Playing Rebels: Reenactment as Nostalgia and Defense of the Confederacy in the Battle of Aiken

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Playing Rebels: Reenactment as Nostalgia and Defense of the Confederacy in the Battle of Aiken

by James O. Farmer
Southern Cultures, Vol. 11, No. 1: Spring 2005

"South Carolina cannot boast a Civil War reenactment on the scale of those held at Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg, or other famous battle sites, yet since the mid-1990s it has played host to one of growing size and reputation."

In the late 1990s, when journalist Tony Horwitz traveled the South in his quest to understand the tenacious hold the Civil War still has on many in the region, he found that in South Carolina “hardly a day . . . passed without some snippet about the Civil War appearing in the newspaper: a school debate on whether to play ‘Dixie’ at ball games; an upcoming Civil War reenactment; a [newspaper] readers’ forum about the rebel flag.”┬áHe wasn’t exaggerating. Had he stayed longer he would have seen no lessening of the scenes he observed during his brief visit. The South has witnessed in recent years a virtual avalanche of events reminiscent of “The War,” and the Palmetto State has contributed its share.

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