The Civil War Re-enactment: Living, Breathing and Hemming History

Dressed to the nines, enthusiasts take to the battlefield at Spring Mountain Ranch

civil_war_reenactment_shutterstock_WEBSerged seams—those crisscross stitches you see on old flannel undershirts—didn’t appear until the 1880s, so if you wear them to a Civil War re-enactment you’re bound to raise eyebrows. But when the eighth annual Civil War Days in the Battle Born State comes to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park on October 26-27, some soldiers just might be able to get away with it.

“So long as you’re period-correct on the outside, I don’t care what the inside of your dress looks like,” says event organizer Lisa Coffey, a member of the Southern Nevada Living History Association. “No one’s going to see it and if they get that close, they deserve to be slapped.”

The re-enactment leads off a year of celebrations of Nevada’s 150th anniversary and attracts living history organizations from four states.

Most of the men who participate buy their military uniforms online, but the women often sew their own clothing. Of course, finding the materials to construct the billowing skirts that were in fashion 150 years ago takes some ingenuity. Coffey quips that going to the hardware store is often just as important as going to the fabric shop, as wire, poly piping, chicken coop clips and electrical crimpers are often used in the construction of the voluminous hoop skirts.

And while Coffey will attend the event dressed in period clothing, complete with a corset, she won’t go without one modern accessory: her purple smart phone.

“Because I’m running this re-enactment, I will carry this around with me,” she says. “And I don’t care who I’m standing in front of if I have to answer it.”