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flattop32355
11-18-2006, 08:25 PM
I'm gonna go out on a limb, here, and figure that the following isn't a cph/mainstream thing, but present in all branches.

How much material culture knowledge is adequate?

Yeah, the more you know, the better, but are all of us required to know everything down to the microfiber level to be considered good reenactors?

At the basic level, I think most would agree that there's a difference between knowing that a soldier needed a blanket, weapon, food, etc. to function, or being clueless. Anyone who fails to realize these things has pretty much already lost the battle, if not the war, on reenacting.

Then comes the next level: What does a good blanket, weapon, etc. look like compared to something that isn't accurate? We're talking about the gross observation of the items, here, not at the grain pattern or the stitches per inch yet. If you will, the point where you can say with some degree of certainty, "Yeah, that looks like a decent hat/sackcoat/cartridge box" instead of "Whoa! I'm glad that's not part of my gear". Using foods only in their proper seasons.

Then you head into the next level: Weft, weave and welt (I think I'm saying that correctly), proper stitching, thickness of leather, correct shape of stock and barrel, eating only period correct apple and rice varieties, etc.

I have to confess, the third level doesn't hold much appeal to me. With all the other things about the hobby that do hold my interest, this stuff isn't going to get much personal time, and I either have to rely on what other, trusted soles who do like to delve in that deep have to say, or remain ignorant. I could stare at a garment's material for hours and not tell if it's good or not.

I'm fairly stuck in the second level, and even there, I can get lost in the details on some things. I'm not even sure I can separate the wheat from the chaff on things like, "Is this a stainless steel canteen, or a tin one?" I can tell you whether a particular cloth cover is more common, or which makers used chain or cord with the stoppers, but not what the thing is made of; they look the same to me.

I hesitate to use the perceived cop-out of, "Well, the real soldiers didn't know these things, they just used them". Though valid, it begs the question of knowing whether the items in my kit are accurate or not. They didn't have to worry about such things, because all their items were guaranteed authentic.

So, where do some of the rest of you sit on this question? Do you struggle with it, also, or am I just cannon fodder for the OTB and AC on this one?

The "Always enjoy leaving my hindquarters out to dry" Mess.

MStuart
11-18-2006, 08:38 PM
Does it mean that I, too, should suffer eternal damnation because I can't tell the difference between a mucket from Old Sutler John and one from the Village Tinsmith?

As Bernard indicated, some differences in items stand out, others require the discerning eye of the "historian". I'll blaspheme and say I don't think it really matters where you get items such as canteens halves from. Your trousers are a different matter, though.

Mark

jurgitemvaletem
11-18-2006, 10:00 PM
I hesitate to use the perceived cop-out of, "Well, the real soldiers didn't know these things, they just used them". Though valid, it begs the question of knowing whether the items in my kit are accurate or not. They didn't have to worry about such things, because all their items were guaranteed authentic.



Bernie,

It seems to me that you are getting real close here to "If they had them, they would have used them"

thanks,
Jurgitem Valetem

Memphis
11-18-2006, 10:10 PM
I'll blaspheme and say I don't think it really matters where you get items such as canteens halves from.

Ever seen a stainless steel canteen half?

A canteen half without a lip?

How about a correct canteen half?

When is the last time someone tossed a canteen in the fire and made a pair?

I'll go out on a limb here and suggest supporting research by purchasing it when and where available. Plenty of options for good reading are available.

White Horse
11-18-2006, 10:31 PM
Does it mean that I, too, should suffer eternal damnation because I can't tell the difference between a mucket from Old Sutler John and one from the Village Tinsmith?

As Bernard indicated, some differences in items stand out, others require the discerning eye of the "historian". I'll blaspheme and say I don't think it really matters where you get items such as canteens halves from. Your trousers are a different matter, though.

Mark

The difference might be in knowing wether a "Mucket" is correct at all...

Go with a tin can boiler with a wire bail from a good manufacture and you are always good, probably cheaper too.

I have been ding this for 15 plus years, and I have bought some junk, still have some of it, still use some of it, but I am weeding it out as rapidly as possible. I can recall when ANY stor bought wool pants ere "hardcore"! I can remember the filling station uniforms, recycled combat boots, and blue jeans with yellow stripes sewn on the sides were "de rigour".
Once ou learn, it isn't hard to spot the bad stuff, and to be blunt, the good stuff just is not tat much more expensive. My regret is the money i spent on inauthentic junk.

Hardtimes
11-19-2006, 07:40 AM
I guess i've been in the authentic side of the hobby too long, Been a corporal nearly nine of ten years. While watching the Rem day parade Saturday i was amazed at the rank upon rank of Federals of differeant groups passing by who held their arms at Right Shoulder shift not the way I have been drilled in and have taught new folks over the years. From this it would seem many are being taught it uncorrectly.

The weapon held too Low, instead of the trigger guard being by ones neck or ear, the trigger guard was down by the breast.

Some things dont cost money to get right. I'd have to say it's the "that's good enough mentality" that prevades this hobby more, not the if they had it they would of used it way of thinking.
Bill O'Dea
Salt boiler mess (http://www.rugglesrag.com/salt_boiler_mess.htm)
Syracuse NY

GrumpyDave
11-19-2006, 08:27 AM
I think it's reasonable to know some basic history of the time period. What fabrics did and didn't exist, how soldiers lived on battlefields, and the like. Those things should be able to be communicated to the public too. IMHO. I can see a huge us vs them flame war in this thread.

:evil:

Hardtimes
11-19-2006, 09:32 AM
Mine was in no way meant as lead off runner to a us vs them.
Just an observation and example about commitment to ones hobby. Right shoulder shift, arms is one aspect i took for granted .
Bill

VaTrooper
11-19-2006, 09:39 AM
"If they had them, they would have used them"



If Lee would have had polyester he'd have won the war. :lol:

Dave Myrick
11-19-2006, 10:58 AM
Well here's my 2 cents,
I think as a reenactor, one has to research to find out what was correct for the time period in question. We simply can't rely on a "sutler" or anyone else to do that for us. They are out there to make a buck after all. Knowing that however isn't enough. We also have to research and find out how it was used and replicate that as well.
I for myself have found that properly reproduced items not only look better, but wear better and last longer and add to my comfort when in the field. A blouse or jacket made from the correct weave and weight wool is just more comfortable on that 90 degree days. Also doing cavalry is very tough on gear and the cheap stuff doesn't last or won't work right.
You better believe that a blouse made from blanket weight wool would not have been accepted. The men of the time were not ignorant either of such things as types of leather and fabrics. The history is littered with letters from men to home asking for boots made of sturdy leather or flannel shirts.
So while its true that they didn't care a wit about where their canteen came from or how their blouse was stitched they did know if they were getting crap or stuff they could use and last.

Dave Myrick

Proud member of the knowing this will fall on deaf ears mess

Memphis
11-19-2006, 11:19 AM
Does it mean that I, too, should suffer eternal damnation because I can't tell the difference between a mucket from Old Sutler John and one from the Village Tinsmith?

Life is easy when the correct answer is neither.

flattop32355
11-19-2006, 11:37 AM
I think it's reasonable to know some basic history of the time period. What fabrics did and didn't exist, how soldiers lived on battlefields, and the like.

There's a difference between knowing that the uniforms were wool and knowing what cloth weight, weave, etc. were generally used. That's my point and my question.


IMHO. I can see a huge us vs them flame war in this thread.

That's exactly what I don't want to see. I also don't want to see it about anything other than the material culture; no Man or Method on this one, just Materials.

Those who wish to pick a fight don't need an excuse to do so. Those who wish to enter into reasonable discussion shouldn't have to fear belligerence from those who would disrupt the debate.

flattop32355
11-19-2006, 11:41 AM
Bernie,
It seems to me that you are getting real close here to "If they had them, they would have used them"

Not at all: We're not talking whether polyester is an acceptable alternative to wool for uniform jackets, for example. We're talking about whether a given wool weight, weave, etc. is acceptable and/or noticeable. The same holds for any other item across the spectrum, be it weapon, leathers, canteen, et. al.

Mint Julep
11-19-2006, 12:22 PM
Not at all: We're not talking whether polyester is an acceptable alternative to wool for uniform jackets, for example. We're talking about whether a given wool weight, weave, etc. is acceptable and/or noticeable. The same holds for any other item across the spectrum, be it weapon, leathers, canteen, et. al.

Purchase the CRRC. It shows you what to look for in a reproduction item by showing what an original looks like.

MJ

Jim of the SRR
11-19-2006, 12:40 PM
Life is easy when the correct answer is neither.

Even that answer isn't easy. As no one really makes correctly plated tinware the way it was made in the 1860s. You can come close, but I haven't seen exactly correct yet.

Jim Butler

tompritchett
11-19-2006, 01:47 PM
IMHO. I can see a huge us vs them flame war in this thread.

Granted, there is definitely the potential for one with this subject, but so far the discussion has been reasonable. While I am not sure that I agree with Bernie's definitions of the tiers, I do agree with the general direction of his inquiry of how much knowledge of material culture should be consided the absolute minimum, especially when research in one direction might limit one's time to research in another. In some ways this discussion reminds me of when Abrams, I believe, was Army Chief of Staff and tried to formalize what was considered minimum skills/knowledge that a soldier in each speciality and skill was required to know. IMHO, that system got so hung up on codifying the details that it seemed to loss track of the overall purpose of the system and, thus, was ultimately scrapped many years later.

jurgitemvaletem
11-19-2006, 03:40 PM
Well here's my 2 cents,
I think as a reenactor, one has to research to find out what was correct for the time period in question. We simply can't rely on a "sutler" or anyone else to do that for us. They are out there to make a buck after all. Knowing that however isn't enough. We also have to research and find out how it was used and replicate that as well.
I for myself have found that properly reproduced items not only look better, but wear better and last longer and add to my comfort when in the field. A blouse or jacket made from the correct weave and weight wool is just more comfortable on that 90 degree days. Also doing cavalry is very tough on gear and the cheap stuff doesn't last or won't work right.
You better believe that a blouse made from blanket weight wool would not have been accepted. The men of the time were not ignorant either of such things as types of leather and fabrics. The history is littered with letters from men to home asking for boots made of sturdy leather or flannel shirts.
So while its true that they didn't care a wit about where their canteen came from or how their blouse was stitched they did know if they were getting crap or stuff they could use and last.

Dave Myrick

Proud member of the knowing this will fall on deaf ears mess

I disagree that all sutlers are out there onlyto make a buck. Most of the more correct makers are out there to secure the development of the hobby, at least in my perspective.

thanks,
Jurgitem Valetem

bill watson
11-19-2006, 04:55 PM
Speaking generally:
What none of us know doesn't matter. If it's wrong and nobody knows, it doesn't matter.
What all of us know does matter, because if you've got the wrong stuff everyone knows.
What some of us know matters to those who know more than it does to those who don't.
And then there are those who think they know something but actually don't, which doesn't stop them from incorporating what they think they know into their judgment calls.
How's that? Pretty confusing?
I'm pretty sure we know more about fabric and stitch count and whatnot than they knew. Why would they know that?
Here's irony: Presume we can haul my great grandfather forward from 1863 and plunk him down in front of an assortment of reproduction gear. His job is to identify which of the items are not issued by his army. My bet is he'd not have enough information to make the call unless something was made from a material he'd never seen. But a lot of us could do it.
This isn't just for material culture. Like Bill O'Dea, now that I know the right way to do right shoulder shift I am constantly diverted by the number of folks who aren't doing it right. But whatever it is we are all still, undoubtedly doing wrong in drill doesn't bother me a bit. In this arena, however, my great grandfather could probably instantly spot the badly drilled imposters, since manual of arms stuff was the common denominator, it was talked about, and the ability to do it correctly was an articulated matter of pride that found its way into journals and accounts.

brown30741
11-19-2006, 05:14 PM
I think the Bill's have hit on a very important (if slightly off topic) point. Knowing material culture alone is not enough (although in my heyday of living history I could spout that kind of stuff long enough to bore most people). Would the worst behaved regiment in the Army of the Cumberland have been as poorly drilled as the majority of reenacting units today? Sure, they had days, months, and years to practice, but are we showing the public what these men looked like when they picked-up a weapon?

And what about our knowledge of the world in which these men lived. Few would have told you which regiments advanced to where on the battlefield just as they wouldn't have told you the difference between an SA and a St Louis mounted service jacket (although I am not saying modern knowledge of this is bad). How many men of the armies were farmer or how many of you represent farmers of the period? What do you know about period farming? Other trades of that day? I know little of these things? What about politics of the day? These men (Union, 1864) were the first Americans to vote in the field. Politics were important to them. Family life? Faith (not like today, either)?

I think we have many chances to share a knowledge of the past with people of today. However, it is multi-dimensional and I for one fall woefully short in many areas. I hope I have not offended any one or gotten too far off the original question, but this balancing act is something I care about when speaking of our past.
Respectfully,
Lindsey Brown

flattop32355
11-19-2006, 10:44 PM
I think we have many chances to share a knowledge of the past with people of today. However, it is multi-dimensional and I for one fall woefully short in many areas. I hope I have not offended any one or gotten too far off the original question, but this balancing act is something I care about when speaking of our past.

Obviously, you don't just get hung up on the material part of the period. There's much room to discuss the Man and Methods aspects of reencting the period.

But that's not the specific question asked here, and it was deliberately asked only on that one topic, to limit the debate to a manageable level.

I've already been informed on the OTB that it's the dumbest question asked in the history of reenacting. Well, so be it. I'll not get my panties in a wad over being criticized for an honest question.

Possibly, some see it as asking whether we need to know anything at all about the material culture, with the idea that it's not really necessary to know much. Well, that ain't the question. I think Bill Watson came closest, but it goes beyond knowing just the minimum required, to how much knowledge is needed to be at least competent (deleted).

As to spreading the knowledge around to the unwashed masses, I've stood by, painfully, while someone who knows a lot more material culture than I do spouted ad nauseum to folks about the detailed minutia of such things, when what the people really sought was something more usefull to understanding the war that was fought. What was gained, other than that fellow getting his jollies?

Then comes the other end of the education: What do we as reenactors gain? That's going to vary according to the interests of that reenactor. Some will delve in to the bottom of the information well, and others skim only on the surface, while most will dive in to varying depths on varying subjects. No one can discover it all. But those of us who wish to be known as "good" or accurate reenactors need to be aware of at least the minimum, and seek beyond that level.

chase196126
11-20-2006, 12:08 AM
Here's irony: Presume we can haul my great grandfather forward from 1863 and plunk him down in front of an assortment of reproduction gear. His job is to identify which of the items are not issued by his army. My bet is he'd not have enough information to make the call unless something was made from a material he'd never seen. But a lot of us could do it.

This statement embodies something i have been thinking about for some time. (With this i am in no way supporting having gear that is not properly researched or made) I always look at clothing i buy from the store and think, "Hey in 100 years from now what if there is some crazy person reproducing this pair of pants im wearing right now for living history?"

I like to look at the huge number of variations in clothing and think to myself, I wonder how silly the people in the future will look over analyzing the way my pair of Levis are made. Most people today dont think anything about their clothing except for whether or not they fit and look good. If we were transported 150 years into the future would a pair of jeans with a slightly different stitch size look odd to us? Do we notice or care what size the stitch is on our jeans today? I doubt that future reproduction would look anything different from what we have today in our eyes.

The other question surrounding this is, if my particular pair of Levis and maybe 5 other pairs survive to be 150 years old, will vendors then claim that these were the only styles available? Will there be a civilian contingent running around in a pair of levis that only 1/100000 of the population wore?

I would love to have a WWII vet. look at a mint condition article of clothing and a high quality reproduction side by side to see if he could tell the difference. That could be a very interesting experiment.

I hope i dont sound too crazy, its just fun to think about things like this ;-)

Chase Pinkham

Spinster
11-20-2006, 02:02 AM
Then you head into the next level: Weft, weave and welt (I think I'm saying that correctly), proper stitching, thickness of leather, correct shape of stock and barrel, eating only period correct apple and rice varieties, etc.

I have to confess, the third level doesn't hold much appeal to me. With all the other things about the hobby that do hold my interest, this stuff isn't going to get much personal time, and I either have to rely on what other, trusted soles who do like to delve in that deep have to say, or remain ignorant. I could stare at a garment's material for hours and not tell if it's good or not.

So, where do some of the rest of you sit on this question? Do you struggle with it, also, or am I just cannon fodder for the OTB and AC on this one?



Doc B,

Lets look a moment at my flip side of this---I care all about warp, weft, sett, draft, treadle and such. My hero is Malinda Taylor "I have put the children's winter clothes on the loom today" October 1863. For a very long time I held to the notion that the only thing a woman of my age and station needed to know about the military was how to stay out of their path.

And that very idea does a disservice to the richness of life and the intelligence of the folks we are portraying. They knew it--as should we.

Certainly that task can be near to paralysing at times--way too much detail to be absorbed all at once. But, that's the beauty of this--there is always something new to learn and grow into.

At this point, your eye may not be able to tell the difference between a stainless canteen and a tin one. I bet your mouth can readily discern that difference, especially on a hot day, and give you a new appreciation for the taste of clean water.

And, while you do not currently discern the differences in certain period fabrics, you certainly have the ability to learn that---after all, its a good bet your modern eyes can readily tell a Brooks Brothers suit from one from Sears. And you know the difference between 'church clothes' and 'school clothes' and 'play clothes' from childhood--even if those lines have blurred in recent years.

Material culture is about just that---culture. That which we absorb and learn from our surroundings, that which is common knowledge and common thought to the society.

Certainly its a struggle--the acquisition of any sort of education or knowledge never comes easy.

But its always fun. Like most anything else, you get out what you put in.

sbl
11-20-2006, 07:04 AM
http://cagle.com/news/ReviloFunnyBusiness/images/NICECLOTHES.jpg

cookiemom
11-20-2006, 07:39 AM
This statement embodies something i have been thinking about for some time. (With this i am in no way supporting having gear that is not properly researched or made) I always look at clothing i buy from the store and think, "Hey in 100 years from now what if there is some crazy person reproducing this pair of pants im wearing right now for living history?"

I like to look at the huge number of variations in clothing and think to myself, I wonder how silly the people in the future will look over analyzing the way my pair of Levis are made. Most people today dont think anything about their clothing except for whether or not they fit and look good. If we were transported 150 years into the future would a pair of jeans with a slightly different stitch size look odd to us? Do we notice or care what size the stitch is on our jeans today? I doubt that future reproduction would look anything different from what we have today in our eyes.

The other question surrounding this is, if my particular pair of Levis and maybe 5 other pairs survive to be 150 years old, will vendors then claim that these were the only styles available? Will there be a civilian contingent running around in a pair of levis that only 1/100000 of the population wore?

I would love to have a WWII vet. look at a mint condition article of clothing and a high quality reproduction side by side to see if he could tell the difference. That could be a very interesting experiment.

I hope i dont sound too crazy, its just fun to think about things like this ;-)

Chase Pinkham
I wonder... if you (or anyone) look in your closet or drawer for the oldest items of clothing you have, I'll bet that those you find were never your most favorite pieces. Those favorites you probably wore out a long time ago.

My dad was USMC/WWII, and had two sets of green 'fatigues' [PEC ;) ] which he wore for heavy or dirty work around the house/yard, until they fell apart.

