During the Civil War regimental commanders used "mock" or "sham" battles to train untested troops. These staged exercises allowed officers and enlisted men alike the opportunity to "experience" battle without the casualties. When the war ended, veterans continued to restage battles to honor the dead and to educate civilians how soldiers had fought. Over the next 100 years, recreations were performed mostly by service men.
Today there are tens of thousands of reenactors in the U.S. and a few countries around the world, that continue this tradition.
Every year hundreds of Civil War reenactments or living history events take place to commemorate actual battles or demonstrate how soldiers and civilians lived from 1861 - 1865.
For some it is an opportunity to leave the 21st century behind and experience 19th century history in a unique way, for others it is about trying to become an "authentic campaigner" and get every detail right.