Criticism develops over U.S. Civil War reenactment planned in Elk Grove

A U.S. Civil War reenactment planned in Elk Grove over the weekend of May 6 has gained the attention of critics.

The event is being sponsored by The Elk Grove Historical Society and the Linda Mae Mahon Lema Foundation, Mahon Ranch, and the Native Sons of the Golden West. The event will be held at the Mahon Ranch at 10171 Grant Line Road, Elk Grove.

The event is also listed on the website 

As the term implies, reenactment groups stage events to reflect battles during the U.S. Civil War. These groups, found throughout the country but particularly popular in southern states, gained popularity during the centennial of the war during the 1960s.

According to a 2022 report from ABC News (see video below), interest and participation in the events have increased since the 2020 murder of George Floyd. As noted in the report, participants view the events as an act of historic preservation and a direct reaction to the removal of statues honoring Confederates. 

One of the groups sponsoring the reenactment, the Native Sons of the Golden West, has also been criticized for its historical actions. While the group's stated mission is preserving history dating to the 1849 Gold Rush, they also supported the interment of people of Japanese descent during WWII. 

The Los Angeles NSGW said in a 1943 letter that Japanese immigrants to the United States "have been engaged in a 'peaceful invasion' of the Pacific coast area of the United States, planned in, and financed by Japan..." (starting page 23). 

According to the Sacramento Tax Accessor parcel viewer map, the event at 10171 Grant Line Road is outside Elk Grove city limits, there is a group of individuals critical of the event. 

In a memorandum distributed today, there is an effort to have people speak about the matter during this evening's Elk Grove City Council meeting. The memorandum says the reenactments ignore the role of slavery and "glorify the Civil War."

It also claims, "These events are being used to fuel the racial divide and to promote a larger political agenda." It adds, "These types of Civil War reenactments are being guised as educational events with a clear underpinning - to fuel the flames of racism as a tool to solidify a targeted voting base."

While acknowledging the event is outside Elk Grove city limits, people who speak at the Elk Grove City Council meeting are being asked to urge Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and the city council to use their influence to push for the event's cancellation.  

Tonight's city council meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Elk Grove City Hall. 

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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Given the city council members cannot respond to this during the meeting, it will be noteworthy to see if they comment outside of the meeting.

Randy Bekker said...

This re-enactment use to be at Elk Grove park. As I remember at the time it’s was only about period clothing, camp settings and battle re-enactments. It had no historical issues about slavery. This is on private property so as a historical event that probably won’t draw very many people less said will probably be more than a bunch of negative comments towards the council from individuals that are not from the Elk Grove area. I think to tie a group to a letter written at a time of World War where we had no idea wether the fight might be in our country back then was a real concern as it could happen to today. Not saying encampments of Japanese Americans were correct just it was a different time and worry in our countries history. This Civil War re-enactment will come and go. Mayor and Council needs to focus on Elk Grove city and residents than a one weekend event that will not have that big of an impact for or against.

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