Commonwealth Journal

February 9, 2012

Reenactment Poorly Planned


Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Dear Editor:

In response to the article by staff writer Chris Harris concerning the Battle of Mill Springs recently held in your county. I have concerns over the objectivity of the content, particularly with Bill Neikirk’s comments.

I am a living historian and travel from Florida to Virginia taking part in approximately 30 events per year; thus, I do know something of which I speak.

Mr. Neikirk does not speak for all the hundreds of thousands of re-enactors throughout the United States, not even for the several thousand within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Neikirk refers to re-enacting as a hobby – it might be to him and his unit, but certainly not to those of us dedicated to presenting the living history of that era.

To us this avocation is a passion. Many of us are members of the heritage groups, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Sons of Confederate Veterans; as such, we engage in these living history events to honor the sacrifices made by our ancestors.

Mr. Neikirk claims it is getting harder to entice re-enactors to come to events. This is not the fact at all. Mr. Neikirk says he only secured 150 troops for the Jan. 21 event at Mill Springs.

Well there was little advanced advertising and the weather in January is a consideration as well.

I was in attendance at the 2007 Mill Springs event – the fees were too high for re-enactors and spectators but advertising was widespread and produced the numbers quoted in the article. The event was held in warm (hot) weather. A number of factors not present for the January 2012 event contributed to the success of the ’07 re-enactment.

Mr. Neikirk claims enthusiasm for re-enacting is on the decline. This is also only Neikirk’s opinion. Throughout the U.S. we are seeing new recruits joining units. Of course, we see folks dropping out but a lot of that is due to age and health – not enthusiasm.

Mr. Neikirk claims, “The only reason people came there was because of Bill Neikirk.” I can name as many who stayed away because of Bill Neikirk as he can who came. This entire article screams of ego and plotting to have the beautiful battleground taken over by the federal park system. There are major battle re-enactments on NPS property – Gettysburg, Olustee, Fla., and several others.

All in all Chris Harris’ article was one person’s opinion and that opinion coming from an organizer who had experienced the results of poor advanced planning.



J.W. Binion, D-Min.

Glasgow, KY 42141