Thursday, May 31, 2007

'Zine on the table this week

Another excellent edition of Armchair General!

More notes on this magazine -

Unlike other military history publications, this one has a bit of a mainstream feel to it. There is no hint of stuffiness, and the graphic content for the most part, is fresh and colorful. They use reenactors and models extensively, going as far as dramatically conveying a scene. This month was no exception with the execution Mata Hari, WW2 GIs in action and other photographic niceties. On top that, this magazine is stuffed with information.

I'm subscribing.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Impressions - Confederate Homeguard - Watauga County, NC, Fall 1864

This is a shot from the King's Mountain event from last weekend, which incidently, was a photo-rich environment for someone who doesn't get to take many pictures at a typical event.

The reenactor featured is representative of the civilian nature of the local Confederate homeguard in the mountains of North Carolina. Specifically, this fellow is part of the 11th Battalion North Carolina Homeguard, which was based in Watauga county at Camp Mast. As with other homeguard units, the 11th Battalion was charged with many duties, mainly serving as provosts to catch deserters. Two companies of homeguard comprised the 11th Battalion. Since the unit was composed mostly of farmers, one company would be out every other week to tend to their farms.

Homeguards were not armed with the best gear, having to make do with what they obtain from the Confederate authorities. The 11th Battalion was known to have carried muskets. Speculation is that they were either M1816 or M1842 Springfield muskets converted from flint to percussion. Civilian clothes, especially in 1864 or 65, were probably the order of the day. Other things like haversacks and canteens were more than likely homespun too.

The 11th's defining moments were few, and never worked to their advantage. Under their commander, Major Harvey Bingham, the 11th was exceptionally successful at nabbing deserters. When the opposition had more teeth and gumption, the story was different. The single action that the 11th fought was ingloriously called "The Battle of Beech Mountain", where they were ambushed by local Unionists. Outmatched by Spencer rifles, the musket-armed homeguard were driven off Beech Mountain and retreated back to Camp Mast. Near the end of the war, a small contingent of Federal Cavalry would compell the battalion, by clever trickery, to surrender en mass at Camp Mast.

Group Spotlight

The Arizona Rough Riders Historical Association is a very interesting Spanish-American War group to keep up with. They fill both a reenacting and a ceremonial group role, and have a proud history to keep up with to boot.

This statement nicely sums up the Arizona Rough Riders Historical Association:

Today, Prescott's own "A" Troop is a ceremonial and re-enactment unit whose purpose is to honor all American War Veterans and to portray, in an historically accurate way, the life and times of the Arizona Rough Riders. With a special commission from the Governor of Arizona, "A" troop stands ready to serve their community.

This group links with the superb Spanish-American War Centennial website, which has just about all you need to know in regards to Span-Am reenacting.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Never forget

Memorial Day.

It's hard to imagine me reenacting and not stopping to give a day to appreciate and thank the veterans who actually made the effort, possibly spilled blood or suffered making that effort, or are looking to making the effort to help keep our country free and our country's ideals alive.

My solemn hope is that others who haven't served will stop and appreciate the sacrifice, no matter their political or religious leanings.

We all have a lot at stake.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Irreverent Guide to Civil War Reenacting, Pt3

We have established the backdrop and inner workings of a typical event. In this installment, we add the players - the people you see at an event.

The Players
Obviously, soldiers are a requirement for any Civil War battle event. Typically, you'll see a couple of the three major branches - infantry, cavalry and artillery. Of the three, artillery isn't a stand-alone branch. An artillery-only event would get mighty boring very quickly. At most mainstream or living history events you'll also see people dressed up in civilian clothing of the period. Occasionally, you'll see a specialist military group, such as a surgeon or the signal corps. Everyone combines to create an atmosphere for the event. This posts will cover their roles within a typical event.

You can easily say that the infantry is the backbone to 99% of CW events held. Without the infantry, there's no massed battle, no rattle of musketry, no real event.

