American Civil War 1861–65

The Amer­i­can Civ­il War

by Steen Jensen

Reen­act­ment — or Liv­ing his­to­ry  — about the Amer­i­can Civ­il War from 1861 to 1865, has for many years been a known and lov­ing hob­by and leisure inter­est in the Unit­ed States, where the civ­il war is still a not insignif­i­cant part of the Amer­i­can iden­ti­ty. But also in Europe, includ­ing among oth­er things in Den­mark, there have been groups for sev­er­al years who in dif­fer­ent ways have cul­ti­vat­ed their inter­est in the civ­il war and not least the envi­ron­ment around the immi­grants, the Amer­i­can pio­neers and set­tlers in the mid-1800s.
In Den­mark, the Reen­act­ment of the Amer­i­can Civ­il War since 1997 has been assem­bled in the asso­ci­a­tion Blue and Gray Amer­i­can Civ­il War Reen­ac­tors of Den­mark (BG ACWRoD). The asso­ci­a­tion cur­rent­ly com­pris­es more than 60 active mem­bers, which are gath­ered in a num­ber of his­tor­i­cal units from both the Union Army in the north and the Con­fed­er­ate forces in the south.

Union Army units. Con­fed­er­ate Army units.
15th Wis­con­sin Vol­un­teer Reg­i­ment of Infantry 16th Ten­nessee Infantry Reg­i­ment
1st US Sharp­shoot­ers 7th Ten­nessee Cav­al­ry
Blazer’s Scouts (US Cav­al­ry) Carnes’ Battery/Donelson’s Brigade
4th US Light Artillery Field Med­ical group
Provost Marshal’s office  

The asso­ci­a­tion annu­al­ly tries to car­ry out at least one major event — an event — where, based on his­tor­i­cal events, it restores bat­tles and hits — or parts of it — from the civ­il war. Of course, the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants is cru­cial dur­ing these events, and of course you try to adapt these to the local con­di­tions and his­tor­i­cal events, so that the par­tic­i­pants get the best pos­si­ble expe­ri­ence.
Reen­act­ment is now not just fight­ing and pot­ting smoke. An at least as impor­tant part of the activ­i­ties is empa­thy and sur­vival in the time peri­od. In gen­er­al, in the Dan­ish envi­ron­ment there is a rea­son­able tol­er­ance about how far into the spir­it of the time the par­tic­i­pants want to go. In gen­er­al, you try to keep the style, not only on the camp­site, also in the camps, where accom­mo­da­tion takes place in tents and the food is pre­pared over open fire. Sim­ply stay overnight just on a wool blan­ket under an open tar­pau­lin.
Refrig­er­a­tors, cold and hot run­ning water they can only dream of.

As Men­tioned in the intro­duc­tion, the inter­est in the Amer­i­can Civi War is also wide­spread through­out Europe. This is also done in great style across coun­tries, as both Ger­man and Swedish Reen­ac­tors par­tic­i­pate in Dan­ish Event and Dan­ish prac­ti­tion­ers par­tic­i­pate in Events abroad.
How­ev­er, par­tic­i­pa­tion in reen­act­ment is not with­out chal­lenges. There are some equip­ment and equip­ment to be pur­chased. You can always start by bor­row­ing, but you often end up hav­ing to go out and buy. Or if you have the skills, even sew uni­forms and leather. A Mus­ket, orig­i­nal or repli­ca, must also be pur­chased. Not to men­tion var­i­ous licens­es to use and wear blank weapons, a weapon per­mit if you have a repli­ca Mus­ket — and then the asso­ci­a­tion must ensure per­mits for saline launch­es get mus­kets and guns.

One can right­ly ask what caus­es a Euro­pean — yes, a Dane for that mat­ter, not only to be inter­est­ed in the Amer­i­can civ­il war, but also to want to live in that time. In the same peri­od, both Europe and Den­mark have so much his­to­ry and lots of con­flicts one could address. The Schleswig Wars, among oth­ers, but also Britain’s colo­nial wars and Prus­sian’s aggres­sive expan­sion towards Aus­tria and France.
In addi­tion to the inter­est in Amer­i­ca’s his­to­ry and all that belongs to west­ern and pio­neer romance, the immi­grants from Scan­di­navia and Den­mark are, in par­tic­u­lar, an impor­tant ele­ment for the Dan­ish Reen­ac­tors. Many Scan­di­na­vians par­tic­i­pat­ed in the civ­il war, espe­cial­ly on the Union side, many hav­ing set­tled in the states of the north­ern mid-west; Wis­con­sin, Illi­nois, Iowa and Min­neso­ta. Ear­ly in the con­flict, the states set up in both north and south, vol­un­tary regimes where, among oth­er things, 15th Wis­con­sin Vol­un­teer Reg­i­ment of Infantry is one of them. More than 1,000 Scan­di­na­vians, includ­ing many Nor­we­gians, recruit­ed for the reg­i­ment, whose boss was Hans Chris­t­ian Heg, a 32-year-old Nor­we­gian from Buskerud in Nor­way.