Battle of Anderson, Civil War Reenactment - Honea Path, South Carolina
The Battle of Anderson was fought after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox. With the war essentially over, a small group of Union troops were headed back north when they ran into Confederate soldiers coming home. The two sides opened fire on each other and two Union soldiers were killed, with no casualties to the southern side.
Since the AFP likes to find events that are rooted in American history, we started think about what made America ‘American’, say fifty years ago, or one hundred years ago. So we looked into mo-town festivals, western cowboy days, traditional craft festivals, and covered wagon races, until finally–we thought way back to the origins of The United States, and the great Civil War. Our research led us to a mid-sized reenactment in Honea Path, S.C. It was in the middle of nowhere, but that’s the way we like it.
For a lot of these men and women, when they arrive at camp they begin their historical impressions immediately and try not to “break period.” This means no modern clothing, tools, or equipment. Some are more fastidious than others (especially when it’s pouring rain) but it was clear that historical accuracy is a way of life. And the more accurate, the more expensive. Reenactors often have to choose between hand-stitched or machine manufactured, leather halters or synthetic, and the kicker… antique weaponry or imitation. It can be an expensive hobby, but for those who make the investment, it is clear that what they take away is personal and very meaningful. They feel dedicated to entertaining the spectators, there is a sense of camaraderie within the reenactment community, there is excitement of being a performer, and there is the rush of course of shooting a gun at an enemy (even if the bullets are actually just Cream of Wheat). And it seemed that quite a few actors were veterans of war, so reenacting in Civil War battles is probably a natural extension of having fought in wars and having had real military training.
We owe a great deal of thanks to Mr. Ashley, the 12th Tenn., the Palmetto Partisan Rangers, the honorable General Robert Edward Lee, and all the other reenactors who helped the AFP take a trip back through (southern) time!