Concur. Tastes for something different are out there and the mainstream hobby is not fulfilling the desires of some types of folks. I think we'll see more people moving steadily away from the group-oriented side of the hobby to one that places more emphasis on, as you termed it, an individualistic style.
Originally Posted by Rob Weaver
Case in point, I ran into two guys at Manassas NBP doing living history separate from several other groups doing LH elsewhere on the battlefield. Why were they separate from the other living historians, I asked? "Our unit didn't fight on that part of the battlefield." Well, that made sense. Both were former members of a group that's now in steep decline, but neither seemed interested in joining another group and confronting the same old bugaboo of "unit politics". One said he was simply tired of "playing soldier". He's a veteran, served in the "real" military, and just didn't feel like being ordered around anymore even if it was just play acting and for "fun". They said that for thematic reasons, they're just a couple of stragglers one the march. Well, that made sense to me.
Another example... I recently ran into a guy at Gettysburg walking the battlefield with his musket on his shoulder all by himself. He wasn't part of the park LH going on at Pitzer's Woods or at the PA Monument, just one guy who set off on a solo hike. He said he couldn't get the guys in his unit to do "cool stuff" like re-trace the footsteps of their original unit, so he decided to do it himself alone. He said if someone asked him what he was doing, he responded that it was a "personal commemoration". I was reminded of what Abraham Lincoln said while studying a model of the proposed Monitor: "All I can say is what the girl said when she put her foot in the stocking. It strikes me there's something in it."
Will this sort of individualistic stuff catch on? Don't know, but if activities are any indication, I'd say yes, to a certain degree. People ski, skate, ride bikes, take hikes, climb mountains, go boating, all stuff that can be done as either part of a larger event or by yourself or with just a small group of friends. Reenacting should be no different. Perhaps the solo and micro-event reenactors are just now emerging in enough numbers to start to be noticed.
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I shall move from Chattanooga when the Lieutenant-General orders me; ready or not ready. And if you don't have my army supplied, and keep it supplied, we'll eat your mules up, sir. – General William Tecumseh Sherman to the Quartermaster in Nashville. 1864