Friday, June 29, 2007

Heading to hallowed ground

Trips to weddings and other social events are a great time to explore the countryside. My sweets has relatives getting hitched in Lynchburg, VA, so it's time for another trip to Appomattox. I've been a couple times, but never as a reenactor. This time I'll be a tourist.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cooking the Civil War

One thing I never really covered well on Seeing the Elephant was cooking during the Civil War. I've been a time or two at the Stonewall Jackson house, and in the basement was the kitchen, which always seem to be set with propped-up versions of food of the period. Even fake, it looked all looked good to eat.

This leads me to think what frame of reference Civil War soldiers had when fixing their meals in the field. The first stop on my quest is Civil War Interactive, which has a load of period recipes that were prevalent in Civil War era kitchens. Fannie and Vera have their own page for cooking out-of-doors, which gives some good practical advice about setting up for cooking.

In the soldier's camp, the pickings were a bit leaner. Civil War Home has the guidelines for US Army rations. The Civil War Recipes page does a great job of explaining hardtack and johnnie cakes and provding recipes for them. I also did a post on hardtack about a year ago. Although it is spelled 'Receipt', I think they were shooting for 'Recipe' in this great period cooking resource. But there are some things I wouldn't put into my mouth, like the charcoal tooth powder.

Monday, June 25, 2007

If you're wondering if StE(r) was genteel enough...

It is, at least according to Mingle2! I do refrain from any serious language, mainly because I'm a pretty laid-back person. But then again, I've come close to to reeling off some choice words in my rants.

Online Dating

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dukin' it out at Rocky Face

Will be playing a considerable game tonight. We've been playing on the Rocky Face scenario in Campaign: Atlanta for the last few weeks.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My favorite Sutler of the week

NJ Sekela is a well-known name in CW reenacting, and his wares are considered top-notch. His site reflects that attitude, and should be a browser bookmark or a favorite vendor link.

I actually own his Type 1 Federal forage cap, and it has held up well. I felt it was a worthwhile purchase, and I'm more than happy to order another one of his quality products.

Also, I found Mr. Sekela to be very easy to work with, and very, very prompt with email communication. That alone scores high marks with me. So high as a matter of fact, that my group is making a mass order for blankets. I'll report how this transaction goes through. If it's like Stoneybrook, the last sutler I posted the results of an order, then I'm in great hands.

Another thing to note is that Sekela also sells WW2 items, mostly German. If his quality with WW2 is on par with his CW stuff, then he's a quality vendor to consider.

'Zine on the table this week

The latest issue of Civil War Historian is another interesting, and yet, morbid issue.

The morbid part is an article on photographing the dead. I don't why I was so taken aback, since I'm a child of the South and taking funeral pictures was a common thing to do down here up until the early seventies (at least in my family). But then again, the article was great and in my opinion required reading.

Also, the CWH has really jumped on a topic that I think more reenactors, and especially groups who host events should take note of. That is, how to conduct a realistic and well-run event. This month is a review of Shaker Village, and the scenario is civilian-driven. The article is absolutely a must read. I'm going to start using what they are writing about as a standard for events that I attend. I'm seeing an eviable amount of creativity I wish would spread to my neck of the woods.

Group Spotlight

Probably not the slickest site on the net, but the Tar Water Mess site well makes up for it in navigation, information, and pure heart. This group is also home to many of the movers and shakers in the authentic movement of Civil War reenacting in the US.

The areas to pay the most attention to are the Links and Mess Mates sections. The Links page gives many links to vendors who aren't very visible in other places, but would seem to be great sources of items. I have an automatic appreciation of any site that does a write-up on its membership. You can put a face to the people of this group, gives you an idea to their authenticity level, and it simply makes the hobby look fun. The TWM site does just that - makes it all look fun.

All in all, I like this site and I recommend giving it a visit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Impressions - North Carolina Volunteer - Summer 1861

A couple of shots from the Military Through the Ages Event in Fayetteville last month. A member of the North State Rifles provided the great impression. Incidentally, keep on checking their site for an interesting photo presentation on the uniform evolution of the North Carolina soldier.

