I’m about 10 days away from attending the largest Civil War Re-enactment west of the Mississippi River…and yes, I’m excited. This will be the third year I’ve participated, but the first year that I get to take my own living history group to the event. Right now, I’m busy prepping the packing lists, finishing some sewing projects, and anticipating (and somewhat dreading) ironing the civilian costumes. (Each skirt is five yards of fabric!)
Since I’ve started portraying a member of the Virginian McGuire Family, I’ve noticed that one question a lot of spectators ask is “are you related to the family?” The answer is “no, unfortunately I’m not.” Then they usually get a curious look and ask, “Then why are you portraying Miss McGuire?” That’s a good question.
Short answer: I greatly admire Margaretta McGuire and her family. Long answer: I’m launching some extensive research projects about Virginian civilians and military leaders during the war and I needed to streamline my living history endeavors and research. I started searching for a Virginia family. Through studies of General “Stonewall” Jackson I knew about his surgeon – Dr. Hunter McGuire. A bit of historical paper-trails led to the re-discovery of Hunter’s family. When I found Miss Margaretta and learned that she lived in Winchester for the whole war (surviving 48 enemy occupations of the town) I knew I’d found someone special. Further research has revealed the strength of Miss Margaretta’s character, her godly life, and her willingness to fulfill a “daughter at home” role in family life.
So “Why Virginia? How did your interest start there?” Well, Virginia is one of cornerstone states for the Confederacy during the Civil War. It is also one of the most war torn states since a lot of fighting happened there. The political advantages of Virginia, its strategic military location, and citizens’ tenacity are fascinating to me. But, ultimately, it is the people of Civil War Virginia and their personal stories set in that extreme tide of war that captivate me…
As I survey my Virginia histories and biographies (either on the shelf, stacked on my desk, or scattered around my study room), I feel “at home.” This feeling is difficult to put into words, but the history of these Virginians is welcoming and fascinating. I’m proud to say that in my living history persona and favorite area of study: Virginia Is My Home.
Enjoy this song from the soundtrack of “Gods and Generals.” Its sweeping melody is one of my favorites, and it wordlessly communicates the pride, enthusiasm, and honor of Civil War Virginia.
See you at Moorpark 2014?
P.S. Last post on the Shenandoah Valley during the Autumn 1864 on Friday!