#7 An Old Man’s War March 16-17, 2019

[The 2019 reenactment of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse occurred not on the national military parklands but in the neighboring Greensboro Country Park and Forest Lawn Cemetery. Additionally, some of the encampments of the reenactors and some of the reenactment events happened on historic battlefield lands just not the battle reenactment itself.]

From Rememberance to Reenactment

Just as the public grew enamored with monumentalizing the overgrown woods and farmlands where once battles of the American Revolution occurred, so too did the American public become fascinated with reenacting the battles in which their ancestors fought, around the time of America’s bicentennial. Beginning in the early 1960s, hobbyists across the United States crafted clothing and equipment, reproducing the 18th and 19th century. Still today, many passionate hobbyists reenact the battles of the American Revolution dressed as soldiers and citizens from the 18th century.

During the mid-20th century there was certainly a shift between monumentalizing the past like Schenck and Morehead strove to accomplish, and the need for Americans to relive the past. Even now, the controversial issue of Civil War monuments divided this nation though little attention has been drawn to the monuments of the American Revolution. Like the Revolution itself, these monuments seem also a thing of the past. Reenactors strive to bring the past back to life by living as though in the 18th century during events on the weekends, reenacting as a spectacle for the American public. I see it as the evolution of honoring the past in the 21st Century.

Simulated Violence in a Cemetery

For the Battle of Guilford Courthouse reenactment the encampments are held in Country Park and on the National Park lands while the battle itself is held in the Forest Lawn Cemetery. It strikes me as ironic that contemporary hobbyists dressed as soldiers in the 18th century reenact a 200 year old battle in a cemetery. Since the Battleground is in part owned by the federal government, reenactments are forbidden from taking place on federally owned land (aside from a few exceptions including the Gettysburg reenactment).

Playing Hessian

British “Red Coat” reenactors practicing drills in near the lake in Country Park

My observance of the reenactment, aside from my considerable interest and entertainment, resulted from a film that I made regarding the reenactors participating in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse who portrayed the Hessian Regiment von Bose. (During the American Revolution, Hessians were German soldiers fighting for the British military). In my time spent with the Hessian reenactors, I encountered nearly a dozen of them, two of which were approximately my age. I noticed a common thread between the reenactors. Many of the reenactors got involved because of an interest in their family ancestry and participated with their families, something that really struck me as intriguing. null

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