Tuesday, August 28, 2007

'Zine on the table this week

Another great issue of Civil War Historian has graced my mailbox! This time, I make a cameo in a photo in the article about split rail fences. Hey, I gotta get my fame wherever I can find it. This time it's a nice photo of my back!

Besides that photo and this issue in general, CWH has been spot-on with the great articles, and to me, it's worth more than the subscription price.

You mean I have to work?

If it isn't one thing, it's another! Come back from Gettysburg and I'm putting out fires at work. Oh well, I've gotta earn my keep. Also, I seem to remember some posts that seem to have mysteriously disappeared from StE(r). OK, I've been working too hard, and away too long. The posts are coming, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gettysburg Living History - Review and Critique

Maybe it's me, but the older I get, the more I appreciate living history-type events. Of any event I've been to, a simple living history at Gettysburg has given me a certain perspective of the battle that I wouldn't appreciated otherwise. I've visited Gettysburg once before, and took the cassette guided tour of the battlefield. That helped place events, but it really didn't grant a connection. This time, I was really able to walk the battlefield and look at it from dawn to dusk.

As an event, it was a great experience that I appreciate the NPS allowing us to participate in. We camped in Pitzer's Woods, one of the three areas in the park they allot for living history programs. The weekend was a three-day event for us, with Friday used as a ceremonial day, and Saturday and Sunday as demonstration days.

I actually arrived in Gettysburg on Thursday night, car pooling up with my pards out of Fayetteville. If you don't car pool, I recommend it. It makes life easier, safer, it brings down the travelling bill a tad, and you get hash over happenings with your friends.

Come Friday, it was time to do some walking around and sight-seeing before jumping into reenactor mode. We walked out from the hotel downtown, and on to Cemetery Hill and the surrounding area. From there it was onto the Visitor's Center and a nice walk to Pitzer's Woods. Unfortunately, this walk would become my undoing later on.

Later that day, most of the North Carolina troops for the weekend arrived for the wreath-laying ceremony at the North Carolina Monument. The day also grew hotter and hotter. We then had the great treat of walking the path of Pickett and Pettigrew's charge with a NPS guide giving us narrative all the way to the High-Water Mark. This was a great experience, especially for anyone with relatives who made the charge, like myself. Not only that, we were representing the unit my relatives were part of when they made the charge, the 37th NCT.

I'm glad I made it the High-Water Mark, because my body decided between the walk earlier, the heat and the antibiotics I was taking for Lyme Disease, it wasn't going to move any faster than a slow walk back to camp. I made it back to the monument, and after that, a reenactor-friendly couple drove me back to camp. I admit I did my damnedest to walk all the way, but at that moment my Captain had more common-sense than me, so I took the ride on his "advice".

Wonderful thing the human body, after an hour cooling off and hydrating up, I was feeling very good again. For the rest of the weekend, everything went swimmingly.

Both Saturday and Sunday were mirror images of each other, with structured demos in front of appreciative crowds. As a group, us North Carolinians didn't do too bad. Our impressions were great, and the drill, although not flawless, looked and functioned well. It was great, and something we should continually work for.

This event was almost a watershed moment in my reenacting career, too. Although I like burning the powder, I'm becoming more interested in telling the story rather than getting into line and duking it out. I'll be moving more toward the living history side of things.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Reenacting as a national obsession

Here's a great article about the UK's obsession with historical reenacting in the Daily Mail. It interviews several reenactors about the way they see the hobby. Very nice read with very positive spin about the European reenacting scene.

Reenacting links of the week

Here are some reenacting links for this week:

Late 19th Century/Victorian:
It’s mourning again in Fall River

American Civil War:
It's a Civil (War) affair
Civil War comes to Juniata: Local reenactors to stage famous battles
Civil War and Iron Ore
Funeral held for Confederate soldier's tooth
History lesson comes to Hanover

Early Frontier:
Plover Rendezvous offers experience of the past

F&IW and Revolutionary War:
Battle of Blue Licks
Reenactors to bring historic clash to life at Bushy Run
White Hawks Primitive Riflemen ready for big reenactment
Reenactors battle in Crown Point

Medieval group arms for battle

The Vikings are coming!

