I'm a relative newbie myself, so I'll leave specific advice to the veteran players - but having some guitar experience should set you well on your way. For CW reenactment you would want to get an early style banjo - there are several makers here on this site. I'm only starting to scratch the surface of the deeper historical aspects of early banjo, so again I'll defer to others who might be able to recommend a specific maker if total accuracy is what you're after.
As for books, you're in luck: The Banjo Factory has scans of Thomas Briggs' 1855 banjo instructor online: http://www.banjofactory.com/Brigg's%20Banjo%20Instructor.htm This, combined with Tim Twiss' video demonstration of Briggs' 5 basic movements as well as his numerous clips of videos from that book, was what got me going. You can spend hours watching early banjo clips on YouTube; it's great for inspiration and for finding tunes that really speak to you. (In my experience it's a lot easier to learn a song when it gets stuck in your head and won't get out.)
According to Albert Baur, though I've not seen it, the Winner book is the Briggs' book.
What the heck does this mean?
deuceswilde said:According to Albert Baur, though I've not seen it, the Winner book is the Briggs' book.
I'd love to see a copy!