Hundreds of Czechs spent Saturday afternoon watching an elaborate, realistic re-enactment of a Civil War Battle in Branik in the south of Prague. The battle was staged by the Czech American Civil War Association, which holds at least one or two of these events every year.
A number of American Civil War Associations from other countries also came to take part in the re-enactment. Many of the participants spent an entire weekend living in encampments on the river. Some of them take these events so seriously that they try to recreate the conditions that Civil War soldiers lived under as closely as possible.
Speaking behind Confederate lines, Dusty Eisenberg a Bavarian from the 7th Georgia cavalry explains what it's like:
"Yeah it's a different world. You leave your car behind you - all your modern stuff. You live in the 1860s. This is strange but everyone likes it, because we have really authentic re-enactors here who do everything in the correct way. They have old bibles and haversacks, and only eat the correct stuff [from that time]. They don't [even] have watches or modern glasses..."
The Czech American Civil War Association's president Andrea Kralova got involved in hosting re-enactments such as these because of her fascination with the U.S. Civil War, which took place between 1861 and 1865.
"I love history and learning about olden times. I was interested in cowboys and Indians and then I started learning about the American Civil War. I discovered that this is a very good subject to find out more about. There is so much stuff to learn. For instance, one interesting thing is that more American soldiers died in the Civil War than in all the other wars they fought. So it's a very interesting history."
One reason why the Czech American Civil War Association holds events such as these is to remind Czechs that the American Civil War is also part of their history. As Andrea Kralova explains, many Czechs emigrated to the United States in the 1800s and a lot of them ended up getting involved in the conflict:
"It was the Austro-Hungarian Empire in those days. [Many] Czechs moved to North America [at that time], and they fought in the American Civil War. They usually fought for the North but there were some on the Southern side as well. They fought for Texas on the Southern side and for the Northern side they fought for the 26th Wisconsin and Illinois divisions as well as a number of other units. But most Czechs fought for the 26th Wisconsin division on the northern side. We found a lot of Czech names there."
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Czech American Civil War Association can visit their website at www.cacwa.cz
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