Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hit a milestone today

Thanks everyone for coming over and reading Seeing the Elephant (recreated)! We've just hit 5000 visits today - counting from October 2005 (and starting again last April). It's been fun, and I'll continue to write some interesting commentary along the way -- or at least try to make it interesting!

A BIG "Thank you" to Civil War Interactive

Seeing the Elephant (recreated) and many other Civil War blogs have made it to the big time, thanks to Civil War Interactive's tireless coverage. North&South Magazine has featured Civil War blogs in its latest issue.

If you're a North&South Magazine reader, welcome to the wonderful world of Civil War blogging. I hope you'll stay a spell, or visit often. I'll take you either way! Also, check out my blogroll to the left - you'll find the best CW blogs there.

I see dead people...

...or so I say! They're usually at New Market or any larger battlefield that sports large numbers of men dressed in gray. The scarier ones are dressed in dark blue!

As long as I've been in the hobby, there have been loads of ghost stories tied to events. Not just Civil War ghosts, but ones that seem to go along with the reenactment. Being the skeptic that I am, I suspect where you have loads of reenactors roaming around a battleground at all hours of the night, you'll have the ghost stories to match.

Jonah Begone, who has an inexhaustible vault of Civil War stories and opinions, has a couple of "watered-down" ghost stories on his site. Another fellow relates his experiences at a WW2 reenactment in Virginia, a story that is typical of most reenacting ghost stories I hear. A poster at Civil War Talk adds into the discussion about the strange and supernatural. Gettysburg seems to be a magnet for non-reenacting Civil War ghost hunters according to the poster on this forum.

CW links of the week

Here are some reenacting links for this week:
Blue, Gray renew their fray in Shenandoah Valley
Reenactors will bring the War Between the States to life
Rotary prepares for battle of Blue and Gray

Other reenacting headlines:
Fun on the farm: Old Baker Farm welcomes classes, families
Plimoth Plantation brings 17th-century New England to life
French And Indian War Commemoration Cited As A 'Top 100 Event'
Fort Fanning Historical Park dedicated
The Sentinel

Monday, October 30, 2006

Group Spotlight

I hit the motherload when I was surfing the 'net for group sites to spotlight. This time, I didn't want to do jsut any group, I was looking for a standout. The 102nd USCT Co. B fit the ticket nicely.

I don't see many black reenactment groups kicking around, so it's refreshing to see a group devoted to one of the many USCT regiments that fought in the war. The the 102nd's mission statement is clear:

The 102nd USCT/BHG fosters and preserves the history of the American Civil War (1861 - 1865) by enhancing the public's understanding of Michigan's African American contributions in the conflict through historically accurate reenactments, camp demonstrations, military drills, parades, memorial ceremonies, and civilian activities.

This is a group that's also been around awhile - it was founded in 1986. Maybe one of these days, they'll come a bit further south and share in some of the larger events. I'd certainly welcome that.

Wargaming the Civil War

The reenacting season is about to wind down - what to do to keep yourself in the groove? Sure books and holiday parties are great, but what does one do if that isn't enough?


This is one the realms of American Civil War Gaming & Reading, but I'll cover my experience and goals with wargaming here anyway. I'll leave the reviews and game analysis to the pros at ACW Gaming & Reading. I've already touched on wargaming before, but my gap of experience of gaming on computer is massive. A good long going-to-reenactment discussion peaked my curiosity quite a bit. To the point where I'd like to give it a twirl, actually. The game series my friend plays is John Tiller's series of Civil War campaigns by HPS Simulations.

As an "old-skool" gamer, I learned to appreciate stacks of counters on the mapboard. Also learned that a cat isn't your best friend while gaming, either. But I played several games, Avalon Hill's Gettysburg, Yaquinto Games' Murfreesboro, and the ultimate SPI's Terrible Swift Sword and Pea Ridge. Got beaten into the dirt many times (I just recently discovered the reason why, too), but I always had a blast. Some of my fondest memories of being a teen were the epic battles fought all over the world, and throughout many periods. If you want to really learn military history, wargame.