Was replacement clothing so readily available after the CW that returning soldiers would have 'retired' their uniforms, and not worn them (or parts of them) again? [either out of thriftiness, or an attempt to stay connected to their experience...]

bill watson
11-20-2006, 08:44 AM
"And, while you do not currently discern the differences in certain period fabrics, you certainly have the ability to learn that---after all, its a good bet your modern eyes can readily tell a Brooks Brothers suit from one from Sears. And you know the difference between 'church clothes' and 'school clothes' and 'play clothes' from childhood--even if those lines have blurred in recent years."

There's no denying we have to know more about some of this stuff than most people back then troubled themselves about. I think there's a slight backlash going on at falling in with someone who has the impression of a 19-year-old farmboy but talks about the construction of his jacket in the ranks. If his impression is of a tailor's apprentice who finds himself in the army, ok maybe. But a farmboy? While the knowledge is necessary, interesting and useful, it really needs to stay like most of the iceburg, out of sight.

There's also, now and then, a disconnect between clothing worn for an impression and what that person's status in life would have really produced in the way of clothing. Take your farmboy, give him a wheel hat because he thinks that's just the most fascinating headgear he's ever seen, nobody else has one and he wants to stand out; let him add a cravat to it, and let him, the 19-year-old, tie it the way his grandfather would have worn it in 1862; keep layering incongruity on top of nonsequitor, and you've got something quite a few of us have seen: A reenactor who is a conglomeration of disconnects based on accumulation of facts, clothing and gear on the basis of what's cool to him, with no critical reasoning applied in evolving the interpretation. He knows all about the stuff he wants to wear anyway; he may not know how to create a plausible impression of a particular person from a particular station in life.
Not the end of the world, and surely a more interesting situation than polyester uniforms, but worth mentioning, I guess, in Mr. Biederman's discussion about how knowledge of the culture plays out in our odd little world. :-)

Memphis
11-20-2006, 09:19 AM
Just imagine the exceptional depth of scholarly accomplishment necessary to say "get beyond the gear."

Surely no one has ever said that before. :rolleyes:

flattop32355
11-20-2006, 10:48 AM
after all, its a good bet your modern eyes can readily tell a Brooks Brothers suit from one from Sears. And you know the difference between 'church clothes' and 'school clothes' and 'play clothes' from childhood--even if those lines have blurred in recent years.

Alas, I must admit that I wouldn't know a Brooks Brothers suit from any other; such has never been an issue for me. The last time I bought suits, it took 20 minutes to buy two, from the time I entered the store to the time I left the building. It was a matter of, "Yeah, these look okay, I'll take 'em".

Could be I don't have the gene for such things, but it's been that way all my life, and not just for clothing.

As for the difference between church clothes and school clothes example, that's kinda my original point: Yes, I can tell the difference, why you would wear one to one place but not the other, but not down to the type of fabric level (English kersey? some other kersey?), or even beyond to the weave, etc.

It's the difference between knowing the gross differences, but not necessarily knowing the fine ones. Where is that line drawn between the casual reeanctor and, for lack of a better term, a "good" one? I know not to buy a "Barney" coat, but I don't know the details beyond a certain, general level. I'd be willing to bet that most of the "good" reeanctors don't know a lot about it, either, not to the fine level.

AZReenactor
11-20-2006, 12:09 PM
Seems to me a big part of this issue is the matter of honesty; to the public, to one's comrades, and to oneself.

I can't tell you how much I cringe when I hear someone ask a question about uniform or gear be answered by a reenactor describe their Cheap & Crappy uniform & kit as an example of what the soldiers wore and used. Frustration wells up in me when I see someone curious about how soldiers lived peek into the interior of some reenactors personal wedge tent complete with canvas covered cooler, blanket covered sleeping bag and cot, folding canvas chair, carpet bag of extra stuff and large kerosene lantern. My stomach turns when I see people curious about what soldiers ate walk beneath a unit's large flat dining fly, next to the firepit with its large cast iron grate, pots, ovens, and various other implements, to examine the pies, cookies, chips, chili, store bought bread, unavailable fruits, and what have you that have been laid out on the cloth covered plywood table by the wives of reenactors who are, for the most part, only there because their husbands have drug them along into their peculiar hobby and really have no more interest in history than reading an occasional historical romance novel at best. There is some good people out there and lots who are really sincere in their efforts to inform and educate the general public about life during the American Civil war. There are people who want the public to see uniforms and gear that are a true and accurate reproduction of items they normally only get see through glass in museums or as photos in books. There are people who want to actually strive to live like the soldiers did back then as not only some sort of abstract living historians but as a form of living history where the public discovers the scenes and experiences described in "dry dusty history books" suddenly alive and in front of them in a manner where they can actually experience it with all their senses and even interact with it. Sadly though, so much of the interpretation being done is so bad as to be akin to pulling out a pop tart to describe hardtack or pack of Marlboros to interpret the soldiers use of tobacco. Unfourtunately, because the reenactor doesn't know or really doesn't care they just keep on perpetrating their misinformation to people who are curious enough about our nations history and heritage to show up at our events.

The lies being told to the public are only part of it though. All too frequently, in the elusive grasp for increased numbers and perceived prestige,units and unit "leaders" choose to compromise in an attempt to make the hobby more accessible and easy to slide into for new recruits who are only mildly interested in history and the era. Far too often new or inexperienced reenactors are lied to by other reenactors who's only goal is to cover over their unit's shortcuts and shortcomings in an effort get people to join or remain in their unit without disrupting the mediocrity they've become accustomed to. Too many units today are being led by men too old or infirm to live as the soldiers actually did and have chosen to compromise historical integrity as well as the goals and standards of whole units rather than change or give up the hobby they've enjoyed for so many years. Far to often these units spend time enthralling young reenactors with stories of the immersive and great reenactments of 1996, 1986, etc. where they were so much closer to really experiencing the life of a Civil War soldier while all the time leaving the 19 year old kids question of "why don't we do those kind of reenactments today" unanswered or all to frequently blaming others for the inertia that the hobby is experiencing all too often today.

For me though, the bottom line is a matter of honesty to self. I'm not satisfied to put on a costume and perform a skit about Civil War soldier life, I want to actually find myself walking, as closely as I possibly can, in the shoes of people whom I've only been able to catch mere glimpses of through the stories, documents, and artifacts they left behind. The five/ten foot rule will never be good enough for me, simply beacause I wish to get closer to my gear than that and I will know the difference.

This thread starting out with the question about, "How much material culture knowledge is adequate?", but it seems I've wondered well beyond the gear in my response. The material culture, is only a small portion of a much larger question of how much of anything in the hobby is "enough". The answer to that question for me is that the answer is no amount is enough. Many of those who seek to cast dispersions on the "hardcore" end of the hobby like to point out that it is impossible for us to ever recreate history with 100% accuracy. Whether it is the fact we drove to the event rather than marched there with an army column, that quality reproductions are being made by artisans and craftspeople preserving a link with the past rather than by factory workers mass producing items in an age where labor was cheaper than materials, or that atomic blasts have changed the radioactivity levels of metals being produced today there are certainly always going to be things that keep us from being able to recreate the past the way we might really wish to. The question for me is not how much is adequate but how accurate and authentic can we get.

Given this approach it is extremely important to know more about Civil War uniforms than that they were often made of wool. There are certainly people who are more expert in aspects of material culture than I will ever be. There are artisans who have literally dedicated life and careers to making as authentic reproductions as possible. My circumstances preclude this, but the question for me will never be how much must I learn, but rather how much can I learn, what limits will my intellect and circumstances allow me to reach in my chosen pursuit? Maybe I lived too long in Missouri but, even when an "expert" tells me something is so, I always reply "show me."

hanktrent
11-20-2006, 12:15 PM
It's the difference between knowing the gross differences, but not necessarily knowing the fine ones. Where is that line drawn between the casual reeanctor and, for lack of a better term, a "good" one?

It's like asking, in any endeavor, "how good is good enough?" And the answer is always, "Good enough for whom?"

"How well do I have to play the piano to be considered good?" Do you mean good enough to please your favorite aunt Maude? Good enough not to be laughed off the local community stage? Good enough to play at Carnegie Hall?

If the answer is good enough for you, then only you can answer that.

If the answer is good enough for a particular peer group, then every group--every person, even--is going to answer differently.

But one way to approach the material culture question is to figure out why you'd need to know certain information.

--To be able to see what other more knowledgeable people are seeing? (if that's not a personal goal, no need)

--To be able to explain the answer if a member of the public asks? (if you're satisfied saying you don't know, or referring them to someone who does know, no need)

--To be able to make an informed purchase? (if you don't care, or if you have others you're happy relying on to advise you, no need)

--To be able to better replicate a person from the 1860s? (if that's not a goal, or the person you're portraying wouldn't know it, no need)

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

toptimlrd
11-20-2006, 02:08 PM
Seems to me a big part of this issue is the matter of honesty; to the public, to one's comrades, and to oneself.

I can't tell you how much I cringe when I hear someone ask a question about uniform or gear be answered by a reenactor describe their Cheap & Crappy uniform & kit as an example of what the soldiers wore and used. " etc.

Well stated Troy. Far too many get bogged down in only the material culture. Of course the material culture is a huge part of what we do but you hit the nail on the head with the rest of your post when you state that some (and only a few) try to pass of their canvas covered coolers in the A-frame (or even wall tent) as authentic. As I've stated in other posts, you have to have the right mind set before anything else really matters. I do not look down on the blanket coverd cot or canvassed cooler as long as we do not try to portray that as accurate. Likewise I do not look on to the hardcore as some elitist who has no grip on reality as I occasionally live in both reenacting worlds.

madisontigers
11-20-2006, 02:44 PM
I wonder... if you (or anyone) look in your closet or drawer for the oldest items of clothing you have, I'll bet that those you find were never your most favorite pieces. Those favorites you probably wore out a long time ago.

My dad was USMC/WWII, and had two sets of green 'fatigues' [PEC ;) ] which he wore for heavy or dirty work around the house/yard, until they fell apart.

God bless him, and many thanks to brave men like him who stepped up to the plate in a time of war. My dad served in the Pacific in WWII as well.

"Was replacement clothing so readily available after the CW that returning soldiers would have 'retired' their uniforms, and not worn them (or parts of them) again? [either out of thriftiness, or an attempt to stay connected to their experience"...]

You make a wonderful point here. I think the answer is both, yes and no. Many folks, especially in my region, the mountains of Western North Carolina, more than likely needed the clothes that they wore on their backs. Some also put their uniforms away, as a momento for later generations. The G. Gouge jacket is a perfect example. Gouge, who was a private in the 58th NC, a NC regiment recruited from Western North Carolina counties, brought home his Tait jacket. Most scholars believe this jacket was issued sometime after the battle of Bentonville, which was fought in March, 1865. So, he more than likely wore it home, and put it away.

David Long

madisontigers
11-20-2006, 02:50 PM
Seems to me a big part of this issue is the matter of honesty; to the public, to one's comrades, and to oneself.

I can't tell you how much I cringe when I hear someone ask a question about uniform or gear be answered by a reenactor describe their Cheap & Crappy uniform & kit as an example of what the soldiers wore and used. Frustration wells up in me when I see someone curious about how soldiers lived peek into the interior of some reenactors personal wedge tent complete with canvas covered cooler, blanket covered sleeping bag and cot, folding canvas chair, carpet bag of extra stuff and large kerosene lantern. My stomach turns when I see people curious about what soldiers ate walk beneath a unit's large flat dining fly, next to the firepit with its large cast iron grate, pots, ovens, and various other implements, to examine the pies, cookies, chips, chili, store bought bread, unavailable fruits, and what have you that have been laid out on the cloth covered plywood table by the wives of reenactors who are, for the most part, only there because their husbands have drug them along into their peculiar hobby and really have no more interest in history than reading an occasional historical romance novel at best. There is some good people out there and lots who are really sincere in their efforts to inform and educate the general public about life during the American Civil war. There are people who want the public to see uniforms and gear that are a true and accurate reproduction of items they normally only get see through glass in museums or as photos in books. There are people who want to actually strive to live like the soldiers did back then as not only some sort of abstract living historians but as a form of living history where the public discovers the scenes and experiences described in "dry dusty history books" suddenly alive and in front of them in a manner where they can actually experience it with all their senses and even interact with it. Sadly though, so much of the interpretation being done is so bad as to be akin to pulling out a pop tart to describe hardtack or pack of Marlboros to interpret the soldiers use of tobacco. Unfourtunately, because the reenactor doesn't know or really doesn't care they just keep on perpetrating their misinformation to people who are curious enough about our nations history and heritage to show up at our events.

The lies being told to the public are only part of it though. All too frequently, in the elusive grasp for increased numbers and perceived prestige,units and unit "leaders" choose to compromise in an attempt to make the hobby more accessible and easy to slide into for new recruits who are only mildly interested in history and the era. Far too often new or inexperienced reenactors are lied to by other reenactors who's only goal is to cover over their unit's shortcuts and shortcomings in an effort get people to join or remain in their unit without disrupting the mediocrity they've become accustomed to. Too many units today are being led by men too old or infirm to live as the soldiers actually did and have chosen to compromise historical integrity as well as the goals and standards of whole units rather than change or give up the hobby they've enjoyed for so many years. Far to often these units spend time enthralling young reenactors with stories of the immersive and great reenactments of 1996, 1986, etc. where they were so much closer to really experiencing the life of a Civil War soldier while all the time leaving the 19 year old kids question of "why don't we do those kind of reenactments today" unanswered or all to frequently blaming others for the inertia that the hobby is experiencing all too often today.

For me though, the bottom line is a matter of honesty to self. I'm not satisfied to put on a costume and perform a skit about Civil War soldier life, I want to actually find myself walking, as closely as I possibly can, in the shoes of people whom I've only been able to catch mere glimpses of through the stories, documents, and artifacts they left behind. The five/ten foot rule will never be good enough for me, simply beacause I wish to get closer to my gear than that and I will know the difference.

This thread starting out with the question about, "How much material culture knowledge is adequate?", but it seems I've wondered well beyond the gear in my response. The material culture, is only a small portion of a much larger question of how much of anything in the hobby is "enough". The answer to that question for me is that the answer is no amount is enough. Many of those who seek to cast dispersions on the "hardcore" end of the hobby like to point out that it is impossible for us to ever recreate history with 100% accuracy. Whether it is the fact we drove to the event rather than marched there with an army column, that quality reproductions are being made by artisans and craftspeople preserving a link with the past rather than by factory workers mass producing items in an age where labor was cheaper than materials, or that atomic blasts have changed the radioactivity levels of metals being produced today there are certainly always going to be things that keep us from being able to recreate the past the way we might really wish to. The question for me is not how much is adequate but how accurate and authentic can we get.

Given this approach it is extremely important to know more about Civil War uniforms than that they were often made of wool. There are certainly people who are more expert in aspects of material culture than I will ever be. There are artisans who have literally dedicated life and careers to making as authentic reproductions as possible. My circumstances preclude this, but the question for me will never be how much must I learn, but rather how much can I learn, what limits will my intellect and circumstances allow me to reach in my chosen pursuit? Maybe I lived too long in Missouri but, even when an "expert" tells me something is so, I always reply "show me."



Well said! I agree %100.
Even if the public didn't know what an accurate reproduction kit looks like, which most do, you are only cheating yourself, when you come to accept your historically inaccurate impression.

flattop32355
11-20-2006, 05:28 PM
This thread starting out with the question about, "How much material culture knowledge is adequate?", but it seems I've wondered well beyond the gear in my response. The material culture, is only a small portion of a much larger question of how much of anything in the hobby is "enough".

Since the scope of it all is so great, that is why I tried to limit it to the most concrete leg of the triad. It was intentional, to try to focus discussion, with the other legs to come later, if interest warrented.

Seems it's going to burst forth into full bloom no matter how hard I try to focus it in on a single aspect. Who'd a'thunk it? :)

Hank Trent and I had a parallel discussion on trying to be "good" while attending less than ideal events. How good is good enough? I think he addressed this again in his earlier post here.

It all comes back to few of us (none of us?) can know it all; there's just too much out there to be learned, and we all have lives apart from reenacting that get in the way of studying like a monk in a monastery. Experts can key in on some aspects, but not on all of them; even they are mostly ignorant on some things beyond their area of expertise.

It's easy to say, "It's never enough". But no one ever can reach "enough". So we have to settle for something we personally consider as adequate, and maybe something a bit beyond, with the yardstick, hopefully, constantly shifting to the "more" direction.

tompritchett
11-20-2006, 06:23 PM
--To be able to better replicate a person from the 1860s? (if that's not a goal, or the person you're portraying wouldn't know it, no need)

Which I think is the original purpose of Bernie's question, or at least how I read it.

hanktrent
11-20-2006, 06:51 PM
--To be able to better replicate a person from the 1860s? (if that's not a goal, or the person you're portraying wouldn't know it, no need)

Which I think is the original purpose of Bernie's question, or at least how I read it.

Problem is, that's the "get beyond the gear" part of the equation, but if that's the goal, it's dependent back up the line on "the gear" part, which is



--To be able to make an informed purchase? (if you don't care, or if you have others you're happy relying on to advise you, no need)


If you've got people whose expertise you trust to guide you in purchases and/or making things, then you're all set.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Lone_Guard
11-20-2006, 07:46 PM
Too many units today are being led by men too old or infirm to live as the soldiers actually did and have chosen to compromise historical integrity as well as the goals and standards of whole units rather than change or give up the hobby they've enjoyed for so many years. Far to often these units spend time enthralling young reenactors with stories of the immersive and great reenactments of 1996, 1986, etc. where they were so much closer to really experiencing the life of a Civil War soldier while all the time leaving the 19 year old kids question of "why don't we do those kind of reenactments today" unanswered or all to frequently blaming others for the inertia that the hobby is experiencing all too often today.

Why do you think I joined the 1st California?

That was a bully post.

Spinster
11-20-2006, 08:41 PM
Could be I don't have the gene for such things, but it's been that way all my life, and not just for clothing.

As for the difference between church clothes and school clothes example, that's kinda my original point: Yes, I can tell the difference, why you would wear one to one place but not the other, but not down to the type of fabric level (English kersey? some other kersey?), or even beyond to the weave, etc.

It's the difference between knowing the gross differences, but not necessarily knowing the fine ones. Where is that line drawn between the casual reeanctor and, for lack of a better term, a "good" one? I know not to buy a "Barney" coat, but I don't know the details beyond a certain, general level. I'd be willing to bet that most of the "good" reeanctors don't know a lot about it, either, not to the fine level.

Okay--now I see a bit more about where you are going. Now--lets expand the church clothes/school clothes modern example. When you choose whether you are wearing church trousers or school trousers--they are still trousers--got 2 legs, waistband, pockets, a zipper--in fact, the only real difference in the two items IS the fabric--a discernment a middle aged professional man in modern America makes nearly without thinking.

Even "Dear Husband" (well known math geek in some CW circles) knows that Dockers are for the classroom and tropical weight wool is for the churchhouse. And I bet you make a similar choice between the trousers you wear to your dental office and the ones you wear for a night on the town. Same trousers, same size--different fabric.

You learned how those fabrics and weaves looked, and where to wear them, from the culture around you, even if you never learned the technical name for them.

Each person chooses their own area of interest though--you may know the OR's chapter and verse--they do not interest me a bit. But, if I'm to adequately portray a woman of 1863 in a certain place, then I must have a reasonable amount of knowledge about those battles that have affected my life, know about the recent legislation and embargos--and know what should be missing from my material culture surroundings because of those happenings.