Here's an interesting story about a reconstructed Viking ship sailing from Demark to Ireland. It's an exact copy of a ship that sank in a Danish fjord about the year 1072 - after being built in Ireland. The scientists that built it wanted to study Viking ship building technique.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wartime Letters of George R. Stancil 1861-1864 Pt4

Jackson River Depot VA August the 25 1861

Dear Miss

I received your kind and consoling letter last night with which I was highly pleased that you were well you will learn from this that I am tolerable well at present but have had a hard time with the measles. I have traveled a great deal since I wrote you last. We left Weldon the 12th of this month and got to Peters Burg the same night and they was as kind to me as they could be for which I was very thankful to them They wanted us to stay there but we could not stay so we left Peters Burg the next day for Richmond and got there the same day we left Peters Burg. We stayed at Richmond for a day or two and have been traveling on for this place ever since till yesterday. We will leave here some time this week and go to Lewis Burg.

I must tell you my dear that I think of you every day that comes over my head. When I think of you it causes my heart to hurt within me when I think of the happy days that we have spent together and now I am where I cannot see thy Beautiful face but I hope to return home if it the will of Providence and I will with ____and pleasure tell you, you will release my burdened heart by sending me another kind Letter with some braid of your beautiful hair and I will with pleasure send you my Dugareotype as soon as I can have it taken and I am truly sorry that you did not get the other one. Be certain to send me some braid of your hair and I will bring it back to you or carry it to my grave. I have nothing more to write that would interest you. So I must close by saying I remain your sincere friend until Death

- Write soon Direct to Lewis Burg

When this you see remember me
Though many miles apart we be
Round is the ring that has no end

So is my love to you my friend

George R. Stancel to Miss Winnferd E. Dupree


The regimental history says this of George Stancil's stay around August 25th:

After one day in camp west of Richmond the regiment was ordered to Staunton to join General John B. Floyd's Army of the Kanawha. The regiment encamped at Bunger's Mill, four miles west of Lewisburg, where it remained until September 9...

The letter places George at Jackson River Depot (present day Clifton Forge, VA) after a two week train ride from Richmond. More than likely, he was on the Virginia Central Railroad, as described here from an NPS site discussing the importance of the Shenandoah Valley area:

Serving the Upper Valley, the Virginia Central Railroad ran more than 195 miles from Jackson's River Depot near Covington to Richmond--via Buffalo Gap to Staunton and via Rockfish Gap Tunnel to Charlottesville and beyond. Between Charlottesville and Gordonsville, the Virginia Central used the same tracks as the O&A, enabling connections to Lynchburg and points south, or Culpeper, Manassas, and Alexandria to the north. From Gordonsville, the Virginia Central continued east via Hanover Junction to Richmond. This railroad carried vital supplies from the Valley to the Confederate capital (with disruptions) well into 1864.

Soon after arriving at Jackson River Depot, the 14th NCSV marched to Lewisburg, VA (now WV) and encamped at Bunger's Mill. The regiment was to join the newly formed Army of the Kanawha a few days after it reached Lewisburg.

George is also very lucky, he managed to beat a case of the measles just before the time he wrote this letter. Til this time, the 14th NCSV regiment is still untried in battle.

Its REALLY been one of those summers...

Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good when you feel under the weather. But then again, when it's treatable, it's not such a bad thing, especially when it could turn much worse.

When I made my last post, little did I know that a couple days later I'd find a strange rash above my ankle caused by a tick bite. The doc took one look and said it could be a sign of early stage Lyme Disease. The general symptoms included fatigue and flu-like bouts, which I had plenty of.

The good news is that I caught it early got some treatment, and hopefully will see the last of it soon. At this stage of the disease, the cure is worse than the sickness. But I do count myself as lucky and I do advise all reenacting bros to keep a close eye on any tick bites.

Although the symptoms have taken me away from the computer, I'm beginning to feel like myself again. I even went to Gettysburg for a living history last weekend, and I'm primed to start writing again.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Its been one of those summers...

I've been out a week on the sick rolls. When you feel crappy, then it's hard to write about anything fun - like reenacting. Now, I'm back and ready for service!