But my friend sold me on gaming via computer. What swayed me was the "fog of war" functions, which I thought was the single biggest flaw in most board games. So what if I can't touch the pieces? At least my opponent can't see my hidden stuff, read my face, then proceed to knock the stuffin's out of me. I like that.

So hopefully, I'll be blogging here about some battles in the future. Not that I'll trumpet victory mind you, but it's a passion I want to revive and share.

UPDATE: I downloaded the demo to Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin. It was great, but the time certainly goes away fast when you're having fun! And yes, I was thoroughly trounced by the computer. Russian KV1s are wicked and btw, you can't kill them very well via head-on shots. I should have known that playing 88 by Yaquinto Games.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Blogger changes

So you won't be too freaked out, Seeing the Elephant (recreated) went ahead and bit the Blogger Beta bullet. Things are a little bit different, but I do have to admit it's easier to administer on my side of things.

What I'm reading now

Bloody Roads South has been sitting on my bookshelf forever - but it has beckoned me for a read. This book is outside my usual realm, but I'm excited about reading what information it has to offer. I started on it awhile back, but didn't get too deep with it. This time I'm going to finish it.

What I Last Read

The South Vs. The South

ISBN: 0195156293

The South Vs. The South is a short but worthy read. But be careful of what to expect within its covers. As I've said in the past, my point of interest is southern Unionism, and obviously, this book seemed to address the subject. After reading it, I can say not quite.

The book is very high-level - general - about loyal southerner's role in the ultimate downfall of the Confederacy, and the part played by slaves and slavery to that end. The South Vs The South is roughly divided in half by these two topics. It's very shy on any real information about southern Unionism, but it does cover the dilemma of the border states very well. It explains the role of these states and delivers an effective comparison between the border and the deep south states. For this overview, the book is worth the read.

The second half of the book is spent explaining the effect of the drainage of slaves away from the Confederacy. This was a nice discussion, and for me, it filled in some holes in my knowledge. In some parts the author seemed to become overly absorbed in subjects related, but not really connected with what he should have been discussing. A good example of this is the critique of the Shaw monument. As nice as it was, it could have been easily edited out. Just the facts, just give me the facts.

Good book, a worthy pick up for anyone who needs a short read about the border states or the impact of slavery during the war, but if you already know the topic, it's not going to shed any new light on the subject.

A little bit of writer's block

Suffering a little bit writer's block. I think life and blogging hot and heavy for the last few months has left me a bit drained for good material to write. But I'm about to get back on the horse and charge forward once again.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Takin' Hits

We all (eventually) bow to the necessity of taking hits during a reenactment. Some us are hams and can look very convincing, and some of us a not-so-convincing.

I'm like a lot of guys who've been in the hobby - I'm more willing to take hits now, mainly because I don't want to spend the time cleaning my rifle. I'm not quite to the realm of "one-shot wonders", but I'm getting there.

There are few interesting articles on the art and humor of hit taking. Paul Calloway (of Authentic Campaigner fame) gives a great overview of various hit takers. Linneus Ahern of the 9th Virginia gives his views about taking a hit as realistically as possible - off a horse. Maybe you won't go through a rough ride like this guy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Moving a grand old museum

One of my favorite museums is the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. I was dismayed to find out it needs to move to further accomodate the ever-growing Virginia Commonwealth University's medical center. Maybe it's for the better - if a new place can be found. Hopefully it won't fall victim to the prevailing politically correct atmosphere of the current times and disappear.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Battle for Loomis Heights - Perryville 2006

Discovered blogging with YouTube, which incidently, has a ton of video captures from Perryville. A search on "Perryville" will net all the videos I could find on this year's reenactment.