Many event hosts tend to ambitious about the numbers of infantry that arrive at an event, hoping for as many infantry to show up as possible. The hosts work with the "officers" commanding the largest groups or hand pick them by ability to organize the forces. This is where the nasty specter of reenacting politics rares its head in the larger battle events. If you're "in" the groups that fall under the control of the commanders, then you get the plum camping and battle assignments.

Things are organized by company and then accordingly, down to the less favored groups who are all banded together. Sometimes, good things happen with the "black sheep" company that typically doesn't get the attention or the best direction from the top commander, but is ably lead by someone who has a penchant for adventure.

There has been a move lately in the campaigner events to have all officer and NCO slots pre-filled, and simply fill in the needed companys as numbers permit.

Within a living history, as with all other participants, the infantryman is a player within the story, serving to pull guard duty or harass the locals.

Although not as ubiquitous as infantry, cavalry in one form or another appear at most events. The cav usually consists of either the mounted or dismounted variety. Of course the mounted version is what makes the visual impact, and useful if in a large field reenactment, particularly in tacticals or campaigner events.

The somewhat maligned sibling of the mounted cav is the dismounted variety. Many times, this disdain is earned. A dismounted impression is somewhat cheaper to gather, seems to avoid much of the disiplined movement on the field that the infantry is usually confined to, and is almost expected to have sub-par authenticity. In reality, dismounted cav is a better choice in a small field reenactments, where the cavalry did fight off of the horse, and where a mounted presence looks more like a rodeo, and the hard ground makes it easier to slip on horse cookies.

Within the scope of a living history, the cavalryman is like the infantryman, except that there's a large four-legged prop tied-up on site.

Although artillery has a rather limited use most of the time, it is one of the big draws for spectators, who usually don't get to see large artillery being fired. But there is a trade-off.

Most artillery seems to be focused on the gun rather than on the impressions that surround the gun. So therefore, one tends to see an overabundance of red, when in fact, they were probably no different than the infantry. On the other hand, most artillery groups I've seen are well drilled, and use best safety practices.

Since these units are static, big and noisey, they are attractive to spectators who like the big booms and smoke. Therefore they get the lion's share of the visits from spectators. Unfortunately, as a rule their impressions tend to be less than good. Sometimes they downright suck. I could go on about the red trim and 3/4 pieces, but I won't. As a spectator, you want to seek these guys out when they are doing a drill. I'll hand it to most good artillery groups, they can put on a loading drill like nobody's business.

Within a living history, their job is almost identical to a typical event. Drill and fire. In a campaign setting, the artillery has a tougher time. Very few artillery units can truely perform the light artillery role, since the expense is great and it typically takes a huge chunk of land to operate in.

Next: Minor Players

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More military records than you can shake a stick at has posted a research treasure on the Internet. Read about it here.

On Thursday, unveils more than 90 million U.S. war records from the first English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 through the Vietnam War's end in 1975. The site also has the names of 3.5 million U.S. soldiers killed in action, including 2,000 who died in Iraq.

Interesting groups on the reenacting fringe, Pt 19

Since this week's blog find centers around Civil Naval history and reenacting, I feel that it's only appropriate to feature ACW navy reenacting as this week's fringe. Again, if you want a great starting point to see writings and photos, look no further than Civil War Navy et. al.

Although not as visible as land-based reenacted ACW groups, the naval contingent has been around for a long while, sometimes participating in land battles when history dictates. Like many other fringe groups, naval reenactors have an umbrella group to join, the Navy and Marine Living History Association. This group isn't limited to just ACW and covers a number of other periods.

Not a group, Naval Training Ship CSS Neuse II project was a "school of the sailor" so to speak. The concept looked great, and maybe it'll be held again. Any event like this is not only a great time, but really needed within all aspects of reenacting. In addition, some of the proceeds of the event went to aiding in preserving and displaying the remains of the actual CSS Neuse.

A great group site is the US/CS Naval Landing Party. They cover both Navy and Marines with the primary empathsis on the Federal side of the boat. A list of group links can be found at the U.S. Marine Detachment, Washington Navy Yard links page.

