Civil War reenactors approach their hobby with the zeal of a prophet and the curiosity of an academic. On the battlefield they live to "see the elephant," a nineteenth-century phrase describing the rush that only certain daring pursuits — exploration, hunting or war — can provide. Those moments, however, are becoming fewer and far between. The old guys are getting out of the game and, although it's a young man's hobby, the kids aren't necessarily rushing to take their place. What was considered hardcore only a couple decades ago is now looked down upon. Meanwhile, the Great Recession has taken its toll on what was already an expensive endeavor. Time, in this case, may not be on their side. Their numbers have dropped significantly in the last 15 years and may never return.
They see themselves not as the gun nuts and losers that popular culture would have you believe, but as teachers, the self-anointed and self-effacing stewards of our nation's past. And to save that past — or rather, future — the 14th Brooklyn and their allies are leading the charge to do two seemingly irreconcilable things: make the hobby more appealing and yet more absolute.
And yet there may be a silver lining in the hobby's decline. Those members of a group or a movement who stick through it in good times and in bad are often the most devout.
Read the full story at Narrativley