All about the 4th U.S. Infantry
The 4th U.S. Infantry was formed in 1999 as part of the Southern Skirmish Association (SoSkAn) and we attempt to portray the life of infantry soldiers during the middle of the American Civil War (July 1863). We differ from our fellow Union regiments in that the 4th U.S. is what was known as a “Regular” regiment which means it was part of the United States Army before the outbreak of the Civil War. We therefore try to incorporate this into our impression in our attitude, drill, and uniform.
Although in 1863 the 4th U.S. was still engaged in combat (it fought at Gettysburg for example) by mid-1864 it was no longer combat effective. Instead it took on a new role as Headquarters Guard for General Ulysses S. Grant, commander of all Union forces. In honour of this we too act as Headquarter and Colour Guard for SoSkAn’s Union battalion. As such we perform additional ceremonial duties and are often seen carrying the Stars and Stripes into battle.
Most of our events are in the south of England and while some are purely SoSkAn events which only feature the American Civil War others are large multi-period displays the occur over several days. We have also been known to participate in local carnivals! We take our re-enactment seriously because we want to give the most realistic impression that we can however we’re also very friendly and enjoy having a good laugh, particularly around the campfire at night.
As well as the battles (yes they involve real guns but you’ll need a license first!) we are also involved in displays such as skirmish, firing, and bayonet drill, as well as parades and ceremonies as per military doctrine of the day. When not active in those activities we portray camp life as best we can and talk to you, the public, about the American Civil War. As it is not part of the English curriculum we find that people have a lot of questions and get more interested as we explain that the United Kingdom had a lot of involvement in it, even if not as a belligerent. Some of our members are musicians and will play both as part of the battles and parades but also help bring history to life.
American Civil War re-enactment isn’t all about soldiery. We try to portray not only camp life of the troops but also of the civilians who lived in the camps beside them. Soldiers could bring their families along with them provided they could find work, often as cooks, clothes washers, and nurses. The most significant way we do this is the Post Office, run by Rae Barwick, which acts as a focal point for visitors to come and learn about the Civil War and offers fun activities for youngsters. The Civilian Society of SoSkAn is also a way for people to join and enjoy re-enactment if either they are not physically able to get involved in the military side of things or simply don’t want to be.
That’s more or less who we are and we’re always on the lookout for new recruits to help us achieve our goals of educating people about the American Civil War and have a good time doing it. If reading this has inspired you to join in then please head over to the Recruitment page or click here to request a FREE Recruitment Pack. You can also visit our members page to see who you’ll be joining up with.