Civil War time travel


The reenactment at Keokuk had a grand mix of men and women in both the Confederate and Federal camps.  The more I walked about, the more it sunk in – there really was a diverse assortment of men, women and younger participants in the camps. 

“So,” you ask, “what about the time travel?” 

Be patient and I will explain. 


Every cluster of tents at Keokuk had a number of women among the men.  The old dresses and bonnets made for an amazing spectacle.  Frills and fancy were saved for the Saturday night dance – the daytime dresses were the everyday work uniforms for the women of old.  Look closely, this is how our great-great-grandmothers dressed.  This is how they looked when they picked green beans in the garden and how they looked when they chased the pigs out of the garden. 

One hundred fifty years ago many women lived on farms – both in the north and the south.  My g-g-grandmothers did.  They worked hard every day.  So, as I looked around the campfires… and watched women toss wood on the fires… and watched women tend to the food… I got to see my great-great-grandmothers.  It was a wonderful feeling. 

For me, the reenactment gave me a sense of time travel.  Don’t look at the cars, stop thinking about the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes, turn off the cell phones, don’t reach for a Coke… turn off today. 

Look into the campfires, smell the smoke, listen to the horses snort, look at the old dresses and bonnets… maybe for a few fleeting moments you will catch a glimpse of the people from 150 years ago. 

You too can time travel.


Saturday night, after watching the first day’s reenactment and after walking all around the Keokuk encampment, it was time for the dance.  While at the dance I met Phil Kimmell, the gentleman in the Confederate uniform in the photo above.  We had a great visit during the dance.  Many were in the gymnasium jigging away to the Virginia Real or doing a polka – we both did more sitting and talking.  He has enjoyed reenacting for many years.  He also serves as outreach minister for the Melrose United Methodist Church.  His warm smile and friendly conversation ended my first day at Keokuk.




4 thoughts on “Civil War time travel

  1. Yes, PLEASE leave the cell phones in yer cars! I’ll never forget my trip back in time @ the Gettysburg event in 1993. Not a cell phone there and we made it thru just fine.

  2. I’ve participated in fur trapper reenactments (rendezvous) for years and it’s all primitive, no cellphones, electronics or anything modern allowed. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget about modern concerns.

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