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Thread: Sooooo....Why do it?

  1. #21
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    Sep 2008
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    I am still holding out that we will get paid to do this hobby. Been waiting since 1998.

    Mike Nichols
    2nd Md Co C.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcn2de View Post
    I am still holding out that we will get paid to do this hobby. Been waiting since 1998.

    Mike Nichols
    2nd Md Co C.
    You might not like it, if you get what you wish for.. Bad enough at times how we changes things to fit organizers, and public expectations, but if we were paid, they we would have to dance thier tune all the time. Expect Uber Farb events at that point.

  3. #23

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    There's really at least 2 threads going on here at once: 1) Why do we reenact? and 2) Why are reenactors disparaged among other segments of the population?
    In answer to #1: I've been reenacting since the US Bicentenial and I actually started as a Rev War musician. Civil War came along about 10 years later when I moved somewhere where there was no Rev War reenacting presence. So, for me, I guess what I really enjoy is reenacting. The research, the camping, the drill, the battles - I enjoy each facet. Reenacting provides some framework for a very interdisciplinary approach to historical study. I'm interested in what people were reading, looking at, eating, thinking about and how it impacted what they did.
    #2: Why we don't get no respect: We can't seem to resist the seamier side of history. we have mock executions and let women walk around in their unmentionables. We say words like "darky" and "contraband" with a bit of a wink-wink nudge-nudge. We also can't seem to leave an impossibly arcane arguement alone: Did the 49th La have one-piece or two-piece buttonshanks? Was Joshua Chamberlin a Christian? We draw a crowd by drawing analogizes: we compare slavery and gun control and do it all just a little too loudly - as if in 7th grade we got tired of holding our hands up waiting to be called for the right answer. (Again.) Not all of us do this, but the squeaky wheel gets the attention.
    And once again, Schnapps, you are the Prince of the Pen.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Weaver View Post
    #2: Why we don't get no respect: We can't seem to resist the seamier side of history. we have mock executions and let women walk around in their unmentionables. We say words like "darky" and "contraband" with a bit of a wink-wink nudge-nudge. We also can't seem to leave an impossibly arcane arguement alone: Did the 49th La have one-piece or two-piece buttonshanks? Was Joshua Chamberlin a Christian? We draw a crowd by drawing analogizes: we compare slavery and gun control and do it all just a little too loudly - as if in 7th grade we got tired of holding our hands up waiting to be called for the right answer. (Again.) Not all of us do this, but the squeaky wheel gets the attention.
    And once again, Schnapps, you are the Prince of the Pen.
    Really, is that the reason? You might want to adjust the WE to some you know. Because I do not know these peaple you are talking about, and I have been in the hobby for 37 years. I am sure they exist, but I run with better circles apparently.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Weaver View Post
    Why we don't get no respect: We can't seem to resist the seamier side of history. we have mock executions and let women walk around in their unmentionables. We say words like "darky" and "contraband" with a bit of a wink-wink nudge-nudge.
    Ironically, one of the complaints in the Salon article was that reenacting doesn't include the seamier site of history:

    Where should the paroxysmal “heritage” festivals begin and end? And how accurate will any of these celebrations of the past really be?

    I’ve never attended a reenactment where the Confederate encampments are replete with compliant African-Americans portraying the slaves who actually accompanied their masters — officers and enlisted men — on the march. No doubt it’s hard to find modern African-Americans willing enough to play slaves alongside modern white Americans playing Confederate soldiers... For good reason, modern blacks are a little sensitive about slavery and anything that seems to suggest — as reenactments most assuredly do — that the Civil War was all about battles, that each side fought with equal courage and grand moral purpose, and that the war had nothing to do with slavery or emancipation.
    Now, admittedly, I don't think the author would be any more pleased with a cartoon-style sanitized version of the seamy side of history, but he mentions the notable lack of reenactments of the Sultana, Fort Pillow and the ANV kidnapping free blacks, as examples.

    Sounds like the same kinds of things, played straight and realistic, without the wink-wink-nudge-nudge, would earn more respect as far as he's concerned.

    Hank Trent
    hanktrent@gmail.com

  6. #26
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    Delaware
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    When I started in 1998 my neighbor and his two sons were reenacting with the 2nd Delaware. I have always loved history and still a big Delaware history buff. What a way to give my son a chance to do something else besides watch tv, play video games and get out and learn something. Yes we was part of the kid battles, but in the end now that he is older and married, he told me one day that reenacting was some of the best times of his childhood. (tear here). I still love going out in the field, complaining with my pards about the weather, battles and what ever else we come up with and we sure do laugh more than ever. One of the best things is we do not care what your job is, your title or even your shoe size. For the group I am in we are all on the same field. It's still fun and I have met a lot of great people along the way and have opportunities to be on and reenact on actual battlefields.

