Battle Of Gettysburg

April 12, 2011 by staff 

Battle Of Gettysburg, Soldiers in uniforms of blue and gray wool face in Gunsmoke-covered fields of America. The places are carved in memory of the nation – Gettysburg, Antietam, Bull Run / Manassas. This time the camps and recreations of the battles are places where the soldiers will not die, but where history lives.

Tuesday marks the 150 anniversary of the Civil War began when Confederate troops opened fire on Union troops at Fort Sumter in South Carolina in. By the time the war ended in, more than half a million Americans, both sides were killed.

For the history enthusiast Michael McConkey, who makes his home with his family in Baxter, with thousands of others participating in Civil War reenactments offers a unique way of connecting with the past.

“You are actually part of the story,” said McConkey. “When you let the guns go off, you can feel the percussion and heat. You get a sense of what these guys went through.”

McConkey was a re-enactor in the 145 anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The real battle of 1863 between North and South, in Pennsylvania, was a turning point in the War Between the States. It has also been part of the recreation of the Battle of Bull Run or Manassas.

Re-enactors buy their own uniforms and equipment, created in the exact detail of the original patterns. Leave the vehicles and the technology behind today, is up before dawn, use wooden boxes to refrigerators camouflage, wool clothes in the 95 th time, sleeping in tents and eat in the cooking fire. Great care is taken to capture the story, as it was only the buttons on the uniforms, royal speeches and military maneuvers. In the evenings there are dances with women in hoop skirts silk dresses and men in full uniform if any.

McConkey interest in Civil War history and goes back to his childhood. I cannot remember a time when he was not interested in the subject. In, his wife gave him tickets to a recreation in Appomattox. The Virginia site was where General Robert E. Lee surrendered on Palm Sunday in 1865.

“I got hooked,” said McConkey.

It became a new enactor with the 44 Th Virginia, who fought in many battles, including Gettysburg and Antietam, the Confederacy known as Sharpsburg, Maryland. Sometimes when there are not enough Union soldiers, McConkey took the blue of the Union, leaving his dark 1862 Richmond-era Confederate gray behind the times.

In a re-enactment of Gettysburg, McConkey was with the Th Virginia and participated in the famous charge of Pickett on the Union lines. On the other hand, re-enactors Virginia in the role of the famous First Minnesota Infantry Regiment, which played a key role in saving the Union line. When it was learned that Minnesota, Virginia, said he should have been on their side. Although he said he was born at Fort Bragg, North Carolina connects you to the south.

McConkey Civil War knowledge is extensive. He gives presentations at Forestview Middle School; students show photos taken during the recreation involving between 6,000 and 13,000.

McConkey has little marked containers of soil from each field of battle where he has been part of a recreation. He said it’s easy to get involved in groups tend to have additional equipment for the newcomers, 16 years old, you can give it a shot without having to acquire more than transportation and a pair of shoes. Both men and women participate.

“If you do it once, never forget,” McConkey said. “It was very funny. I have my children interested in history for it.”

To re-enactors, being killed in battle, it just means a short break before joining the ranks back to fight again. In a reenactment of Pickett’s Charge, McConkey died about four times.

Beyond being a part of history, McConkey said participating is a way to meet interesting people from the U.S. and abroad. For some, the units belonging to connect to your own family history. One of the fellow participants McConkey has brought the sword of his grandfather to the recreation of Pickett’s Charge. The sword was returned to the battlefield 145 years after it was served there during the original conflict.

Being part of the recreation EyeView McConkey has given a first of the different views between the North and South on the reasons behind the Civil War. A war that divided families, siblings, parents and children. The human cost is not lost in the mix. McConkey said that when whole units were wiped out, leaving a community without a generation of young men.

No matter the side, McConkey said what resonates with him is the total value of the soldiers. “Many of them fought thousands of miles from home for a belief.”

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