We live in Virginia – the heart of reenactments from many eras. There are Revolutionary, Colonial and Civil War reenactments on a regular basis. Here’s an account of our adventure shooting the Dec 2012 150th Anniversary Reenactment of the Battle of Fredericksburg including the pontoon boat crossing of the Rappahannock River.
We had requested media passes to get as close as possible and ended up sitting on the edge of the dock as the pontoons approached. The tide turned a smidge and they floated in so the Rebs on the shore switched gears and came racing up the dock to shoot OVER OUR HEADS.
Utter immersion. Sights, sounds, smells, the entire gamut. The best thing about something like this happening in your home town is knowing where to go/sit/shoot from for neat angles. In this case I could point forward across the river at the assembling yanks and their boats coming across, shoot laterally and slightly up a hill to catch the Rebs shooting back (or over my head!), and then turn slightly to my right and catch the battle raging up a historic hill called Rocky Lane on a profile view.
Then Union soldiers brought over big old flags and a breeze started up. Whoo hoooo.
As the last of the Yanks were coming across the bridge, we picked up and headed along a friend’s property to their rooftop and bridge to be elevated above the street battle. As we were standing there with them the Amtrak train came through into the middle of the battle underneath the overpass. COOL. The battles of Fredericksburg were fought for control of the railroad. I can only imagine how it must have been to be a passenger on that train as both sides shot blanks underneath them.
Sutlers (travelling shop keepers) set up in the park a few blocks away and the battle continued up that direction. TONS of crazy people to shoot, some in costume, some not. Loved, loved, loved the group of southern women who stood on a street corner heckling the approaching Mass. Irish Brigade (sprigs of anything green in their hats to remind them of home). Screaming things like “Go back to your wives and leave our husbands alone” “You immoral men will burn in hell for what you do” etc. Scowling, serious, great street theater to shoot.
My favorite shot of the day was inside one of the sutler tents – a young reenactor looking out at the battlefield with a gentle light coming across his contemplative expression.