An African American Civil War Reenactor at Gettysburg
When he’s on the Gettysburg battlefield or at re-enactments, Thomas admits he sometimes draws more than his share of stares. He has been asked why he’s at Gettysburg, when no black troops fought there. “I represent all my fallen comrades in arms,” he answers simply. Besides, historical accuracy cuts both ways.
This week Gettysburg has filled up for events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the famous battle. Thomas said the best interactions with visitors come from the questions of the children, who aren’t afraid to walk up and ask.
"For me to be an Afro-American in Gettysburg, we were cooks,stewards, or helpers around camps," Thomas said. "Back in the day, I couldn’t go to a ball because I would have been a server. I can’t go and dance with a general’s wife because that’s just how it was."
Another day, though, he will wear the blue wool of a soldier of the 54th Massachusetts, the black regiment made famous in the movie “Glory.” He plays “Trip,” the Denzel Washington character. “Only better looking,” Thomas said with a smile.