Note: Also check out Andrew Duppstadt's (Civil War Navy group, Ship's Company of the Roanoke.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Getting ready for King's Mountain

Not the actual battle, but another "Military Through the Ages" type of event at King's Mountain National Military Park. I will be packing camera, and hopefully I'll have more willing subjects to take snaps of. There will be plenty of Confederate impressions, so the uniform variations will be great to see. I'm also hoping to collect picts of some willing souls for other time periods, too.

My favorite Sutler of the week

Frazer Brothers sutler is a very nice shop, and worth a look. The site as a decidedly western feel to it, and includes items from many time periods, the Civil War being but one. If you're into the Spanish-American War, this is one of the few sutlers that cater to this time period.

The Web site is great -- very graphical and easy to navigate. The only drawback is that they're still working on some aspects of it, so not all the links are working. But, that won't stop you from accessing pages, you may need to click an extra time to get where you want.

As with any sutler I haven't personally bought from in the past, I can't personally vouch for the quality of the items that Frazer Brothers sells. So, as with any sutler, I would collect some recommendations before ordering. Many groups sites do recommend Frazer Brothers as a primary sutler.

New Civil War blog in the dock

Civil War Navy, et. al. is the new Civil War blog on the block, and covers the often neglected subject of the Confederate Navy in North Carolina. Andrew Duppstadt is the blogger, and is also a fellow North Carolina reenactor that I hope to meet up with in the near future.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Is a little bang well placed?

Whenever I see a Mountain Howitzer on the field, I'm reminded of the "I know a little German" joke in the movie Top Secret! But my version of the joke would go, "I have little artillery..."

On a more serious note, this leads to a larger question about what artillery should take to the reenacting field. I've noted in past posts that artillery tend to be the most problematic units on the reenacting field. I hold fast to this belief for several reasons, most stemming from my personal observations and discussions with various artillerymen for many years.

Before I go any further, I'll say that I do appreciate artillery whenever placed and used properly, and whenever there are good personal impressions to back it up. So I'm no "hater". That opinion also extends to every represented branch recreated in reenacting.

Now to the meat of this discussion, which revolves around the use of the smaller pieces along side of the full-sized guns, or more to the point, what their role should be within a reenactment. Admittedly, I have my peeves and the biggest is in regards to the 3/4 scale pieces. To be honest, these should never find their way on any serious reenacting field. I think we all know that the reason these guns are used in the first place - in comparison to a full scale piece, they're a less expensive way to get on the field to make a loud noise. Sorry, that reason doesn't cut it. If expense is a problem, sell the piece and do infantry instead. They look silly when lined up in a battery of full-scale guns, and flatly, they're farby.

OK, with my feelings about 3/4 scale pieces aside, that leaves us with two other pieces of small artillery that finds way on to the reenacting field - the mountain howitzer and the coehorn mortar.

The coehorn mortars have gotten a bad rap because of the way they're used and who uses them. Like the 3/4 scale cannons, they're relatively inexpensive. Unlike 3/4 scale cannons, most of the mortars you see are full scale and have documented use in the Civil War. This site is a great primer on how various artillery was used, and includes mortars. Although there is some documentation of Confederate use, mortars are historically most identified with the Federals, who used them in every shape and size. By their very purpose and use, mortars are siege weapons, so they shouldn't find any way to any reenactment that involves a moving battle. That's what the more portable cannons are designed for. But alias, it seems a disproportionate number are in Confederate hands, used close to regular cannon sometimes, and are usually undermanned.

Mountain howitzers are much like mortars, except with a little bit better reputation on the reenacting field. For the most part, the ones I have seen are full scale, but again, they're used to fill out a battery of much larger cannon and look silly. They were actually meant to be more mobile than a normal artillery piece by the ability for the crew to take the tube and limber apart and mount it on a team of mules for transport using a specially-designed harness. Actually "mountain" is a class of artillery because of this mobility, and is akin to "light" and "heavy" designations.

What to do?

