The re-enactors bivouacked at the landing were of the “progressive” variety, a more hardcore breed that insists on well-researched, authentic portrayals and eschews many of the modern comforts in which their mainstream counterparts quietly indulge. No one was packing protein bars or pristine produce; this group ate rations of salt pork and rustic bread for dinner and the same again for breakfast.They had been brought together by Matt Woodburn, the commander of an umbrella group called the Western Independent Grays. When he’s not involved in Civil War re-enacting, Mr. Woodburn is the chief operating officer for the nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey. In May 2011 he posted on the Web site authentic-campaigner.com the first details of a scenario he called “The Grand Adventure”:
Imagine being ten miles upriver from Pittsburg Landing in Savannah, TN. . . . Very early Saturday morning, you are awakened to proceed to the river’s edge where you see against the dark night sky a paddle wheel steamer dimly lit by candle light. Your regiment, the 15th Iowa Infantry, is ordered to board. . . . You walk up a gang plank on the dirt bank (no modern marina dock) and find a place on the steamer. For the next two hours you will travel down river.
Eventually the men would disembark, be issued ammunition and hold the dirt road to the landing. “Once we receive word that we’re needed at the front, we will make a five mile march on the original battlefield to the actual event site” — all of that, in other words, before even reaching the rest of the re-enactors. Then again, this wasn’t for your weekend Civil Warrior: Woodburn also promised a cavalry escort, a horse-drawn wagon with plenty of drinking water and a camping location “away from the masses.”
To help the men get into character, Woodburn later posted a Web page with links to historical background material, including the diary of a soldier from the 15th Iowa named Cyrus Boyd, and he ordered those interested to get into shape by hiking with their full pack for five miles at least once before the event.
The soldiers on the message board found the whole idea thrilling. An hour and a half after Woodburn’s post, a user called dirtyshirt replied, “I could almost end my career with this scenario.” The plans brought out re-enactors from across the country and even overseas, members of progressive groups with names like Liberty Rifles and the Chesapeake Volunteer Guard, who portray a variety of regiments, both Confederate and Union. By early July 2011, the slots on the boat — three trips worth — were full.
Text and Image Source Continued At New York Times, May 30 2012