Re-enactment draws history buffs

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

Natchez &8212; Shea Traxler was six hours into her first Civil War re-enactment Saturday afternoon, and she couldn&8217;t wait for nightfall.

Shea and grandfather Charles Traxler were planning to sleep in their tent Saturday night on the grounds of Historic Jefferson College, which is hosting the re-enactment this weekend.

&8220;It&8217;s pretty good,&8221; Shea said of the re-enactment. Her white T-shirt and long skirt weren&8217;t quite authentic attire, but Shea certainly had the enthusiasm down.

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Charles Traxler, a Monroe, La., resident, has been involved in re-enactments for about 13 years. His wife isn&8217;t a big fan, but Traxler used to take Shea&8217;s mother on a few trips, and Shea&8217;s aunt took part for about 10 years.

&8220;She&8217;s the third generation,&8221; Traxler said of his granddaughter.

Likewise, re-enacting is a family affair for Laura Attales of Baton Rouge. She and her parents have been attending events for about three years, and Attales just recruited her fianc/ into the hobby.

&8220;I love to dress up in costumes,&8221; Attales said. &8220;I love to be authentic.&8221;

The re-enactment community is close &8212; even if they don&8217;t keep in contact beyond weekend events.

&8220;You see the same people,&8221; Attales said. &8220;We don&8217;t have phone numbers or e-mails for each other, but they see us all the time.&8221;

Attales enjoys not just the history but the creative aspect of re-enacting.

&8220;I love to come out and create this whole little world of our own,&8221; she said.

For visitors to re-enactments, participants often make up skits or recreate events to show what life was like during the Civil War or at a battle scene.

In fact, Attales&8217; father has been &8220;captured&8221; and &8220;killed&8221; at several events recently. At one event, he portrays a mayor who&8217;s been captured and put on trial by Union soldiers &8212; but he refuses to speak anything but Cajun French.

But some events are more authentic than others, Traxler pointed out. His 100-percent cotton pants &8212; and his granddaughter&8217;s T-shirt &8212; might not be acceptable at some events, but the Jefferson College re-enactment is a bit more relaxed.

Jefferson College Director Cheryl Branyan said Saturday she was pleased with the turnout &8212; and the event itself.

&8220;To me, walking into the camps, it&8217;s like going back in time,&8221; she said.

Of course, she spoke just a few steps away from where Copiah-Lincoln Community College students were selling cups of Coca-Cola

and lunches in Styrofoam containers.

&8220;Well, they&8217;ve got to eat,&8221; Branyan said, smiling.

The re-enactment continues today, with a battle re-enactment at 2 p.m.