Group Spotlight

I caught this group site while surfing for group sites state-by-state. The 16th Louisiana site was the most intriguing one I found over a short search. All in all it's a fairly well-designed site that meets my DIGM criteria. It's easy to navigate, has a simple structure that delivers a good amount of information without becoming too clotted up, has nicely-done graphics, and is fairly up-to-date.

The part of I liked about this site was the Articles section. Those are very well worth reading, and in particular the advice from the Mexican War veteran who had tips for the "new" crop of soldiers who would fight in the Civil War. It's a worthy group site to check out and surf.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Enough already!

Seems that Civil War Historian magazine is content with steadily beating the dead horse. Last month I posted on the Camp Chase Gazette's huge error of ethics, judgement and common sense by republishing a CWH article under another writer's name.

A Very Stupid® move.

Now the lawyers are on the case, and no doubt CCG will be paying a steep price via a pound of monetary flesh. This should be a given by CCG, who are hopefully undergoing a house-cleaning, or better yet, looking at selling to a group of buyers who really give a damn about the hobby and the publication.

I recently received my latest issue of CHW, and what do I see? A full page spread of condemnation of CCG with Pat Ertel's grim countenance imposed on a third of the page. OK, Mr. Ertel is the publisher/owner, and has a right editorialize so. But as a paying subscriber, I really don't want to be party to a pissing contest in a hobby that sees too much of this garbage in the first place. On this blog, I try to keep things as up beat as possible, which in my mind is an easy task. I love the hobby, as with most reenactors. I would only hope that other blogs and publications would do the same.

When you print any publication that has a widespread readership, people naturally recognize you as a representative or a leader in the hobby. Articles are written by seasoned and well-known reenactors. CWH certainly has earned and deserves kudos for the articles and wonderful research. CWH certainly won't be damaged by this row with CCG, which instead, will bolster its image in the reenacting community.

My problem is when said publication indulges in bringing business out to the public realm. Then I have to wonder "why?".

Good leadership, in my mind, is looking at what is good for the hobby, not what is good for your publication in the short term. A good leader leads with integrity and a bit of humility, which seems to be the same as the words "with class". OK, CHW has a definite one-up on the competition, but to publish a in-your-face one page condemnation is over the top. I have to ask whether this is a true expression of indignation, or simply taking advantage of a very stupid mistake by CCG to drum up more biz? CCG will surely pay, but is this a cheap attempt at delivering a coup d'grace to a publication that has, in the past, served the interests of CW reenactors for many years? Is this leading with class? I don't think so.

What is good for the hobby is not to introduce any more division than is necessary. Full page editorals on the sins of the CCG do not help. I beseech the CHW to treat this situation with class.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Interesting groups on the reenacting fringe, Pt 13

Most reenactors seem to like period music, whether it be brass 'n drums or banjo. To me it was an acquired taste - I was a metal head back in my wilder days. So I had to make the shift to more earthy or marching band music. At first it was a change - I didn't really like bluegrass music, but I did have an affinity for Celtic music, which allowed me to ease in the more earthy Civil War music. I was surprised how easy I was able to enjoy period music - and now I can say I can enjoy bluegrass too!

It's not hard to imagine that there's a sub-set of reenactors who focus on the music of the Civil War period. When I went out of the hobby, the regimental bands were beginning to make a meaningful splash in the Civil War community. When I came back, there was a decent selection of researched and recreated music to choose from.

The smallest groups that do events and other period-appropriate events are the soloists, duos and trios that have a simple set-up of stringed instruments and accompaniment such as a harmonica, flute or similiar. A great example of such a "group" is the Battlefield Balladeers, a duo with none other than David Corbett, a favorite commenter on Seeing the Elephant (recreated). It's a sincere regret that I missed him at Perryville -- could have used some great music that weekend. Earlier this year I also blogged about a couple of artists who play at some events, but their mark was made through their recordings, Martin Liebschner, Jr. and Carson Hudson, Jr.