While there is always something new to learn, with time and study, eventually a baseline of knowledge builds up so that one can reach a comfort level with certain types of portrayals. I can pretty well do poor white rural deep south late war in my sleep---but don't ask me to do anything approaching upper class.

In relying on the work of others for those areas where one does not have the time/energy/interest for the 'fine points'--the real key is the discernment to know who actually knows those fine points, and who just thinks they know--or is an expert in something else, and is afraid to answer that they don't know about that part too.

tompritchett
11-20-2006, 11:04 PM
If you've got people whose expertise you trust to guide you in purchases and/or making things, then you're all set.

On that we are in agreement.

flattop32355
11-20-2006, 11:48 PM
In relying on the work of others for those areas where one does not have the time/energy/interest for the 'fine points'--the real key is the discernment to know who actually knows those fine points, and who just thinks they know--or is an expert in something else, and is afraid to answer that they don't know about that part too.

"Ahhhh! There's the rub!"

Figuring out whom to trust in this hobby can sometimes seen like a crap shoot. One fellow tells you that Mr. X is the End All and Be All, while another tells you that Mr. X is a phony and a fraud. Both men are "respected" member of the hobby, as is Mr. X. And it doesn't matter if Mr. X is a vendor, field grade officer, simple reenactor or general hobby handyman. They're all saints or SOB's depending upon whom you talk to.

There are folk in this hobby whom I respect for what they DO, who seem **** bent upon ripping each other new anal openings on a daily basis. Who ya gonna believe?

Little ol' me can 't even keep a simple thread on subject past three posts...

And, unfortunately, you're still giving me way too much credit on fashion sense: My Dockers have been noted to be worn at church, social functions, casual places and everywhere else.

tompritchett
11-21-2006, 08:22 AM
And, unfortunately, you're still giving me way too much credit on fashion sense: My Dockers have been noted to be worn at church, social functions, casual places and everywhere else.

Going back to Hank's point about having someone whose knowledge in these matters we trust, this one reason why men have wives - to keep us from making the worst of inappropriate fashion blunders :wink:

road_apple1861
11-21-2006, 03:23 PM
Well this is the other side huh? the fighting about uniforms, rifles, and tins???
the way i see it is that we should be glade there are this many people in this hobby, yes some people might be a little too farbish dare i say but in the long run we all end up doing the same thing Portraying the men we want to remeber i dont think that the soldiers would have fought over who had the most weaves? all they probly cared about is it got the job done. Like a canteen is a canteen just coverd diffrently. I mean yea the more historicly acurate you are may be the better Im not going to lie I like to be accurate and try to buy the best stuff ut like i said above in the long run we all end up on the same field firing the same rifle (makers vary)(drills are another thing)
Living American History!

John Legg
11-21-2006, 05:05 PM
yes True edmund, but some living historians go out of there way to portray CW soldiers. ive been to many events where people just go to have fun with there buds, drink beer, ect...(but hey thats what mainstream events are for(in my opinion to have fun)). now if have not yet been to a progressive event, and this comming year i will be doing more progressive events rather that mainstream events. i go out and beyond my pay check, so i can be historicaly correct. i pretty much always practive my first person. and i Sew alot. i know we are recreating what the Real soldiers did at every event, but its not just all about going to an event to me. its what i wear, talk and think at every event i goto.


Cheers,

NC5thcav
11-21-2006, 05:19 PM
Well this is the other side huh? the fighting about uniforms, rifles, and tins???
the way i see it is that we should be glade there are this many people in this hobby, yes some people might be a little too farbish dare i say but in the long run we all end up doing the same thing Portraying the men we want to remeber i dont think that the soldiers would have fought over who had the most weaves? all they probly cared about is it got the job done. Like a canteen is a canteen just coverd diffrently. I mean yea the more historicly acurate you are may be the better Im not going to lie I like to be accurate and try to buy the best stuff ut like i said above in the long run we all end up on the same field firing the same rifle (makers vary)(drills are another thing)
Living American History!

The men we portray would be offended if we showed up for an event as them dressed like clowns. And some of the impressions I've seen have been little more than clowns. There is a difference between a $25 machine sewn cartridge box and a $100 hand sewn cartridge box, and it shows.

madisontigers
11-21-2006, 05:54 PM
The men we portray would be offended if we showed up for an event as them dressed like clowns. And some of the impressions I've seen have been little more than clowns. There is a difference between a $25 machine sewn cartridge box and a $100 hand sewn cartridge box, and it shows.


Well said Derek.

Rob Weaver
11-21-2006, 06:22 PM
No - I think the veterans would be honored that they have been remembered, even as imperfectly as we do sometimes. If you really want to see bad gear, look at the stuff made for the US Centennial in 1876. They simply didn't value gnat's eyelash authenticity back then. Look at the lithographs they covered their walls with in the 1880's. Are they any more authentic than your average mainstream battle scenario? Yet the veterans were still alive when they were published, and, one would presume, bought them like everybody else did. I've never read that any vet calling Currier and Ives "farbs" though "farbs" they were. I think the veterans would accept our humble attempts to keep their memory alive, just as they tried to keep that of the Men of '76.

John Legg
11-21-2006, 06:28 PM
I agree with that, but ive herd and sort of belive myself. that i Think they would be mad too. just think We Are pretty much "playing", they pretty much Fought and died.

road_apple1861
11-21-2006, 06:30 PM
Ok yea I know that Hand sewn is better Pretty much every thing to my kit is hand sewn or hand made. But still it dosent matter we are still honoring the vetrans of the civil war. so yes some uniforms may look bad like the Paki Jackets..I mean yeah I like to be authentic like I stated but I mean give those people that have the "non-authenic" uniforms a break what we should really be focusing is how well we as re-enactors know the Drill. uniforms should come after it.

thats my input,
Edmund Lockhart
5th Michigan Company K
Saginaw Light Infantry

road_apple1861
11-21-2006, 06:32 PM
Yea I think that too, but like I said you got to give the men who are trying to portray them acuratley with Paki uniforms credit. But if they go outa hand to just think this is dress up and all were going to do is play war well then they need to rethink why they joined this Hobby or life style to some.

hanktrent
11-21-2006, 07:23 PM
No - I think the veterans would be honored that they have been remembered, even as imperfectly as we do sometimes. If you really want to see bad gear, look at the stuff made for the US Centennial in 1876. They simply didn't value gnat's eyelash authenticity back then.

There are also stories about the ribbing that soldiers gave anyone who wasn't dressed "right," in their opinion. If an unusual hat or an oversize pair of boots caught a company's eye, the poor wearer would be derided with hoots and catcalls as he passed. "Paper collar" soldiers would be mocked for being dressed too fine, while city boys would deride others for looking like country bumpkins.

Gail Hamilton describes how women passing each other on the street would inspect each other's clothes and form a complete opinion of the other worthiness, in just the few seconds it took to walk by.

So are we imagining the people of the 1860s as old people watching us through some unknown veil?

Or are we imagining them as young, in the midst of the war, waiting around the next bend to size us up?

I expect there would be very different reactions.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

NC5thcav
11-21-2006, 07:50 PM
No - I think the veterans would be honored that they have been remembered, even as imperfectly as we do sometimes. If you really want to see bad gear, look at the stuff made for the US Centennial in 1876. They simply didn't value gnat's eyelash authenticity back then. Look at the lithographs they covered their walls with in the 1880's. Are they any more authentic than your average mainstream battle scenario? Yet the veterans were still alive when they were published, and, one would presume, bought them like everybody else did. I've never read that any vet calling Currier and Ives "farbs" though "farbs" they were. I think the veterans would accept our humble attempts to keep their memory alive, just as they tried to keep that of the Men of '76.

I don't mean people who actualy try. I mean the farb that wears a purple sack coat or tons of feathers and coon bones and stays in the Hilton tent with his cooler and three cases of beer. You know, the guys with their twelve miles of branch trim and three side arms. The same guys that complain about stitch nazis ruining their fun because they insist on something that resembles the original, not Gone With the Wind. That is not honoring the men, that's being a clown who likes to camp with guns and beer. If I wanted to do that I could do it a h*** of a lot cheaper. Ask a WW II vet if running around in the woods wearing a green jumpsuite and carrying a BB gun playing WW II if that honors him. It's the same idea, especially since the research and correct gear is out there and readily available.

RJSamp
11-21-2006, 08:53 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by NC5thcav
The men we portray would be offended if we showed up for an event as them dressed like clowns. And some of the impressions I've seen have been little more than clowns. There is a difference between a $25 machine sewn cartridge box and a $100 hand sewn cartridge box, and it shows.

Well said Derek.


Well said Derek.

1. How do you know they would be offended? Did you ask one?

2. What did they do when they reenacted, say, Pickett's Charge? Wear civilian clothes and hobble across a field with their canes?

3. I've seen 90% naked Indians and kilt wearing 'New Yorkers' at reenactments....but no clowns.....and no court jesters. They knew what clowns looked like.....do you? Been goen?

4. You need to get together with the cph 'accountants' who insist that buying authentic products isn't a lot more expensive than the cheap stuff and doesn't cost a 2nd mortgage. In your example an authentic item costs 400% more than a mainstream purchase. You're not toeing the cph company line and are defeating Mike Chapman's and other's lines of argumentation. Next you'll tell us that an authentic Federal Frock coat costs $525 and a Jarni frock coat costs $200 and buying authentic need not cost a lot more than buying the cheap stuff.

And I guarantee you....in a 350 rifle regiment you wouldn't be able to pick out the authentic cartridge box.....it doesn't show except under intense hands on scrutiny.

For all any of us know the veterans of the ACW might be offended about our reenacting for the simple fact that we've whitewashed the blood, gore, and horror of combat.......nothing to do with the weft or stitch craftsmanship or stitch count.

RJSamp
11-21-2006, 09:03 PM
Ask a WW II vet if running around in the woods wearing a green jumpsuite and carrying a BB gun playing WW II if that honors him. It's the same idea, especially since the research and correct gear is out there and readily available.

I asked that very question of my father when i started out reenacting. He thought it was 'neat' that people were trying to suit up and smoke Lucky's and drink Schlitz like he did in Southern France (7th Army, 100th Div, 399th Rifle Regiment, 3rd BN, Co. K, 1st Platoon).....

but it had nothing to do with 'honoring' him, his buddies, or those that didn't come home.

He suggested visiting a VA hospital on a regular basis and participating in Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, Armed Forces Day, NATO Day, et al memorials as far better uses of time......

and there would be no way to reenact being cold, scared, in line for weeks on end, always wet.....and when they finally got a hot meal for Thanksgiving 1944 he went to sit down while covering his turkey from the rain storm....and as he looked down at the cranberries, mashed potatoes with gravy, et al a dollop of cold rain water fell off of his poncho hood directly into the food.....

yes he cried.

Phil
11-21-2006, 09:18 PM
And I guarantee you....in a 350 rifle regiment you wouldn't be able to pick out the authentic cartridge box.....it doesn't show except under intense hands on scrutiny.

However, the infantrymen who aren't up to speed on how to properly ride and care for a horse will stand out like a sore thumb.

Memphis
11-21-2006, 10:18 PM
Props to Phil. :D

flattop32355
11-21-2006, 10:50 PM
I don't mean people who actualy try. I mean the farb that wears a purple sack coat or tons of feathers and coon bones and stays in the Hilton tent with his cooler and three cases of beer. You know, the guys with their twelve miles of branch trim and three side arms.

We talk about these yahoo's all the time as the example of what not to be.

But do we have any idea (other than there's "too many") of how many there are? Maybe in simpler terms, what percentage of the total of reenactors are made up of these people?

I've got a funny feeling that it ain't as many as we sometimes think. Significant minority, maybe, but not necessarily the majority of reenactors.

Memphis
11-21-2006, 10:59 PM
No more than 80% tops as a conservative estimate.

MStuart
11-21-2006, 11:03 PM
We talk about these yahoo's all the time as the example of what not to be.

But do we have any idea (other than there's "too many") of how many there are? Maybe in simpler terms, what percentage of the total of reenactors are made up of these people?

I've got a funny feeling that it ain't as many as we sometimes think. Significant minority, maybe, but not necessarily the majority of reenactors.

I think you're right. But they tend to be the one's that stick out like a sore thumb at events, thus being the one's that get noticed more.

Unfortunately, some of our views are skewed and the rest of the mainstream crowd gets lumped into the same basket, so to speak. A prime example of stereotyping at it's worst. Why someone does that is a whole 'nother thread for a whole 'nother forum.

Mark

MStuart
11-21-2006, 11:05 PM
No more than 80% tops as a conservative estimate.

I rest my case.

Mark

csuppelsa
11-22-2006, 12:51 AM
yes portray . ive been to many events where people just go to have fun with there buds, drink beer, ect

Milford Memories........

Chris Suppelsa

Rob Weaver
11-22-2006, 07:39 AM
I think we've created a strawman in the quintessential farb that we can all identify from the stereotypical clothing, gear and behavior. Like any stereotype, you will find someone who fits it. However, the vast majority of reenactors, regardless of labels, simply are not the strawman we like to abuse. Furthermore, I don't hear any of us seriously defending partying as reenacting. The strawman isn't defending himself, if he's even at the table. So we need to move the benchmark. Under the parameters of this conversation, we're already excluding the level of material culture we might call "costume" and the behavior that is really just "rowdyism."
I have found that there is a natural progression in acquiring gear. You go from "That would be cool" to "that would be right" to "that would be right for this impression." And sometimes you float back and forth across the spectrum. For instance: I occasionally demonstrate a candle stove when I do school programs. It is cool; it is right, since the one I have is an original. I don't take it to the field a lot because it's the most useless piece of gear I could ever imagine an infantryman using. Fails the last category. But the kids haven't ever seen something like that, so I describe it to them as like "a Civil War microwave" and give them an idea of life before 1990.

Memphis
11-22-2006, 07:41 AM
Well 80% is a little high, but not by much. Don't forget to count the vast majority of reenactors who take their families to the nearest encampment and skirmish event within a couple of hours of their hometown. They are the bulk of the hobby, and only attend a national type event every few years as as part of their family vacation where they can load up the van and trailer Beverly Hillbillies style to really show off their specialty impressions and educate the public. These individuals truly believe in what they are doing.

tompritchett
11-22-2006, 10:07 AM
I don't mean people who actualy try. I mean the farb that wears a purple sack coat or tons of feathers and coon bones and stays in the Hilton tent with his cooler and three cases of beer. You know, the guys with their twelve miles of branch trim and three side arms. The same guys that complain about stitch nazis ruining their fun because they insist on something that resembles the original, not Gone With the Wind. That is not honoring the men, that's being a clown who likes to camp with guns and beer. (emphasis mine - THP)

But, as read the original question, Bernard was not talking about them. Re-read what he said in the original post.

How much material culture knowledge is adequate?

Yeah, the more you know, the better, but are all of us required to know everything down to the microfiber level to be considered good reenactors?

To me, the question is addressing only those who are indeed trying. Therefore, I do not see how your response is addressing the original question.

madisontigers
11-22-2006, 11:00 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by NC5thcav
The men we portray would be offended if we showed up for an event as them dressed like clowns. And some of the impressions I've seen have been little more than clowns. There is a difference between a $25 machine sewn cartridge box and a $100 hand sewn cartridge box, and it shows.

Well said Derek.



1. "How do you know they would be offended? Did you ask one?"

Common sense!

2. "What did they do when they reenacted, say, Pickett's Charge? Wear civilian clothes and hobble across a field with their canes?"

It doesn't matter, they fought in the real engagement years before. Besides, there were no sources that made reenacting gear back then. Now,there are plenty of sources that make gear.

3. "I've seen 90% naked Indians and kilt wearing 'New Yorkers' at reenactments....but no clowns.....and no court jesters. They knew what clowns looked like.....do you? Been goen?"

Whatever, i'm glad you feel that way. A clown, is a clown, is a clown.I'm pretty confident that I know what a clown looks like.

4. You need to get together with the cph 'accountants' who insist that buying authentic products isn't a lot more expensive than the cheap stuff and doesn't cost a 2nd mortgage. In your example an authentic item costs 400% more than a mainstream purchase. You're not toeing the cph company line and are defeating Mike Chapman's and other's lines of argumentation. Next you'll tell us that an authentic Federal Frock coat costs $525 and a Jarni frock coat costs $200 and buying authentic need not cost a lot more than buying the cheap stuff.

My example? I think you need to double check who you are replying to in quotes. I never said anything about a frock costing $525, although some do. I don't need to get together with anyone, as I know how expensive this can be. I've purchased many authentic items, and they aren't cheap. That's one area I feel we should always be up front in, when talking to potential recruits. They should be told that, in general, this side of the hobby is more expensive.

And I guarantee you....in a 350 rifle regiment you wouldn't be able to pick out the authentic cartridge box.....it doesn't show except under intense hands on scrutiny.

Who cares. Your only cheating yourself. You may be able to fool the public, but not yourself.To me, I don't care if the scenario you mentioned plays out. My primary concern is knowing that I am doing it correctly, and that I am doing the best that I can .

For all any of us know the veterans of the ACW might be offended about our reenacting for the simple fact that we've whitewashed the blood, gore, and horror of combat.......nothing to do with the weft or stitch craftsmanship or stitch count.

I feel that an integral part of a good living history program is to describe the rigors of war. I believe these guys had common sense, so they probaly don't expect us to actually shoot one another. By simply explaining the carnage, suffering, and sacrifices made, we cover that area .

flattop32355
11-22-2006, 07:15 PM
But, as read the original question, Bernard was not talking about them. Re-read what he said in the original post.

To me, the question is addressing only those who are indeed trying. Therefore, I do not see how your response is addressing the original question.

Bless your greasy bones, Mr. Pritchett. I was beginning to think that no one had a clue as to where I was coming from. :)

ngairish
11-22-2006, 08:57 PM
Here's my take on it. I'm new to reenacting. I have some knowledge of the Civil War, I have been intrigued with it since childhood, but I never believe I know everything. Nor will I ever know all there is to know. But when I read articles like the one I read about Selma, AL's reenactment being canceled this year because of lack of reenactors coming I had to read it. Then as I was reading it I came accross quotes from folks who decided not to go back because they were tired of being left out of things or looked down upon by the people that get caught up in the "authienticity issue." I believe that your uniform should at least look like a uniform from the period. But if one cannot afford uniform from each period of the war and can only afford one, two if he does both CSA and Union, he should not be scorned or have noses thumbed up at him. He is there because he cares and wants to participate in making sure our history is being passed on. How many spectators care, I mean really care how many stitches are in a button hole or whether or not it was handsewn. Not many. They are there to see the battle, and see it correctly done. Worry bout what your actions look like first and foremost. And yes worry bout what your uniform looks like, but I'll tell you from a hundred yards I couldn't tell you what kind of material a uniform was made of. Like I said, I'm a beginner. I'm sure as I get more into this I will try to be more and more accurate about my uniform. But don't chase away or antagonize new folks about their uniforms to the point they don't want to return. We need all the folks we can get to fill in the ranks. And I'll tell you now that if I was reenacting at a battle and someone started scorning me or looking down their nose at me about my uniform, they would get an earfull. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

NC5thcav
11-23-2006, 09:35 PM
But, as read the original question, Bernard was not talking about them. Re-read what he said in the original post.


