Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dixie Rival Civil War Gains New Popularity

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dixie Rival Civil War Gains New Popularity

Article excerpt

More than 130 years have passed since Gen. Ulysses S. Grant cornered Gen. Robert E. Lee's army at Appomattox Court House and forced his surrender, yet the Civil War thrives - as a business.

Hundreds of retailers across the country have turned America's bloodiest war into a marketing opportunity.

Feel like a loyal Southerner? Show your pride by buying a pair of glow-in-the-dark boxer shorts decorated with the Confederate battle flag. Or a Santa Claus carrying a Confederate flag, or even a Confederate bikini. Tourists can travel the routes of old marches and visit battle fields. Serious collectors spend thousands of dollars on everything from swords to old belt buckles, while those who want to relive the days of the war spend thousands more on recreated uniforms and weapons. "Even without the kitsch, the Civil War has never been more popular," said John Coski, a historian at Richmond's Museum of the Confederacy. "It's a neat thing. It's romance, like cowboys and Indians. The figures are larger than life, and most of them are Southern." Many people in the business of selling the Civil War - the War of Northern Aggression some Southerners still call it - do it for love, not money. "It's not a moneymaking scheme. You can't make a living from it," said Mike Bradley, the owner of Uniforms of Antiquity in Mena, Ark. Bradley, an Englishman, makes reproduction Civil War uniforms and sells them throughout the United States and as far away as Germany. The uniforms cost as much as $5,000 each. Bradley rides with the 1st Arkansas Cavalry and takes part in recreated battles around the country. "Sometimes I'll hand out a business card in the middle of a battle," he said. Rafael Eledge, owner of Shiloh's Civil War Relics in Shiloh, Tenn., became fascinated by the war as a teen-ager when he saw a man cleaning bullets found on an old battlefield. The next weekend, the man took Eledge out with a metal detector and he was hooked. "We do shows all over the country, it seems like the attendance at the shows is up," Eledge said. "It seems a lot more people are interested in their history. …

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