The next step up are larger string and small instrument bands. One that comes to mind is the 2nd South Carolina String Band. This group is still very active in reenacting circles and has a respectable longevity. Their bio looks like this:

The 2nd South Carolina String Band was formed in August of 1989 by five riflemen of Co.I, 2nd SC Volunteer Infantry, a unit of Civil War reenactors that was very active during the five years of events celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Civil War - and for many years to follow. After the battles, drills and inspections, the boys who had instruments played and sang around the campfire while members of the unit would often join in and sing along. This was the beginning of the 2nd South Carolina String Band.

A very nice beginning indeed!

Brass Bands are the ones that are most associated with military music of the period. Many groups emulate these groups. The in doing a little it of research, the first I was able to find was the colorful Excelsior Cornet Band. Although they play almost exclusively in New York state, they seem to have a very busy schedule. Maybe they'll come southward for a performance or two. Another region-bound, but sizeable band is the Band of the California Battalion. They seem have a fairly busy schedule, although they have no schedule up to see. They're considerable gathering, with several representative instruments.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sutler Spotlight

James Country Mercantile wasn't a sutler I expected to do business with, but they came through for me at Perryville. They had a nice tapestry haversack I wanted (desired) for a decent price and it served me well that weekend.

This sutler does offer a good selection, but the overall quality is more suited to the mainstream reenacting world, which James Country seems to cater to. Their event setup was great - everything was easy to find and the selection was great - that is if you're a mainstream reenactor. But there are some good products that a progressive would find fitting, like my haversack. James Country is a nice stop to look for on sutler row.

Their site is nice and easy to navigate, but I find the lack of product photos a little disconcerning. I like to see what I'm about the buy. Also, another suggestion - bite the bullet on the prices for the muskets and list them. I tend to relate "Call for Price" to a restaurant offering that is so pricey they don't want to tell you how much it costs on the menu. Personally, I don't even bother asking. The plus to this site is the generous selection of patterns for clothing, which I found to be nice. I'm not a tailor, but I know a couple that would do some good work for me if I had a good pattern.

This is a worthy site to check out, as long as you know the target audience. The owners are super nice, and they made my buying experience at Perryville very pleasant. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What I'm reading now

The South Vs. The South looks be a nice basic introduction to the southern Unionist's struggle with the Confederacy, and the border states' desire to be accepted as loyal elements in the greater United States. I've read into the first section, and I like what I see so far.

The Amazon reviews to this book are worth reading, too. They're some interesting perspectives and a couple that are downright amusing. One that stuck out was this:

First, the states of the Upper South were definately NOT Anti-Confederate! Anyone who claims as much has lacked the historical studies to pass a history class, let alone have a book published which some will take seriously!

Hmmmm .... can you say eastern Tennessee and West Virginia?

The reviewer seems to think that "Confederacy-sympathetic" Kentucky was only "liberated" from the Union for a short while. Did he ever hear of the Orphan Brigade - it was orphaned because Kentucky was considered a neutral state! Lincoln arrested all the secessionists in Maryland to prevent it from seceding - so I guess 20k men who went to the Confederacy from M'land trumps the 50k M'land Union troops. Hey, the Confederate flag had 13 stars! If you sew it to your flag, they're yours.... I still can't hold a straight face while reading this review. It may even produce a rant on this blog. Maybe he needs to sit down and read some history past the usual Was Jefferson Davis Right? fare.

What I Last Read

North Carolina Civil War Documentary

ISBN: 0807853585

So long since I've reported on my reading, this seems like the beginning of a new weekly post. North Carolina Civil War Documentary isn't a huge book, but one I don't recommend as a cover-to-cover read either. Don't mistake me, it's a great resource - original materials that have been cleaned up a categorized, but too inconsistent to read through as a stand alone work. If you do research on war-time North Carolina this is the book to go to first. If you want a crackin' good read, then you may want to opt for another book.

