This last Sunday I went to Antietam (or Sharpsburg) Battlefield to see a demonstration by Brady’s Michigan Sharpshooters. They showed us how to load a rifle as well as an example of what a skirmish would look like.
(Pictured: John Teller and Audrey Scanlan-Teller)
This event was particularly good one to have at Antietam given how much the topography influenced the amount of causalities. When the re-enactors advanced or retreated up and down just the small hills near the visitor’s center, you could see how easy it would be to shoot at someone’s head if you were on higher ground, or to take someone by surprise if you were blocked by a hilly-area of the battlefield. This is why places like Dunker’s Church were so heavily coveted by both sides. Even modestly higher ground was the difference between life and death.
(Audrey Scanlan-Teller explains how a skirmish works.)
While I was there I also had a long conversation with two re-enactors who participated in the event, Audrey Scanlan-Teller and Tracy McIntyre, both female re-enactors who have been rocking the boats of the re-enactment world just by their mere participation. I heard about both these ladies through another re-enactor contact who told me they were both well-respected in the community, but the stories that both Tracy and Audrey told suggested that this opinion was not universally shared.
Both of their impressions pay homage, in some way, to the women who disguised themselves as men and fought during the War. As a result, both take their impressions very seriously - keeping their hair short, no make-up, no jewelry, no “va-va-voom” tight coats. These all seem like obvious requirements, but there are plenty of female re-enactors who do not go out of their way to make themselves look like men. Pony tails, nail polish - all of these things do a disservice not only to female re-enactors who wish to be taken seriously, they noted, but also to the actual women who were risking everything just to fight for their country.
More on female re-enactors later though!