Sunday, April 29, 2007

'Zine on the table this week

This issue of Civil War Historian is a bit thin this time around. But, still it's a worthy buy. Nice article on the event at the Fort McAllister Garrison, plenty of shots. Another great article explains the 1841 Rifle in all it's variations.

Bennett Place - review and critique

I'm back from the Bennett Place, and I have a nice feeling of satisfaction with this event. Ah, the beauty of small events! This event was to prove a nice break from the other two powder burners of the year, Carolinas Campaign and Cold Harbor.

First off, I do have to admit a slight bias with the Bennett Place. Years ago, I went to the living histories there, and did one of the surrender events. It was all great fun, and I have to say my other reviews did not have that advantage.

The Bennett Place is a great place to have a smaller to-do, and this year was to be a humble event with many civilians, a few down-and-out Confederates, and some lootin' bummers from Uncle Billy's army. And for the most part, this is how everything went.

For an event like this, it was very well attended. It was not unusual to see a reenactor talking to three to fifteen people most of the morning. Everyone was full of questions, and it bore out one of my comments from this post. There were no "dumb" questions, and everyone seemed to eager to listen up to the reenactors. My pard for the day, who usually wears the name "Parson Cannonball", said he had a field day. Talking to folks about Civil War history is his biggest passion, and every time I looked in his direction, he had an audience. But the good Parson wasn't the only interpreter, another fellow who was actually steady Rev War reenactor (with an occasional CW event thrown in) was also wowing the spectators, from making coffee to drilling his squad (we called him the "Corporal") to talks about the usual. Sounds mundane, but the Corporal was very engaging.

The interesting happening was a small impromptu skit by the Corporal, Parson, the Recruits (two park volunteers that the museum outfitted who incidently looked like the illustration of the recruits in Hardtack and Coffee), and yours truly. The scenario was to go to the Bennett homestead and catch and "oath" as many conscription-age men we could find. I ended up in a confrontation with the local doctor and his "patient" - a young man with a "broken" arm. Needless top say, the doc covered well for his man, and the patient made a run for the back door and through the fence. Luckily, Parson was right there and managed to chase the patient down to receive the oath of allegiance.

After that bit of excitement, we all donned the grey - or variation thereof - and did some drill for the spectators. It was the usual stuff, but the crowds typically enjoy seeing the troops do their thing.

The last skit on the schedule was a raid by Uncle Billy's bummers, who ransacked the Bennett Place of food and valuables.

As far as the critique, there isn't too much I can really say that remotely struck me that was done wrong. As a matter of fact, the event was slightly handicapped. Some reenactors had a schedule conflict, which caused the organizer to pull in unfamiliar reenactors, a gamble that paid off. I will write a larger post for the Anatomy of an Event serial that will detail what think might be a refinement of the Bennett Place event.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Gettin' my impression ready

Got impression will travel - at least to the Bennett Place this weekend. Did a little research, and I think I'll have a fairly convincing and educational impression going into the event.

I plan to do a Western theatre Federal soldier from the 8th Tennessee Infantry regiment. This was the only Unionist Tennessee infantry regiment to leave the eastern Tennessee area and participate in the Carolinas Campaign. It was attached to the 23rd Corps, which actually hung back while the rest of Sherman's army drove north, ultimately aiming for Virginia.

The 8th Tennessee ultimately occupied Raleigh in April before being mustered out that summer, which is around the time of this event. Since details of the 8th are sketchy at this point in time, other than a unit history stating it was in garrison, it would be possible that a detached company could have been moved westward to keep the peace.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not on the coffee table yet , but soon will be....

More reenacting goodness from the UK! Skirmish Magazine seems to be the spiritual twin to the old Living History Magazine I knew years ago. Skirimish seems to cover the UK reenacting scene in detail, and it looks like they may cover a large portion of the European scene as well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Not sure how to take this site...

