Back in the Fall of 2015 we found our first time FantaPortal into the Civil War Era. Soon after our arrival we witnessed a surgery in progress at the medical tent. The doctor in charge and his nurse shared their training knowledge and what medical equipment and supplies they commonly used. They even answered questions since there were lots of onlookers around.
Since I work in a field where sterilization and universal precautions are highly enforced it is hard for me to watch the wounded cared for in such unsanitary conditions. BARE HANDED! No masks or hand washing! The doctors just wipe their bloody instruments on their clothing. I tried to tell them about bacteria and viruses – but all I got was laughed at! In their eyes there were no such things.
The encounter with the rough but energetic medical emergency certainly worked up an appetite. The smell of open outdoor cooking filled the air, making our tummies growl. First, we peeked inside the stores to see what kind of circa 1861-1865 treats we could find. The candy back then was very addicting! Our new favorite is sassafras hard candies.
There were so many other keepsakes to choose from as well. It’s a tradition for us Time Tourists to pick out a few souvenirs to take back to our time to remember all the bygone eras we have traveled to.
We went on a guided tour through the townspeople area. What intrigued me most was that the ladies were wearing outfits they sewed themselves. It explained why fashion was highly morally important to them.
My husband James’ stomach was excited over all the outdoor cooking. As a joke he asked this lady what was for lunch and she was so hospitable that she wanted to invite us into her camp and eat with her! I thought her “vintage keyboard” was darling.
The townspeople were so welcoming as we visited their camps. The history they share about their time period was captivating!
There was so much hospitality around us that conversations were started spontaneously every turn we made. We met a sweet couple that was relaxing in the shade.
This camp was also a favorite of mine. The men were history teachers by trade, and boy oh boy did they tell us so many interesting things about life in the civil war period!!! I could have listened to them all day long.
The townspeople were fascinated by our attire as well. They never saw a Union Soldier Female in a dress before, and they were very puzzled. I had to do some explaining of Steampunk Time Travel.
My lovely mom did better at blending in as a 18th century school teacher.
My boy enjoyed being his own version of Uncle Sam…
Then there was my rebel yankee husband. A true punk of the time!
There was an atmosphere of excitement as the soldiers descended onto the battlefield. Being in the moment was tough. The smell and sounds were overwhelming. We thought we came prepared by having ear protection – but we didn’t bring anything to protect our hearts.
As an observer of history, I allowed myself to feel all my emotions. To me this was more than just watching a live show unfold. It was witnessing my own human rights embraced so abolition of slavery could happen for my Black ancestors. I wish those who label all white people as villains during slavery times could get a visual of the sea of white people laying dead on the Civil War battlefield for BLACK freedom. Those familiar with Black History know that Black soldiers also fought in the Civil War. Unfortunately due to the lack of Black reenactors for this event I wasn’t able to see history retold from that perspective. I was told that the need for Black reenactors was highly wanted to be filled so I those interested should contact Northwest Civil War Council .
The sound of the Mobile Cadets echoed through camp. The essence of death was well captured. I got the message loud and clear. I was staring at this group of soldiers and watched them in horror. Too real.
All over the field there were different battles happening simultaneously. It was hard to film and photograph all that was happening. I could only capture glimpses.
Then the children soldiers… the reality of this hurt my soul. They were among those fighting and dying, as well. This little guy who was barefoot kept wanting to play with my son Bryson. I asked why he had no shoes. He told me he didn’t own a pair because his feet kept growing and it wasn’t worth getting them. I almost believed that was the true reason because he was so serious. I finally caught on that he was reacting to his role when I went to take his picture. I kept saying, “Say cheese!” to get him to smile. He wouldn’t do it. I asked why, and he explained to me that people didn’t smile in pictures in Civil War times!
Can anyone spot what might be the secret the young Civil War soldier laying down in the picture below is hiding? Even being right there I still didn’t know at first. It was the best unspoken part of history that was explained to me.
Being a Steampunk rebel, I thought that by dressing as a lady Union Soldier I would be rewriting history. I learned that there were actual lady soldiers who had fought! They didn’t wear imported mini shirt uniforms. Instead they wore the sweat and blood of our country, disguised as men.
The young soldier laying down is a female representing those who helped with the fighting in the Civil War secretively as women passing as men. Their stories are the BEST act of heroism and love of country I ever had the pleasure of learning about. They too risked it all.
I have never experienced war before right in front of me. This was the first time traveling experience that had my emotions really punch me in the gut. This is something no textbook or documentary could ever give. The whole experience was a history lesson never to be forgotten.