I wasn't responding to the original question, just a statement made a few post above mine. I see where the original post was coming from, and honestly don't know the answer. You can never know too much, but I have no idea what is enough.

tompritchett
11-24-2006, 01:26 AM
I wasn't responding to the original question, just a statement made a few post above mine. I see where the original post was coming from, and honestly don't know the answer. You can never know too much, but I have no idea what is enough.

Understand. I just wanted to get everyone back on track towards the original question and away from the "Us vs. Them" debate that was starting to come out in the thread.

ElizabethClark
11-24-2006, 12:03 PM
Where to draw the line with material culture, or any other area of knowledge of the mid-19th century?

I honestly don't know that there IS a limit... because I'm one of those terminally curious people who keeps finding new tangents to explore, and I keep discovering how very interwoven everything is.

Brief exampe: in trying to get a handle on children's clothing construction, I've read books on clothing, early photography, the textile mill systems, printing technology, whitework industry, cotton embargos, piecework systems, "home production", orphan trains and inner city childhood, westward migration, religion, the rise of the middle class, and funeral practices. Turns out, they're all related to my topic in various ways. Where exactly *could* I draw a line, when there were enticing things to know about further down that tangential little alley?

I don't have a single qualm about saying, "I just don't know about that yet, but I'm still learning."--and then following through with the "endeavoring to learn" bit. This means that I'm systematically updating research, my clothing and "gear", my anecdote base, my "speil"--all to come into line with the new information available. It's not a bad thing!

Not every person mid-century was a "broad spectrum knowledge" person--people then, as now, could have zealot tendancies for a few pet topics. Like the "progressive farming" soldier who can always find a way to relate any topic to "what I'm going to do on my farm when I get done here", or the staunch religionist who can always find a sermon in anything, or the "take it easy" fellow who is "up" on popular songs and jokes, but doesn't much care what the politicians do. Having some good basic knowledge of "how life works" mid-century (how I get my food, what clothes I wear to conform to community standards, what I do for a living, how big a living that provides, how I get on a train, how I send a letter to Mom, etc), then spicing it up with personal "passions", seems to be a pretty good way to go about things.

Tarky
11-25-2006, 11:38 AM
Here's my take on it. I'm new to reenacting. I have some knowledge of the Civil War, I have been intrigued with it since childhood, but I never believe I know everything. Nor will I ever know all there is to know. But when I read articles like the one I read about Selma, AL's reenactment being canceled this year because of lack of reenactors coming I had to read it. Then as I was reading it I came accross quotes from folks who decided not to go back because they were tired of being left out of things or looked down upon by the people that get caught up in the "authienticity issue." I believe that your uniform should at least look like a uniform from the period. But if one cannot afford uniform from each period of the war and can only afford one, two if he does both CSA and Union, he should not be scorned or have noses thumbed up at him. He is there because he cares and wants to participate in making sure our history is being passed on. How many spectators care, I mean really care how many stitches are in a button hole or whether or not it was handsewn. Not many. They are there to see the battle, and see it correctly done. Worry bout what your actions look like first and foremost. And yes worry bout what your uniform looks like, but I'll tell you from a hundred yards I couldn't tell you what kind of material a uniform was made of. Like I said, I'm a beginner. I'm sure as I get more into this I will try to be more and more accurate about my uniform. But don't chase away or antagonize new folks about their uniforms to the point they don't want to return. We need all the folks we can get to fill in the ranks. And I'll tell you now that if I was reenacting at a battle and someone started scorning me or looking down their nose at me about my uniform, they would get an earfull. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

There is a big problem deveoping in the re-enactment community right now! A major split is developing between the authentics and mainstream where each has decided not to attend each others event, or not to attend if this one or that one is coming.

This is terrible and while I understand the reasons, I dont like the results-- Lot s of hate out there under the haystack--

CSuniforms

Tom Arliskas

hanktrent
11-25-2006, 11:57 AM
There is a big problem deveoping in the re-enactment community right now! A major split is developing between the authentics and mainstream where each has decided not to attend each others event

I thought that already happened five or six years ago, with the EBUFU movement.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

ElizabethClark
11-25-2006, 12:06 PM
I'm curious why there's a perception of "hate" when people are simply choosing to attend the events that appeal to them as fun? I don't begrudge anyone the right of free association. Not every event is a good fit for my family, so we have to choose which to attend. No "hate" is involved!

But, to material culture: there's no reason that folks with different levels of comfort regarding material culture can't be accomodated. And, it's not like Material Culture is some magical thing that only the initiated few can learn about--the resources are out there, most free for the reading, and it's up to anyone interested to boost their knowledge level of how the stuff of everyday life works mid-century.

One example: my 10yo daughter and I are prepping for an event this coming year, in which we'll portray working inn staff (kitchen and room maids, me full time, and her 'part time', working for room and board and a teensy cash wage each week). Now, I don't have experience working at a busy inn in the 19th century--I'm a total 21st century gal, here!--but I want to both enjoy my time and help others enjoy their time at the event. That means I (and my daughter) must become familiar with the "common standard practices" for a busy inn mid-century: what equipment can we expect to find, and how is it used? What schedule can we expect to keep? What duties can we each anticipate? What clothing will be best suited for our activities and the climate? How should we expect to be treated by other inn staff, the inn owner, and travellers? This all involves a lot of material culture study, and while I certainly don't "know it all" at this point, by the time the event rolls around, we'll have spent a lot of time reading and practicing skills, and practicing with the material items we'll use, so the material culture and background becomes, well, background--and we can dive in and experience the event without having to think hard all weekend.

No one is going to hand us a list of "things to understand" for this event, and no one is going to berate us if we don't smooth the sheets "just as they would have", or don't carry the slops in our right hand, rather than our left... that's not the point of learning all this material culture stuff. The learning is for my own benefit and use, to help me better understand what a person in my social position would have experienced, what the differences may be in tools for a regular household versus a commercial establishment, etc... the more I bring to it, the more I take away from it.

ngairish
11-25-2006, 12:32 PM
There is a big problem deveoping in the re-enactment community right now! A major split is developing between the authentics and mainstream where each has decided not to attend each others event, or not to attend if this one or that one is coming.

This is terrible and while I understand the reasons, I dont like the results-- Lot s of hate out there under the haystack--

CSuniforms

Tom Arliskas



That's precisely my point. Some can afford to go all out, some cannot. We should not judge each other. And some that are just starting don't know any better, but there are nice ways of letting them know. But if someone is starting out and they're not sure whether or not they are going to continue reenacting or not, I don't expect them to pay out 600-1000 bucks for a uniform. I'm more concerned about why they are doing it.

Tarky
11-25-2006, 12:33 PM
Hello, Your right!! On a personal level you dont have to go anywhere with anyone for whatever reason. I am saying that in certain groups or Regiments these people choose not to attend if so and so is going to be there. They dont want to be associated with them.

The EBUFU from 5 years ago and today, is to me, not a good thing. We see all kind of "closed events" happening and people not invited to attend because of their impression. I do applaud the groups that attend at the National Parks and Historic Sites, and they do trememdously better impression than the average, and so are more educational-- one of the goals.

When the two groups do get together they wont talk to each other other than a "hello" or "nice to see you again".

It is coming down to authentic living history events and the little tiny neighborhood events we see all over the country going on for 20 years or more.

I dont have a solution--

CSuniforms
Tom Arliskas

terry sorchy
11-25-2006, 12:44 PM
Tom,
There is none. Dont worry so much big guy, people that attend progressive/hardcore events are not complaining. We make our own events and have a great time. As far as the little events that have been around for twenty years, maybe they have run theyre course and should give it a break for awhile.
It happens in everything. Its just life my friend.
Your Pard
Terry Sorchy

ElizabethClark
11-25-2006, 02:44 PM
We see all kind of "closed events" happening and people not invited to attend because of their impression.

I've been involved with "material culture" mentoring in several small events, and can absolutely say that no one with a desire to attend was turned away. They were given all the help possible (including free loaner gear if needed) to meet the base material guideline for the event scenario needs. It was an encouraging process, and for most people involved only small "upgrades" and additions that could be accomplished with minimal expenditure (and I mean minimal--under $20. Things like adding a few basic petticoats for a woman, or learning a different hairstyle, or assembling some outerwear or headwear borrowed from others... not huge difficult things!) It was certainly not exclusionary!

It's a simple fact that for some scenarios and settings, certain material culture items will be more prevalent than others. I don't have a problem with an event organizer laying out a few specific things that ARE the most common, so those attending can make any needed alterations to what they might have already, or arrange to add a piece or two in order to make the most believable material culture presentation. Certainly, focusing on things that are common, everyday material culture items makes it easier on participants, as the opportunities to use those items for additional events increases their usefulness.

I'm one of those who really likes to know what's expected of me, and I'm far more likely to sign on for an event that will take the time to specify a scenario and setting, and some common things to consider, than one that says "Y'all come and we'll go from there." I have only so much time and money to spend on the hobby--guidelines on material culture needs help me identify which events are going to have the history-heavy focus I'm looking for in my own definition of "fun".

ngairish
11-25-2006, 03:14 PM
Elizabeth,
I believe the material knowledge that was first discussed was in reference to actual materials that are going to be used, not skills, but I could be wrong as I usually am. I can understand people not wanting others to participate if they are going to wear and use things that were not anything like what they wore or used then. But just because the fabric doesn't match up, or because some minute detail that isn't even obvious unless you look for it is wrong is no reason to judge peole. I'm not saying you or anyone on here does that, but from my first few reenactments, and I had to borrow uniforms from folks, it has happened to me from the "hard core" folks. I'm just saying that folks need to be more forgiving towards new foks and not be so picky about things. It happens and it's giving reenactors a bad name. When a Los Angeles paper writes an article about why an Alabama reenacment was canceled, you think it might be a big deal? You bet it is, especially when reasons for folks not going anymore are quoted as being left out because of their uniform not being "good enough" and having the "stitch counters" look down their noses at them all the time. It's rediculous. Can't we all just get along? I'm not saying that people shouldn't be accurate, whatever you're "job" is in the reenactment you should do it correctly. But give a little on the material issue. Soon enough folks will realize what they need and get it. If they don't, they are only hurting themselves.

tompritchett
11-25-2006, 03:41 PM
That's precisely my point. Some can afford to go all out, some cannot. We should not judge each other. And some that are just starting don't know any better, but there are nice ways of letting them know. But if someone is starting out and they're not sure whether or not they are going to continue reenacting or not, I don't expect them to pay out 600-1000 bucks for a uniform. I'm more concerned about why they are doing it.

As one who has attended mostly the classic mainstream events and a few more progressive events, I find that the deciding factor is rarely the uniform but instead the attitude of the reenactors, especially in adapting to the event guidelines in regards to living with only with what you can carry rather than the coolers for food (or whatever), tents, etc. Granted there have been some events that I have not attended because I knew ahead of time that my uniform would not meet the published requirements of the event which were based on the historical uniform of the units being portrayed. But for most reenactors, if they want to attend the more progressive events it is more a matter of adjusting one's attitude rather than it is acquiring $400 state of the art authentic jackets, $150 cartridge boxes and $200 trousers.

hanktrent
11-25-2006, 03:46 PM
Seems like this can be summed up:

You're a bunch of farbs. Go away.
You're a bunch of stitch-Nazis. Shut up.

Haven't we heard this before? :)


I can understand people not wanting others to participate if they are going to wear and use things that were not anything like what they wore or used then. But just because the fabric doesn't match up, or because some minute detail that isn't even obvious unless you look for it is wrong is no reason to judge peole.

Is it really that simple to offer a reasonable compromise? Based on the above, a reenactor who carried a modern camera and drank a Coke during an event would be banned, but a $50 coat would be allowed instead of requiring a $200 coat.

Now I happen to agree with that basic premise, if compromise is needed. It doesn't cost a penny more to leave the camera at home and drink water, nor does it take months of research to realize a plastic camera and a modern canned drink weren't around in the 1860s. So bringing/using them is more a sign of an unauthentic attitude than someone who didn't realize that the $50 coat wasn't "close enough" because he hadn't developed an eye for the finer details yet.

But I bet there would be howls of protest if "all things that were not anything like what they wore or used then" were actually barred from the average event.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

bill watson
11-25-2006, 03:59 PM
"I'm curious why there's a perception of "hate" when people are simply choosing to attend the events that appeal to them as fun?" -- EC


Because our larger culture drums into us that tolerating differences is noble, while dwelling on differences and making decisions on those differences is what bigots do.

Every now and then you have to remind people that "discrimination" is also what you do when you pick a Big Mac over a fish sandwich, when you pick a Ford instead of a Chevy, when you attend one kind of event instead of another, when you choose to associate with librarians because you're a librarian rather than with pipefitters or geophysicists. Yes, in history heavy reenacting it's a choice based on perceived differences, mostly in the experiences rather than the number of stitches, as others have noted. No, it is not symptomatic of hatred.

"Toleration" is what the big East Coast for-profit events found to be a handy drumbeat. That it served their goal of profit was apparently lost on a great many folks. "Events by us, for us" came about so that the point of the exercise could again be a meaningful experience rather than money in someone's pocket. It is not history when a significant percentage of people look like they belong in a Halloween parade. It is not history when the military activities bear no resemblance to the real thing. If most of the stuff is not history, what is the point? That's the fault line folks seem to be splitting along.

More people are gravitating toward events where more time is spent in the 1860s and less time is spent on activities that could be done anytime under any conditions. I think it has a whole lot less to do with how much money things cost than it does with the limited amount of time people have for pastimes like reenacting. With so little time available, and with so much of it invested in travel to distant locations, people want more of what they do it for, the history.

terry sorchy
11-25-2006, 04:25 PM
I look at it this way. I have been doing this craziness since 1979, starting with the Mudsills and being involved in many different groups since. I have been to countless mainstream events and have supported them. I have been to NPS events and authentic events.
If you look at how many authentic events there are in comparison to mainstream events it is unbelievable. There is a mainstream event going on almost everyweekend in the year. As opposed to more authentic events where there are but few.
I have in the past few years been literally degraded by the more mainstream element when I show up at events. The folks are not friendly and have an attitude. They think your some kind of stitch nazi that has only come there to judge others. That is not true at all. Progressives are SOOO willing to not only educate the public, but also fellow reenactors in all forms of the hobby.
Most progressives came from mainstream units, and many were officers and nco's. They just wanted to take the hobby to a higher level hence the name progressive.
We just got tired of having to avert our eyes during a reenactment from someone doing things or using things that just were not right for the period.
It also got real old when during the battle scenarios youd get officers that wanted to rewrite history or guys taking hits then leaning on there elbows and watching the battle, or men shooting with big grins on their faces, or firing at such a high angle that it looks like your trying to shoot at migratory birds.
Those are just some of the reasons you dont see more progressives at mainstream events. We just want to create events that when your there you actually feel like you are in that time period.
Its not that we dont like anyone, personalities dont even come into play.
We really are pretty nice folks/remember we probably were part of your unit at one time.
I hope that cools the waters a little, for history is for everyone, it just depends how indepth you are in it.
Have a Wonderful Holiday
Terry Sorchy

Tarky
11-25-2006, 06:33 PM
I used the word "hate" and that was a little strong. When I said hate, I use the word more like, I hate it when I lock my keys in the car, or I hate it when someone parks to close to my car and I cant even open the door. More like an annoyance than hateful.

When I go to events, I have to admit that I do migrate towards the hard-core authentics. I also admit that when I see a bad impression, I just shake my head and ask myself, "I will give you $1,000 if you can tell me where you got the research for that uniform impression."

My wife and I believe its the sutlers who sell the not so good items that are the ones to blame for all this!!

We were in Gettysburg for Rememberance Day and watched as person after person male and female, spent their cash like water, buying the not so good uniforms and accoutrements. The thought process must be, "if I bought in Gettysburg it must be correct."

Tarky

Memphis
11-25-2006, 06:59 PM
Well said, Terry, and few people put that much thought and experience behind a post.

Phil
11-25-2006, 08:36 PM
Elizabeth,
I believe the material knowledge that was first discussed was in reference to actual materials that are going to be used, not skills, but I could be wrong as I usually am. I can understand people not wanting others to participate if they are going to wear and use things that were not anything like what they wore or used then. But just because the fabric doesn't match up, or because some minute detail that isn't even obvious unless you look for it is wrong is no reason to judge peole. I'm not saying you or anyone on here does that, but from my first few reenactments, and I had to borrow uniforms from folks, it has happened to me from the "hard core" folks. I'm just saying that folks need to be more forgiving towards new foks and not be so picky about things. It happens and it's giving reenactors a bad name. When a Los Angeles paper writes an article about why an Alabama reenacment was canceled, you think it might be a big deal? You bet it is, especially when reasons for folks not going anymore are quoted as being left out because of their uniform not being "good enough" and having the "stitch counters" look down their noses at them all the time. It's rediculous. Can't we all just get along? I'm not saying that people shouldn't be accurate, whatever you're "job" is in the reenactment you should do it correctly. But give a little on the material issue. Soon enough folks will realize what they need and get it. If they don't, they are only hurting themselves.


I posted about the same exact thing about 6 or so years ago on this very forum. Since then, I've learned a lot.

Yes, there is a division in the hobby. There are jerks on both sides, just as there are genuinely nice people on either side. Neither side has a monopoly on bad attitudes.

The division doesn't have to be a bad thing. The animosity is unnecessary, just as is the attitude that the division must be done away with is wrong. This constant drumbeat that everyone has to get together and attend all the same events makes no sense at all.

I don't see why new people need to start out with a bad impression. For someone's first few times out, when they're trying to decide whether to enter this hobby, they should borrow their uniform and equipment, not start out buying cheap stuff. I would say that all good units, mainstream or those with higher material culture standards, can take care of kitting out a new guy until he's had enough time to buy or make quality stuff. It's not cost effective to buy hundreds of dollars of low quality stuff first to see if you like the hobby, then spend several hundred dollars more replacing that stuff later.

Was it at a mainstream event where these "hardcores" were giving you grief for your stuff? If so, ignore them. They're fakes, posers, morons, whatever. Whoever goes to a mainstream event and is surprised to find mainstreamers and mainstream impressions is an idiot. They're no different from any other schoolyard bully trying to feel better about themselves by putting down others.

On the other hand, I fail to see the problem with holding events that have standards that exclude mainstream impressions. The assertion that just because some people want to hold events that they'll actually enjoy is destroying the hobby for everyone else is ridiculous.

MStuart
11-25-2006, 08:43 PM
They're fakes, posers, morons, whatever. Whoever goes to a mainstream event and is surprised to find mainstreamers and mainstream impressions is an idiot. They're no different from any other schoolyard bully trying to feel better about themselves by putting down others.

On the other hand, I fail to see the problem with holding events that have standards that exclude mainstream impressions. The assertion that just because some people want to hold events that they'll actually enjoy is destroying the hobby for everyone else is ridiculous.

Amen! Outstanding post.

Mark

flattop32355
11-25-2006, 10:00 PM
Progressives are SOOO willing to not only educate the public, but also fellow reenactors in all forms of the hobby.

Those are just some of the reasons you dont see more progressives at mainstream events. We just want to create events that when your there you actually feel like you are in that time period.
Its not that we dont like anyone, personalities dont even come into play.
We really are pretty nice folks/remember we probably were part of your unit at one time.