But I think it's safe to assume it's not happy - even if it's a practical joke! The Farb Reenactor's forum is more of a backlash to the Authentic Campaigner and CW Reenactor's sites, than anything beneficial to the hobby, other than to vent about the misdeeds of some authentically-minded reenactors. It's the just-as-nasty mirror to the OTB site.

I recommend reading this piece of work at your own risk, it's pretty nasty - much like the OTB forum.

It did produce a chuckle, but you have to appreciate a lower level of humor to really get it.

The Irreverent Guide to Civil War Reenacting, Pt1

This is a serial that I've been brewing for awhile - since Joshua Blair asked about what I considered as the ideal reenactment, and explain it to non-reenactor types, and a newspaper interview where I had to break things down to an understandable level. Since then, I've been thinking how a spectator can get the most out of a good Civil War reenactment. A layman's guide to reenacting. So here's my attempt at explaining the hobby to non-hobby people.

Part 1 - Civil War Reenacting in general
Like most people, you'll catch wind of a American Civil War reenactment through the popular local media outlet, usually the good 'ole newspaper. You go and take in the experience, and hopefully come out more informed about the details of the typical American Civil War soldier.

As a spectator, you only see the tip of the iceberg of the reenacting hobby. Underneath is a larger, more detailed world that you won't see, but is in its own way interesting and lends to a greater understanding of events you may attend.

The first interesting thing to know is that Civil War reenacting is only a part of reenacting as a whole. Almost every period of world conflict, from the Stone Age to ancient Greece to Vietnam is reenacted all over the world, so this isn't just a US thing. As long as there is an interest, chances are that some group is recreating it. And another thing, there is more than one Civil War - the English and Russians also have claim to a "Civil War". For simplicity's sake, Civil War in this serial means the American Civil War.

Reenactors typically refer to reenacting as "the hobby", since that's what it is. Unlike many hobbies, reenacting is one that requires you to "live it" for a weekend most of the time. Most of the time, pre-WW2 reenacting means camping out. This where the details come into play. To understand Civil War reenacting, you got to understand reenactors. Even something as passive as camping out has its various flavors.

The concept of Authenticity
Much of reenacting revolves around the degree of authenticity a reenactor can achieve. Authenticity means many things to reenactors, but mostly, it's either a Holy Grail or a hobgoblin. As a Holy Grail, authenticity is a goal that many reenactors aspire to, short of getting shot or contracting a disease. As a hobgoblin, authenticity is an obstacle to attending events.

Depending on the way you look at the hobby, either as a serious endeavor or a neat form of a get-together, places you in a certain "click". You're either serious or almost fanatical (hardcore or campaigner), striving for better (progressive), average Joe (mainstream), or a total party horse and/or historical clownshoe (farb).

In short, authenticity translates into credibility for most reenactors. Some care deeply about it, some can take it or leave it, and some abhor it.

Types of events
Events typically enable or lead most levels of authenticitic expression.

The larger, grand-scale events that require great numbers of reenactors usually attracts the mainstream crowd, with some progressives and the farbs that can get in by hook or crook. These events have evolved into community cash-cows, and in most cases, in time, the reenactor quality slips with fewer progressives attending, and many more farbs walking through the gates to fill the ranks. In some instances though, authentically-minded groups have attempted to reform these events, but with mixed results. For spectators, these are events best seen far away, and if anything, they do convey in general terms how a battle could have looked.

Smaller, more local open events tend to be a mixed bag, most settling within the average authenticity scale. Some do have vision and turn out to be great events, and a few turn into "farbfests" where authenticity is completely thrown out the window. As a rule of thumb, a good event depends on the focus on the history and the reenactors. Again, many of these events are actually large fund-raisers, but instead of benefiting community business, they do donate money to the local battlefield or cause. Spectating these events can be a dicey affair, dependinf wholly on the effort, creativity, ambition and vision of the event hosts.

