Welcome to the Southern Belle!

You might wonder why I chose this name. To be honest, it is two fold. One, I have been accused of being a true Southern Belle; but truthfully, I am proud to be one. Second, the focus of this blog is going to be mainly about my writing, reenacting, and various history and life-related projects. I am writing this for several reasons: to be able to share what I am working on, to connect with my friends in a new way, and to do something special for my family.

If you are from the North or Midwest, my apologies. Some of this will not make sense to you initially, but I hope you will stick around and begin to understand our special (and by that, I mean wonderful) world here. Below you will find my very first blog about the event that started it all.

Welcome!

~Rachel

 

My First Reenactment

I’ve been in love with the Civil War since I was a child. I still remember the first reenactment I attended with my mother, grandmother, and my little sister when I was all of eight or nine years old. I sat at the edge of the field at Watson Mill State Park in the cool weather, bundled up in my navy blue coat, and sitting beside my sister in the grass and stubble which I guess had been cut for just that occasion. I saw men in gray, chestnut, and blue, face each other, each side marching through the field toward the other, orders yelled over the sounds of war, muskets firing their deafening volleys. Though the sun was up, it did not take long before the sky was filled with the smoke and haze of gunpowder gently covering everything like ash. My sister and I plugged our ears as cannon belched forth their fiery blasts of “death.” I don’t think I had seen a musket up close before that day. Now, I saw them in action, and smelled the acrid smell of black powder as it floated across the gentle breeze and clung to our clothes and hair. I was fascinated.

My parents and grandparents were all highly educated, and made everything a learning opportunity. So when my grandmother found out there was going to be a Civil War (more accurately called War Between the States) reenactment in our area, of course, we had to go. Thankfully, my mother had seen fit to give us the basic history prior to that day so we had something on which to hang the new information, which was being poured into us like fluid rushing down a funnel. I didn’t know what was happening, but I couldn’t get enough of what was going on. I sat in wide-eyed wonder, wanting to see, to touch, to ask questions, to know more.

After the battle when resurrection had been called, the troops came toward the front and fired their final salute: a musket volley punctuated by canon fire. Then these men, who seemingly had stepped out of another time and place, welcomed these two little girls into their midst to ask questions until their curiosity was satisfied. They held out their musket and told us how it worked. They let us come close and touch the barrel of the cannon (after it had cooled of course), and asked nine-year-old me to try to pick up a cannon ball they had with them for demonstration, all the while explaining how the cannon worked.  What a great way to download information about the size, material, and weight of a cannon ball to a child at her level! This day was not simply for fun, or simply for learning. It was for experiencing the past, for instilling a love of history, for beginning to understand what had happened so many years before I was born, and thus, setting the premise for understanding the founding of this nation, the Revolutionary War, and yes, the second War of Independence known as the American Civil War.

Little did I know, that something was birthed that day: a love of history, a love of understanding, and a love of the War Between the States. By the time I was able to read and research for myself, I later realized that this was a love that was not soon to leave. Twenty years later, with bookcases full of books and documents which had been devoured with glee, many days of little girls playing in momma’s hoop skirts, learning to walk and sit in them without falling or exposing one’s self, and many historic events later, I am now a reenactor and educator of the War Between the States. What started as a cool day of zipped up jackets, gunshot, canon fire, and a few patient men willing to educate two little girls has become a life-long passion I am now able to share with others. My hope is that I will inspire some other little boy or girl (and maybe some adults as well!) to begin exploring and to learn the REAL stories behind the war. If I can share my love with someone else and inspire them to have the same passion, then the “crazy gleam in your eye” as my sister so loves to put it, is well worth it.

Rachel CSA uniform-Sandersville 2015

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