Although I had a time slugging through this book (or more accurately compilation), I was able to uncover some gems for my own research. In all honesty, the book only purports to be a resource, not a crackin' good tale. The chapters are laid out by topic of the materials, be it letters, diary entries or pages from lost memoirs. The book is topic-driven so the materials tend to jump around the Civil War period, not going in the typically linear fashion that makes it easy on a reader's mind. But the organization is great for doing research.

My only real critisim of North Carolina Civil War Documentary is actually in the chapter narratives written by John Barrett and Buck Yearns . I'm familiar with Barrett's great book, The Civil War in North Carolina , a comprehensive must-read for NC CW buffs. This time though, I found myself not wanting to be told what I need to get out of these original materials, and a couple times disagreeing with the narrative's findings. I want to come to my own conclusions about what the authors meant, not to be guided into thinking what someone else's interpretation is. Afterall, this book is a resource best left up to interpretation.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

CW links of the week

Here are some reenacting links for this week:
'Battle Of Blue Springs’: Education Day At Reenactment Teaches Lessons On Civil War
Taking a 'step back in time'
Confederate monument funding, encampment in focus during weekend
Civil War reenactment brings history to life
Rebels Best Yankees Again In Battle Of Ballast Point

Other reenacting headlines:
Mountain Man Rendezvous brings past to life
American Village reopens showcases improvements
Wild West actor's family wants answers
Early trapper camp reenactment to be part of Ridgefest
Battle of Hastings, Reuters Photos, 1
Battle of Jena-Auerstaedt, AFP Photos, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Lifeus Interuptus and Post Perryville Decompression

Hey everyone -- I'm still here! Having to take care of matters outside the realm of this blog, so I haven't skedaddled. :-) In the meantime, I'm recharging the batteries!

Also, I have a question to pick up some commentary from readers -- After you attend an event, particularly a large one, do you feel pumped up to attend another, or do you go through a decompression stage where you've gotten your fill for awhile?

Also as a side note, Seeing the Elephant (recreated) turned one year old last Monday! I blogged the Corinth event then. It was a blast, much like Perryville this year.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Reflections of Perryville - Day 3

Sunday was a bit tougher going for me. My knee kept me up for most of the night, as well as the usual hip pain. And it was cold. Colder than the night before. I've had similar nights, so I just sucked it up and soldiered on. Daylight was slow to come, but it did arrive.

The good news was that there was no drill for the morning. We did however, indulge in a bit of practice hand-to-hand combat, which was part of the scenario we were in. The neat thinf too wa that we were H Company, and Sunday, our regiment to portray was none other than the First Tennessee. We were all Sam Watkins that day.

The Sunday battle started out as a heck of a march from camp to the base of Open Knob. Mike of Mike's Civil War Musings (Hat tips to Civil War Interactive and reader David Corbett) has a few shots of the Confederates on this march, these shots are of units behind mine. Some of the marching was due to a detour around a horse that had died of a heart attack. Then we did some more marching in the quickly rising tempartures. By the time we were in position, I was becoming a bit drug out, but I did well considering.

After a nice break in the shade, we formed up for the assault on Open Knob. We were the last to go up the hill, being the ones who were to engage in the hand-to-hand fighting. Mike has some awesome picts of the Confederates coming up to Open Knob. His shots are of units behind (I think) my position on the field. The series of photos also show the Feds on top of the knob prior to the Confederate assault.

I have to admit one thing, the going got tough for my out-of-shape body going up to the knob. We were driving the Feds before us, with quite a few confused volleys from us. We would have been cut to ribbons at this point. The battleline was in confusion, with more of the same jostling going around. This time we were spread out to the spectators on the left of us, and we had trouble fitting all companies into the space provided. By the time we pushed the Feds back into a small cornfield, I was pretty played out by the tug o'war between my company and an add-on company that again wasn't on the same page. This will be a rant for another time.