Living histories, the less-action packed sibling of the battle reenactment, tend to be more authentic affairs that usually empathsize close reenactor interaction with the spectators. Since the spectators are up close, then the reenactor can really show off the investment of money and time he or she has invested in their "impression" (a collective term for clothes and gear). Good reenactors will also be packing a "first-person impression" (or just "first-person"), where a reenactor assumes a historical persona and relates to spectators as such. This is close to "acting" that a reenactor will come to. Living Histories tend to attract the campaigners, progressives, and good mainstreamers. In terms of spectating, these are the events you tend to learn historical tid-bits from, and should be must-sees.

Another form of event that has been coming to its own in recent years, but still are uncommon, are "campaigner" events. These events are the realm of campaigners and chosen progressives. These events range from non-spectator "immersion" (total first-person) events, to tacticals or high-authenticity events that have spectator-friendly immersion areas, where all reenactors stay in first-person. These events are difficult to find for the casual spectator, but are the gems that other events should aspire to.

A couple related living history-style events are "vignettes" and "displays". Vignettes tend to be tailored for spectating, guiding people through a series of interconnected living history stations. Displays strip off any first-person interaction, and allow reenactors to talk with spectators in the present tense. Spectators see the gear, and the reenactors explain the use and function. Both of these type events are very information-packed, and can also be found within a proper battle event.

Next: Anatomy of an Event

************************
Note 4/27: Holy parallel thinking Batman! Seems the Civil War Historian is writing the same thing, but in booklet form for groups to pass out at events. Great idea -- but I'll push on with my serial anyway.

Note 5/12: Changing the name of the series to "The Irreverent Guide to Civil War Reenacting" -- a nod to one of my favorite travel books.
************************

Interesting groups on the reenacting fringe, Pt 16

OK, maybe I've been poking around too many Russian sites these days. Admittedly though, it's great seeing a massive reenactor community that we don't often keep our eyes on. From the photos posted on the various sites, they have a community to take careful note of.

So this fringe is dedicated to the Russian Civil War, the conflict between the Red and White Russian armies. This would also have interest with American, French, Canadian and British WW1 reenactors, since both countries sent expeditionary forces in support of the Whites as part of the Allied Intervention. Lots of interesting things happening in history at that time.

The only Russian Civil War group I could find is Empire, which also covers WW1 and WW2 reenacting also. On the Russian Civil War side of things, they seem to do mostly living histories. There seems to be a fair representaion of both sides of the conflict, but they don't have any of the intervention forces represented. But hey, they seem to have their hands full with the primary armies. This is a great site to surf, and you'll learn a thing or two about Russia in the early 20th century.

Another reenactor resource that includes the Russian Civil War is the EastFront Yahoo! Group.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The smell of war

Ned Jilton has a great post at Hard Tack and Hard Times about what a Civil War battle and its aftermath probably smelled like. A fine read to be saved for well before or after meal time.

Reenacting links of the week

Here are some reenacting links for this week:

Military through the Ages:
Public Invited to Charles City Military History Days Breakfast
Walking through history

World War 2:
Re-enactors jolt real vet

World War 1:
Distinguished visitor brings WWI to life

American Civil War:
Strikers, cranks and behinds
Experience the night Lincoln was shot
U.S. history buffs will re-enact Civil War scenes near Mariposa this weekend
This time, the Confederacy wins
Crab Orchard Museum hosting skirmish
Abe Lincoln shares little-known tales with FM audience
North Tonawanda Man Re-enacts on History Channel
Missionary Ridge Cell Tower Still Up In The Air

Early American West & Texas Independence:
Museum wants Indian fort
Looking back at San Jac
San Jacinto battle flag returns to Houston
This Is the Place re-enactors, history buffs and antiquarians derailed developer's plans

Early Colonial America & Native American:
History in the details
Indian tribe marks history with dancing

Great site for REAL WW2 photos

Elena Filatova Vladimirovna is an Ukrainian archaeologist that digs for stuff that most of us would envy - her specialty is military artifacts. Although her site leans decidedly on documenting Chernobyl, dissing on the old Soviet regime and riding fast motorcycles, she has some great shots of WW2 German soldiers and equipment. Many shots are in great detail, so this is a reenactor's treasure trove.

