Remembering the Party

I have been requested to to give summary of the of our Gettysburg Barn Party / Reenactment we hosted last month.

Overview of Events

We did not have a "schedule"; it was more of a mental list of the activities we wanted to include.

Friday's Activities: 
  • Reading of the Gettysburg Address by our "Lincoln"
  • Recitation of the Address by the children
  • Character "speeches", a time for each person to share what they learned about their character
  • BBQ (we had beef, pork, and venison, with northern and southern side dishes)
  • Dancing, Waltz and the Virgina Reel  (a few families got together the week before for an impromptu practice/campfire)
  • Pie Contest (the single men were the judges)
  • Campfire (someone even made homemade marshmallows from the period - FYI:  There is no comparison, and they do not burn like modern "chemically preserved" marshmallows.)
Saturday's Activities:
  • breakfast around the campfires (The southerns and northerners had their own camps and campfires.  The campers prepared their own meals from the supplies they brought... coffee, biscuits, pancakes, bacon, scrapple, eggs, etc.  A friendly "farmer's wife" brought out fresh eggs, milk, and syrup,) 

  • Paintball reenactment of the Battle of Bull Run, (Each battle was preceded by a brief history lesson and general instructions with battle strategies to follow.)
  • Battle of Antietam,
  • Battle at Little Round Top,
  • Pickett's Charge, (After each battle, everyone gathered around the front porch to restock their ammunition and have a quick drink or snack while reliving their battle stories and comparing wounds, were they "fatal" or require "amputation".)
  • Battle of Fredericksburg (Though out of sequential order, we had it on the same hill as Pickett's Charge with the North having the advantage of the high ground.)
  • Lunch (We had ham, loaves of bread, blocks of cheese, and a few side dishes that ladies prepared that day.) 
  • and other battles... (The before mentioned battles we set up where spectators could view the battlefield in relative safety.) 


These were simple, and I spent surprisingly little.  I watched Gone with the Wind's "Atlanta Bazaar" and ran a few Pinterest searches of "Barn Weddings" for inspiration.  Here are a few of the high-lights...

  • flags:  such as the Bonnie Blue, various flags of the confederacy, Betsy Ross, Union flag of the Civil War (Most of these were $0.01 + shipping from Amazon.  I already owned a couple modern American flags and my Granddaddy's old Georgia State flag.) 
  • pennant strings  (I cut these from patriotic fabrics that had been purchased for $1/yard a few years back.  These took surprisingly little fabric; so I also made cloth napkins.)
  • hay bales (borrowed from a friend's barn)
  • white Christmas lights 
  • miscellaneous items:  old ladders, a few baskets, wooden barrels/crates, slate boards for signs, lanterns, tables, benches, crocks, large pitchers, ... (some of these items were borrowed) 

Here are a few other photos* from the weekend:

* click on photos to enlarge

Last Minute Checklist

You MUST have:
Side dish
Pie (for contest)
Rations (breakfast and snacks for Saturday; bread, meat, and cheese will be provided for lunch)
Paintball mask (if you are participating in a paintball battle)

Other items you might want:
Bag/purse (to carry tin cup, rations, paint-balls, etc)
Tin cup (a can with a smooth cut edge will work) Toy guns/swords, baby dolls
Paint-balls, air, paintball gun, masks (and extras to share)
Shawl or scarf
Folding fan
Hoop skirt
Cloth or butcher/wax/brown paper to wrap rations (no plastics or zip bags)
Baskets/Bags for clothing, rations, camp supplies
Mason jar (with pancake mix, oatmeal, syrup, hot chocolate, coffee, etc?)
Pan, pot, or cast iron (for preparing your breakfast)
Pocket knife
Plate, silverware, etc (for Saturday meals)   Tent
Wood crate
Wooden chair, stool, or log (no modern camping chairs)
Quilt or blanket for “picnic” style meals
(remember, there will be a north vs south contest for “most authentic looking camp”)


Characters / Reenactor's Campfire

On Friday night we will have our "Reenactor's Campfire" where everyone will come "in character". At our previous party this was such a fun and educational time! You won't want to miss out on this!!!

Once you have "enlisted", you may request an identity either on the side of the Union or the Confederacy.

We will do our best to honor your character preference.  Please understand that we need to keep the sides balanced both in number and "battle experience". 

Those who RSVP first will be given priority.  (See "Claimed Characters" Page for those that have already been assigned.)

Once you have your character you will need to learn all you can about him/her.

Here are a few things to help you start your search for information:
  1. full name and rank
  2. home state
  3. military experience
  4. Civil War battles
  5. reputation
  6. physical characteristics
  7. childhood
  8. adult life (before/after the war)
  9. friendships with other characters
  10. accomplishments, failures
  11. unusual or interesting facts
Like the military comrades and West Point cadets back in 1861 who were soon to face their dearest friends across the battle field, we will come together for a few hours of fellowship before facing each other in war the next morning.

Check out these lists:
Union Generals
Confederate Generals

Here is another link with a list of the Generals from the battle of Gettysburg (each name has a link to a bio.):
Northern and Southern Generals at Gettysburg

Ladies, if you wish to attend the Reenactor's Campfire, you will need to choose a character also.  You can be the wife of a General, President, or other married historical figure, or you can choose one of the ladies referenced under "Women and War".

Women and War

Francis Clayton
Ladies, you are welcome to be a spectator, but if you choose to be part of Saturday's battle, you have several choices. 

If you do not intend to carry a weapon, you can be a nurse or a water carrier; just be warned that you could be shot.  If you intend to participate in the paintball fight, you can join the few, brave women of history and dress as a man on Saturday*.

J Hodgers
Jeannie Hodgers

Here are a few links to help you find your character if you plan on attending the Reenactor's Campfire:
Women of the Civil War
Southern Women of the Civil War
Spies of the Confederacy
Women Soldiers of the Civil War
Women at Gettysburg

 *note:  If you are a character who will be dressing as a man and fighting on Friday, please wear your "pre-war attire" and dress in ladies clothing for Friday night.