Went we emerged from the cornfield, we got hit hard by some dismounted cavalry who emptied their pistols on us at short range. I took a hit then and managed to drag myself to a fence just past the cornfield. It turned out to be a great vantage point to watch the battle unfold. Another "moment" of being there. I looked down the fence row and saw the brigade form up along it. I read of similar scenes in books, but now it was right in front of me. The brigade moved up to the knob in seeming piece-meal fashion, and was repulsed a few times. It all seemed a bit anti-climatic to me after seeing the brigade formed on the fence, but we all have our own bits of time to remember.

Now that I've been, I consider Perryville 2006 one of the better events of my reenacting career. I put it on par with Corinth. There was probably more to Perryville, though. I didn't take advantage of all the sights and sounds the event had to offer, but I wish I had the time to do so. There was so much to see, just not enough time. I would only hope any group with asperations of doing an event takes note of the Perryville example.

Despite the field organization problems within my own unit, they were actually very minor and part of the functioning of any group. The 9th Texas is a Grade A group of guys that I want to fall in with time and time again. Sometimes though, groups like the 9th are "asked" to accomodate other smaller units so they have equal time on the field. Sometimes they're more than willing to work out, sometimes they want to do their own thing. Thus my many urges to rant about this when these groups want to do their own thing.

Lastly, I certainly recommend anyone who wants more out this hobby to exercise regularly. Even though I was close to the end of my rope, I was able to enjoy all of the event without feeling like I was hit by a bus. The day afterward I felt great - none of the usual aches, pains and stiffness I had before.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

CW links of the week

Here are some reenacting links for this week:
Sheriff’s Deputy Injured During Historical Reenactment
Battle recalled 144 years later
Town festival features Civil War re-enactors
Civil War reenactment adopts new game plan
Thanks to those who made Civil War Days reenactment possible

Other reenacting headlines:
Re-live camp life during War of 1812
Bank “robbery” reenactment a colorful part of celebration
Colonial skills passed from generation to generation
Mountain Man Rendezvous brings past to life
Celebrations of our past

Reflections of Perryville - Day 2

The one thing I don't do well on the first night is get lots of sleep. This time was almost an exception to the rule. It was cold, but I decided to take some advice written in the Authentic Campaigner about how to tide over a cold evening in relative comfort. I didn't get cold, but man, do my hips hurt by morning time!

My group happily opted out of the dawn battle to gather numbers for the next battle in the afternoon. Instead, we drilled. And drilled. And drilled. I can't gripe about the drill, I was rusty and it was nice to be able to learn many new things, including participating in battalion-level maneuvers. By the time it ended though, I felt a bit spent. Soon the drums were sounding the call to battle.

It's nice to be in a group where everyone has fun, but remains focused on the event. The first part of the battle wasn't a battle at all, but a grand review in front of the "Governor of Kentucky" - if you're a private, it's called "extra marchin' ". It was awesome to see the Confederates at this point. Everyone seemed to be spot-on with their impressions, and the Hardee-style flags were a great touch. I felt in the moment. Of course there was the usual hurry-up-and-wait, but I was content with stacking arms and catching a couple winks on the soft grass. Soon enough, the drums were calling us out to do battle.

Our unit was the last in line, and the last to be committed to Saturday's battle. The Federals were on the ridge above us, known as Loomis Heights. They had artillery placed and firing, and the supporting infantry companies shook out their skirmishers. I'm always impressed with how the Federals look and how they operate -- the oncoming skirmish line elicited a bit of excitment in the ranks. Our paltry flankers were the opposition, but I wish they were more convincing. In the historical battle, the Confederates flanked the Feds on top of Loomis Heights, and the battle scenario followed that fairly well.

We had a tough climb up the heights - there were a ton of Confederates, and my company was having a problem getting into position. It turned into a jostling match with an add-on company who apparently wasn't with the battalion program. Oh well, such confusion happened then, too.