Hat tip to a Triangle Simulation Society member for sharing this with the TSS mailing list.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nice photos of WW2 reenactors

Here's a great Website that have tons of WW2 reenacting photos:

The Brent Berry Arts site has some great reenactor shots that are worth taking a look at. He covers groups in Colorado, namely the 10th Mountain Division and the 5th SS Panzer Division groups.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's interesting to read people's thoughts on the Civil War

And then wonder how many of them actually get it right.

On the Free Republic messageboards, there was an interesting thread going on about some Confed reenactors burning Sherman in effigy. The thread takes some interesting twists and turns.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Group Spotlight

The Calico Boys is a umbrella organization that is comprised of four other local groups to form a highly authentic unit in NY State. The 56th NYVI, 149th NYVI, 164th NYVI and the Des Teufels Mess. All four units have storied histories, and each site is great in its own fashion.

The main Calico Boys site seems to be under construction, but it is very well designed - very nice graphics and easy navigation. Meets my old DIGM standard - Design, Information, Graphics and Management.

The one thing that I'm becoming very interested in is a group "concept". I first seen this with the North Front site I previewed the other day, and the Des Teufels Mess has something very similar. A concept to me is the guiding principle or focus to the group. With Des Teufels Mess, it focuses on the German immigrants who fought with the Union. Doing this simply defines what you're doing and creates a goal to strive for.

These are great sites, and worthy of a look and a bookmark.

A great option for WW2 reenactors

This is a great company for WW2 reenactors to be able to get "automatic" firearms without having to get truly automatic firearms with the BATF hassle, transfer tax, and prohibitively high expense. But alas, if you're from Canada, then it's not an option.

WWII Guns is a very interesting site, and one that definitely makes one get itchy to order one their fine replicas. It sells a mixture of Airsoft (guns that fire a plastic BB) and cap-firing replicas. The caps in these are very similar in appearance to an actual blank shell, and have a similar report to an original. Reenactors would definitely prefer the more realistic cap-firing guns.

I suggest surfing this site thoroughly, and playing the product videos, which give you a better understanding of the products offered. In the US, you need to be careful about this site. It's great for obtaining a cap-firing replica of an automatic, like a Thompson, MP40 or PPSh-41, but the bolt-actions/semis; M1s, K98s, and Mosin-Nagants; are comparatively expensive. You could still be way better off buying an original, so shop carefully.

Giving an old GI his due

I normally stick to reenacting stories, but I have a very soft spot in my heart for all our vets. I also respect any student who does the hard work to study about history. Apparently, a 13-year old is helping a WW2 vet correct his record. Great story.

Friday blog odds and ends

Did a little surfing, and I've come up with a few interesting reenacting odds and ends from reenacting/reenactor blogs:

Old Contemptible has a very funny Charleton Heston graphic to go along with a like-wise inspired story, as well as a must-read and blog-roll blog.

The Daily Dose blog of the Syracuse Post-Standard did a listing of reenacting units in the central NY area, and posted some video along with it. The other "reenacting" videos are mildly humorus too.

Jordan's Blog features a young reenactor in the making.

The Old Virginia blog is about things related to Virginia's past, as well as the travels of one of the state's last life-long natives. Very interesting reflections about the Civil War. He's also an ex-Marine who has a love for history. (Note 4/23: I'm incorrect about the ex-Marine mention, but Mr. Williams said he would be proud to carry the distinction! I think the distinction belongs to Rambling Bob below...)

Rambling Bob's blog is more of a journal of personal reflections, but he does have some nice notes on being a reenactor.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Going to the Bennett Place

Sometimes opportunity knocks when you least expect it! I post occasionally on Craig's List looking for new reenacting recruits. One of my responses this week was an invite to take pary in a living history at the Bennett Place on April 28th with members of the North State Rifles. I'm excited.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What Zouaves do in their free time

They join dance ensembles and star in musicals!