This soldier wears the uniform prescribed by state regulations. Many companies raised after the time of North Carolina's secession in July 1861 wore this uniform, with variation with the head gear. According the state regulations, this uniform also was to be applied to all major service branches. The forage cap, false epaulets, and a stripe down the seam of the trowsers being the branch color; black for infantry, red for artillery, and yellow for cavalry. The head gear tended to vary, although state regulations called for a felt hat pinned on one side and a hat cord with branch color. Photographic evidence seems to suggest that the hat regs were never followed. Instead, there were variations on the forage caps. Here's another version of the impression from the North State Rifles site.

His converted percussion M1816 musket is an indicator that he was one of the initial state volunteers who was equipped with the arms available to the state. North Carolina had limited stands of available arms, and was quickly reduced to scrounging up muskets for its quickly forming regiments. Soon, new recruits would be receiving crudely converted percussion muskets, flintlocks, or whatever the state could provide.

The leather gear consists of possibly a pattern 1850 cap pouch, pattern 1839 cartridge box for the .69 musket, and bayonet scabbard. His tin drum canteen and haversack are patterned after US issue items used during the Mexican War period. The backpack rig seems to be of non-military fabrication.

This uniform seems to have only been issued during 1861, and probably completely disappeared from service by early '62, as material shortages within North Carolina started to affect uniform manufacture. Depending on the regiment, it would have been replaced either by the NC Depot jacket as the initial NC issue uniform, or the Richmond Depot jackets as subsequent issues. The shell jacket took less material to make, so it became the predominate uniform jacket type in Confederate service.

Monday, June 18, 2007

European Mega Event

Europe has it's own mega-events to take part in, and the Battle of Waterloo seems to top that list. I'd love to go do a British soldier, or better yet, rifleman. Looks like lots of fun.

Exploring defarbing and other issues from a legal standpoint

I've done some research in a reenacting forum discussion about the legality of "defarbing" your musket or other blackpowder arms. It seems to me a little personal knowledge could go a long way defending the legal ins and outs of doing this.

My original discussion was deleted from the forum where the discussion was being held, I'm sorry to say. But the CW-Reenactors forums have the sideline discussion I started to flesh out my knowledge of the subject. Warning - it's a little thick and drifts to other gun-related issues, but it's a worthy read.

A grave situation

The local news has a small feature on a local Civil War buff who IDed three unmarked graves of soldiers, including a Federal soldier buried in North Carolina by mistake. Interesting read for the day. This is a great example of what a person can do to fill in the gaps in history, no matter how local.

Postin' train is movin'

After a false start on Friday, I've got in the mental rest and relaxation to start posting again. Sometimes you've got to give things a rest to fight off any burn-out.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday blog odds and ends

If you haven't already checked out Blue Bellied Yank's blog by now, I recommend that you do so. She's posted a goodly number of images of soldiers and citizens from the Civil War period. Very nice studies. While you're there, don't forget to drop a comment or two.

Civil War Navy et. al. finds Andrew Duppstadt on the road, south of my old neck of the woods in Asheville, NC after giving a presentation in Kinston. If you have an interest in Civil War naval history, this is the blog to bookmark. In addition, it's always interesting what ship will sail onto his blog's header.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Puttin' in some quality time with the fam

Just taking a couple days to spend with my honey and the kids, and to recharge the writing batteries. I will be back later tonight with some hard-hittin' posts about reenacting.

Or as hard-hittin' as reenacting gets.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Group Spotlight

The 28th Massachusetts Regiment's Web site is what a nice, clean reenactor Web site should be. Plenty of information placed in a great layout that is easy to follow.

I found that the unit history is a must read. It is not only well written, it's compellingly well written. It's easy to follow the history of this unit from its beginning til its end in July 1865. The other thing I really like about this site is the amount of research done. It has a great page on what muskets the unit used, and the research to back it up. The site as a whole is very consistent.

If your a Webmaster, then check this site out for some great ideas.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Pattern is here!

The Harper House has a respectable shipping time. Placed order on Sunday, and received the goods on Thursday. Now I'm trying to figure out the instructions. Seems like you gotta know what a gusset or a placket is. Internet, here I come!