My battalion finally got to the top after a couple volleys and some quick movement. It was here I decided to take a hit and watch the battle unfold on the other side of the heights. I have to say it was well worth it. The Feds made an awesome sight as their US and state flags waved in the stiff breeze. It was quite a view - one of those times that I really got lost in the moment.

The remainder of my time was spent watching the battle, and then returning to camp to go back over the battle and discuss how it unfolded for our guys.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Reflections of Perryville - Day 1

I'm back from the Kentucky Campaign and The fight over at Perryville. Tired, but in great spirits even though my side could have won but didn't. At least according to history.

This entry doesn't start out with the battle though. In the reenacting world, sometimes the getting there is a part of the fun. With my guys, the "getting there" is always fun.

My part of the trip started out on Thursday night by a four-hour trip to Mom's house in the countryside of NW NC. The plan was to rendezvous in Trade, TN early Friday morning and go on to Perryville via the Cumberland Gap - a place I've read about many, many times. Now I was going to see it up close and personal. Mom is a seasoned reenactor mother - she supplied some nice treats for the trip and the event, two pound cake halves and some sourdough bread. All were the real item -- no store-bought goodies for us.

I have to admit the trip to the Cumberland Gap park was long, but we took our time touring once we arrived, and I was able to snap some great picts of Forts McCook and Lyon and the Gap itself. No one could have asked for a better day to do some sight seeing around the Cumberland Gap. The scenery was grand, and my comrades in arms made invaluable guides, pointing out things that I never would have caught.

As a backgrounder, the Cumberland Gap is on the border of east Tennessee and southeast Kentucky. In the time of the Civil War is was the best pass that either side had to move men and material through. The Gap was constantly occupied by either side, and a series of small forts were dug in strategic places on either side of the Gap. To get the cannons up to the mountains on either side of the Gap was a miracle of period engineering. You can still see the holes worn into the sides of the rocks going up one side of the mountain, or places cut out to make the braces for the corduroy road to the various emplacements. Impressive!

After the visit to the Gap, we were along our way. I have to say that it was a long trip - a bit longer than anyone anticipated. About 8 hours from Trade, TN along some simple roads. In other words, there's no fast way of getting to Perryville from where were at. We pulled into Perryville Battlefield Park around 3:30pm, and I have to say that my first impression of the park was very good. It was one of the nicer, but not-so-overly-manicured parks I've seen yet.

Not too much went on that evening other than hooking up with the Red River Battalion, with whom we fall in with at western events, and catching up with old friends. This is one of the many things I love about reenacting. We were camped in the authentic camping area on top of the ridge overlooking the mixed camping. The event seemed to be very well attended.

Next: Day 2

(Note to readers - my camera (I used my phone for the Gap photos) was broken down for this event, so I won't have any pictures of the battles. If you did go and would like to share, I'll gladly post them with proper credit given)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Off to Perryville!

I'll forgo the Sutler Spotlight so I can get a good look at the ones that come to Perryville. Since this is my biggest event of the year, I'm going to get as much mileage as I can from it!

Anyway, this is my last post until Monday, so until then, keep down the fort until I return.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Basic Reenactors Craft - Creating a blanket roll

For me, creating a decent blanket roll is an essential skill. I try to take as little to events as I can get away with without going too far. So far, I've done OK, and the times I've done up a blanket roll, I was able to live fairly well, even when it rained at Corinth last year. I wasn't dry, but my stuff was, and that's what counts.

So, how to create a functional blanket roll that won't fall apart on the march? To answer that question, my first recommendation is to look at what you have and the way you reenact.

Blanket rolls aren't for those who want to maximize comfort - they're for the people who want to go as light as possible, trimming down as far as they can tolerate. My "take-along" suggestions go like this:

  • Extra shirt and extra pair of socks. Socks more so than a shirt. Nothing beats a dry pair of socks.
  • Housewife
  • Musket cleaning kit. Look at these suggestions to create one that fits easily into a blanket roll.
  • Hygene kit - always smart to pack the good ole toothbrush and any necessary meds.