    Mike Nichols

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by S.D.Swart View Post
    Really, is that the reason? You might want to adjust the WE to some you know. Because I do not know these peaple you are talking about, and I have been in the hobby for 37 years. I am sure they exist, but I run with better circles apparently.
    I don't use the WE meaning the people of my unit, or my personal friends. I use it in the sense that however puerile a reenactor, he or she is still a reenactor and that behavior effects me whether I like it or not. There's really no way for us to police the unregulated ranks of reenactors, so we have to realize that good reenactors are effected by the bad ones the same way that good hunters, fishermen and hikers are effected by the actions of bad ones.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  8. #28
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    Jan 2011
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    Maryland
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcn2de View Post
    I am still holding out that we will get paid to do this hobby. Been waiting since 1998.

    Mike Nichols
    2nd Md Co C.
    I do remember when we did get paid, sorta, we got meals, powder, cash stipends, gas cards, coupons for free meals at local restaurants, they wanted us and needed us to be there to attract a crowd, they recovered the monies they laid out to attract us thru admission fees to the event, then along came a bunch of F&*%ing Lawyers that said hosts needed liability insurance and pass along the charges to the entertainers, they will pay it because they got nowhere to play if they don’t, and then other Lawyers got involved and started telling “Units”, that they too needed insurance and along came dues, BUT what many in this hobby don’t know is they do not need to buy any unit insurance, if you belong to the NRA. The NRA covers its members whenever they are attending a shooting or hunting event! Duh, what is a reenactment???? A shooting event. Another thing, has anyone ever tried to use the so-called insurance you must purchase in order to play? I know 2 folks that tried to use it and found out it is nonexistent, as real insurance.
    The hobby has lost its way in some ways, too many folks are into as an excuse to have another weekend with the boys and could care less about doing it right, i.e., stainless steel muckets and cups, kerosene lanterns, air mattresses, I could go on and on, we all know units like this.
    I am just saying that Maryland my Maryland has the right idea, getting back to as realistic an event that is possible, even if no one cares to feed us anymore or toss us a powder ration!


    Gerald Drake

  9. #29

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    Bernard, your post hit a note with me, as this has been a rare common interest with one of my teenaged sons. We've met many people from different walks of life. These are side benefits, along with many others, that keep us going. But reenacting for me is another step to satisfy my own curiousity about what my great-grandpa and this nation did in that war. Posts here encourage me, I am lucky to have the opportunity to pursue this hobby for all these reasons.

    I don't care too much what others think about it. There is some folly in everything man does, it seems, and it doesn't take some disenchanted Salon writer to point that out. Its not for everybody, but it draws a crowd on the field and spectator stands nevertheless.

    Mark Henry

  10. #30
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    Aug 2011
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    Eastern Kentucky
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    After reading the article, I came to a few conclusions that have mostly been expressed already in this thread. The author seems to take offense at the idea of not being able to realistically show grapeshot ripping through a line of infantry and the bloodshed that results. Typically, "academic" historians either love or hate "living" historians. Those that love it often take part in it. They realize it provides an opportunity to understand what they've spent their lives studying in a way that a book never will. Those that hate will never give it an honest chance and will pick apart anything they see wrong with it in an attempt to show it as a fraud. The sad part is, we would gladly listen to what they have to say about the time period in an effort to better understand, but they believe there is nothing to be learned from those of us who have slept without tents in freezing rain or baked under the hot summer sun, have learned to use the manuals to show their practicalities, and understand the reasons that certain period materials actually made life more bearable at the time.

    Reenacting is simply an extension of what the soldiers did after the war. A part of many of the "reunions" that the soldiers had at battlefields involved trying to recreate the actions that took place there. They also did this back home to let their children know what the war was really like. As reenactors, we carry on that tradition, not to glorify and make spectacles of ourselves, but to let others know what happened in a conflict that was if not as influential to the course of our country as the Revolution, nearly so.

    The author pointed out other ways to honor those who fought during the war, including cleaning and decorating memorials and cemeteries. From what I've seen, that is largely done by the reenacting community. We may not be wearing our uniforms or dresses when it's done, but it's usually us doing it.

    As far as "the wrong crowd", it's probably around in the hobby. I know it used to be, but it has nearly entirely been removed when it formally appears. There was a time when the Klan would make appearances at events, but they are no longer welcome. Groups generally try to police themselves and work together to get problem groups banned from future events.

    Generally, you can now find a group that has the mindset towards the war that you share. They will end up making the core of your reenacting pards. There is still a lot of "Lost Cause" out there, although there's not as much as there used to be. There are some people out there that I've recently started referring to as LARPers (Live Action Role Players), who are to Civil War history was Steampunk is to late Victorian history. This is probably the closest you'll come to falling in with "the wrong crowd".

    I recommend that you come out and see it at the least, or better still, give it a try. I think you'll find that many of the things the author complained about are completely off-base, and some of the others are the same things we complain about and try to fix as living historians.

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