All of a War’s Trappings, With Accuracy at Stake

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FORT SUMTER NATIONAL MONUMENT, S.C. — If the period leading to the outbreak of the Civil War was a confusing patch in American history, the threat of a government shutdown threw the spirited preparations for a commemoration of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter 150 years later into almost as much chaos.

“It’s been complete confusion,” said Gary Alexander, one of the 90 National Park Service employees working on the commemoration.

Because the budget impasse threatened to close Fort Sumter, about 70 Union Army re-enactors who had been scheduled to take up positions at the garrison in Charleston harbor on Friday were obliged to encamp elsewhere. And hundreds of Confederate re-enactors scheduled to camp at Fort Moultrie, another federal Park Service site across the harbor, instead slept by their pickups in a nearby parking lot rather than risk eviction from Moultrie by the Park Service in case there was a shutdown.

“We’re like the poster child for the effects of a government shutdown,” said Mark Silas Tackitt, who flew here from Seattle, where he is a public defender, to play the role of the Union commander who surrendered Fort Sumter after Confederate shelling in April 1861. “One hundred fifty years ago, people here were thinking, what is the federal government going to do? And today there’s quite a parallel.”...

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