While agreeing with you on the whole, I'd differ in saying that personalities can matter, as follows:

Just as the squeaky wheel gets the grease, certain personality types tend to get noticed and tick other people off faster. Those people reside at both ends (and middle) of the reenacting spectrum, from the fellow who says he doesn't care that how he reenacts is mostly "wrong", he's going to do it his way come **** or high water, to the fellow who says he won't reenact with anyone who isn't doing it "right", as he sees it as right. These are the folks who stand out as the "usual/normal" representatives of the branches of the hobby, though they make up a small percentage of each branch, but make the most noise.

By the same token, some progressives can be SOOO willing to educate, you can't hear the message for the messenger. One must be careful in presentation as to not turn off the recipient before they can hear what is being said.

Just as not all Muslims are out to kill us, and all Germans weren't pure evil in WW2, not all "progressives" come across as anal openings, and not all, shall we say, less-than-desired-level reenactors fail to teach their children to bathe and learn acceptable social behavior.

Most of the folks I've met in the hobby are at least tolerable, and a goodly number, the majority, are downright nice people. Unless you're looking for trouble, you can usually ignore the few that bother you.

Of course, this has little to do with the original question (Is anyone surprised that I mention that? :)), but it's a nice subject to discuss.

Mint Julep
11-25-2006, 10:10 PM
When a Los Angeles paper writes an article about why an Alabama reenacment was canceled, you think it might be a big deal? You bet it is, especially when reasons for folks not going anymore are quoted as being left out because of their uniform not being "good enough" and having the "stitch counters" look down their noses at them all the time. It's rediculous. Can't we all just get along?

Georgia,

Make sure you get the whole story about Selma. The event host is a mainstream organization, not some progressive/hardcore bunch of jerks. It wasn't stitch nazis keeping out mainstreamers - it was mainstreamers keeping out farbs!

I don't know how this story was told to you or spun by your group, but it should serve as an example of why you should question the stories told around campfires or ask more questions of the storytellers. If your group was one of those barred from the event, maybe you should look around for another group. If you can't get into Selma, you aren't trying.

MJ

Mint Julep
11-25-2006, 10:23 PM
I disagree that all sutlers are out there onlyto make a buck. Most of the more correct makers are out there to secure the development of the hobby, at least in my perspective.

thanks,
Jurgitem Valetem

Jurg,

It is naive to think that way. They are in business and one doesn't stay in business by giving things away or sending you to the competition because that guy makes a better whatever.

Not all preachers care if you get to Heaven, either.

just saying,

MJ

ngairish
11-25-2006, 10:34 PM
Georgia,


I don't know how this story was told to you or spun by your group, but it should serve as an example of why you should question the stories told around campfires or ask more questions of the storytellers. If your group was one of those barred from the event, maybe you should look around for another group.
MJ


First off "my group" had nothing to do with me learning of this story! I happened upon this story while doing a search for news on reenactments. It just so happens that I can actually read, imagine that, and that I actually read a newspaper article. So like you told me, make sure you got all the information before you start assuming. In fact, my outfit has not said the first bad thing about anybody in this hobby. We happen to have a few hard core folks. I have nothing against hard core. I do have a problem with someone that would have the attitude that they are better than someone else because they know more, and I have run into those folks before. And yes, I got some of the facts straight after I posted about that article. But I was also informed that attendance had fallen because of some bad attitudes. I just get tired of everybody arguing about everything, why don't we just have another war? J/K

Mint Julep
11-25-2006, 10:36 PM
We talk about these yahoo's all the time as the example of what not to be.

But do we have any idea (other than there's "too many") of how many there are? Maybe in simpler terms, what percentage of the total of reenactors are made up of these people?

I've got a funny feeling that it ain't as many as we sometimes think. Significant minority, maybe, but not necessarily the majority of reenactors.

I believe we actually have three levels of events going on. The first two are the ones we fight amongst ourselves about: the progressive and the mainstream. The third is under the radar for the most part and they are primarily farbfests of the first order. We don't see them advertised on the forums or even discussed in AARs on the internet. We don't see many ads for them in the magazines. They are annual events and word of mouth carries them.

Scary, they are.

MJ

Mint Julep
11-25-2006, 10:55 PM
Yeah, well, based on your two posts it looked like you didn't know the truth behind the story.

I've attended Selma probably 10 times in my years and I guess the last time was about 3 years ago. The event hosts have done a great job with the event and enforcing standards. I had actually quit going to the event because it was getting silly and only went the last time because a large group of friends wanted to go for the fun of it. I was surprised to see how much better the event had become.

As for size, the site is limited in size, so participant numbers have to be limited as well.

As for shrinking numbers over the years, well any annual event will suffer from burnout after a while. Smart event organizers realize they can maximize attendance by holding the event every 2, 3, or 4 years.

Any comments about your group are based on what you have told us in your posts. I'm not making any guesses here.

MJ

ngairish
11-25-2006, 11:01 PM
I haven't posted anything about my group except that one had suggested using cresent city since i was starting out. So yeah, you weren't guessing, you were assuming. My group has nothing else to do with anything I post. My posts are my opinion and solely mine. I just think it sucks to see all this fussing and bickering when I'm starting out.

Phil
11-26-2006, 12:01 AM
I'm sorry you see a lot of fussing and bickering, but human nature is to blame for that, and not evil hardcores. The experiences really are worth getting past all the bad stuff.

ngairish
11-26-2006, 12:08 AM
I'm not saying hard cores are evil, one of my best friends is hard core. I'm not saying anyone's evil. I give up, see my white flag.

tompritchett
11-26-2006, 01:13 AM
Make sure you get the whole story about Selma. The event host is a mainstream organization, not some progressive/hardcore bunch of jerks. It wasn't stitch nazis keeping out mainstreamers - it was mainstreamers keeping out farbs!

Usually when units are banned from mainstream events is for one of several reasons: for scenario busting, which means disregarding the history being portrayed, for gross safety violations, or for blatant disregard of event rules and regulations. As a predominantly mainstreamer, I have no problem at all with seeing such units banned as we in the hobby must be able to police ourselves or else the lawyers will step in and do for us with liability lawsuits.

I have yet to hear of a unit being banned strictly because of sub-standard uniforms when the event rules and regulations themselves did not cover required uniform standards. However, I would not be surprised if a unit banned for any of the above reasons used their uniforms as excuses for their ban rather than admit that their exclusion for other reasons. In my old unit the "stich nazi" excuse was often used when in reality the unit was unwilling to adapt to published event rules and regulations, especially when it regarded the type of camping allowed at the event. Frankly, there are enough events out there for all parts to the hobby to participate in that there is really no need to run down or attack those who wish to reenact at a higher level at which your unit is comfortable with.

But then again, what does this discussion have to do with Bernard's original question?

Spinster
11-26-2006, 03:57 AM
Not much Mr. P, at least on the face of it---but then again, well maybe. And, having stayed out of the discussion a while, and sending Adam a few private messages once the topice of Selma arose, I began to think of how the two topics were related.


I have yet to hear of a unit being banned strictly because of sub-standard uniforms when the event rules and regulations themselves did not cover required uniform standards. However, I would not be surprised if a unit banned for any of the above reasons used their uniforms as excuses for their ban rather than admit that their exclusion for other reasons.


How much material culture was enough ---how much history was enough? ----Oddly enough, that question struck at the very heart of some of the disagreements affecting the Selma site. And that criteria was used in sorting units--those who met uniform standards based on, as I recall, those laid out for Shiloh NMP, as well as in setting up 'soldiers only' camps as the ones the public sees. (Great in theory--but due to site limitations, this works only when the river does not flood out the civilian and family camps). But, those uniform standards, as well as safety standards, often became a focus point for folks who were mad about something else.

The larger problems affecting the site stayed out of the newspapers because they were not nearly as sensational, but were more related to matters of public policy. Those public policy matters had far more to do with the lack of a 2006 event than the number of pre-registrants.

Other fellers have resolved those public policy matters, and the event will be back this spring. Good thing too---since its inception, the host unit has provided an excellent school program and utilized event proceeds for the preservation of various CW sites within Alabama, including a number of flags within the State Archives.

Rob Weaver
11-26-2006, 07:02 AM
I've read two threads this morning, and eventually both of them turned into some minor variation of "us v. them." Is that really all we have to talk about? Eventually will everthing turn into that?

I think it is the responsibility of the comsumer to research and to exercise a "Caveat Emptor" philosophy while visiting every sutler. At the same time, there is, you must admit, a certain respectablility that's gained in the reenacting community by carrying certain gear, certain ways, and dropping certain labels. It's just human nature. I think a doase of humility is in order for us all, though. We didn't make the history, we're just trying to do the investigative work. Beyond basic premises, all our conclusions are somewhat provisional, based on the evidence available.

I'd also like to put in a word for small local events, although I'm not an event organizer by any means. I think those events are going to become more important, not less, as participants continue to struggle with transportation costs and over-scheduled families. Who knows, they may the be salvation of the hobby, as they force us to work together at a personal level and discover that neither "us" nor "them" is 3 feet tall, green, with one eye in the middle of the forehead.

Tarky
11-26-2006, 08:00 AM
As one who has attended mostly the classic mainstream events and a few more progressive events, I find that the deciding factor is rarely the uniform but instead the attitude of the reenactors, especially in adapting to the event guidelines in regards to living with only with what you can carry rather than the coolers for food (or whatever), tents, etc. Granted there have been some events that I have not attended because I knew ahead of time that my uniform would not meet the published requirements of the event which were based on the historical uniform of the units being portrayed. But for most reenactors, if they want to attend the more progressive events it is more a matter of adjusting one's attitude rather than it is acquiring $400 state of the art authentic jackets, $150 cartridge boxes and $200 trousers.

OK After all the discussion over hate vs not hate, farbs vs stitch nazis, nice people vs mean people, and hard core vs mainstream what is the conclusion?

We all feel a problem exists, but is there a solution to all this or do we just keep muddling along upsetting people or not inviting that one or this one or continue with "by invitaion only?"

I would take it on a personal level. Just like Tom Pretchtt I decide where I want to go and when. The whole idea is to have some fun for yourself. I know the educational aspects are very very important, but if your not having a good time or dont fit in-- next year "YOU" make up your mind what you want to do.

Tarky
Tom Arliskas

Memphis
11-26-2006, 08:32 AM
OK After all the discussion over hate vs not hate, farbs vs stitch nazis, nice people vs mean people, and hard core vs mainstream what is the conclusion?

We all feel a problem exists, but is there a solution to all this or do we just keep muddling along upsetting people or not inviting that one or this one or continue with "by invitaion only?"

Tom,

Like the lyrics in that pop song, "too much is never enough." There is my conclusion. For as much detail as you wrote into your confederate uniform book, there are hundreds of other subjects from bottle collecting to philately to explore. Can any one person master every subject area? No. We find what we enjoy and immerse ourselves. Those other areas are just out there somewhere as window dressing.

Invitation only events may be a good starting point for another thread.

bill watson
11-26-2006, 09:08 AM
"We all feel a problem exists,"

Not so sure that's true, Tom.


"but is there a solution to all this or do we just keep muddling along upsetting people or not inviting that one or this one or continue with "by invitaion only?""

"By invitation only" is often not what it sounds like. If it seems like an event you'd like to attend, contact the event organizers and express an interest. Generally speaking, you'll get an explanation of why the event is being held and probably some kind of statement to the effect that yeah, the rules about this and that really are the rules at this event, and if you have questions about them, give a yip, and then you'll be asked how that sits with you. If it sits well with you, you'll probably "be invited." "By invitation only" is more a cue for some dialogue; if the event is being publicized in reenactor circles, obviously it isn't limited to just a pre-existing list of people who are already being invited. It wouldn't need to be publicized.

"I would take it on a personal level. Just like Tom Pretchtt I decide where I want to go and when. The whole idea is to have some fun for yourself. I know the educational aspects are very very important, but if your not having a good time or dont fit in-- next year "YOU" make up your mind what you want to do."

And this is why the whole situation doesn't need to be seen as a problem. Until someone stops one or the other category of events being held, everyone is free to exercise choice. Only when choices are forcibly taken away is there a problem, right? And that's just not going to happen.

Tarky
11-26-2006, 09:10 AM
Tom,

Like the lyrics in that pop song, "too much is never enough." There is my conclusion. For as much detail as you wrote into your confederate uniform book, there are hundreds of other subjects from bottle collecting to philately to explore. Can any one person master every subject area? No. We find what we enjoy and immerse ourselves. Those other areas are just out there somewhere as window dressing.

Invitation only events may be a good starting point for another thread.

Do you mean that we will never arrive at a conclusion or a concensus that we can work with? That there is indeed so much out there for everyone to do and there is really no problem with the Civil War folks? After reading all these threads, there is some kind of problem out there, real or imagined. And no, there is no such thing as an expert on anything and I state that in my book first thing, and yes there is a myriad of different subjects in the Civil War history we can involved with like bottle collecting, travel, book collecting, or just studying one General or Battle other than reenacting.

What I was really looking for was an answer. The Holy Grail! The Bible or 10 Commandments of Reenacting-- no disrespect intended.

I do see a real improvement in impressions and research material in the last 10 years that in its wake, offers no excuse for a bad impression. COST$$$, yes it is expensive and we should forgive all the high school kids who dont have a lot of bucks, but just want to get out there.

I guess or believe we should just forego all our preconceived notions and react to the situation circumstance to circumstance. I salute everyone with an interest in the Civil War whatever you do.

Tarky

Memphis
11-26-2006, 09:42 AM
Do you mean that we will never arrive at a conclusion or a concensus that we can work with? That there is indeed so much out there for everyone to do and there is really no problem with the Civil War folks?


Tom,

That is correct. In my shop I have two sets of combination wrenches hanging above the work bench. Each wrench does not pretend to be all things to ever nut or bolt along the way. Some wrenches just so happen to fit the other system's fasteners they were not intended to fit, but that isn't very common.

To use another analogy, two underground systems exist in my yard. One is a freshwater well with a pump, the other is a septic tank. I try not to get them confused, as their individual missions, while being the alpha and omega of water use at times are mutually exclusive.

Clumper or sorter? 'Tis the question.

flattop32355
11-26-2006, 07:13 PM
How much material culture was enough ---how much history was enough?

Not aiming the following at you, Mrs. Lawson, but your comment above crystalizes a problem for me in the thread discussions:

Please note that the original question is not "How much material culture is enough", but "How much material culture is reasonable". The two are not the same, and sadly, I think the two have become confused a great deal in much of the discussion.

Obviously, you can never know enough, if you really care about the hobby in more than a passing fashion. There's always more to learn; too much, in fact, to get it all down, especially with the constant flow of new information.

We can disregard the folk who choose to do this hobby in its most Lite fashions; we're talking only about people who take it to the next level, who choose to DO (Charles ;)) the hobby, where we try to be GOOD reenactors, with sound impressions. Not particularly perfect, but good representatives of the history, in many (note I do not say all) of its facets.

It should be obvious, also, that not everyone shares the same opinion of where "the lines" are drawn, either between those who don't really care about the history and those who do, or between those who work to do what they can do well, but don't choose to make the last full measure body and soul commitment, on up through those who take it to the level of religious zealots.

Where is that grey area where you can feel good about what you do, what you've accomplished, what you've learned, and can say honestly, "I believe that I'm a good reenactor" and have most others agree, while realizing that there's still a ton left to learn if you want to dive into it that far?

THAT is the question!

flattop32355
11-26-2006, 07:27 PM
I salute everyone with an interest in the Civil War whatever you do.

Now, there's a pleasant way of going about it! Would that we all could take a lesson with that one.

My compliments, sir.

MStuart
11-26-2006, 07:27 PM
Where is that grey area where you can feel good about what you do, what you've accomplished, what you've learned, and can say honestly, "I believe that I'm a good reenactor" and have most others agree, while realizing that there's still a ton left to learn if you want to dive into it that far?THAT is the question!

Bernard: I think you answered your own question. That "grey area" will always be just that when you're asking individuals with different experiences, mores, and ideas. More learned men than we can't agree on higher questions such as life outside of our solar system, or, simpler, what constitutes a "good person"?

Until there is a formal "test", your question, IMHO, will remain unanswerable.
We can talk until we're blue in the face and the question will have as many answers as there are reenactors.

As in anything, "good" is subjective..........

Mark

flattop32355
11-26-2006, 07:35 PM
Until there is a formal "test", your question, IMHO, will remain unanswerable.
We can talk until we're blue in the face and the question will have as many answers as there are reenactors.

But it is the discussion between gentlemen and ladies of where they personally see those answers (for themselves) that lets people see where and how others have drawn those conclusions, and may well help them to better draw their own lines of conclusion.

Sometimes the best result of discussion is not to establish an end result, but to let people see how others think (oft-times a bit differently than you do). A specific "end result" is not always necessary to have a good discussion.

terry sorchy
11-26-2006, 08:13 PM
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Many facets have been brought up and I would like to address a few if I may.
One: Why should reenactors have to know the material culture better(Im paraphrasing it sorry) than those who lived back then. Its because the things they either bought or if in the army were issued were the correct things of the period. They only had to be the recipiants of the things. We on the other hand have to be the researchers and the recipiants because its 2006.
Two: Yes there are posers out there that just buy good kit and dont know the drill or the soldiers lives. Those types of folks are no better at the hobby then those that wear the wrong things. There is no excuse for buying correct items and not knowing the history of the era.
There is also no excuse other than you're very broke (and by the way Im a blue collar worker) or very young to be wearing the wrong or poorly made items. Yes they are expensive new but if you buy them used they are VERY affordable.
Three: We live in 2006 and have many many choices. In 1861, there were far fewer choices. We must keep in mind what the culture dictated and what was expected and available to each of the classes. We were still living in a class structure during this time period. If you are going to be true to the hobby and to the history, we must seriously consider what individuals did and how they lived, not what we want to do because it is more convenient.
Four: Events are events. The reason you see a split where not as many progressives show up anymore is because they're is only so much time anyone can make for events and really if you give the choice of say, Rich Mountain versus a Joe Mainstream event I think the time will be taken for the Rich Mountain event, at least for me.
And one last thing I realized years ago. That is if you have correctly made kit and a proper attitude, you can go to any event anywhere. From the worst event to the best. If you are lacking in either one you are relegated to only going to mainstream events (and I'm not putting down mainstream events).
But its very liberating to be able to choose anything you want in this hobby and have fun with it all. And Folks, no matter who you are and how good your impression is, just make sure you enjoy yourself in a period way and enjoy teaching the public.

Cheers
Terry Sorchy

toptimlrd
11-26-2006, 09:26 PM
Ladies and Gentlemen,
And one last thing I realized years ago. That is if you have correctly made kit and a proper attitude, you can go to any event anywhere. From the worst event to the best. If you are lacking in either one you are relegated to only going to mainstream events (and I'm not putting down mainstream events).
But its very liberating to be able to choose anything you want in this hobby and have fun with it all. And Folks, no matter who you are and how good your impression is, just make sure you enjoy yourself in a period way and enjoy teaching the public.

Cheers
Terry Sorchy

Thanks Terry, well said. You and I are very much of the same mind. I have always said it is attitude first then the other stuff comes into place. I often catch heat for trying to guide fresh fish from making some of my mistakes by encouraging them to borrow until they can buy quality (and used is THE way to go). Now I too have a somewhat young (17 year old) son who reenacts and he has a mixed bag of good and not so good gear but up until now he was growing extremely fast and was mainly interested in mainstream events. Now that his growth has slowed down and he is showing an interest in C/P/H, I am starting to look for used top drawer gear for him and at this point he really only needs four items to be able to hit the C/P/H side of the hobby (Federal trousers, Confederate Trousers, a Federal sack, and better footwear). The nice thing about my kit is I can go to a C/P/H event if I like or I can go to the battle of streamersville and fit in at both.

