A quick peek into a moment in my life, the life of a Civil War Reenactor.
A Moment in the Life of a Civil War Reenactor
I wake up, slowly becoming aware of Charity’s voice calling for me softly. I pull the covers off of my head to see her face illuminated by the soft light of the candle she is holding.
“Time to get up,” she says.
I hear my mother as she begins getting dressed across the room. I am tired, and the house is cold, but I know that I must get up; Charity needs my help preparing breakfast for all the people we must feed.
I ask her to light my candle before she turns to go back to the fire outside, and then I pull my warm wool blankets back, exposing my legs to the cold morning air. Getting up off of my straw-filled tick, I tiptoe quickly across the room to get my dress, petticoats and drawers from where I laid them out the night before.
Bringing them back to my little area, I dress as quickly as possible. After my corset is on and laced snugly, but not uncomfortably tight, and all three petticoats slipped on and buttoned, I pull my brown work dress over my head, being careful not to let my waist length brown hair catch on the hooks of the front closure as it has a tendency to do.
I put my shoes on, and then standing in front of the mirror, I fight my hair into a waterfall hairstyle. It is too tight, and in no way perfect, but as I did it in the near dark and I will be cooking all day, I just need it up and out of the way.
Taking my candle I walk as quietly as possible through the adjoining room, between the sleeping figures of Mrs. Ard and her younger sister Miss Ard. They are in town to sell their cotton and pay their taxes, and Mrs. Ard told me her sad story yesterday. Maybe one of these days I will share it with you.
I make my way through the kitchen and down the back stairs to join my mother, and Charity, who already has the fire blazing cheerfully, throwing bouncing light into the darkness around it.
“What do you need me to do?” I ask Charity.
“I need some more kindling,” she says, crouching by the fire to add dry sticks to it.
“Could you help find some?” She looks up at me, her pretty chocolate face lit brightly by the dancing flames.
I take my candle and walk across the yard to search under the trees, my candle flickering and sending bits of light this way and that. My mother is searching with her candle too, and I walk back and forth to the fire as I find all the dry sticks I can hold, adding to the growing pile of kindling beside Charity.
Dear Ms. Griffin arrives with her candle to join in our search, and soon there is enough to last for a little while.
We begin to prepare the ingredients for breakfast, taking them from the cupboard in the kitchen and bringing them to our outside tables. I sliced a thick slab of fresh smoked bacon into strips, Ms. Griffin scrambles the eggs, and my mother cuts a loaf of bread that we bought fresh from “the bread lady” yesterday.
I place the bacon in a large cast iron skillet and place it on the grate hanging over the fire, and Charity sets the pan of eggs next to it. It is light enough to see without candles now.
When everything it done cooking we will ring the bell and the people in our group will come and eat, tell us how good the food is, wash their dishes in the tubs of wash water and leave to go do their part in bringing the amazing town of Westville to life.
I am at the Surrender of Secession 1865 reenactment event in Lumpkin, GA, with almost 200 other reenactors from all over the United States.
For instance, Ms. Griffin is from Montana, Mrs. Ard is from Chicago, and three ladies in the McDonald House across the way are from California. This event has been in the works for two years now, and has been awaited with great anticipation.
It is the third and last in a trilogy events, the Westville Secession events. I still can’t believe that I am actually here, that I am at this amazing event.
But I am here, and I have work to do, such as the dishes to wash, the grocer to visit, the courthouse to go to, and lunch to help prepare, so I must be off.