Thursday, April 11, 2024

Living History, IRL: Fort CF Smith

This past weekend, we hit up a Civil War living history event over at Fort CF Smith.

We got to meet and hear from the fort's namesake, Mr. Charles Ferguson himself. Smith's role as commandant of cadets at West Point meant that he came into contact with nearly all of the well-known generals of the Civil War—both Union and Confederate. He was an interesting character, and the reenactor playing him did a great job.

We then perused the relatively small encampment with my brother, sister-in-law, and G. G flitted from station to station, taking the scene in. A definite highlight was making hardtack, which G adorably pronounced hard-a-tack.

While we waited for our hard-a-tack to cook over an open fire, we walked down to a parade ground where we saw a cavalry demonstration with 5 reenactors on horses.

It's one thing to collect up and dress in Civil War kit, working on your backstory and tuning your impression. From my perspective, it's another thing altogether to do this on horseback, running Civil War-era drills and battlefield formations. Again, I was really impressed by the group that was putting on the display.

When it came time to taste our hard-a-tack, G gave it two thumbs up. Given that hardtack is essentially the same thing as matzah (it's only flour, water, and salt), I'd say that G is in good shape for the upcoming holiday of Passover, where we'll indulge in matzah for 8 days.

I'm so used to taking in living history on YouTube (thanks Townsends, Deer Skin Diary, Tasting History, Fandabi Dozi, Woodland Escape, and many, many more) that it's easy to forget that it's a genre intended to be consumed in real life. And so it was fun to get offline and into the field. I've visited Fort CF Smith a number of times, but afer this last visit, I'll never quite see it the same way again. Well played Civil War Reenactors, well played.

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