Event hosts need to become more proactive in dictating the needs of the scenarios they wish to present, and what makes sense. In my honest opinion, 3/4 artillery doesn't make sense at all, along with pairing up mortars and mountain howitzers with light artillery pieces. What would be nice would be siege and assault scenarios using a battery of mortars, or a battery of mountain howitzers during a moving battle. The goal is to use the artillery more effectively and more realistically, and not in the haphazard ways it's used currently.

Postscript: Here's a site that has a down-to-earth guide about artillery that reenactors should read and take to heart.

Group Spotlight

I'll be getting tons of mileage from the "Military Through the Ages" event for the next few posts. Another great advantage of any event like this is to connect with other reenactors that you may not otherwise meet. This is true of this week's spotlight group, The North State Rifles.

This is a solid campaign-oriented group that pulls its membership from all over NC. They do a wide array of North Carolina soldier's impressions, from '61 on through to the end of the war. The NSR Web site is great to look at, especially the gallery, with many great shots of the group. The design leans on the graphic side, but navigation is easy and information plentiful.

One thing that they're planning to do with the site is a photographic progression of impressions, so that in itself is worth a bookmark and frequent visits.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Impressions - English Soldier - Roanoke Island Expedition, 1584

These pictures are from the Fayetteville "Military Through The Ages" event. One of the best stocked impressions of the day actually came from Roanoke Island Festival Park with two English soldiers representing the first English expedition sent to Roanake Island. This expedition pre-dated the actual landing of the "lost" Roanoke colony by a year.

The English soldier featured to the left would have been part of a two man team. One soldier (musketeer) in the team would have used the firing weapon, the other would be his close-in protection by using a pike and sword to challenge anyone who would advance on the musketeer.

The musketeer here is wearing the clothing typical of the period and hefting a pre-matchlock weapon, otherwise known as a caliver. This soldier is not armored - other than his morion helmet - lacking a vest of plates or solid breastplate. Past the caliver, he's armed with a long dagger for self defense. I assume the pikeman would have donned armor of some sort to survive any close combat to defend the musketeer.

To load the caliver, the soldier wore a bandolier that suspended 12 wooden vials with powder in them, known as "apostles". In 29 movements, the musketeer would load his weapon, ramming home the bullet with a "scouring stick", better known to us as a ramrod. The loading process was long, and it's a wonder they ever got to shoot their weapons in the first place.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Military Through the Ages/Fayetteville - Review and Critique

Went to a "Military Through the Ages" event in Fayetteville this afternoon, and had a blast. One thing I love to see are great impressions that I have no or little knowledge about, but this time there were many impressions not in the same era I was reenacting, for change.

The eras represented at this event were Early Colonial, Revolutionary War, Mexican War, American Civil War, Spanish-American War, WW2 and Vietnam. All were ably represented and drew a pleasant crowd of people.

For most of the day, the spectators could visit the individual stations and talk with the various reenactors. Probably the best set ups of the day were the Early Colonial stations and the Vietnam station. The most impressive reenactors were the Colonials who stayed in first person constantly. They also seemed pretty natural, and their presentation was very light-hearted.

All in all this wasn't too bad of an event, although I wish it were a little better attended. The spectators that came seemed to be very interested, and they even had a small Q&A scavenger hunt for the kids. A great way to find out about history.

This is a great type of event for any reenactor to go to. It allows people to see a progression of history, and in the case of this event, how military technology has progressed in the past 400 years. I recommend this type of event to every reenactor, no matter how small it is.

Friday, May 18, 2007

This is interesting reality TV

I remember a couple of years ago while watching PBS, they showed their version of a reality show. Although I'm no fan of this type of TV, Frontier House was the most novel and worthy in its approach.

The skinny of this show was that three haplessly modern families had to live the life of 1880 settlers for six months. Their goal was to be able to survive the coming winter, by doing what the settlers did. Needless to say, I was stuck to the TV; not because the families chosen were simply entertaining in their folly, but because I thought it was an indicment of how society has changed in the past century.

