Top 2 Civil War Things to Do

The Civil War is 150, which means four years of particularly robust re-enactments and a lot of new Civil War books. Even a CD or two.

Here are two things I recommend doing to tribute the occasion:


Do you know this 1986 documentary? At nearly three hours, it’s way too long, but simply impossible to stop looking at once you start.

A heart-broken, deadpan-hilarious film-maker Ross McElwee (mostly behind the camera) wants to retrace the tragic figure of William Sherman on his (in)famous rampage through the South, a region he had loved and spent much time before the war. But McElwee’s girlfriend dumps him after McElwee gets the film grant, so he ends up loosely following Sherman, while mostly flirting from behind the camera with a string of mesmerizingly bizarre southern women (a rocker, a ‘prophet’ actress, a Mormon, a hermit).

It is more a glimpse of ‘1981 South’ — when it was filmed — than a Civil War doc. (The New York Times even called it a ‘timely memoir of the ’80s’ in 1986!) Plus Burt Reynolds makes an unplanned cameo.


I made this two years ago at Gettysburg, and still await the answer on how Civil War re-enactors decide who dies first.

If pressed, I’d have to admit no one really knows.

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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One Response to Top 2 Civil War Things to Do

  1. Dawn Lechner says:

    You should ask more reenactors! The smaller the unit, sometimes, the more elaborate the deaths. Some groups have special rounds that are colored differently so that when they draw and fire that round they should die right after. Sometimes you are told by the commander. There’s no set way. But we do get elaborate.

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