My favorite Sutler of the week

Dell's Leather Works is a great site to look at and easy navigate about. This sutler has almost every kind of basic gear you need to hit the field, and the pricing is good, being just under what I think should be the standard pricing for compariable items.

The items I found that I would consider buying from Dell's are the any of the belts, which look very nice and there's a wide variety to choose from. This one of the few places I found that sells buff belts. The knapsack page looked good to me, too.

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 Dell's Leather Works sells. So, as with any sutler, I would collect some recommendations before ordering. Many group sites do recommend Dell's as a primary sutler.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Talk the Talk

Reenactors, as with all hobbies, has a special lingo that can be confusing to the new person coming into the hobby. Here's a few sites that help define the language of the reenactor:

Monday, June 04, 2007

Impressions - Continental Artilleryman - 1781

Another picture from the Military Through the Ages event in Fayetteville a couple weeks back. This artilleryman is from the Locke's Militia & Kingsbury's Artillery group near Salibury, NC.

The artillerist here has what can almost be considered a universal uniform for the branch - dark blue jacket with scarlet facings. Both Continental and British artillery wore very similar uniforms, in contrast to the infantry. This soldier's uniform is representative of the regular Continental Army in the later stages of the American War for Independence.

As a note of interest, the artillery of the time also carried infantry gear and were expected to fight in that capacity when needed. This is unlike ACW artillery who normally didn't carry infantry gear and had to be geared and trained to fight in an infantry role. I think the exception to this was the Heavy Artillery, who were already acquainted with infantry or infantry-style drill. I'd like to hear from someone who has a bit more knowledge on this.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The place for pattern reviews

The Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild has a fantastic site for pattern reviews -- and I wish I would have found it before ordering my shirt pattern. The reviewers actually construct the garments from what they're provided, and then they give an in-depth review. Great stuff, especially if you need the word on a particular pattern.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

French Foreign Legion reenacting

Here's a pretty interesting unit to portray - the French Foreign Legion. These two groups do the Legion in the WW2 to Indochina years. The 2nd REI French Foreign Legion seems to be exclusively in the Vietnam years, while 13th Demi-Brigade, French Foreign Legion does both WW2 and Indochina time periods.

I've got the itch to sew

I recognize that this is an expensive hobby, so I've decided to take the plunge and try to sew me a shirt and skivvies together. From scratch. By hand.

I'm looking at a few pattern sites and have come up with a few that interest me, and have the patterns I'm looking for. My personal favorites are Galla Rock, Country Cloth, and Past Patterns. I've seen other great sites, but I want to make sure I come off as authentically as I can.

Also during my sewing search, I came up with an interesting, yet Lesko-esque site by Coach McCoach. Has anyone had the occasion to download these ebooks? Are they useful?

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Update: Using the Harper House as my vendor, I ordered the Period Impressions 3-button shirt. Looks like a simple pattern, so let's see if I can sew.
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Friday, June 01, 2007

Basic Reenactor's Craft - How to field repair your uniform

We all collect some wear and tear on our kit, and eventually you'll have to deal with a popped suspender button, or a small tear due to a bramble, or a seam coming undone. Some of us know what a housewife is - and it isn't the loving person who we must ask leave when we go out onto the the field. It's a sewing kit that should be in your blanket roll or knapsack.

When you put your housewife to work, you need to know how to sew. There's a proper way to patch your uniform. Although not period, here's some instructions on how to sew on a button.

Firing a Matchlock

Ned Jilton at Hardtack and Hard Times has a excellent post about live firing matchlock muskets. Looks like alot of fun, and he includes a few pictures to illustrate. Check it out.

Note: I wouldn't want to be the Coke can.

My favorite Sutler of the week

The Sutlers Stores site is a nice bit of surfing for reenactors who cover multiple periods. This British site is very professionally done, and this place has a multitude of products, many unfamiliar in US reenacting circles. Covered periods include Seven Years War (Regency period), Napoleonic War, American Civil War, American Indian Wars, British Imperial period (including the Boer Wars), WW1, and WW2, as well as the civilian clothing of those periods.

The products on this site, on the whole, are expensive for US-based reenactors. The site on the other hand, is a sight to behold. I recommend giving it a few visits.