Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Camp Seating

According to photographic evidence and written accounts, camp-stools:  folding chairs with no backs were frequently covered with tapestry fabric or canvas were one of the most popular types of portable seating. These were popular before the Civil War, for use by hunters. These were even used during the Revolutionary War. George Washington's camp stool can be seen here. The etching to the right is from a book written in 1854, it likens an ancient chair found in Egypt to the popular camp-stool.

Sitting on supply boxes or having no seating is also popular in photographs. Three-legged stools are mentioned in Hardtack and Coffee, these were possibly the stools used for milking cow. In most photographs not everyone has a chair or a stool and many are photographed sitting on the ground. The "director" style chairs seem to be popular with generals, enlisted men seem to have sat on more varied types of seats. Below are photos of period camp chairs.        

 Higher Ranks:

Enlisted Men:
 Hardtack Boxes
Furniture Pressed into Service/ Home Furniture:

 Church Pews

A bench made from sticks and lumber.
A thick log or box used as a chair with a folding camp stool.
Simple lumber benches.

A log being used as a chair, or "The Billy."
For Our Group:
Unfortunately, as prevalent as these are in the reenacting community, the slotted chairs seem to be a 1930s boyscout creation. I believe if we paint or stain them, we can make them look more like solid house furniture. Also, the popular "funeral home" chairs seem to be of more of an 1880-1900s style. Most folding chairs of the time had cloth bottoms. We might also be able to mimic solid house furniture by adding removable cushions to the ones we have. I wouldn't recommend getting rid of any of our chairs, I think it is a good plan to replace them with more period correct items as they break. In the photo, 3rd from the bottom, the small benches look simple enough that I think we could make a relatively inexpensive, sturdy, collapsible version if we were enough in the mood.       

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