Sent via the guys in the 9th Texas who also do a Zouave impression.

Nice Russian WW2 Russian site to check out

Reenactment Club Union North Front is a great site by any and all standards. It has some great photos, including one of a KV-1 heavy tank being pulled up from a lake. The group actually represents both Russian and Finnish units.

The site itself is nicely done and easy to navigate. It also has some bit of information that might be interesting for groups who are trying to formulate a direction for their group. North Front's mission statement/concept is great, and is worth a read. This is something all reenacting groups should do.

Also take a look at the photos in the gallery portion of the site. There are shots I imagine you won't see in any US reenactment. Pretty awesome to behold.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It was only a matter of time boys...

It looks like the President is calling up reenactors for Iraq. At least according to the Onion. :-)

Hat tips to of Battlefields and Bibliophiles (Civil War) via Civil War Bookshelf.

'Zine on the table this week

Another issue of Strategy & Tactics! This one was another good read on Pershing's expedition to catch Pancho Villa and another small article on "Mad" Anthony Wayne. There's also a great break down of the battle of Long Tan - Australians vs. NVA.

Reenacting links of the week

Here are some reenacting links for this week:

Vietnam:
Brevard College students reenact Vietnam War protest Thursday

World War 2:
Scottsdale Airport hosts interactive fighter plane display

Turn of the Century:
Scenes from S.F. earthquake of 1906 to be re-enacted

American Civil War & Western:
Civil War Saturday Set At Fort Ontario
Pony Express rider delivers talk on Civil War era
Western Tales and Trails brings stories of the past to life
Battle of Selma returns with help of couple
Q: What's So Heartwarming About the First Gettysburg Reenactment?
More about the history of the Battle of Selma
'Battle of Perryville' film premieres Saturday
Pioneer heritage: Local teens relive religious past
Fort Pulaski Gets Civil War Cannon
Living history comes to life
Historic cannon's future debated
Guides hoop it up on Federal Hill

Revolutionary War:
Acton minutemen make 50th march
Living-and-breathing history
Ruddle's Station Massacre re-enactment

Monday, April 16, 2007

Interesting groups on the reenacting fringe, Pt 15

The Fringe is back! This time, we're covering major periods that really aren't fringe. Yeah, I know, I tried another approach with early colonial period reenacting (Jamestown, Plimoth, ect), but it just didn't feel the same. So, without further adieu...

The Medieval period is one of my favorite periods. It just has that fantastic air, but yet, it's real history. With this fringe post, I'll stick with the organizations that try to do as faithful as possible representations of the medieval period, which not suprisingly, is a big deal in Europe. Just look the Battle of Hastings reenactment. I won't cover the SCA, since their reach encompasses more that just the medieval period, but I will save them for a later fringe post.

We'll start with the Medieval Combat Society. I've heard of these guys for years. Unlike the SCA, who have an unparalleled track record of playing safely, the MCS use the real items, or very close reproductions of swords and other melee weapons of the medieval era. I can't vouch for their total authenticity, but the picts look pretty good. Maybe a little to bright for the period, but I'm sure they are the sport to watch. Here's a small bit from the MCS:

Founded in 1970 by a group of enthusiastic people who wanted to enjoy fighting and re-enacting the Medieval period to raise money for charity. The MCS is a non profit making society run by the members for fun and enjoyment and dedicated to the safe re-enactment of medieval combat and recreation of life in the 14th Century during the period of King Edward III of England.

