Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Not-so Famous Photos of the Civil War

Some excerpts from The Photographic History of the War in Ten Volumes (Vol. 8) by  Francis Trevelyan Miller and Robert Sampson Lanier from 1911. Most of these photos are relatively forgotten but help round out the war experience. Some of them show interesting fabrics, women in camp, men in their shirtsleeves, and even a period "water buffalo."

  Volunteer about to lose some weight. :D

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You Know you Civil War Reenact Too Much When...

  1. You use your reeacting stuff in everyday life.
  2. Your gear stays in the car until the next event-- at least you always have a chair.
  3. The power has been out for three days but it doesn't matter, your wife can cook a full 3 course meal 3 times a day for 30 men without electricity.
  4. You've attempted to adjust your kepi, in "the real world" when you weren't even wearing a hat.  
  5. Field-craft? You've mastered field-craft and now your working on port-o-potty-craft.
  6. You park the car at the supermarket and your wife says "Lock the doors, someone might steal my copy of Godey's."
  7. You sons are okay with wearing dresses. 
  8. St. Patrick's Day means you don't have to feel weird for blasting your usual David Kincaid in the car. 
  9. Your alarm clock plays reveille.
  10. You watch period films and documentaries just to point out people you know.
  11. You can spot another reenactor in regular life by their facial hair. You can probably even tell if he's a Yankee or a Reb.
  12. You can spot a zipper, snaps and stainless steel from a mile away.
  13. You've gotten used to the taste of rust and wax. 
  14. You have an entirely different definition of the word 'clean' after sweating in your gear for three days.
  15. You know that REAL men are okay with spooning in the cold. 
You might be a Civil War reenactor? :)

    Thursday, July 1, 2010

    Shippensburg: Awesome!

    This past weekend was the Shippensburg March to Destiny event. Tom, Alex, Steph and I were planning to go, but some stuff came up at the last minute and Tom and Alex couldn't make it. Steph and I were considering not going, but seeing as how we had no power because of the huge storm that came through Thursday, we decided to go anyway.

    When we made it out late Friday night, I was looking for the 27th VA, but nobody from our Battalion was there. There was a group of guys who offered to let us camp and fall in with them. They were Captain Matt Vandewater's 42nd Mississippi Co. I. Our thanks go out to them for being so hospitable, and my commendation on their performance during the battles. They were pretty sharp.

    Saturday, we got to forage through town, as the event scheduled promised. The various businesses of the town put red ribbons on their doors. This meant we could go in and they'd have stuff for us to take. This ranged from free sodas at the pizza shop, to bags full of apples, potatoes and bananas, to one suspicious can of vegetable soup that upon further inspection expired when I was 11 (that's almost 14 years ago!).

    Steph found a lot to do while I was gone. This was a concern for us since there would be nobody left to stay with her in camp while I was gone for drill, foraging, and the battle. The ladies of this battalion were very social, and took Steph with them to the various events in the town. There was a presentation on mourning, and even an ice cream social. They even got to ride in a horse drawn wagon!

    A few hours after the foraging expedition, we fought a battle down the main thoroughfare of the town, which was closed off for the battle. I believe the most thrilling moment for me was when we turned the corner and saw our artillery about to fire. The difference between this round and all the others I've seen is that this gun was positioned just in front of a gas station!! After it fired, we made sure the station hadn't blown up and we were still alive. We were, and the dismounted cavalry let off a volley at the Union skirmishers that was so loud it set off a car alarm! What a way to start a battle! Even though we were the third company, we were chosen to advance down the street after our skirmishers, first in the column of companies. We were determined to show that we deserved the position, and the boys of the 42nd were exceptional in their drill. We had to do a bit of extra maneuvering because the Union changed the scenario on us, but we performed sharply, and I was proud to march with them. They also fired off some of the snappiest volleys I ever heard. It was as if one big gun was firing. Each company took turns on the front, giving the others time to rest and reform. The scenario ended when the last of the Union troops tried to push us back with a desperate charge. There were very few men left, and two officers, one of which surrendered his sword to Captain Vandewater, and the other surrendered his sword to me!

    After the battle there was a short parade of all the troops down the street, and we returned to camp.

    Sunday was a slow day, with not much on the schedule except a scripted battle at the Shippensburg Fairgrounds. We were supposed to lose, and we did. We pushed the Union troops back to a steep hill crowned with large boulders and trees. The Yankee troops rallied here and wreaked havoc on our forces from their covered position on the high ground.

    As hot as it was at the event, we were happy to have gone. Steph and I both had a blast, and we are hoping to go back next year. The only negative thing I have to say is that the college kids sucked. They would drive back and forth and yell things at us. They seemed to think we were a bunch of racist hicks. If they would spend their time coming and talking to us, they'd learn a lot more, and stop being so ignorant. Anybody who happens to read this who happens to be attending Shippensburg next year for summer courses, I challenge you to explore the camps, and learn something from us. We Confederate reenactors do not do this because we're racist, or want to still fight a war. We do it to educate people. We try to bring history to life for you. It's a lot more fun than learning dates in a classroom, so come out and see what there is to see.

    Shippensburg was a great success, especially for such a small event. I really hope to go next year.