Countywide : Having a Blast With the Past : Men Stay in Character as They Discuss Characters, Lore of Civil War

The conflict between the North and the South has come to Huntington Beach Mall.

There won’t be an actual fight, but Civil War historians Steve Gipson and John J. Cole will share stories about life and times on the battlefield during performances today through Monday.

Dressed in replica uniforms complete with brass buttons and buckles, Gipson portrays a Union captain and Cole a Confederate first lieutenant--both real people, and friends, who fought in the war from 1861 to 1865.

Gipson said the pair’s re-enactment is not only educational but also filled with humor, trivia and tales.


“We don’t do anything that is not of the era,” said Gipson, who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn., and has brought his traveling show to California for the first time.

“The Great Civil War Exposition and Living History Show” will feature a re-creation of an 1863 battlefield campsite, including wedge tents and an 1841 cannon.

Cole, who is from Cincinnati, said that there is a lot of misconception about the war and that their show helps to explain what really happened in battle.

“We discuss unique and weird things about the Civil War,” Gipson said.


For instance, Gipson said the last Confederate general to surrender his sword was not Gen. Robert E. Lee. (“He was the first.”) The last was a Cherokee chief who fought for the South named Stand Waite.

Gipson also said that in the show they use language people spoke in the early 1860s. In 1863, the word “housewife” did not refer to a woman who stayed at home to take care of her family. The word referred to a sewing kit the soldiers carried.

Gipson said the message they want to get out to the public is that the “Civil War was not Hollywood.”

“The Civil War made America what it is today. It brought us together as a nation,” he said.


The exposition will be today, Saturday and Monday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Performances will be at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. today, Saturday and Monday. Sunday performances are at 2 and 4 p.m.