The next organization is an Italian group - the Compagnia de Peon. They do take pains that the "peon" they refer to isn't the Spanish term, but rather it means "foot soldier". They seem a bit truer to the period than the MCS, so I'll assume they're probably a bit more hip on the authentic side of things. Although this Web site is abit smallish, the pictures are great, and are well worth a look-see. Here's a snippet from their site:

What does " peon " mean?
Is it Spanish ?
Has it something to do with Mexico?
Certainly not !! This "vulgar" word was used in the XIII and XIV century by the Venetian area people to indicate a foot-soldier of the feudal peasant levy or communal militia. This is what we re-enact, not professional soldiers,but simple town people (burgenses) that weekly leave their all-day occupation ,dress in privately purchased military garments according to their economical possibilities, and serve their own town as guards with various duties.


The Confraternity of Malemort is a Belgian group, that covers the medieval times in what would become Belgium. Here's a bit from their site:

Welcome everybody on the "Confrérie de la Malemort, asbl" website.

Located at Namur - Belgium and created in 1992, the objective of association is to promote medieval time by the reconstitution of a troop of mercenaries of the Hundred Years' War.However, our activities are not limited only to the demonstration of weapons, tournaments and battles. The everyday life of the knights, soldiers, ribaudes and middle-class men, gueux and lords is reconstituted in a precise concern of the detail, as well from the material's point of view as the evocation at the time of animations and spectacles. Scenarios are inspired directly by texts from the middle age found in archives or in books of history.

Great history!

Welcoming a new Civil War blog to the fold

Blue Bellied Yank is the new Civil War blog on the block. She's getting off to a great start, and I look forward to reading her posts on our favorite subject. She is also a sutler, so hopefully I'll see a Web site in the future, as well as articles on BBY about what to look for in an antique bible, and the best places to find them or news on period reproductions.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What I'm Reading Now

Off the backburner and into the reading queue this one goes. I've always wanted to read a good history of the 37th NCT, owing to the fact I've some ancestors in the regiment. Hopefully The Thirty-Seventh North Carolina Troops tells the whole story.

Re-purposing my pet project

Well, finding Federals in the South is pretty much like pulling hen's teeth. Since I've become more involved with my current group, I'm re-purposing The Southern Loyalists site as a research-only project. I'm still very interested in Southern Unionism, so I'm determined not to let good works go to waste.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What I Last Read

Disloyalty in the Confederacy

ISBN: 978-0803294417

If you have an honest interest in getting the full story of the Confederacy during the Civil War, then Disloyalty in the Confederacy is a must-have book. Written by Georgia Lee Tatum in the 1930's, she looks into the various Unionist movements and anti-Confederate sentiment that was prevalent in the Confederacy from the beginning to the end of the Civil War.

I'm sure that many Confederate-leaning reenactors and amateur historians will dismiss this book based on its age and dated research, but I say they're ignoring an important part to the story of the South that is all too willingly overruled via Southern myth or willfull ignorance to look at the full facts. As a matter of fact, this book does stand the test of time and is still relevant. As anyone who has done any real research knows, the Confederacy was a tumultuous place, filled with broken promises and heartbreak. It's far from the fantasy one sees painted of Generals Lee and Jackson. It also includes men who became disillusioned of the war, who never turned their backs on the Union, or realized the war was truly a lost cause.

Ms Tatum did a great job of bringing these stories to the surface and organizing them by the states of the Confederacy. You get a better feel for the overall situation within the Confederacy at the time. Be sure though, this book doesn't take sides, and if you read this book, make sure you read the Forward, because it explains Ms Tatum's train of thought while writing the book (or actually, doctoral dissertation).

This is a recommended read at any level.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Civil War reenacting article

Here's an interesting article in The Wave Magazine about the Civil War reenacting hobby in general. It's actually a decent overview from an outsider's perspective. It draws some oddball conclusions, so beware. There are some interesting stories from reenactors, although I'm guessing it just draws from California-based groups for interview material, since the magazine itself is published in the Silicon Valley. Mildly humorous, and worth a read.

Vietnam reenacting in... France!

