Why We Galvanize

 

Galvanizing is not a new concept. It originated during THE WAR when Confederate prisoners were given the choice of either staying in prison or wearing the blue uniform and fighting for the U.S. government against American Indian uprisings in the "wild west". However, Confederates were not the only ones to "galvanize". Union prisoners had also switched sides, if you will. During the last days of the war, it was documented that when General Stoneman's Federal Cavalry division pushed into Salisbury, North Carolina, they encountered among the town's 500 defenders "two hundred galvanized Irish who had been recruited from among Federal prisoners". These men battled in the streets of Salisbury. One "galvanized" Confederate, although shot through the lungs, continued to fight back until he fell on the porch of a Mrs. M.E. Ramsay, who dragged the soldier inside her house. The man actually survived and returned to thank Mrs. Ramsay after the war.

We are all entitled to our opinions and beliefs, and our Regiment recognizes our members who request NOT to galvanize. We respect their feelings. However, as one who has re-enacted and lived in "the South" and in "the West", I have observed that galvanizing appears not to be a disgraceful or disrespectful act (e.g. to one's ancestors) among many "Southern-born" re-enactors. I find it very interesting to see many west-coast Confederate reenactors refusing to galvanize no matter how ridiculously one-sided a battle may look to spectators, and yet find most Southern-born east-coast Confederate re-enactors, who's ancestors actually fought in the war, not think twice about galvanizing. If you visit many of the Civil War sites on the web, you will notice that many of these units, particularly Confederate units, are always asking their members to bring both their blues and grays to every event, and they proudly wear both! Furthermore, many large events (e.g. the 1995 "Battle of Franklin" in Springhill, TN) require that Confederate units bring a blue uniform and agree to "go Union" for at least one day. There is no doubt that a few units will choose not to participate, however, most do because such a large event with literally thousands of re-enactors makes it a thrilling and attractive event not to be missed.

So why do we galvanize? We galvanize because:

  1. It gives us someone to shoot at. We have attended a few small events where it was necessary for us to galvanize for there to be any action! More importantly, galvanizing has given us some unexpected extra bonuses. It has given us more action and more fun. It has given us something extra to talk and laugh about back in camp. It has given us a different perspective, experience and education (e.g. learning the important differences in accouterments, etc.) when fighting for "the other side". And knowing who we are "up against" has given us an opportunity to do hand-to-hand combat (it was practiced ahead of time of course) with great ease, comfort and confidence.
  2. If one side greatly outnumbers the other then the event doesn't have balance, the public will lose interest and the hobby will deteriorate both in event attendance and in re-enactor participation. Unfortunately, recent experience reveals that we cannot count on our Union brothers to attend most events, so we have to rely on our own resources.
  3. We strongly believe that we are re-enacting the War Between the States to keep alive their memory and to remind the public of the many sacrifices, efforts, deeds of valor and gallantry made by these brave men and women. To remember them is to honor them. We pay the greatest honor to our Confederate ancestors and soldiers by galvanizing. Most of us believe that our Confederate forefathers would much rather us keep the memories alive and active. Its to show that our ancestors did not make the final sacrifice in vain.

 

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FirstNCcav@mindspring.com
1/26/98