1864 - Olustee Civil War Battlefield
by J. R. Beatty
I wondered "Why do folks dress up today in authentic looking civil war costumes with firearms and drums and horses and cannons and battle flags to participate in such fanatical, historical, reliving of horrific activities?" Why do you think they do it? (Click on photos)
(See http://battleofolustee.org/ and http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/olustee.html for more details)
"The famed African American unit, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry", was included in this battle. "Colored" Union soldiers led by white officers were well represented in this battle reenactment, too.
Curious townsfolk, rich men, women, children, newspaper reporters, photographers, ... came out on horses and in carriages and buckboard wagons to witness and record the battle events over their picnic lunches. This was seen as "entertainment" similar to today's Americans watching aerial bombardments of Syrian neighborhoods on CNN cable TV news videos while eating their "nuked" frozen TV dinners.
At this reenactment I saw a rich man, little girls, instrument-playing musicians, and other "citizens" dressed up in that period's best clothes styles to watch the loud "battle".
When the cannon smoke and small arms fire receded, it was apparent that the Union troops had LOST. They retreated East to Jacksonville.
In fact, the "Union Army had suffered a stinging defeat. Of the approximately 5,500 Federals entering the battle, nearly 1,900 were killed, wounded, or captured. The Confederate forces, which numbered about 5,400, suffered less than 1,000 casualties".
This was just one short battle like many others to determine if the Union would survive, if southern States Rights would prevail, and if Negro Slavery as a longtime, essential southern plantation institution would continue.
A civil war like this is horrible - no matter which nation or state or people it batters and destroys! A reenactment brings a clearer visual and aural perspective to our hearts and minds of the horror, sacrifice, bravery, patriotic commitment, and unbelievable pathos. May civil war never happen in our brave, free nation again!