Elizabeth City: Civil War Living History Day
On Saturday, the Museum of the Albemarle hosted a Civil War Living History Day. For the entire afternoon, Civil War Reenacters posted themselves in front of the museum and spoke about the trials of the era. Joined by our neighbor, Khalif, Ryan Somma and I walked down to check out the event.
I found the event to be fascinating– but it wasn’t the soldiers that really captivated me. When I was there, the soldiers pretty much just sat around camp.
If the Civil War Living History Day were limited to guys with guns alone, it wouldn’t have been especially memorable. Luckily, the geeks stole the show! A blacksmith pounded out metal leaves right in front of us. A naval navigator talked about the prerequisite of creating an accurate clock to calculate longitude. Old maps were on display (You could tell that they were old because West Virginia and Virginia were one state).
But my personal favorite of the whole day was Al Mitchell. He’s a naval engineer reenactor. He spoke passionately (very passionately) about how engineers kept the war ships running. He discussed a number of antique tools he had with him, many of them procured on eBay. One unexpected tool made a cameo– the sliderule. Al had no shortage of specialized knowledge to share. I could have talked to him all day.
In 1986, Time Magazine estimated that there were 50,000 people who participated in Civil War reenacting. Al Mitchell said on Saturday there were are only five engineers.
I understand that “Men Who Build Things” is never going to be as exciting as “Men Who Shoot Things”.
But, boy, it would be great if there were more Al Mitchells out there.
More pictures of Elizabeth City’s Civil War Living History Day can be found on my Flickr site.