That's it for me. Remember this one rule of thumb -- the gum blanket always goes with you, so don't make it as part of your roll. Attach it to the outside of your blanket roll, or roll and wear it separately. It does you no good if it's in your roll when a rain storm comes.

My second suggestion? Find some instructions on how to make a blanket roll. Here's some great instructions for making a blanket roll for the Syke's site. The 47th Virginia has another great set of instructs on what to carry and how to create an authentic blanket roll.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hey! Let's commemorate a Civil War battle, but...

Update: The Franklin brew-ha-ha is taking on some surreal aspects. The most interesting is the "First Amendment Area" where you can voice your opinions. Read here. Thanks to Instapundit for keeping up with the controversy.

An excellent post about the Franklin controversy from Volunteer Voters.
...let's not fly that pesky Confederate flag. I agree, let's not fly this flag at Franklin.

Let's fly this Confederate flag instead!

Or this one!

They seem to fit the occasion, too.

Unfortunately, The mayor's decision is the strange and ignorant child of Pop Politics. "Let's not offend the people who wouldn't even commemorate the event in the first place, let alone go to the ceremony where the flags would be flown anyway." Can we say dumb?

But it's nice to know there are authentic work-arounds if the AoT flag can't be flown for some stupid reason. Maybe the mayor needs to check this site out for some deeper thought on the flag issue.

CW links of the week

Update: I'm having some trouble with the links this week, so please bear with me as I attempt to fix them!

Update 2: The links should be fixed - I think Yahoo! took exception to me using their Search to find links.
Here are some reenacting links for this week:
Civil War Reenactment thumbnails
Civil War redux: Homage to history
History Comes Alive in New Market
Civil War re-enactors at Centennial
General Manager of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort Michael Kane Set to Complete Reenactment of Famous Pioneer Adventure
A battle without losers
Discovering Dixie
Davis County Civil War Days
Final donations made from fund to preserve Civil War sites
Live history at Camp Floyd Day celebration

Other reenacting headlines:
Annual Battle Days festival begins Friday
Muster, encampment planned in Dresden
Encampment to be held at Bent's Old Fort
Festival brings Colonial era to life
Biggest-ever re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings
Actors getting history lessons
Voyageurs' era, events to come alive again

Monday, October 02, 2006

Final preps for Perryville

Getting everything together for my first reenactment since Kinston, NC. Feels good to get out and back on the line. Lost a little bit of weight, exercised a good deal -- I should be doing good all weekend.

Right now, I'm having to borrow a couple things so I can adjust my impression to reflect the Kentucky Campaign better. Hopefully, I'll be sporting a civilian sackcoat and I plan to do some sutler diving to snag a decent homespun haversack. I'll have some photos ready afterwards.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Group Spotlight

You can probably consider this a "Groups Spotlight" - Berdan's Sharpshooters are actually several groups representing one of the arguably most elite units of the American Civil War. The first organization I found, Company C, seemed to be the one that was the most together, so I surfed the other sites from there. This site is actually chocked full of information and easy to navigate, and pleasing to the eye to boot. It was updated within the last couple of months, decent for a reenacting site, so I'll say they where within my DIGM criteria for a good site.

The next site's caveat was that it's still under construction. Also it doesn't represent a group per se - it's a portal for the rest of the Berdan's groups around the county. This is the Berdan Sharpshooters Preservation Association, Inc. site. When it is done, I think it'll be a great site to find out more about the historical unit and the reenactors units around.

Another Berdan's site on the west coast is Company D from Oregon. They seem to be pretty active in their own neck of the woods. The site can use a bit of spiffing up, but it does convey basic information well. A re-organization of the navigation would be super.