I have never done this myself but know a number of people who do and have attended reenactments as a spectator. True reenactors are fanatical when it comes to authenticity. The dress and horse equipment of the period are well-documented by detailed written specifications, surviving examples and period photographic images. In addition, soldiers’ written accounts reveal what their everyday life was like. Reenactors thrive on these details. They also tend to look down on those people who dress up in costumes that are not authentic. They refer to such dress as being “FARB” (Far be it from authentic) and events featuring such dress as FARB fests. Once while trail riding I encountered another rider dressed as a Union general. It was a fairly good representation, but I took a certain pleasure in pointing out to him that his buttons were those of an enlisted man and, at least in the Federal service, absolutely no general officer would have accepted a coat made with enlisted buttons. It is a small detail but enough to place you in that FARB category among hard-core reenactors. However, even more than lovers of authenticity, reenactors simply love history. They are happy to spend hours explaining things to children and often excite interest in them that would be the envy of any history teacher.
It would be wrong to believe that mounted women were not present in military camps during the period. A very well-know example is Mary Mercer Thompson Ord, the wife of General Edward O.C. Ord. In March of 1865 she accompanied her husband, Abraham Lincoln, and others during a review of troops at the front. Mrs. Ord was elegantly attired and rode a magnificent bay that she handled with a display of horsemanship that won the admiration of almost everyone present. That is to say everyone except the side-lined First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln who became jealous of her to the point she flew into a rage that embarrassed all and left the poor Mrs. Ord in tears. While the armies were encamped it was not at all unusual for wives and other civilians to visit as long as such activity was not contrary to good military order and discipline.
Equine reenacting is not confined to the Civil War or to military history. Any historical period when humans were mounted is appropriate for reenacting: the Wild West, the English Civil War, the Golden Horde, medieval knights and their ladies. Find some like-minded people, fit yourself out, and off you go. I, myself, am happy to be a spectator. Reenacting might be a lot of fun, but if you are going to do it you need to make the time and financial commitment to do it right. I have fences to mend and fields to mow and only so much time. However, I want to let reenactors know that I appreciate and admire their work.
The Accidental Horseman.