Jeffrey Batt, 26, is looking forward to being in Gettysburg in 2013 for the 150th anniversary of that momentous battle. He’ll be there on a field that symbolizes the actual battlefield, and he’ll wear Union blue.
Call it fate. Batt’s been hooked since the age of 5, when he first visited Gettysburg. “I was fascinated by the history even then,” he says. “I started reading books about it, and I used to listen to the Gettysburg audio tour at night to fall asleep.”
Batt joined the 2nd Delaware Regiment Volunteers in April in hopes that the experience would deepen his understanding of wartime and the experiences of his military ancestors, whom he has traced back as far as the American Revolution. He showed up for the unit’s annual spring training session wearing a borrowed uniform, without a musket and with little practical knowledge of what re-enacting entailed. He never looked back.
“It’s like an alternative lifestyle—an escape—because when I’m here I feel like a soldier, like I was born in the 19th century,” he says. “It’s so real to you that it’s almost unreal, like you’re in a movie or something.”