Civil War re-enactor's injury shakes die-hards





RICHMOND, Va. – In the passionate world of Civil War re-enactors, authenticity is everything — from uniforms with historically correct stitching to hardtack made from scratch.

A battle re-enactment last month pushed realism to the limits: a retired New York City police officer portraying a Union soldier for a documentary film was shot in the shoulder, possibly by a Confederate re-enactor.

The shooting sent the 73-year-old to the hospital and left the Isle of Wight Sheriff's Office in rural southeastern Virginia with a Civil War-style CSI case. Investigators used film to piece together what happened and have narrowed a suspect to one re-enactor.

The Sept. 27 injury also sent ripples through the tight-knit re-enactment community, which can be understandably sensitive to public perceptions of thousands of enthusiasts toting swords and firearms in roughhewn uniforms, often on horseback.

"We were sort of freaked out because this hits the hobby hard," said Ed Hooper, editor of Camp Chase Gazette, a monthly magazine aimed at re-enactors. "It is so out of the norm."

The shooting of Thomas R. Lord Sr. in a Suffolk park violated the cardinal rule of re-enacting — no loaded weapons. Black powder brings the flash and bang to the pageantry, but even that primitive explosive is used gingerly.

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