View Full Version : How to get started

03-25-2006, 04:53 PM
Hello! I'm a 20 year old girl looking into how to get into reenacting as a civilian. What kind of group do I join? how can I find one? What do I need to buy? Any information on how to get started would be soooo appreciated. Thank you!!

-Katie Capinski

03-25-2006, 06:31 PM
Good day to you,

My wife is a civilian reenactor and loves it!! Glad to see you are interested. I guess my next question is where are you from and we can maybe find a civilian bunch to join. First off do not buy anything until you talk to the other civilians in the bunch you decide to join. The reason I say this is because some do different impressions then others. Another thing to maybe look at is a nurse for a saw bones or a water lilly. If you decide not to join another bunch of people and want to go it alone then still talk to other people and decide which way or influence you want to be ie rich, poor, roaming, you can see that it doe's curtail of alot of things. I hope you find a bunch as that really makes it both fun and interesting to be there at a event, alot of women and men helped each other out during that terrible time. Again welcome and hope you find a bunch and ask question here or you can e-mail me if you would like and I will put you in touch with my wife. I think my e-mail is in the fourm here if not then I will e-mail you.

03-25-2006, 08:21 PM
Good Evening, Miss Capinski,

You ask some very good questions.

I believe you have already received a response that advised against buying anything until you have found a group. That is sound advice but I would add to it. To put it politely, some groups are more historically accurate than others so you may want to use this forum as a sounding board for advice you have received.

The other person posting also asked your geographic location. I was going to do the same thing because there are some very good groups in certain regions that would be willing to mentor you as you entered the hobby.

If you could also tell the forum what your background is in civil war history, i.e., what is your level of knowledge of the time period and also your knowledge of reenacting. To assist us in guiding you, if you could discuss briefly what you would like to get out of participating and any interests you have in today's world that might have parallels in the 19th century. An example of this latter subject is my wife has an interest in cooking and herbs so she has researched the subject of herbal uses.

That will do for starts even though we have asked more questions than given answers. But there is no "one size fits all" response so we would like to suit the responses to you.

Michael Mescher

03-25-2006, 08:37 PM
Thank you my wife also does the cooking and herb, the thing I did forget was the historicaly accurate as we just don't know exactly what this girl wants. I do a Union soldier impression and my wife potrays a women whom lost everything because she could not keep up with all the work and payments of the Homestead (farm). So in essence she is traveling to find where I am at, if I am still around on this earth that is. As I said in the latter letter we have fun but it is done with the utmost respect and with the best we can get for that time period. I guess we just need to know more as to where she is located and what she wants to do. Again thank you for pointing out the importance of being histroically correct

03-25-2006, 10:41 PM
I am a history major and a sophomore in college. I have always loved the Civil War. I could say that my knowledge is fairly good- I read a lot and have been to most of the eastern theater battlefields. I research the Civil War for fun and am willing to research, research, research. :) I know more than the average person, but have plenty of room to learn more.
I am very interested in joining a group of people- I live about 40 minutes away from Philadelphia, PA and around 5 minutes away from Valley Forge, PA.
I want to be as authentic as I can be. I want to do this because I love the Civil War and I think that that time period is so interesting. I feel people need to learn more about our history and I think a people can get a feel of the time period and learn a lot from reenactors. The Civil War is a passion of mine and I'd like to join a group of people who feel the same.
I'm willing to learn about anything to research and use in reenacting, but I think it would interesting to talk about the different herbs and meds or really anything at all. What kinds of things are there to get involved in?

Sorry it turned out so long! :)

Thanks so much,

03-26-2006, 12:45 AM
Hello again,

Well I can not help with a group in PA., but you sit tight and someone will get ahold of you from here. I see you have been doing research and that is good remember your etiquette and there are some good books available on the subject but I can't remember the name right now or find my wifes to tell you sorry. Again it is nice to see younger people interested in this and welcome. :D

Miss L
03-26-2006, 01:46 AM
Hello Katie!

A wonderful place to start (IMO) is the Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society website. You're in their general 'neck of the woods', so perhaps they have a member or two fairly close to your home. Even if they don't, their website contains a wealth of information - I always recommend it as an informational resource.

You can find them at: http://www.agsas.org/index.shtml

Good luck!

03-26-2006, 10:02 AM
Dear Ms. Capinski,

I would second the AGSAS endorsement. Then again, I am biased, :oops: cause I am a member.

Still, the AGSAS are great people - wonderful mentors who will help with material culture, the societal culture, and so on. The website speaks volumes - and barely scratches the surface of what we have available.

03-26-2006, 12:34 PM
Well, I'm not an AGSAS member, and I'm still biased toward them. :) http://www.agsas.org

Often, the hardest part of being a citizen is figuring out why you'd be anywhere near a battle, if you have brains in your head. LOL Doesn't make much sense, does it? There are growing numbers of citizen's groups who portray "homefront" activities, or even have non-military events with no need to figure out a reason to be near a battle site.

For instance: if you live in Virginia, and you know troops are going to have a battle right on your farm, do you hang out on the edge of the field, hide in your cellar til the shooting stops, or head across the village to a friend's farm that's out of the fight? (Hint--go where there are not too many bullets--cellar or friend--but don't go too far away, or you'll not be able to get back and tend your stock that evening...)

If you live in a city, would you have the knowledge of woodlore to survive without your normal social structure (shops, apartments, sewers, water taps/butts, lodgings, coal fires)?

If you lost everything, there are even more things to consider there, historically: it's far harder to get fed and find shelter in unfamiliar areas of the land, when if a destitute person stayed in their own town, they have a social circle to help them: neighbors, church, local aid groups, local poor-houses and work projects, etc. Going to an area without any social support makes it ten times harder to be broke, and you won't have so many folks willing to be charitable when you're just another vagrant on the road. When people know you from your long struggle to keep solvent, they're usually far more willing to feed you, find work for you, etc--because there's a personal connection. When a farmer's wife doesn't know you from Adam, she's no reason to trust you, and less reason to feed you.

Add in that the army is a mobile enterprise, and riddled with serious health risks (far greater than those of "home)--well, you can see that citizens really have more work than soldiers when it comes to "being near a battle." :)

I'll echo the advice on starting slow and gearing up steadily. Do you sew? If you do, or are willing to learn a few simple skills, you can maximize your budget by constructing your own clothing at home.

What is your favorite aspect of the era? It will take you a good year to get your basic wardrobe set, but that doesn't mean you can't be researching a passion the whole time! There's far more than just clothes, after all! What would you like to learn more about, related to anything in the mid-century?

I'd also encourage you, as you assemble your wardrobe and gear, to go with as close to 100% accuracy as possible. This saves a great deal of money in the long run, because you'll be accurately outfitted to attend any event: juried, invitation only, local living history demo, "smorgasbord" events--with highly accurate clothing, you'll meet or exceed any event's clothing guidelines, and that greatly increases your hobby options.

There are some citizen's groups near you in the Gettysburg area (and I've a cousin-in-law who works at Valley Forge on the park staff, though she's not in the hobby...)

If you don't know how to sew, and want to learn, you're also fairly near to Carolann Schmitt and the Genteel Arts Academy--she's a fantastic teacher, top-notch research ethic, and just one of the nicest people you'll ever know. She even has a great corset workshop, if you're intimidated by sewing one for yourself. :) http://www.genteelarts.com

http://www.thesewingacademy.org has a raft of clothing and living history articles to play with, free.

So, basically--welcome!