As a historian, I always try to make the point that while every facet about history isn't known, it is a writer's responsibility to their readers to be as accurate as possible--and that the duty also applies to fiction writers. And not just authors whose characters live in settings now a distant memory. Yesterday, whether recent or long gone, can creep into fiction whether it is the town the character walks through, their family history, or an event that set the future in motion.
One fun way to research is with a road-trip to a historical site. Another way to learn history--watch first person interpreters at work and play. Or you can combine the two with a reenactment at a historic site. While small encampments offer the opportunity for more intimate contact, larger events such as the Battle of Gettysburg for the Civil War or the Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth offer other advantages including cavalry and artillery units.
Tips on how to approach such a day will be discussed in a future post, but it doesn't have to be a solitary event. While the ideas presented at www.njfamily.com/NJ-Family/June-2013/Watch-a-Reenactment-of-the-Battle-of-Monmouth are for a specific event, they can be applied elsewhere.
This year the Battle of Monmouth reenactment is being held June 15-16. More than 1,000 re-enactors will be encamped at the Monmouth Battlefield State Park to drill, demonstrate, and recreate Revolutionary War battle tactics. You can watch meals prepared over wood fires, see officers training infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and smell the gun smoke as British and Continental armies do battle. More information on the re-enactment and a schedule of the days' events can be found at www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/monbat_re-enact-index.html. An $8 per vehicle donation to defray the costs of the weekend. If you go be sure to check out the newly-renovated visitor center.Although I've attended the reenactment in period garb and mingled with the civilian re-enactors, this year I'll be in the crowd watching, camera and notepad in hand.
Till the next time. Helen