Have you ever noticed reenactors during public hours standing around in a circle talking to each other when they’re supposed to be talking with visitors? To the casual observer this might seem like a contradiction, since reenactors are quick to claim that they’re there to interpret for the public but then literally turn their backs on them.
However, reenactors aren’t ignoring their purpose or the public. Recent research reveals that standing in a circle formation is actually very accurate. It’s a little-known exercise called “Repel Officer.” Though there are earlier references to it, here is the earliest known description, taken from the Shoemaker’s Regiment, Tenderfoot Company’s orderly book of 1812:
Despite the clarity of the documentation, reenactors continue to farb up this formation. Instead of discussing their duty, visitors can hear them talking about last weekend’s game or that Saturday night party in camp, all while watching them do such historically accurate activities as smoking modern cigarettes or checking their cell phones.
Nevertheless, such circle formations are seen during most time periods and are, as many visitors can attest, very effective at keep reenactors from straining themselves.