When you visit a Civil War re-enactment, you are often confronted with a series of unit numbers - 35th Indiana, 153rd Pennsylvania, 44th Tennessee. While these descriptions let you know what unit you are seeing, they leave out an important word - volunteer.
During the Civil War, the majority of both Union and Confederate armies were volunteer soldiers. They came from all walks of life- rich and poor, farmer and businessman. Regardless of which side a man served, he was in the field to support something that he believed in.
Many of these volunteers made the ultimate sacrifice. Over 600,000 were wounded, lost limbs, or lost their lives. Today, we often fail to remember that the union was preserved by volunteers.
This same volunteer spirit exists today. Across the United States, several hundred re-enactments take place each year. At least one can be found each weekend between April and October. A single re-enactment can host upwards of 3,000 soldiers and civilians. Virtually every re-enactor who shares their time, talent and passion for Civil War history does so as a volunteer.
People involved in the hobby, as they refer to re-enacting, spend a significant amount of time preparing to go out into the field. They study the history and experiences of the men who fought the war, often visiting battlefields, historical sites and libraries during their vacations. Military re-enactors learn about the weapons and equipment of their army. They also spend time practicing drill and rehearsing battle tactics.
Conner Prairie's annual Civil War Re-enactment
is one our most popular programs. Without the volunteer efforts of hundreds of re-enactors, this experience would not be possible. Civil War Days weekend is May 21 & 22! Visit the soliders in their camps, and witness the battle at 2 p.m. each day.
On behalf of Conner Prairie, I would like to thank the re-enacting community for their time, effort and dedication in bringing this story to the public.