That would be incredible to be that close to a “war.” Your pictures are just perfect!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Teresa,
      It was really neat . I had never been to one where we could get in close to the action. It allowed us to get pics we could have never gotten otherwise.

  4. Linda says:

    I love their dedication to and respect for the remembrance of a devastating part of our history–they are amazing.

  5. GinMT says:

    I lived in Virginia for 11 years, NE of the Richmond area, and saw a reinactment only once (LOL, the South won that skirmish). The hours spent on perfecting one of these is amazing. I always think of my great grandfather who fought for the north. Thanks again for bringing back a memory!


    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Glendus,
      My husband and I visited Virginia a couple years ago, and so enjoyed everything there(except the traffic) Beautiful country there.

  6. SouthernSass says:

    Great photos – you really captured the action! I love to visit reenactments and the camps. You are absolutely right -it is something you think about for days afterwards.

  7. City Girl to Country Girl says:

    This is so cool! We don’t have stuff like this in L.A. – we miss out on all the cool historical stuff.

    City Girl to Country Girl

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi City Girl,
      Next year is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Maybe there will be reenactments in your area then?

  8. Those are amazing pictures! I want to see a reenactment.

  9. Tina says:

    Wow, what pictures! It gave me goose-bumps. To see that younger man standing one minute and “dead” the next was disturbing. I loved the pictures of the women and the men’s shirt cuffs. Authentic down to the homespun shirts. What a good job they do!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Tina,
      Thank you. The young boy really got me because I know that there were young boys in that war, especially on the Confederate side.

  10. Nance says:

    your photography is brilliant! breath taking. I will come back to this again and again.

    Please tell me about your camera and then about your photo program?

    • Suzanne says:

      Oh thank you Nance!
      I’m using a Canon 50D, and then I use Photoshop CS5. I don’t do much editing. A little boost to the saturation and sharpening. Sometimes a little cropping. But I try to get it the way I want it in the camera first and that saves a lot of time editing later.

  11. kim says:

    No kidding, Wow..very impressive pics. Looked like a high quality reenactment also. I’m gonna have to look this one up for next year.

  12. Suzanne, your photos in this post are absolutely fantastic. I really think this is your best work yet. You captured the essence of this event so well. Dang, you go girl!

    • Suzanne says:

      Thank you Bonnie! Love history and love taking pics. That day was the best of both worlds for me, and had such a good time.

  13. Aletha says:

    We go to one in the next town from us in the fall, when you watch the battles and then in ours we have Lincoln come and give a speech and you get to ask him a question that is fun and watching them cook over a open fire with a ham on a spit and I loive the smell of the campfires and the tents, They have the ball’s at night so neat to see the dancing and stuff thanks for the share wonderful photos you took.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Aletha,
      I’ve heard about reenactments where they hold a Ball. Would love to see that. What fun.
      Thank you!

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