I too enjoy both sides of the hobby and hold no malice toward any particular mindset. All too often discussion break down into an us vs. them attitude which drives me nuts, what we need is a sense of civility. As to the material culture aspect of the hobby, one needs to know a sufficient amount to be able to portray their impression properly. I would rather stand in a line of men wearing decent mainstream gear with the right attitude than a line of guys in Charlie Childs, Nick Sekela, and Chris Daley that can't properly portray the soldiers they appear to be. The important thing is to understand your impression first, then get the kit for it.

terry sorchy
11-26-2006, 11:16 PM
Excatly, learn how the soldiers lived, emulate it then get the right stuff, if you have to get it a little at a time. But it is amazing the freedom you feel when you can go to anything you want. The thing that saddens me is when I hear folks say "when my mainstream stuff wears out I'll replace it with good stuff". With the amount of events we really do it would take years for an item to wear out. Then you end up in your late forties knowing time is running out to go to good events and you have so so kit. I know many many reenactors that are great soldiers but because of their kit cant go to really killer events, and they are bored with mainstream events, so theyre stuck. I wish they're was a kit wizard that could provide guys with so so kit but who are great reenactors with the right stuff. Can you imagine a National event with 6 or 8 thousand men with the right attitude and great kit. (just a dream of mine).:rolleyes:
Cheers
Terry Sorchy

Jim of the SRR
12-03-2006, 07:03 PM
yes some people might be a little too farbish dare i say but in the long run we all end up doing the same thing

Umm...NO!

Jim Butler

Jim of the SRR
12-03-2006, 07:07 PM
like I stated but I mean give those people that have the "non-authenic" uniforms a break what we should really be focusing is how well we as re-enactors know the Drill. uniforms should come after it.



Umm...NO! (note, that I actually use punctuation!)

Jim Butler

Jim of the SRR
12-03-2006, 07:09 PM
like I said you got to give the men who are trying to portray them acuratley with Paki uniforms credit.

Umm...NO!


Thanks,
Jim Butler

AZReenactor
12-03-2006, 07:13 PM
Umm...NO!

Is this the AC Forum or what? Are there any moderators here to ban these sort of farbisms and farb defenders?

Thanks,
Jim Butler
Um, Jim, this is the CWReenactors forum. The AC is over at http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/. ;-).

I understand it can be a little confusing with so many streamers now on the AC, too.

Jim of the SRR
12-03-2006, 07:18 PM
Um, Jim, this is the CWReenactors forum. The AC is over at http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/. ;-).

I understand it can be a little confusing with so many streamers now on the AC, too.

D'oh...corrected post. But you are correct!

Jim

MStuart
12-03-2006, 07:50 PM
Maybe there should be a honest to goodness forum where only "authentics" can hang out without having to put up with mainstreamers coming on and asking dumb questions, ruining the "mojo".

I don't particularly like raisins, so I don't eat them. I don't like comic books, either. So, I don't read them. There's a pattern there.

Too many "streamers" here? Start your own forum.....It's easy enough to do.

Your forum, your rules, your subjects, your own kind. Simple as that.

Mark

bill watson
12-03-2006, 09:46 PM
Disparaging a forum's clientele like Troy keeps doing is a little odd, and puzzling, but Mark: Starting a forum where only like-minded people may participate quickly emerges as a recipe for boredom. The vitality of any forum comes from the collision and exchange of ideas, more like what Jim and Road Apple or whatever that screen name was are doing. The need for a collision of ideas, however mild-mannered, to provide some texture is appreciated by those folks who keep coming up with fake screen names so they can come in and start arguments with themselves and even create straw men characters who say outlandish things.
No, I think if you had a homogeneous forum where everyone agreed with each other it would not only have low participation, it would also miss out when things change -- when long hat cords are no longer right, when support arms gets clarified and standardized, when pickles and pie are no longer the sine qua non of an event's success. It would become this little pocket of stagnation in an otherwise vibrant hobby, a hobby where people are changing and the hobby itself is changing. Such a forum would be -- dare I say it? -- like going off in little messes of guys and camping in the woods on the fringe of the main event, and then complaining about the event. The whole confabulation, the big show, could pack up and walk to Cicero to create a New World Order and those guys in their own little forum would be none the wiser, still complaining about the same old things from years before and still feeling superior.
So don't wish that on them. This machinery works in two directions: As the bar gets pushed by reenactors tired of the mainstream and eager to try new things, those fond of thinking they set the bar will have to exert themselves to find new ways to distinguish themselves from the herd. Thus we progress. Don't send those folks away. :-)

flattop32355
12-03-2006, 11:50 PM
Is it a goal to turn mainstreamers into cph'ers, or to move reenactors en masse to the point where accurate protrayals are, in fact, the mainstream?

I somewhat prefer the latter to the former, though it requires a lot more people to move.

Should this happen, will those who consider mainstream a bad thing get bummed because they are now part of the mainstream, rather than be happy the the hobby has moved in their direction? Or will they strive to find some way to remain, in their estimation, above the mainstream?

I have no problem with either the idea or fact that some reenactors are better than me, however one wishes to to define better. What I do have a problem with is reenactors who use such as an excuse to believe they are better than me is some substantial way.

I'm sure that I DO better than some other reenactors, just as some DO better then I. While taking pride in my DOing it better (than I did before), I have no reason to be arrogant in my theoretical "superiority" compared to any other. 'Tis that attitude that causes me grief in this hobby.

And of course, we all know it's more about the attitude....

Correct me nicely when you believe I'm wrong. If you believe there's a better way to do something, rationally share it with me. Point me in the right directions so I can find the information I need to improve. Don't take it as a sign of the apocolypse if I don't agree with everything you say. Be as friendly on the net as you would be in person, or if you're a jerk in both places, try to tone it down to a gentlemanly/ladylike manner. Two people can disagree and still be a "we" instead of an "us vs. them".

Platitudes? If you wish them to be, but they can make this hobby a nicer, and more accurate, place compared to the more negative methods.

JustinPrince
12-04-2006, 12:05 AM
I have a question about all of this.

I was fairly determined to get into Civil War reenacting. I'm a history major at a University, one year away from getting a Bachelor's Degree. After that I'm off to grad school. I intend to choose my specialization in US History, primarily from before the Revolution through the end of the Civil War. I am all but committing myself to a life of studying history.

I wanted to get into Civil War reenacting for several reasons. Sure there is the obvious fun side of it, but for me that isn't why I want to. As I said I intend to spend my life studying history, teaching history, and I want to live history. I want to know what it was like to sleep out in wool uniforms with bad food and then have to fight a battle. I want to know wwhat made men stand in a line and trade volleys until a line broke. I want to know what these people went through. I hope that if I can, in addition to making myself more knowledgable in the process it will help me come across as a better teacher of history, in that I can perhaps better relate it to those whom one day I'll probably be teaching.

I feel that mentally, I probably fit right in with how most of you think. At least I hope I do.

But physically, and in the material culture, I'll come up short. I'm a big guy. I'll admit I'm heavier than what you'd normally see in the Civil War. Also, as a college student (who will probably be in school for another 4 years at least getting an MA and a Phd) money is tight, and that must be my first priority. I've priced a kit based on local units guidelines. I can do reenacting if I choose some Sutler Row items and some quality items. But I can't have a hope of reenacting if I'm must, to be a good reenactor, wait and get the $200 Sack coat or the $300 cartridge box. That's not to say I wouldn't like to, but my chances of winning the lottery aren't that great.

So will that make me a bad reenactor? I'll have to take the $100 sack coat (though not a cheap and crappy admittedly, but something more midway between the bottom rung and the AC style stuff), or the $50 cartridge box, or the $127 Brogans. That's not saying I wouldn't "upgrade" later. But I'd like to start this year (well, early next), but to do it I'd have to buy some of the "less authentic" or sutler row items.

Hence my dilemma. I want to approach this with a positive attitude. As I said I think it would be fun for me, because I love studying history, reading it, reasearching it, and living it just seems the logical next step. But as I read over these forums I am more and more coming to the impression that I cannot be a "good" reenactor. I can't afford the $100 forage cap, or the $400 sack coat. Maybe next year, or in 8 months, but certainly not anytime soon. Besides as I said I'm a big guy and losing weight. To me it makes more sense to buy a $100 sutler row sack coat, then when it gets too big buy a $400 more accurate coat, versus two $400 purchases. I certainly don't want to wear anything hideously farby, but then again I would still like to enter and participate in the hobby.

So, by the rules of how much material culture is enough, can I be a good reenactor? As I read through these forums I can tell you some things I wouldn't be doing, the modern foods, coolers, beer, et al. I can understand wanting to have fun but that seems at odds with the entire concept of "living history." But, will I be lumped into the same category because I have a $100 sack coat? I do want to be as accurate as possible, there is no doubt about that. But for me to be able to take part in this hobby I must purchase at least mid range items at first.

I certainly don't want to give the impression I just want to put on a blue coat and go around "I'm in the Civil War weee!" I honestly want to experience, first hand, what it was like. The sights, sounds, feel, tastes, etc of life and battles of the Civil War. But for me to be able to do that, my kit (at first) will have to be mid range.

I suppose my dilemma is that this is something I want to do, but if because I can't buy the expensive top of the line items right off if I'm going to be looked down upon or ruin everyone else's experience down because of it I'd rather not do it at all. As I said I'm a big guy. I have to wear eyeglasses (I did buy an 1860s pair though). With college, I'm poor. Or rather, I'm not rich enough to buy a $3000 kit. I'm afraid (beyond a defarbed '61 Springfield) that all that is mostly authentic I'll be able to offer right off is a determined attitude to recreate history and improve as time goes on and finances allow. But the more I read here, I'm getting the impression that just isn't enough.

MStuart
12-04-2006, 12:21 AM
So will that make me a bad reenactor? I'll have to take the $100 sack coat (though not a cheap and crappy admittedly, but something more midway between the bottom rung and the AC style stuff), or the $50 cartridge box, or the $127 Brogans. That's not saying I wouldn't "upgrade" later. But I'd like to start this year (well, early next), but to do it I'd have to buy some of the "less authentic" or sutler row items.

So, by the rules of how much material culture is enough, can I be a good reenactor?

1. No

2. Yes

There will be those who disagree. But, I'll take a guy who may not have the $$ but who has the right attitude and desire to succeed any day. Some here have the "Country Club" attitude that only the best is good enough. Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to make that happen in every aspect. To put oneself in the shoes of the other guy is not a bad idea.

I'll bet you'll be a welcome addition to any number of groups.

Mark

Trooper Graham
12-04-2006, 12:28 AM
Some here have the "Country Club" attitude that only the best is good enough.






Mark

...and they are not all on this forum either. ;)

Phil
12-04-2006, 01:22 AM
Justin,

Don't despair. I assembled two different impressions in college: one mainstream, one authentic. I'd fully recommend skipping that first part, as it's money not well spent.

No, authentic impressions aren't cheap, but there are a plethora of options available to you that will bring the price down. The first and easiest is to scope out used good stuff on message boards like this and others. Almost everyone I reenact with took one look at the cost of clothing and took up sewing. The most common excuse is "I don't know how." It's not that hard to learn, and practice will make you better. Your products might not match the quality of the best vendors, but they can certainly beat the Pakistani repros, and get you into the good events. As I've posted here before, most units, be they mainstream or otherwise have things they can loan to new guys until they can afford to buy their own stuff.

This last one is especially important, given your goals. You want to get out in the field quickly, but cannot afford to do so with an authentic kit. I'd borrow what you need until you can afford the good stuff. You want to go to the events that will get you the best experiences possible, but a lower grade of gear won't do that for you. Also, if your attitude is in the right place, the wrong gear and wrong events won't make you happy. That's how it was for me.

bill watson
12-04-2006, 08:48 AM
"I can understand wanting to have fun but that seems at odds with the entire concept of "living history.""

Not at all. The satisfaction ("fun") comes from exacatly what you're interested in, a chance to live a little bit of the history itself rather than just read about it. That's a huge motivator for a lot of people.

As Phil notes, stuff can be borrowed. And as for size, take a look at just about any history-heavy group and you'll see that there are usually several fellows who apparently don't miss too many meals. Plus some like RJ Samp and Mark Pflum who are both extremely tall and bulky enough, without being fat, to play tackle in the NFL. Good stuff can be borrowed. There's also a progression in the way you get the good stuff to get the best impact fastest, first the right hat or forage cap, then a decent jacket, then you can branch off a bit. The hat and the jacket are the most noticeable things at the greatest distance, and for a big guy a hat might be harder to borrow.

Are you out of school by May 4? We may have a very good reenacting experience waiting for you at McDowell.

tompritchett
12-04-2006, 09:36 AM
Is it a goal to turn mainstreamers into cph'ers, or to move reenactors en masse to the point where accurate protrayals are, in fact, the mainstream?

I somewhat prefer the latter to the former, though it requires a lot more people to move.


I think also what you are seeing is the mainstreamer community starting to split into those that are slowing improving their impressions and events and those that are unwilling to move outside their comfort zone for any reason and for any events. Some mainstreamers are comfortable with the standard "farbfests" where they can basically let their hair down and enjoy themselves but at the same time enjoy being challenged by events ranging from a Summer of 62 or McDowell to a Payne's Farm or Bank's Retreat. As a result they are also now working to try to address some, but not all, of the major issues associated with some of the larger events.

But then there is the frustration within the c/p/h crowd with the rate of progression of both sides of the community and, possibly, the attitude of mainstreamers who only dabble with the "dark-side" rather than fully embrace it. After all, "we know better". In a similar vein, I also think there is the frustration of some within some in c/p/h community towards others within their own community because they feel that these others are not "progressing" with their impressions or, more importantly, their events. Again, it is the "we know better" syndrone. Unfortunately, it is this last set of frustrations that has probably caused some of the worst fights on this forum, and resulting long-term hard feelings.

tompritchett
12-04-2006, 09:54 AM
In answer to your question - the two things that you would need to get as right as possible the first time are your blanket (a good, authentic blanket will keep you warmer on cold nights than a cheap replica) and a decent jacket made with authentic materials - because the jacket is the most notable of all your uniform items. Next would be your pants. Do your pants and jacket have to be top of the line - no. But they do need to made from authentic materials, especially no polyester, from authentic patterns. If you wear glasses, get a period frame and have them filled with your prescription. This is as high a priority as your jacket as non-period glasses stand out like a giraffe at an antelope convention. Sutler brogans will get you through the first year or two until you can afford to upgrade - about the time the sutler brogans need to be replaced anyway. As many mentioned, units will have loaner gear, especially jackets, so my first uniform purchase may actually end up being pants. As far as your rifle, buy as is and then later down the road when everything else has been purchased and you can afford it, during the off-season, send it to get defarbed. Yes, in the long run, it will cost more money to do it this way, but you will also be spreading the cost out over several years and your rifle will probably be your greatest expense.

As you have been determined, the most important thing that the more progressive units are looking for is a proper attitude and a willingness to learn and it sounds like you have both. Good luck in your studies and in your reenacting.

AZReenactor
12-04-2006, 09:54 AM
Disparaging a forum's clientele like Troy keeps doing is a little odd, and puzzling.

Bill, not trying to disparage the AC community, only making the observation that it ain't what it used to be. The AC member list grew by leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, but not because more people bought into the vision. There are an awful lot of fellows there these days who are interested in the kewlest gear but with little or no interest in Authentic Campaigning.

Those who know me will tell you I'm all for colliding ideas, it just seems that these days there is awful lot more arguing for the vision upon which the AC was founded rather than arguing about the details of how to realize that vision. But that's the AC, this is Osz. ;-)

tompritchett
12-04-2006, 10:08 AM
it just seems that these days there is awful lot more arguing for the vision upon which the AC was founded rather than arguing about the details of how to realize that vision.

Question - Since I have not logged back into the AC forum since it's crash (work load related), I really do not what has been going on there these past few month. However, when I was there, it seemed to me the vision disputes were not associated with old AC members versus the new mainstreamers but were instead more between original AC members about what new constituted "campaigner" events (e.g., Summer of 62, the current McDowells, etc.) What I was seeing seemed to be a shifting of the standard c/p/h definitions towards the h side and that was causing the vision disputes. But again, I have not been on the AC since the crash so I could be totally out to lunch on this one.

Huck Finn
12-04-2006, 10:20 PM
...and they are not all on this forum either. ;)

Sure we are. Yes sir, right here.

Dr. B has a great question. Doing the material culture thing NEVER takes as much money as one might think. Truth is it takes effort. The same effort it takes to:

- go as a private.
- take orders.
- stand guard.
- take a picket post.
- cook for a mess.
- get wet, tired and blistered.
- learn.
- have fun.

In ten years, I have never seen someone sent home from an event for their kit. If something was deficient, a loner could be had to cure the issue. Some cannot afford a good kit to start out. Why should that prevent them from attending excellent events? It should not and will not. Folks who talk this sort of thing up have no idea. They could not.

The right amount of material culture is the very best you can do. Trust me that will be plenty good enough. Then, take that "very best", put it between your ears and join in.
:D

JustinPrince
12-04-2006, 11:58 PM
Wow, I have to say I feel much more confident about taking the plunge after reading these posts. Thanks all!

I also appreciate all the advice. I guess a guy can just get lost in all the details.


As I said so far I've got a James River defarbed 1861 Springfield from Regimental Quartermaster, a bayonet and scabbard, and a pair of repro 1860s eyeglass frames that I still need to have lenses put in. Plus a copy of Casey's and the Civil War Reenactor's Blackpowder Guide that I'm going through trying to start learning.

I guess I'll concentrate on getting the brogans (which the Missouri Boot and Shoe Co. looks very nice and relatively affordable. Being a former marching band member I can appreciate the value of good shoes), the best sack coat, trousers, and kepi I can afford with regard finances and future weight loss and then borrow the rest for a few months until I can pick up the rest (which probably won't be that hard, as I could probably get it all together by February or March).

One question though. I'm hesitant about going through CJ Daley not so much because of money (which is a factor), but also because items that aren't in stock take four months to get in. Hopefully by doing this I'll be losing more weight than I am now, which means what I order now won't fit when I get it. I want to avoid the sutler row stuff, and based on some unit's approved vendors was referred to the Quartermaster Shop. Are their sack coat and trousers any good? I certainly don't expect them to be say Daley or homemade quality, but I can afford that now and since by summer or later I'll have to buy a new size anyway can upgrade then.

I have to say thanks for all the advice. When I posted last night I felt "overwhelmed" at the details or the thoughts of getting as authentic a stuff I could as soon as I could, or that I might be looked at as 'yet another hopeless farb'. Now it all seems much more manageable. I have to say if most of the people in this hobby are like you guys, it must be a history nuts dream come true.


Bill, as to your question about McDowell unfortuneately no, that'll probably be right in the middle of finals week in the Spring semester. Add to that I live in the midwest, so getting to the East Coast around that time would be difficult for me. Still, maybe next year (well, 2008 I mean). Thanks for the offer though, I hope I can take you up on it once I'm out of school.

