Bearded, uniformed and sharp on details of the general’s life, Charlie Weik bore an uncanny resemblance to James Longstreet, the civil war general eponymous with Gainesville history.
“You asked me earlier how do I want to portray Gen. Longstreet? I want people to know the truth about James Longstreet,” Weik said. “A lot people think they know Longstreet, but it’s only from the negative point of view.”
Weik was one of the many notable figures of the Civil War who made an appearance at The Longstreet Society’s annual Bivouac, held Saturday at the historic Piedmont Hotel.
The word “bivouac,” means temporary encampment, but the event was more a casual lunch, served with a side of history.
History buffs, re-enactors and their family ate Southern food, listened to music and parsed the abundance of historical artifacts inside the Piedmont Hotel.
Outside the hotel, re-enactors sat in the porch in their ball-gown skirts, or stood, long swords hanging in their holsters.
Keen on Civil War history, Pete Rudzinsky came all the way from Alabama for the event.
“When you love history, this is a dream,” Rudzinsky said.
One of the notable aspects of the re-enactors was the equal representation of the key women of the Confederacy, who evoked a classic “Gone with the Wind” feminine but dramatic style.
And like strong-willed Scarlett O’Hara, the nonfiction women of the confederacy we’re strong-willed and brave.
There was a Rose Greenhow re-enactor playing the Confederate espionage artist who used her charm and connections to spy on Union activity, communicating through a network of people from New Orleans to Boston.
Weighed down in $2,000 in gold and heavy garb, Greenhow later drowned off the coast of North Carolina, when her rowboat capsized while she attempted to escape a Union ship blockade.
“It’s amazing when you read these stories,” said Bertie Weik, who portrayed both wives of Longstreet and is the real-life wife of Longstreet’s re-enactor, Charlie Weik. “These women were incredibly brave, went far and above the call of duty. They were some of the unsung heroes.”
Bearing the same-style gold embroidered uniform, and even the same initials, Raymond E. Loggins portrayed Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“I’ve read and done research on him. I’ve been where he’s buried. I’ve following him all over the place, really,” Loggins said.
He described Lee’s view of Longstreet, who to the chagrin of many, became a Republican after the war and reunited with his old friend: Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
“Lee always had the highest admiration for Longstreet, and wished him well in his business,” Loggins said. “He was a devout Christian; he had a temper, but he always had a way of smoothing it over.”