Very interesting site for anyone interested in seeing how the Europeans do it. Although many of us in the US don't like French world politics, they do have some awesome magazines and books. Also, I've been astounded at the quality of the reenactors on the other side of the great pond. GRUNTS is no exception. If you're Vietnam reenactor or history buff, this site is worth a check.

Nifty American Civil War news aggregator

Found this while cruising a little on the 'net today. American Civil War in the News looks to be a nice Civil War news aggregator. Has a bit of advertising, but none of it is really intrusive. Handy if you want to keep up with CW news daily.

Group Spotlight

Man, I haven't done one of these since last September! I figured I'd give it a rest for a while and see what I could find. Since then, I've found many worthy sites, so I re-present the weekly Group Spotlight.

This weeks' group is from New Hampshire, representing the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer regiment. This is a campaigner group that seems to have some common-sense standards for joining. I wish more groups would be open about doing this for the sake of the reenactors.

The site itself is a bit spartan, but it has everything anyone needs to know about the group and its history. It spells out what is expected of members, and what they expect of themselves. This is a great resource site if you need to pick up this type of information.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cold Harbor - review and critique

By going to the past few events, I'm becoming convinced that Federals are becoming an endangered species south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Not to say that Cold Harbor would be a heavy draw for Federal reenactors in the first place, but you would figure that some would come to enjoy the first day victory.

First and foremost, I avoid trashing anyone hosting an event. It's a tough gig, and I'm appreciative of most efforts that go into making an event worthwhile for everyone involved. But, on the other hand, I don't think any event is above some constructive criticism, and that's what I want to devote this post to.

As a backgrounder, this event was a reenactment of that Cold Harbor - the battle that almost broke Grant in 1864. On any scale, this is a formidable and difficult battle to recreate. You've got to have your ducks in a row, and plenty of Feds on hand. Personally, I feel that unless you have a massive committment or resources, it's a better bet is to recreate a smaller lesser-known battle relevant to the local area. The Battle of Suffolk (Norfleet House) would be a good recreation, especially for an event with a low Federal turn out. Fortifications could mask the lack of Federals.

As a matter of ease of writing, most everything I said about the Carolinas Campaign and Wyse Fork applies to Cold Harbor. It's almost an exact repeat of those two events. Painfully, a decent Federal contingent was lacking. Again, caps on the number of Confederate troops and artillery would have been great, as with incentives to draw more Federals, which were more desperately needed than more gray and the big bangs.

The things I did like about the event are actually numerous, if taken individually.

The first good thing was the Web site. Not perfect, but good enough to wet the appetite. A more in-depth page covering expected impressions would have been nice, but the page about the breastworks was a very good feature. I'm very impressed that the event sponsors provided a post-mortem version of the site to collect comments from participants. This is great, and one of things that will get me to consider going to another event.

Breastworks of the event were great, and showed to me that the sponsoring group took pains to at least get a good set-up going for the event. During the battle they were great to fight in, but it would have been nice to see more Feds in front of the works.

Although not anything controllable by the organizers, the weather was right on the money. Even the rain held off until the battle was over on Sunday. ;-) Late March/early April usually lacks good events for the slightly cold but usually good weather.

Event administration was good, and I was able to find my way to camp quickly and efficiently, and the presence of cars wasn't a problem. Also, I really appreciated the number and quality of sutlers that showed up. I was able to do some shopping for items that I was reluctant to order online.

Of the other events I compared this one to so far, Cold Harbor has the most potential to become a great event, if adjustments can be made to encourage the right reenactors and to research a scenario more fitting of the numbers of reenactors and locale. If anyone is curious, this is the benchmark I use.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

'Zine on the table this week

Armchair General is a cool magazine. Unlike other general history military mags, it actually challenges the reader to make decisions that decide the outcome of historical situations. It also delivers on the articles, and like Military Illustrated, uses reenactors to colorfully illustrate some of the articles. A very worthy purchase and read.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I had writer's block, but it's gone now...