Justin Prince

Rob
12-05-2006, 12:00 AM
Some cannot afford a good kit to start out. Why should that prevent them from attending excellent events? It should not and will not.

I have to (respectfully) disagree here.

A good kit can go a long way toward making you look like a Civil War soldier. A cheap kit will look like a Halloween costume.

If one earns minimum wage, one cannot expect to be able to buy a Ferrari or an Aston-Martin. When someone spends a lot of time, money, and research to get a top-notch kit, then it's only natural that they would want to associate with like-minded people.

It may not seem fair, but "fair" has little to do with it. It is what it is.

MStuart
12-05-2006, 12:14 AM
When someone spends a lot of time, money, and research to get a top-notch kit, then it's only natural that they would want to associate with like-minded people.

It may not seem fair, but "fair" has little to do with it. It is what it is.

You're kidding, right?

Mark

toptimlrd
12-05-2006, 12:38 AM
I guess I'll concentrate on getting the brogans (which the Missouri Boot and Shoe Co. looks very nice and relatively affordable. Being a former marching band member I can appreciate the value of good shoes), the best sack coat, trousers, and kepi I can afford with regard finances and future weight loss and then borrow the rest for a few months until I can pick up the rest (which probably won't be that hard, as I could probably get it all together by February or March).

One question though. I'm hesitant about going through CJ Daley not so much because of money (which is a factor), but also because items that aren't in stock take four months to get in. Hopefully by doing this I'll be losing more weight than I am now, which means what I order now won't fit when I get it. I want to avoid the sutler row stuff, and based on some unit's approved vendors was referred to the Quartermaster Shop. Are their sack coat and trousers any good? I certainly don't expect them to be say Daley or homemade quality, but I can afford that now and since by summer or later I'll have to buy a new size anyway can upgrade then.

Justin Prince

MB&S makes extremely good shoes and they are custom fitted to you, an excellent buy. As to the rest of your kit, don't forget to keep checking the used gear here and on the AC. You can usally get some good deals, just don't wait too long they rarely are up for sale very long.

Rob
12-05-2006, 01:21 AM
You're kidding, right?

Mark

Kidding about what? This is a surprise?

No authentic reenactor that I know wants to do events with folks whose idea of a uniform is the C&C $175 uniform special. And I agree with them.

MStuart
12-05-2006, 01:50 AM
Kidding about what? This is a surprise?

No.......... Just wanted to make sure I was "reading" it right.

Mark

terry sorchy
12-05-2006, 03:01 AM
Justin,
Dont buy items twice. If your going to lose weight or something for a fit then wait and buy from a vendor like Daley or Wambaugh. Look on the AC Buy or Sell page. Great deals at bargain prices. QM Shop machine sews their buttonholes and the trouser pattern is not quite right. If you are looking for an excellent pair of fed trousers, XMas saled cheap, go to Stony Brook (Chris Sullivans) website. He has his Museum quality trousers on sale for 125.0. They are wonderful trousers and Chris is a great guy.
Cheers
Terry Sorchy

tompritchett
12-05-2006, 09:05 AM
When someone spends a lot of time, money, and research to get a top-notch kit, then it's only natural that they would want to associate with like-minded people.

It may not seem fair, but "fair" has little to do with it. It is what it is.

I am sorry but where I came from that is called snobbery, which in my mind is what "kewl" is all about. To me attitude is everything and attitude is what drives individuals to get as authentic of equipment as they can afford at the time. As I read your post, that person would not fit in with your clique because their impression was not "kewl" enough, an attitidue that does not appear to be shared by most of the other 5%ers that post here.

Thank you for giving us a classic example of the "kewl" attitude that so many have been talking about. In the real Army, I would have made sure that your pretty uniforms got very dirty as you pulled maintenance on your tank (you should see how muddy you can get when having having reseat a thrown track in the middle of muddy quagmire or how greasy you get when greasing the roadwheels :twisted:) and had to clean the mud off the threads before turning them back into the motor pool. After all that, no one will be able to truly tell just how "top-nitch" your kit but they sure as h*ll would know what your attitude was like! Might I also add that I had a fellow officer with a similar attitude in one the companies that I served in and he was as useless as t*ts on a borehog because he was too afraid of getting his uniform dirty. As part of one of his evaluations, our company commander actually recommended that he seriously consider a branch transfer.

Memphis
12-05-2006, 09:41 AM
I am sorry but where I came from that is called snobbery, which in my mind is what "kewl" is all about. To me attitude is everything and attitude is what drives individuals to get as authentic of equipment as they can afford at the time. As I read your post, that person would not fit in with your clique because their impression was not "kewl" enough, an attitidue that does not appear to be shared by most of the other 5%ers that post here.

Rob's post wasn't about that at all. He made a simple statement of fact, yet it becomes the focal point for some imaginary class struggle. Rob has a good point, and although I have never met him, what he says rings true for most any endeavor. People who are at a certain level in a hobby or sport tend to want to associate with others of similar interests and skills. As the old saying goes "birds of a feather flock together."

Reenactors who have researched, handled originals, are well read, and have delved into the man, methods, materials triad beyond reading about it may have more in common than someone who has just walked down sutler row for the first time. That isn't snobbery. That is having something in common, and if I may be so bold to say it there is a chip on several shoulders when it comes to reenactors who really make the extra effort. This doesn't have anything to do with disposable income, but this disdain by some for those who get out there and make the extra effort.

tompritchett
12-05-2006, 10:09 AM
Reenactors who have researched, handled originals, are well read, and have delved into the man, methods, materials triad beyond reading about it may have more in common than someone who has just walked down sutler row for the first time. That isn't snobbery. That is having something in common

On that we agree because this part of what proper attitude is all about - the desire to get it right in all facets of our impressions.

However, lets look at what Rob said once again with emphasis on what I focussed on when I made my reply.

When someone spends a lot of time, money, and research to get a top-notch kit
Yes, he also mentioned time and research but by also focussing on money and not qualifying his "get" with something like "as possible", he strongly implied to me that the kit itself is everything. That attitude offends me, especially as someone who has served my country in uniform. Bill Maudlin referred to WW II soldiers with similar attitudes as "garatroopers".

However, I will conceed that such might not have been the message that Rob was trying to get across and he chose his words and phrasing a little incorrectly, but I tend to doubt it given his response to Mark's request for clarification (I might add that Mark is another individual that has served his country in uniform). If Rob wishes to further clarify his remarks, I would be more than happy to listen.

terry sorchy
12-05-2006, 10:15 AM
Mr. Pritchett,
Seems to me as a Moderator you should keep a cooler head on your replys. But I am very tired of analogys i.e stitch nazis, to "kewls", posers. People generally throw out those terms without even knowing the people and going to the type of events that they go to. Those terms are thrown out with more frequency nowdays than the word farb. I think much of the predjudice we see now days is the mainstreamers towards the progressives and there is no need for it.
Humbly
Terry Sorchy

AZReenactor
12-05-2006, 10:30 AM
...When someone spends a lot of time, money, and research to get a top-notch kit, then it's only natural that they would want to associate with like-minded people.

It may not seem fair, but "fair" has little to do with it. It is what it is.

It truly isn't about the gear, too many people loose sight of that. Rob actually hit the nail on the head when he used the phrase "like-minded". If he'd have used the phrase "similarly clad" or "comparably outlaid" I would have been concerned. However, "like-minded" is extremely accurate and is closely akin to the suggestion that it really is the mental attitude that is crucial.

When someone tells me they can't afford to be authentic I ask what investment they are truly willing to make towards that goal. Are they really willing to sacrifice a little for the sake of improving authenticity. Some guys draw the line at eating authentic rations, or sleeping on the ground. Some folks don't want to make any sort of time commitment, simply showing up at activities when they feel like it. Some fellows are unwilling to drive more than 50 miles. Some don't want to spend more for a US hand made wool flannel shirt than they'd pay for a Honduras sweat shop produced cotton dress shirt. Some are unwilling to risk getting their expensive go to event clothes dirty or damaged. At whatever point that line is drawn is where farbism truly begins.

I suppose I'm also an elitist but I care neither for farbs nor hardkewls. I truly would rather spend my time with comrades, whether three or a thousand, who share a similar passion and dedication to this "hobby" that means so very much to me. It isn't about gear, but nonetheless gear plays a major role in the hobby and reflects the inner man to a great extent. Certainly not everyone has the same resources nor can we always afford the top level gear. However, there is a huge difference between truly not being able to afford something and not really caring about the quality of the gear and impression it helps build. I didn't start off with good gear, and I'm not satisfied with all the gear I have.

If someone, who was foolish enough to get stuck with a Cheap and Crappy uniform special, is genuinely working on being authentic in all the other ways they can, then I'm more than happy to help them along where I can. They starting from a place similar to where I did and may well be on the same path I am. However, lest it be misunderstood that I am preaching tolerance for mediocrity here keep in mind that there is a vast difference between traveling that path and pulling off to the side and pitching camp where it is comfortable. I don't care if you've got all Don Smith, Charlie Childs, Nick Sekela, CJ Daley, or Jarnagin gear, if you are at the same authenticity level (in gear, activities, knowledge, or attitude) you were at a year ago, then in my opinion you are farbing out and missing out on a great deal that this "hobby" has to offer.

flattop32355
12-05-2006, 10:56 AM
But I am very tired of analogys i.e stitch nazis, to "kewls", posers. People generally throw out those terms without even knowing the people and going to the type of events that they go to. Those terms are thrown out with more frequency nowdays than the word farb. I think much of the predjudice we see now days is the mainstreamers towards the progressives and there is no need for it.

I'd say that there's predjudice enough flowing from both sides of the hobby to sink both ends of the boat.

We talk like there's no common or middle ground.

The current mantra is, "It's not about the gear, it's about the attitude", then insist that if you have the right attitude, you'd also have the right gear, the individual's economics be damned.

The perception is that much of what comes from "my" side gets viewed by "me" as justifiable and relevant criticism, while that coming from the "other" side is malicious and ill-tempered. While that's a common human trait, it's not always correct.

Take a few moments to plunk yourself down in the other person's position, and read some of the things that are said. How would you then perceive them? Leave behind the, "Yeah, but..."'s of where you are now. Odds are you'd be a least a bit bothered by how it can sometimes come across.

A big example is the cph catch phrase, "Still going to the wrong events?" Until it was explained to me that it is usually meant to be taken lightly and humorously, I found it quite offensive and condescending. Now, I can take it in the spirit it is usually intended.

The interesting thing is that both you and Mr. Pritchett are correct to some degree. This hobby is treated by some as a form of religion, and if you aren't from "my" denomination, you must be wrong, yea verily, totally wrong, even if we're supposedly heading in the same direction.

On a related matter: I find it telling that when we discuss issues such as these, we tend to relate our position to the extreme ends of the possibilites, as in everything is compared to "farb" and "hardkewl". There's a whooooooole lot of middle ground out there with overlapping borders.

Using a part of this thread's oft-forgotten theme, it goes beyond comparing the $200 fully equipped bottom-feeder uniform/gear special to the Nick Sekela, et.al. $3,000 just to get started but D<A>M<N, don't I look good! entry. There's a lot of good stuff out there without a name brand on it; the trick is finding it and knowing it from the lesser wares when you see it. Why don't we ever use these items for comparison instread of the bottom level ones?

Memphis
12-05-2006, 11:01 AM
Well said, Troy. The ideologues who state a man must be wealthy or go deep in debt to have a top notch impression holds us all back.

Trooper Graham
12-05-2006, 11:20 AM
Justin,
Dont buy items twice. If your going to lose weight or something for a fit then wait and buy from a vendor like Daley or Wambaugh. Look on the AC Buy or Sell page. Great deals at bargain prices. QM Shop machine sews their buttonholes and the trouser pattern is not quite right. If you are looking for an excellent pair of fed trousers, XMas saled cheap, go to Stony Brook (Chris Sullivans) website. He has his Museum quality trousers on sale for 125.0. They are wonderful trousers and Chris is a great guy.
Cheers
Terry Sorchy

QM Shop machine sews buttons holes unless you state otherwise. My mounted trousers are spot on.

Trooper Graham
12-05-2006, 11:42 AM
New guy
" I'm new and I need some recommendations on my kit"
Old guy
"You can't go wrong with the guy, this guy and this guy. They are 100% authentic"
New guy
"They truely have nice stuff but I don't have that kind of money. Is there someone else that is authentic but a bit less expensive?
Old guy
"No! if you don't go to them you'll be cast down into the bowles of mainstreamer **** and we won't give you the time of day".
New guy
'Thanks for the help"

**************************

Tom, I guess that other occifer didn't come through any of my basic training platoons, if he had I would have sent him to you with his uniform already caked in mud. Maybe you did though. When and where did you enjoy your boot camp? If you say Ft Campbell or Ft Leonard Wood then the possibility of feeling the brim of my hat against your forehead and my garlic breath in your face could have been a reality. :D

AZReenactor
12-05-2006, 12:11 PM
...On a related matter: I find it telling that when we discuss issues such as these, we tend to relate our position to the extreme ends of the possibilites, as in everything is compared to "farb" and "hardkewl". There's a whooooooole lot of middle ground out there with overlapping borders.
Bernard,
Just to clarify Farb and Hardkewl are not opposite ends of the spectrum. A hardkewl is someone who buys the right gear but does little more than stand around on suttler row at streamer events trying to impress people and looking down their noses at everyone else. A hardkewl is an aboration, a farb in a good kit. Unfourtunately, this is often the closest thing looking like an authentic at "the wrong events" so far too often these well-dressed farbs are identified as being from the "hardcore" end of the hobby. They can sometimes sneak into better events and such but, at least in my mess, are in fact less welcome than someone making an effort but wearing a Cheap & Crappy made kit.

tompritchett
12-05-2006, 12:48 PM
Seems to me as a Moderator you should keep a cooler head on your replys. But I am very tired of analogys i.e stitch nazis, to "kewls", posers.

First, I am not only a moderator but I am also a reenactor. I have no problem with the more authentic side of the hobby and, in fact, as a member of Bill Rodman's Bn, I try to attend several more authentic events per year. (I would also suggest that you go and re-read my other other posts about authentic reenacting if you truly believe that I am going around calling all 5%ers "stich nazi's" and "hardkewls". You might be very surprised.) I just have a problem when someone tries to preach that kit is everything and implies that attitude does not count for much at all. If I totally mis-read the gist of Rob's message I do apologize, but, based upon his response to Mark's request for a clarification, I do not think that I did.

Rob's attitude, as I interpreted it, also reminded me of my experiences in the EPA. I worked for a branch of the Superfund program that reported directly to the office in DC that was directly responsible for implementing the clean-up of hazardous waste site across the nation. Our branch routinely was in the field helping site managers deal with real problems in cleaning up their sites. Our colleagues in DC, who always dressed in suits, or just ties, and carried $200 briefcases (my briefcase was worth less than $50 and literally was held together with duct tape), were often too busy attending committee meetings, or preparing briefing papers for the director, to assist these site managers get the additional $50,000 or $100,000 they needed to avoid having to send their contractors home and shut down the cleanup. Needless to day, very few of these individuals were respected by those actually doing the work of cleaning up sites. These DC individuals had forgotten what their original mission was - to assist in getting hazardous waste site cleaned up. I can still remember getting reamed once for not spending enough time in setting up a "war-room" because I was too busy helping a site manager who was losing $25,000 because his cleanup had been shut down. Again, loss of sense of mission.

For me, as a former member of the military, anyone who places kit ahead of all else is losing track of what we are honoring when we remember those who fought, bled, an died for what they thought was their country. Sorry if that attitude offends you.

Trooper Graham
12-05-2006, 12:57 PM
I just have a problem when someone tries to preach that kit is everything and implies that attitude does not count for much at all.



For me, as a former member of the military, anyone who places kit ahead of all else is losing track of what we are honoring when we honor those who fought, bled, an died for what they thought was their country. Sorry if that attitude offends you.

Did you have this same attitude while on active duty? If you did then there would be six officers instead of five I would have cared to remember in a respectful way. ;)

tompritchett
12-05-2006, 01:05 PM
The current mantra is, "It's not about the gear, it's about the attitude", then insist that if you have the right attitude, you'd also have the right gear, the individual's economics be damned.

Bernard, if I may go further, we hear "get beyond the kit", and "it is all about attitude". Then we get a post which implies to me that, if your kit is not perfect, you automatically do not have the right attitude and you are not welcome to campaign with us. Before anyone gets defensive I am sure that the majority of the 5%ers on this forum do not have that opinion and I would enjoy sharing the field with all of them. I just object when someone apparently bases his exclusiveness strictly based upon kit.

tompritchett
12-05-2006, 01:11 PM
Did you have this same attitude while on active duty? If you did then there would be six officers instead of five I would have cared to remember in a respectful way.

Truthfully, I really did not care how spiffy someone's uniform was but you d*mn well better be prepared to give your all to getting the job done. Patton would have hated me but I would have fit in perfect with the Big Red 1 in Sicily. The only thing that mattered to me was job performance and your skills as a soldier. Shiny brass and shoes meant jack-s**t when you look out from your company defensive position and see a whole battalion or regiment of Soviet tanks rolling towards you. :)

Trooper Graham
12-05-2006, 01:17 PM
Truthfully, I really did not care how spiffy someone's uniform was but you d*mn well better be prepared to give your all to getting the job done. Patton would have hated me but I would have fit in perfect with the Big Red 1 in Sicily. The only thing that mattered to me was job performance and your skills as a soldier. Shiny brass and shoes meant jack-s**t when you look out from your company defensive position and see a whole battalion or regiment of Soviet tanks rolling towards you. :)

Then I understand you correctly, you would have been an 'officer' that would have told your NCO what needs to be done but would not have told him how to do. Right?

terry sorchy
12-05-2006, 01:21 PM
You are correct Mr. Pritchett, is the attitude. But along with that does no matter what anyone says, eventually is the kit. I have been "campaigning" for 27 years, continuously. I have been to tons of good events and tons of bad. I am a member of the WIG, SGLHA, and ONV. I also fall in with mainstream groups at mainstream events to help them out and to possibly learn a few things myself. If a man does not have the best kit as said before it does not make him a bad soldier. I just hate labeling folks, it is done to much. I am very user friendly to all aspects and realms of this hobby. Just ask those who know me.
Honestly the things that bother me the most at mainstream events isnt the kit. Its the men not doing what was done back then like they should, be it folks in good kit or bad. Just live the life of a soldier, research it and live the life.
And I dont mean most people at mainstream events, but just enough to really grate on you if you know what I mean.
The way I see it, if I know a man in a mainstream unit that has kit that wont pass muster for a C/P/H event but really wants to try it. I will kit him out fully, and usually see to it he has a ride to the event.
Cheers
Terry Sorchy

Rob
12-05-2006, 01:30 PM
Rob's post wasn't about that at all. He made a simple statement of fact, yet it becomes the focal point for some imaginary class struggle. Rob has a good point, and although I have never met him, what he says rings true for most any endeavor. People who are at a certain level in a hobby or sport tend to want to associate with others of similar interests and skills. As the old saying goes "birds of a feather flock together."

You read that right.

I'm one of the least "kewl" people that I know, but anyone who doesn't acknowledge this rift simply has their head in sand. There is no sense denying this simply because we may not like it.

I belong to both a "mainstream" group and an "authentic" group. Each of them are what they are - when I go to events, I know just what I'm going to get. And I would not dream of inviting members from one group to go to the other's functions.

