Re-enactment honors ancestors

Advocate photo by BRIANNA PACIORKA -- Reenactor Devin Thibodaux, right, looks over from his bass drum at Alvin Reaux as he plays a Joel Sweeney minstrel banjo Saturday at the Camp Moore Historical Association's annual Civil War Living History Encampment and Reenactment in Tangipahoa.
Advocate photo by BRIANNA PACIORKA -- Reenactor Devin Thibodaux, right, looks over from his bass drum at Alvin Reaux as he plays a Joel Sweeney minstrel banjo Saturday at the Camp Moore Historical Association's annual Civil War Living History Encampment and Reenactment in Tangipahoa.

Camp Moore took visitors back 150 years Saturday and Sunday with its annual Civil War Living History Encampment and Re-enactment.

Camp Moore was the largest Confederate training camp in Louisiana and is the only one in the country still open to the public, officials at the camp said.

During the weekend’s encampment and re-enactments, soldiers carried authentic weapons and dressed in 1860s uniforms.

Artillery, infantry and cavalry were involved in Sunday’s battle.

About 300 re-enactors took part in the mock fight, but in real battles, as many as 40,000 men fought, said Scott Summers, a Confederate re-enactor for the 11th Louisiana Infantry’s Company K, the “Shreveport Rebels.”

Since there was not a historical battle fought at Camp Moore, during the re-enactments, the Confederate and Union soldiers attempted to re-enact a scenario as accurately as possible, he said.

During a re-enactment, “You might see 30 yards ahead, all in smoke, units going uphill with lines broken, and confused,” said Wilber Snellings, a re-enactor with the Shreveport Rebels.

“Just imagine if thousands of soldiers were actually dying,” he said.

The re-enactments give a new perspective to the Civil War, said Aaron Head, a re-enactor with the Shreveport Rebels.

Head has participated in reenacting since he was 7 years old, he said. He, his father, and his two younger brothers all serve in the same unit.

Head’s younger brothers, Robert Head, 11, and Jonah Head, 10, act as messenger boys for the company.

It is hard to explain the bond the members of a unit share, but it is a family whether or not it is by blood, Camp Moore Museum Director Kevin Miller said.

Many families come out to the encampment and re-enactment, Miller said.

“I come really just for fun and to support my husband who re-enacts,” said Monica Painting, who posed as a civilian.

Painting also brought her daughters to the event to teach them aspects of camp life, she said.

“I keep re-enacting for the comradery and then the battle,” said Union re-enactor Andy Salassi, who has been re-enacting for 25 years.

The reason most people re-enact is the “love of history and trying to honor relatives in the War Between the States,” Miller said.

For most people who come to watch or participate, their ancestors served in the Civil War, Miller said.

All re-enactors or “living historians” are volunteers and provide their own supplies, Miller said.

Miller said he doesn’t think people re-enact to glorify the war but to educate the public on the conflict from 1861 to 1865.

During the Civil War, thousands died and both sides were Americans, Miller said.

By re-enacting, “We try to honor those brave men, women and children,” Miller said.

The Civil War Living History Encampment and Re-enactment acts as Camp Moore’s biggest fundraiser of the year, he said.

An average of about 500 people pay to visit Camp Moore for the re-enactment, Miller said.

Admission includes access to the cemetery and the museum, which displays weapons and soldiers’ apparel.

“Camp Moore survives purely on donations and the generosity of others,” Miller said.

There were also sutlers on site Sunday selling items relating to the 1860s, such as clothes, food, glassware, fans, flags and photos.

During the war, sutlers were independent merchants who followed the units and sold items soldiers needed, Miller said.

More modern vendors on site for the weekend sold hamburgers, nachos, soft drinks and chips.

Camp Moore is on La. 51, just north of Tangipahoa.

For more information, visit http://www.campmoorela.com.