PBS also did another show earlier called 1900 House, which put modern families in roles of people of a Victorian-age household in the UK. The concept was a bit different than in Frontier House, with only one family and some contact with the outside world.

'Zine on the table this week

Militaria International is one of those magazines that one could become attached to very quickly. The publication is mainly targeted at collectors, with a focus on the more modern conflicts such as WW1 and WW2.

If you're a WW2 reenactor, this is a great tool to find gear and militaria shows in your area. The advertising points to collectors and book houses.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My favorite Sutler of the week

Carter and Jasper Authentic Mercantile is a step out of the ordinary as far as reenacting goes. They're not your typical sutler that does the usual uniforms and gear -- they do sundries, stuff you usually don't find at any sutlery.

They do sell some clothing, but it seems that the strength of Carter and Jasper are the authentic canned goods they have for sale. This section alone is worth checking out. The pricing seems very reasonable too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Interesting groups on the reenacting fringe, Pt 18

Here's an era that I've meant to do for some time. It's the world of Western or Wild West reenacting. From what I've found on this segment of the reenacting hobby, it seems to be centered around a toungue-in-cheek sort of fun. The Wild West magazine blog is pretty fun to read too.

The first group we'll look at is the Ghost Riders in OK. They describe themselves so:

This band of rabble is known as the GhostRiders ®, a not-for-profit Living History / stunt company composed of historical reenactors experienced in recreating the Old West and Frontier eras.

GhostRiders do Living History interpretations based on either first-person or generic approximations of frontier people and events spanning the Antebellum years prior to the American Civil War, up to the turn of the century and Oklahoma statehood.

The next group from Canada seems to err more to Hollywood, looks fun anyway. The Guns of the Golden West is much like Ghost Riders in the fact that they're a combination of renactors and stuntmen. Here's their story:

Our members come from various walks of life. This is their hobby, born of a love of the old west. We attend monthly meetings and training sessions, and have an Executive board that governs the operations of this not-for-profit Association.

We do this for fun. We also do charitable work usually in the form of performances, and sometimes with cash donations to various charitable organizations. It is a family oriented Association, allowing members children to become junior members and participate in the Associations activities.

Another interesting angle is that Old West reenacting is very popular in Europe. The Arizona Rangers site is a great example of the European interest in this era of American history.

Of course, you have to have a town to stage gunfights and the usual brawls, and Whitehorse Ranch fit the bill. Since this is a taste of what you can do, Lady Outlaw's Western Links page is full of links you can explore to fully enjoy an Old West experience. Of course you can imagine the ultimate Old West experience here.

Just Arrived Today

Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters

ISBN: 9780670038299

Viking Books

This book looks interesting if you're into General RE Lee. It takes his private letters to paint a more human portrait, a bit different than the one we're used to seeing. If you are a RE Lee reenactor, this book seems to promise to offer some depth into his character, or at least a different interpretation of what he may have been like.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Reenacting links of the week

Here are some reenacting links for this week:

Early 20th Century:
Matewan reenactment

World War 1:
Holston Valley Middle School's Davis makes classes a living history adventure

American Civil War:
Battle of Bean Station
Annual Civil War reenactment
Engaging play opens company's new venue
Civil War Reenactment In Jefferson
Unpacking the old stuff
Civil War Day to honor the sacrifice of Adams County families
Battlefield Students
Civil War history a blast

Rendezvous & Western:
Living History
Old West lives again
Bent's Old Fort Offers Living History Lesson

Revolutionary War:
Consider a trip to Westfield for upcoming Victoria Day
Revolutionary War demonstration draws history lovers
Students learn history by re-enacting

Early Colonial:
History seen in myriad disguises

Castle goes back to Norman times

Woo hoo! Hit the 10K mark!

Thanks to everybody for coming by and using and commenting on Seeing the Elephant (recreated)! It makes it worth posting to, if I think someone is getting some good use from my blog. 10,000 visits over the course of a little over a year of solid blogging isn't too shabby.

Again, I've left the comments open for everyone to use, and I'd like to hear from you. I'm open to opinions, ideas, suggestions and simple commentary on our hobby. I'm not era specific either!