Also, this doesn't apply only to materials. It also applies to drill, camp, and learning to do things the way they were done. This would include things such as plastic utensils, Tupperware containers, soda cans, ad nauseum - all things which I saw at the last event that the above-mentioned mainstream group attended, because nobody gave a **** enough to get these things out of sight. That would be an attitude problem, not a "kit" problem. This is not reenacting - it is theme camping. You can do the same thing in your own backyard, without bothering to put on the uniform.

hanktrent
12-05-2006, 04:01 PM
For those who decry Rob's attitude, I'm curious. If someone couldn't afford to buy any new clothing at all, and had to come in the best substitutes that he already owned, would it be okay for a soldier to come in blue jeans and a blue sports coat with his modern hunting rifle, and be in your unit on a regular basis?

If the answer is, no, we'd expect him to get at least the cheapest gear, because anyone can afford that... Well, not everyone can afford even a couple hundred dollars, just like not everyone can afford $1,000 plus dollars.

So you'd still be eliminating the lowest end of the economic spectrum from reenacting, based on finances alone. If doing so is snobbery, it's still snobbery, just at a different level.

If the solution would be to find loaner gear until he could afford acceptable things, or offer to barter your old used stuff, or teach him to sew... those are the same solutions that become available at all levels.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

MStuart
12-05-2006, 04:05 PM
[QUOTE=tompritchett]
For me, as a former member of the military, anyone who places kit ahead of all else is losing track of what we are honoring when we remember those who fought, bled, an died for what they thought was their country.[ /QUOTE]

One hundred freaking percent correct. The clothes DO NOT make the man, or reenactor. I may be in the minority, but I put more emphasis on what's going on inside than what shows up in the mirror. That "dedication" that we all seem to be looking for goes way beyond, and is more important than, what a man or woman wears on their back.

There are many dimensions to reenacting. Placing the emphasis on "looking good" as a requirement to approved membership shows only one dimensional thinking. As Tom indicated, it shows a loss of track of what we are honoring. I agree.

As I posted in another thread, it looks like "getting beyond the gear has gone by the wayside". It was nice while it lasted.

Mark

tompritchett
12-05-2006, 04:11 PM
You are correct Mr. Pritchett, is the attitude. But along with that does no matter what anyone says, eventually is the kit.

Believe it or not we are in agreement. If you have the proper attitude, you will always be looking to improve your impression, which means, among other things, improving your kit. In that we are in total agreement. I have gone to inspection first events and have no trouble passing but I am still working to improve my kit as finances allow.


Honestly the things that bother me the most at mainstream events isnt the kit. Its the men not doing what was done back then like they should, be it folks in good kit or bad. Just live the life of a soldier, research it and live the life.

Again, we are in agreement. I came from one of those units you are refering to and finally gave up trying to slowly move the unit members away from the blantant farbiness and towards acting more like ordinary soliders.

Rob
12-05-2006, 04:14 PM
The title of this thread was "Material Culture: How Much is Reasonable", no?


To further illustrate this gear business, let me say that I have viewed this from both sides of the barbed-wire fence.

Two and a half years ago, I was invited to a living history show put on by an authentic group whose list of standards was quite long. Needless to say, I fell short in every area, but I was assured by the person who invited me that it would be all right, as I was a guest.

Did I get dirty looks from some of the members? Yup.

Did I know why I was getting these dirty looks? Yup.

Did I get angry about it, and mumble to myself, "Man, what a bunch of stitch-Nazis"? Absolutely NOT.

You see, even though I was out of a job at the time, and dead broke, and seriously in debt, it was still up to me to meet their standards if I wanted to join - not to insist that I be included regardless.

And do you know what? Two and a half years later, I have been accepted as a member of this selfsame group. I made up my mind to do it, and I did it. I still have a couple of items which fall short of the mark, but everything else has been replaced.

I have also learned how to camp without a fire grate and a kitchen setup, how to do the manual of arms properly, how to command a small unit (with the proper commands) and lots of other neat things which my being in a mainstream group did not, and would never, teach me. Doing a bit of first-person has forced me to learn something of my local history as well.

The bottom line? In order to meet their standards, I had to forego the "woe-is-me" bit and raise the bar for myself, and then do it. And that's not a bad thing.

MStuart
12-05-2006, 04:25 PM
Seems to me we've got the classis "have's and have nots".

It's been in front of us all this time. Think about it.

Mark

tompritchett
12-05-2006, 04:28 PM
Sent you a reply via PM. I doubt if everyone else wants to hear about our "war" stories.

Trooper Graham
12-05-2006, 04:31 PM
Seems to me we've got the classis "have's and have nots".

It's been in front of us all this time. Think about it.

Mark

...and the upper class, middle class, and poor class. Nothing has changed through time, the divide has only grown.

AZReenactor
12-05-2006, 04:40 PM
...If the solution would be to find loaner gear until he could afford acceptable things, or offer to barter your old used stuff, or teach him to sew... those are the same solutions that become available at all levels.
Hank,
Bravo for putting things in perspective. Standards definitely aren't a bad thing.


There are many dimensions to reenacting. Placing the emphasis on "looking good" as a requirement to approved membership shows only one dimensional thinking. As Tom indicated, it shows a loss of track of what we are honoring. I agree.
Mark,
I don't think that anyone here is advocating "looking good" as the only important focus in reenacting. The appearance and the gear that contributes to it is only a part of the equation, but in this game of dress up and pretend, it is is a very big part of it.

Think of the most regal lady you can, then dress her up as a prostitute and put her on the street and all you have is a whore. Same applies in reenacting, take your most dedicated researcher and hardcore campaigner and dress them in a cheap and crappy kit and all you have is a Farb. The mantra isn't "ignore the gear" but rather get beyond it. The gear is only one of the steps along the road but just as important as the other steps.

I suggested that we'd rather have a reenactor with the right attitude but a Cheap and crappy kit in our camp, but I guarantee you one of the very first things we're going to do is rally round and see what loaner gear we can provide to help improve their impression and then work to help them get a correct kit together if they choose to become a part of our group. No way we're going to let them just remain a farb when they don't want to be one.

tompritchett
12-05-2006, 05:14 PM
The title of this thread was "Material Culture: How Much is Reasonable", no?

Actually the original question had nothing to do with one's kit but rather one's knowledge of finer details of the construction of one's clothing and equipment, especially when that knowledge might fair exceed that of the typical soldier being portayed. It had nothing to do with what was to be considered a reasonable kit. In fact, one of the people reacting to your post was the starter of this thread. Based upon his response to your post, he apparently does not think it had anything to do with his original question. Before you claim again that you were addressing his original question, I would suggest that you reread it several times.

As far as the exclusivity of your unit, I am assuming that the two year wait was because you had to get your kit up to a minimum level to meet their uniform and equipment standards before you were allowed to join. If that is their philosophy so be it, but it kinda reminds of the country clubs my parents and several of my siblings belonged to. Personally, my unit philosophy would be to set minimum standards and then use loaner gear to help them during the transitionary period. There is also the option of probationary memberships that would allow the member to attend meetings and drills until the member was ready to fully function in the field as a contributing member. Either approach could have been used instead of this apparent exclusivity, but, again, that is your unit's choice. I do not doubt their impressions are very authentic not only in terms of kit but also all the other aspects of a soldier's life such as drill, camp duties, keeping and preparing non-refrigerated foods. However, it still does not change my over-all impression of a reenactor country club. Whatever turns your boat.

Memphis
12-05-2006, 05:33 PM
Personally, my unit philosophy would be to set minimum standards and then use loaner gear to help them during the transitionary period.

Is this not what most groups do, or is this yet another straw man?

MStuart
12-05-2006, 06:11 PM
For those who decry Rob's attitude, I'm curious. If someone couldn't afford to buy any new clothing at all, and had to come in the best substitutes that he already owned, would it be okay for a soldier to come in blue jeans and a blue sports coat with his modern hunting rifle, and be in your unit on a regular basis?
Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Hank:

We all know the answer to that. The arguement here, as I see it, is "overlooking" the substitution of some items of lesser cost (and quite possibly, quality) over the 99% authentic items for whatever reason/s a particular reenactor has.

Such as: $6.95 socks instead of $65 one's, a $20 waist belt over a $40 one, or, and this was the source of a great war on another forum, the use of a $25 Walmart pocket watch over a $300 truly period timepiece.

We've read on this thread that there is no gray area on some of these equipments for some. For others there are "allowances" made. Some have made it clear that anything less than "the best" is unacceptable. For that particular mess or company, their rules are theirs and that is what they live by. Good for them. That's what choices are about. Authenticity is a good thing, you'll never hear me disagree with that. Disparaging other's for being unable (note I didn't include "unwilling") to meet those particular standards is bad.

This world ain't cut and dried, black and white. When a fella says he can't afford a pair of $180 trousers, or a $125 cartridge box, a pair of $65 socks, or a $300 pocket watch, maybe we ought to give him a break. He might have a couple of kids who need $20 trousers, $50 for school supplies, or some $$ to cover incidental expenses for that family. Living in the present sometimes trumps living history, as blasphemous as that may sound to some. The inability to shop at Tiffany's is not the measure of a man.

When someone new wants to join our unit, who doesn't have the monetary wherewithall to get everything top-shelf, our advice is to get the stuff in increments. Start out with top of the line jacket, trousers and headgear. If you gotta go with lesser quality leathers and the other stuff, then so be it. Do what you can when you can. I haven't seen a whole lot of newbies come into the hobby wanting to wait an entire year (or more) to get out until they can have the best of the best. If that makes him, or me, a bad reenactor, or farb, then I suppose I'm guilty as charged. But I'll bet I've got quite a few brothers and sisters out there as unidicted co-conspirators.

We've heard a few stories of how some have risen from the depths of mainstreamism to get the better gear and find like minded pards who share the same standards. Bully!! But, don't look down upon others because they can't (remember, not won't) meet those same standards. It's just plain narrow-minded and wrong. Consider the analogy of a Christmas benefit between the Fox Chapel Yacht Club and the Marine Corps Toys For Tots. One has a gala show with Frank Sinatra and charges $1000 a head, and the other does what they can with what they have. The local Corps Reserve unit sure isn't going to have The Chairman of the Board, but they might have G/Sgt John Q Marine busting his arse in other ways. Both achieve the same thing, only with different methods. Is one better than the other?

Someone wanna help me down from this soap-box? I don't like heights.

Mark

Trooper Graham
12-05-2006, 06:16 PM
Hank:



the use of a $25 Walmart pocket watch over a $300 truly period timepiece.


Mark

OH!! Mark, your opening up the flood gates again with this one. Can you swim? :D

Rob Weaver
12-05-2006, 08:51 PM
I thought we dispensed with the straw man a dozen pages ago and he seems to have restuffed himself and come back for another thrashing. We're not talking about making a costume out of patently modern items; the question is how much knowledge about the past is necessary to recreate it on any given weekend.
A young reenactor, maybe two years in the hobby, and I had a first person discussion at a recent picket post. By the benefit of many years of reenacting, I was able to frame my end of the conversation in a pretty much period fashion. He caught on pretty quickly, and held up his end as well. Was it a little stilted? Yeah, but we both tacitly agreed to overlook that. Did we learn a little about each other and our shared interest? Yep. Knowlege of the culture grows as you spend time with it, and appreciate things beyond period militaria. Still, we need a huge dose of humility. Maybe the question should be "Role-playing: How much is Enough?"

TheQM
12-05-2006, 09:26 PM
This has been an interesting thread, but to get back to Bernard's original guestion when it comes to the material culture of our period, what is reasonable, or to put it another way, what is authentic enough? To my way of thinking, there are three answers.

First, does your impression meet the standards/guidelines of the event's you wish to attend? We all know there is a wide range of event guidelines, from very strict and/or specific, to just about anything goes. Sometimes it's not just a matter of whether or not you be allowed to participate, but if you will feel comfortable with your impression in comparison with the other participants.

Second, does your impression meet the standards/guidelines of the group or groups you belong to? My Mainstream unit's standards/guidelines for our personal impressions are quite strict. As a new member, you are given one year to meet the standard. If you haven't, you had better have a very good reason. Other groups are much more flexible in what is considered acceptable. I'm also sure there are groups with even stricter rules. When you join a group, you make a commitment to meet their standards/guidelines, whatever they may be. If you are not willing to make that commitment, do yourself and the group a favor and move on.

Last, and by far the most important, what is authentic enough for you, the individual reenactor? You have to meet the standards/guidelines set by the events you attend and the groups you belong to. After that, the level of authenticity you aspire to is a personal matter, limited only by your interest, research and pocketbook.

I have been addressing just an individual's personal impression. We can now continue with our reguarly scheduled debate about, tents, cots, coolers, drill, first person, Stitch Counters, Streamers, and Farbs.

flattop32355
12-05-2006, 11:18 PM
Bernard,
Just to clarify Farb and Hardkewl are not opposite ends of the spectrum. A hardkewl is someone who buys the right gear but does little more than stand around on suttler row at streamer events trying to impress people and looking down their noses at everyone else. A hardkewl is an aboration, a farb in a good kit. Unfourtunately, this is often the closest thing looking like an authentic at "the wrong events" so far too often these well-dressed farbs are identified as being from the "hardcore" end of the hobby. They can sometimes sneak into better events and such but, at least in my mess, are in fact less welcome than someone making an effort but wearing a Cheap & Crappy made kit.

They are, however, the extreme ends of the clothing spectrum, by definition, as you point out yourself, and that is the point I make. So the comparison is valid.

I'm well aware that the cph'ers don't care for hardkewls any more than mainstreamers. That, however, was not the subject of the discussion.

flattop32355
12-05-2006, 11:46 PM
Honestly the things that bother me the most at mainstream events isnt the kit. Its the men not doing what was done back then like they should, be it folks in good kit or bad. Just live the life of a soldier, research it and live the life.

I've reenacted a little over three full seasons, having started late at age 48. By the middle of the second year, I had gone through the "Gee, Whiz" stage and entered the "Wait a Minute" period, when I started looking at things with a more practiced eye. One of the first things that got to me was the dead time in the camps after the last battle of the day: Make dinner, then wait for either the ball or morning.

I seemed to recall from my studies that roll was called at least three times per day, all through the day, every day. There were also duties to be performed throughout the day, and drill at the squad, company, battalion and sometimes brigade and even corps levels. We were just sitting on our assets, waiting for dark. It bothered me, and I started mentioning it to some of my comrades. They started noticing it, too. Now they jokingly say that I've ruined things for them, because they see things now that could be done better that they didn't pay attention to before.

But that ain't necessarily unique to the mainstream. The one LH of cph'ers I've been to so far also had some evening sitting around time, more than I'd anticipated, counting the deer come out of the woods and discovering that the water in the barrels had an interesting, medicinal flavor to it.

Not many of us have the true pattern of what "they" did down pat yet, be we mainstream or cph. I've noticed a pretty solid movement in the mainstream events that I attended last year, some good and some bad, towards trying to include more of what we believe soldiers did during each day in camp. It's a good trend. Even though not all of the efforts are exactly well done, they are at least honest efforts towards improvement.

I plan on hitting more of the "right" events as well; one event does not make a good base upon which to establish opinions. But I've got some theories that I want to check out about the differences between mainstream and cph events, now that I'm past phase 2 of "Gee, Whiz!" It should be an interesting next few years.

flattop32355
12-06-2006, 12:08 AM
I have also learned how to camp without a fire grate and a kitchen setup, how to do the manual of arms properly...and lots of other neat things which my being in a mainstream group did not, and would never, teach me.

Interestingly, these are things that my mainstream unit taught me very well, either by design or by observation. (I've yet to be priviledged to lead men at anything other than manual of arms.)

Not all mainstream units are alike. Of course, I think mine is especially good at some things; I have found that I can line up with any group of men, mainstream or cph, and obey most proper commands without worry due to the training we've had. Not all units are as fortunate. Our "kitchen" consists of canteen halves, boilers and an occasional light-weight skillet of period construction. We eat well on fairly typical rations. We can pull guard and bellyache about it with the best of them. When the event standards call for it (and often when they don't), a goodly number of us can strip down to the bare essentials and get by nicely.

Are we a rarity in the mainstream? I'd have to doubt that. Obviously, there are a goodly number of unts I'd think we beat out, but I'd have to say there's also a goodly number that are as good, if not somewhat better, than us.

flattop32355
12-06-2006, 12:34 AM
Think of the most regal lady you can, then dress her up as a prostitute and put her on the street and all you have is a whore. Same applies in reenacting, take your most dedicated researcher and hardcore campaigner and dress them in a cheap and crappy kit and all you have is a Farb. The mantra isn't "ignore the gear" but rather get beyond it. The gear is only one of the steps along the road but just as important as the other steps.

No, what you have is a lady who is down on her luck. If she's really a lady, those traits will shine through no matter how she is dressed, or what her circumstances.

Any chance your most dedicated researcher and hardcore campaigner is no different? Calling such a person a farb simply on the basis of their "cheap and crappy kit" is simply undiluted male bovine fecal matter. What he is is a cph with no money to spend on better gear. He may be down on his luck, or have sickness in the family, or any number of other reasons for trying to get by with what he can afford to spend on the hobby. ****'s Bells, if that fellow lives in central Ohio, send him to me and I'll make sure he's got a home and is taken care of and respected. If he wants to wear his crappy uniform because it's all he's got, but it's his, he's welcome at our table.


I suggested that we'd rather have a reenactor with the right attitude but a Cheap and crappy kit in our camp, but I guarantee you one of the very first things we're going to do is rally round and see what loaner gear we can provide to help improve their impression and then work to help them get a correct kit together if they choose to become a part of our group. No way we're going to let them just remain a farb when they don't want to be one.

We seem to have a fundamental difference in our definitions of "farb". The above seems to go right back to the idea that no matter what else is good about a reenactor, if the kit ain't right, he's just a farb. Not has a farby kit, but the man himself is a farb. Pure, undiluted male bovine fecal matter.

I just realized this discussion has gotten me hot enough to post four straight entries. Good Heavens, I need to put on the wool and do some reenacting!

tompritchett
12-06-2006, 03:15 AM
Originally Posted by tompritchett
Personally, my unit philosophy would be to set minimum standards and then use loaner gear to help them during the transitionary period.Is this not what most groups do, or is this yet another straw man?

I would assume so but, based upon his post at 03:14 PM at Monday, not Rob's group.

bill watson
12-06-2006, 08:49 AM
"If she's really a lady, those traits will shine through no matter how she is dressed, or what her circumstances."

Ditto if she's a whore. :-)

tompritchett
12-06-2006, 09:57 AM
Ditto if she's a whore.

Oh so very true. My mother used to have a phrase for people like that - poor white trash on the inside but all flussied up on the outside - but for the life of me I can no longer remember it. For reenactors, I am assuming you are referring to what the 5%ers consider true "hardkewls". :)

Rob
12-06-2006, 03:38 PM
Interestingly, these are things that my mainstream unit taught me very well, either by design or by observation. (I've yet to be priviledged to lead men at anything other than manual of arms.)

Not all mainstream units are alike.

Mea culpa. I should have said "my" mainstream unit. They are not all cut from the same bolt of cloth.

In my unit, the enthusiasm was there, but, as I later found out, the research was not. I got to learn interesting commands like "Fire by files from the left", and, better yet, "Fire by file" - given to a line of skirmishers. Not to mention that it took me over a year to get our Fearless Leader to stop saying "load and hold".