Living History Or Playing War, Brooksville Raid Reenactment Ends After 40 Years

Historians in the News
tags: Florida, Civil War, reenactment

John Mitten, chairman of the Hernando County Commission, said he saw the Raid as a tourism boon for the community and a family-oriented event. He attended with his family for several years in addition to being a sponsor.

“It was a wonderful event, it was historical,‘' Mitten said. “Those attending got to learn about the reality of the past.”

Glenn W. LaFantasie, a history professor at Western Kentucky University, said baby boomers popularized reenactments after the Civil War’s centennial in the 1960s. In the years that followed, reenactment fever took a strong hold.

“The problem with the baby boomers is that we grew older, and we’ve got 60-year-old, pot-bellied men running around playing war,‘' LaFantasie said.

The oldest soldiers back then might have been in their 30s, he said, so the depiction is not accurate. Other details are wrong, too, he said.

“It’s really an anachronism,‘' LaFantasie said, noting that some reenactors argue that the Confederate battle flag is carried as a symbol of “heritage” rather than “hate.” But the flag, he said, “does represent hate to a significant number of Americans. Black Americans.‘'

Reenacters also argue that the war was not about slavery but rather, state’s rights. LaFantasie said that the rights they are referring to include the right to own slaves.

The reenactment phenomenon is fading everywhere, even in strongholds like Gettysburg, said Kevin M. Levin, a Boston high school history teacher and author whose latest book is Searching for Black Confederates. The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth.

But it has always been about something apart from the realities of the Civil War, Levin said. Reenactors steered away from race and slavery, and the war’s bloody toll.

“They’re actually mythologizing the facts,‘' Levin said, adding that he considers reenactments entertainment.

Read entire article at Tampa Bay Times

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