I know as recreators of military events, we all know that there's an element of danger involved in what we do. I also remember what I friend of mine said long ago - "most gun accidents stem from violations of the basic rules of handling a firearm." An obviously true statement that sometimes is ignored to the eventual behest of the hobby. But we all make mistakes.

That brings me to the news stories I've read about a reenactor whose firearm discharged prematurely and subsequently suffered powderburns and a cut from his accident. Fortunately, the reenactor's injuries were minor, and weren't exacerbated by a fall from his horse or any other factors he had to deal with at the moment.

Unfortunately, I've read this story from at least five different sources. Bad news travels fast.

This rant isn't pointed at the reenactor though. I imagine in addition to dealing a painful wound, he's also kicking himself for fat-fingering his pistol. Instead, this rant is pointed at the media elements who picked up this non-story and plastered it all over the Web.

Admittedly, when I read the news header, I had the instant thought that a bro had either been ramrodded or got hit by a lead shard from a someone who had live-fired his piece previously. Something I never want to read about. Call me dramatic, but that's what I think would make a reenacting incident news-worthy. If it isn't serious, I don't expect it in the news. Powder burns, although painful, aren't serious. The time I ran over my foot with a pallet jack was more dramatic. Did I make the news? Nope.

Although the news media can be our friend that gives us much needed publicity concerning events and the hobby at large, sometimes we tend to forget that its also an opportunistic entity waiting to zero in any interesting occurrence, good or bad. Like a powder burn. That's another reason that we need to watch our Ps & Qs out on the reenacting field, and make sure we drill correctly and proficiently. This is the way we all stay as safe as possible.

Reenacting links of the week

Here are some reenacting links for this week:

World War 2 & Korean War:
Korean War reenactment this weekend
10th Mountain Division gets museum

Early Western, Antebellum & American Civil War
Civil War reenactment groups meld into ‘Iron Gray Mess’
No re-enactment this year
Fort Frederick State Park To Host Annual 18th Century Market Fair April 26-29, 2007
‘Living history' approval appealed; neighbors say plan flawed
Re-Enactor Shot At Battle Of Anderson
Civil War Re-enactor Wounded During Fake Battle
Plans under way for American Indian gathering
Harvard Law School hosts reenactment of Dred Scott decision
Civil War Day at E-Town'

Revolutionary War:
Re-enactor to perform as patriot for children

Early Colonial:
Tickets on sale for First Landing Re-enactment
400th anniversary will attract volunteers

Non-Historical:
Fighting goblins and ogres in a Georgia park

Writers block!

As with most writers, sooner or later you're going to be doing too much to attend to writing, or you're simply going to run out of gas. I've been struggling with this for the past month or so. I needed a little time to reload the mental cannons before going on to new reeancting territory, so thus, the small output by me. Figured to write quality posts than just filler. But, I'm about ready to write again, so please bear with me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More reenactor blogs

If you look for them, they will be found!

Here's an interesting blog, much like this blog, Hardtack and Hard Times leans toward the Civil War, but touches on other era and other related interests. He covers all East Tennessee reenacting events well, so Rev War reenactors should also take note.

Back from a small vacation

Back from my small vacation at Cold Harbor! Have many ideas I'll be writing on, plus another AAR.

But, here's something that has been stewing in my mind for awhile...

I know most everyone who reads this blog has an interest in reenacting, most likely the American Civil War. But I know there has to be someone who does other periods, either American or European (or maybe somewhere else?), and might be willing to write a post or two a week. I'd like to sound out anyone who is willing to do a team blog. My vision would be bloggers who do different wars/periods/places, writing about them in a way that reflects a bit of knowledge and attitude of the history.

Don't worry - Seeing the Elephant (recreated) will be unchanged if this happens, this idea would be a totally new blog just on reenacting. But I'd like to see more reenactors step forth and do some blogging, start some 'synergy' and maybe, just maybe... spark some interest with passersby or reenactors who've stepped out of the hobby. I think a team blog would be just the ticket. Post in the comments and tell me what you think.