Monday, May 14, 2007

I love audio books!

Taking in another audiobook from the local library. Sharpe's Havoc was great, so I decided to check out another that takes place in 1824 and involves, again, the British army. The Sabre's Edge by Allan Mallinson is set in Burma, and has started off to be a good listen. Makes my daily drive to work go by alot easier.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Irreverent Guide to Civil War Reenacting, Pt2

Now that the backdrop to reenacting has been established, now let's go to the typical event and look at the various sights at a typical event. Before we get started, here's a site that is geared to the spectator side of the hobby, and lists the different battles to attend.

Part 2 - Anatomy of an Event
Most spectator events are typically divided into four areas; the two opposing camps, the battlefield and sutler row. Some events might have an area that has a living history set-up for the public, especially if the reenactor's camps aren't readily accessible.

Living history events many times omit one or more of the areas since the empathsis is more on the more 'passive' events surrounding the landmark or historical happening being reenacted. Immersion events are similar, but typically retain the opposing camps, which oftentimes are mobile.

The opposing camps
Most events, especially ones that are spectator-driven, tend to keep camps open so that you can see the reenactors recreating camp life of the period. More often than not, these camps usually miss the mark by varying degrees. Most reenacting camps would probably been prevalent in the first months of the war, especially before any of serious campaigns. Any time you see a large wall tent, or the smaller wedge tents, or the even smaller dog tents, then you're looking at things that would've been tossed from the get-go. Mainstreamers camp in this fashion, because superficial 'looks' are acceptable to their concept of authenticity, and the military air that neat rows of wedge tents and defined company streets offer is appealing.

A camp with 'shebangs' (dwellings that are made from dog-tent panels and anything else to make a shelter), or just gum blankets and blankets is a bit closer to the truth. If you see this type of camp, you'll see the "campaigner" reenactors who are looking at the realism aspect. But the real truth is probably more sparse. Historical soldiers slogged on with a minimum of equipage, mainly because they were their own transport. When you walk a long day, any weight tends to drag you down. But since most reenactors are creatures of the present time and age, a little comfort goes a long way in enjoying the hobby.

The battlefield
This is the attraction of many events for reenactors, but is also problematic for the hosts. As a rule of thumb, most battle events do not happen on the actual grounds they occurred, with some exceptions.

The National Park Service is usually the most stringent regulator of battlefield space, and for good reason. Most NPS parks are the large battlegrounds that hold a significance to more people than reenactors, and want to make sure the grounds remain as undisturbed as possible. Some reenactors chalk this up to snobbery, but I personally see the point. The NPS does allow some groups who have authentic impressions to do living histories, if done within NPS standards.

Since it's hard to plan battles on nationally maintained parks, the usual benefactor of reenactments on historical grounds are the state- and county-owned properties. Although they also have rules for use, they are also usually less stringent about reenacting, seeing such events as a boon to draw people to often under-visited places. A few of these places also have their own living history programs in place, and use the reenacting events to mesh with them, so you'll see most Civil War living history events happen at these places.

Many events happen on private property, or publicly-owned non-historical land. Usually, the large "mainstream" battles are reenacted on private property, as with most "campaigner" type events. The mainstream events shoot for properties that have been largely cleared to facilitate mass troop movement and to give spectators the best view of the event possible. At times this is taken to extremes, especially if the battleground is small. The campaigners usually shoot for the opposite - land that is as untouched or terrain rich as possible to facilitate smaller unit actions more suited to the actual numbers of reenactors. If spectators are allowed, then they might be relegated to watch from vantage points, or a public battle may be planned that meshed with the tactical nature of the event.

Sutler Row
One big attraction of most battle events is sutler row. Civil War reenacting relies heavily on cottage industries to produce most of the clothing a gear needed to do an impression, and the sutlers sell it. Normally these days, a sutler is usually a mail order business for reenactors, but some also cater to reenactors and spectators alike during events.

