Which is worse, trying to cook bland biscuits in a dirty handkerchief over an open flame, or eating a cracker with weevils and maggots inside?
Civil War soldiers had to do both.
Though the upcoming re-enactment of the Battle of Chickamauga will re-create the experiences of such soldiers 150 years ago in as much accurate detail as possible - down to each soldier receiving a one-day period of rations for the two-day event - the public will be able to enjoy more modern comforts - and food.
In conjunction with the re-enactment, organizers of the 150th Anniversary Arts Festival and Barbecue Cookoff, to be held on the grounds of Gordon-Lee Mansion Sept. 21, are looking for cooks ... to make real food. Seven barbecue teams are needed to complete the lineup. Enrollment ends Tuesday, Aug. 20. The $50 entry fee gives teams a shot at prizes including a Weber grill.
Art vendor applications are also being accepted through that date. The vendor fee is $50 per booth space, which will go toward helping the Friends of the Gordon-Lee Mansion preserve the historic home. Vendors will keep 100 percent of their sales.
To sign up for either, visit gordonleemansion.com.
Nearby, in McLemore Cove, about 10,000 re-enactors are expected to make the Civil soldiers real for spectators. If last year's anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Shiloh is anything to go on, that could mean around 23,000 spectators, said Chickamauga City Manager John Culpepper.
"It's going to be $3 [million] to $4 million invested in the area through this event," he said. "Seven tour buses and one tour boat plan to attend the battle.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum expects to sell 200 tickets that Saturday and 200 more that Sunday to take people to the battle. The school will park buses to take the tourists out to McLemore Cove."
The Blue and Gray Alliance is partnering with Walker County and the city of Chickamauga for the Sept. 21-22 event.
A VIP Battle for special guests will occur Sept. 20.
A re-enactor himself since 1999, Culpepper has participated in re-enactments in Gettysburg twice and has re-enacted locally. For the Battle of Chickamauga re-enactment, he plans to be the "boots on the ground" instead of a "soldier."
"A re-enactment is an entire day's event," he said. "There will be a series of speeches on the battle, and seminars. That night we will have a period ball. On Sunday morning, period church services will occur. It's a chance to see how people lived in the 1860s such as how they cooked and what they wore."
For more information on the Battle of Chickamauga, visit cwbattle150.com.