Within reenactor circles, Sutler Row is both welcomed and loathed. Depending on the sutler, you can either buy authentic stuff, get stiffed by crap, or both. Many authentically aware groups make sure that their new members are chaperoned through the sutlers to make sure any purchase is worthy. For spectators, the rules are a bit different. Typically there's plenty to buy for the kids and some stuff for the non-reenacting adults, although I'll warn you if you intend on joining a group, don't buy from the sutlers until you know what you're looking for.

Sutler Row is also strategically placed. It usually resides between spectator parking and the battleground.

Next: The Players

Small morning pick-me-ups

Here's a post from the Old Virginia Blog that will warm your heart if you've been on the down and outs about explaining or defending your interest in the Confederacy.

Also, Hardtack and Hard times has a great post about a teacher who is teaching his students about the World Wars via hands-on and in-the-mud simulations. Better than doing this stuff on the PC. Very interesting, and subtly politically incorrect.

Found more reenactor blogs - We'll Call This "My War of 1812 Re-enactor's Blog" - it's not too terribly well posted, but it has potential if he can get some encouragement. He covers the War of 1812, so something that might have an interest for someone. Another, better posted blog is The Warhorse Gazette, which covers cavalry up to WW2. Interesting posts to read with this one. Another blog that would appeal to the younger set is An Old Fashioned Girl's journal. She has some great CW posts, but you have to be patient because she tends to mix personal entries with it. The historical posts are great, and worth reading. The Pain Bank is an SCA offering, and a very cool read (and listen too -- the blog contains many podcasts) if you like medieval stuff.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Group Spotlight

Here's my first Group Spotlight for a WW2 group. The reason I chose this site is that this is what any reenacting group Web master should aspire to. The 9th Infantry Division, US has a site to die for. I rank it with the Syke's Regulars site as a benchmark that very successfully incorporates "DIGM" into a site you can spend awhile surfing.

This site has some great features that I enjoy immensely, best of which is the members directory. I've seen these directories on other sites, but this one is the best I've seen yet. This site makes you want to join right up, and makes me want to do WW2 reenacting all over again. The impressiona page is likewise, the best I've seen, and an example for anyone wanted to it right. The page spells out what the group expects, but has plenty of photos illustrating what uniform and kit you need. The kit photo is great - I'd love to see a Civil War version.

Web masters take note!

Friday, May 11, 2007

An interesting blurb on NPR

A couple months ago, I spotted out an article about Jenny Thompson, who authored a book on 20th century reenacting. Here's the NPR review for the book. For an NPR product (which tends to rile me up at times), it was a very good and fair-minded discussion on the hobby. Although I don't agree with some of Thompson's assertions, on the whole, she has good grasp on the human side of the hobby. The two callers were kinda out there though. The caller who did East German reenacting was pretty interesting.

A wargaming blog to visit

Charge! Civil War Wargaming and News is a great blog - much on the same lines spiritually as StE(r), except that the focus is on wargaming. Scott Mingus, the blog's author, still covers other issues outside of wargaming, too. It's a great read and worth the time to surf.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Preserving some of the home turf

Sometimes it feels that since I don't live near the big battlefields, that preservation is a only a matter of writing a check and taking the tax deduction. At other times, I feel like a Johnny-come-lately to a preservation issue that may or may not be lost, or simply didn't jump in the boat on time because of ignorance of the situation.

Small story: I came to the Raleigh area in the mid-nineties in search of the good life. Jobs were (and are now) plentiful, and I had a career that was on the up and up. Didn't pay too much attention to the area around me, since I already knew tons about the area I just left - the NC mountains.

Not on my radar screen at the time was the fact that lived in the midst of the largest Federal encampment in Sherman's Carolinas Campaign. I was too wrapped up in life, and frankly I didn't take the time to check out local history.

Fast forward to the present time.

I knew that some remnants of those encampments and pieces of history still remain. Of course I knew about the Mims House being one of Sherman's stop-overs, but someone told me that. I also happened to discover that there were some rifle pits nearby, but someone told me that too. I didn't bother to research or be curious, the info just fell into my lap.

But by the time I get the time and inclination to go see the pits, I'm told at they're almost all totally destroyed by some logging company, and I expect that in the next couple of years they will be completely developed over. The Mims House is in a steady rate of deteriorating decline. Unfortunately, other than tooting a horn for the Mims House, Holly Springs Civil War history is at the end-game.

I've learned the moral of the story is that if you don't always put up the good fight, then precious things, like your local history, can go away very quickly. Sometimes that history isn't out front, like rifle pits, but they're worth serious consideration and preservation. Apathy and ignorance are the real enemies.

But there is some good news for a nearby community that has a small battleground - not too much, but something worth saving for future generations. The battle at Morrisville Station was fought a few miles north of Holly Springs, and a reenactor has been hot on the case for the past few years. Make difference with an email, and send it here. Tell them you support the effort to save some historical ground. Don't surrender to apathy and ignorance, like I did years ago. Sometimes we only get one good shot, so take it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My favorite Sutler of the week

There's a lot of neat stuff to uncover on the 'net. Found the Tommy's Pack Fillers site of WW1 reproductions. The site has a lot of cool stuff that would be great display items, and includes stuff representing the Boer War conflict too. A neat item that could almost be used as a gag, is the cast resin hardtack, which is doubtless as hard as the real item.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Present and accounted for!

I haven't gone AWOL, just alot of work mixed with a little bit of pleasure. I'll be back in the next day or so after taking care of work business. Gotta make the money to go to all these events and buy the cool stuff, you know?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Interesting groups on the reenacting fringe, Pt 17

Now we're getting to the larger conflicts in North America. The one we're covering in this post is the War of 1812. The one the US came very close to losing, but gave us our some of our most lasting legacies, like the Star Spangled Banner and the birth of US naval power. To me this is one of the most interesting, but most unconsidered time periods to reenact.

The largest (and really only umbrella group) group I could find on the 'net was the Fort Erie site, which seems to be the main springboard to this part of the hobby and its associated groups. Another site is the Jefferson Patterson park and museum site, which hosts an annual battle for the period. Fort Niagra is doing a Grand Tactical that looks pretty nifty.

A worthy Battleground preservation site to check out

Here's a cool site I happened on via the Old Virginia Blog. It's the Shenandoah At War site, and it's dedicated to the education and preservation of the Civil War battlegrounds in the Shenandoah Valley. So if you're planning a Power Tour, then this site should be your first stop for information.

Articles for new recruits

I think every group has their own spiel for getting new people into their group, but some are effective and some are not. Here are some effective articles that deal with explaining the hobby to the layman and new recruit. This would be great material for units looking to actively recruit in formulating materials and Web site blurbs.

The first is an article in the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society newsletter. It has a great explaination of the hobby, albeit from the perspective of the F&I War. has a very high-level explaination of Civil War reenacting, which is well written. The 1st Nebraska has a more in depth Q and A article that covers costs and such. The Wikipedia has a nice write-up on reenacting in general, and although it is mostly a good write-up, the Civil War reenacting wiki is a little slanted against authentic reenactors. The best newbie information page is on the Our Hearts Were Touched With Fire site that I also covered a while back.

If you're looking at the civilain side then Fanny and Vera's site is a great place to see what you need. A great introduction to the hobby. I've covered this site before, but it's nice to reinterate a useful site every so often.

On, there's a book just on this subject, So You Want To Be A Civil War Soldier. I haven't read it, but it looks like a decent intro to the hobby.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Taking in the exploits of an old friend

One of my guilty pleasures is the Sharpe's series of books by Bernard Cornwell. For the most part, they're crackin' good reads. I've also decided to rekindle my books on disc habit since I have a long drive to work, and Sharpe's Havoc happened to be handy at the library.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Starting a new battle front in the Campaign Series

Just ordered Campaign: Atlanta a couple days ago, and raring to play it with my wargaming pards. I've been kicked around in Gettysburg and Shiloh, but I'm learning!