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Thread: What makes a civilian impression

  1. #1
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    Default What makes a civilian impression

    Had an occasion to speak with a Federal officer this weekend at Perrvyille. He accused me of being military dressed, while portraying Home Guard. And also accused me of wearing 'cooters. I wore side seam jean cloth pants, an overshirt, workboots, a civilian (Weller) overcoat and a grey broad-rimmed hat. My weapon was a double-barreled shotgun with an 1850's shotbag. Out hunting squirrels was I.
    Now, am I wrong about my impression, or is it that many on the military-only side know little about Civilian impressions?
    Just wondering.
    Last edited by desotobob; 10-08-2012 at 12:27 AM. Reason: spelling
    Robert Orrand
    Forrest Camp #215, SCV
    Mayor of Dover, Little York, Purdy, Raymond, LaFayette - and now, Gettysburg
    4th TN CSA - Co A - Shelby Greys

  2. #2
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    Don't you now that all men were in the military? I am sure the "Captain" has no idea he is impersonating a real person that had hopes and dreams before 1861 that he hoped to resume. The North only used 1/10 of its man power and in the South they used a little over 1/4 of its man power. As I do civilian I find many in the mainstream do not know how to handle civilian men. If I am in my military role an armed civilian will be detained, and bushwhakers get hung.
    Last edited by Bear Flagger; 10-08-2012 at 12:04 AM. Reason: spelling
    Andrew Grim
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  3. #3
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    A photograph of yourself from the weekend might better assist us in analyzing the situation. It could have been your "Yankee killin' stare" that gave you away.
    Lewis Robinson
    Armory Guards
    Snake Nation Disciples

    "Of course, they say wars never settle anything - but that business about secession was settled by that war." Shelby Foote

  4. #4

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    Research... on both sides.

    Now short of carrying a CdV with provenance with you at all times at an event to "prove" your attire and kit choices to yayhoos... you will probably have many more such encounters.

    There were many times the uniforms issued or provided for Confederate soldiers looked very much like typical working class attire of civilian men. When elder men portray Confederate soldiers consistently, it is no wonder military re-enactors confuse men of their age portraying civilian working class men as looking similar to Confederate soldiers.

    Some paperwork that can be prepared ahead would back up your impression story when forced into such encounters. From "Civil War Medicine" by Alfred Bolllet, only 21% of surgeries during the civil war resulted in a loss of limb. So the other 79% resulted in discharges that might not be so "obvious". (Similar numbers can be applied to other military encounters: Texas Independence, War with Mexico, Black Hawk War, Seminole War... ) There were a number of honorable men who, when paroled and asked to promise not to fight again, actually did return home. Were the Home Guard given any paperwork or identifying items that could be verified by another participant? Prepare with your fellow participants portraying Home Guard to verify each other when "caught" by military. Prepare with the military officers ahead of the event a "cheat sheet" of role of Home Guard: who they are, what their "job" is, hostility levels... and see they are distributed ahead to military participants.

    We, civilians, need to take it upon ourselves to teach military around us about what civilian life was like. Attend the living histories and give and sponsor presentations on civilian-oriented topics. Some topics might include the role of Home Guard and other protection organizations, "what the elder men did during the war", how the civilian dining table was augmented by local game and fishing, and "life under occupation." From such presentations at living histories, the military and the Public Visitors will become educated on the role of civilian men and will become more accustomed to seeing civilian men represented in civilian "towns."

    Keep in mind that much of Kentucky, from the historic record, was under Federal occupation and many Kentuckians were very much Confederate sympathizers and made life difficult for the Federals. The Federal officer you encountered may have been acting in what he considered an appropriate level of caution and paranoia about a local populace he had reason to consider hostile to his presence. In other words... it may not have been "just you" but rather any civilian man he encountered.

    Education, Research, Preparation... from both sides, to both sides.
    -Elaine Kessinger

  5. #5
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    I had the same stare fo Confederate soldiers trying to enter Town as well. I just used my blue eye at that time. I like where this thread is going, because I do want to help military undersand what we are trying to do in Civlian camping at these national events. Good info Elaine.
    Robert Orrand
    Forrest Camp #215, SCV
    Mayor of Dover, Little York, Purdy, Raymond, LaFayette - and now, Gettysburg
    4th TN CSA - Co A - Shelby Greys

  6. #6
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    Two invading armies enter your town, and you walk out your front door carrying a shotgun. You're lucky that you were only stopped and questioned.
    Lewis Robinson
    Armory Guards
    Snake Nation Disciples

    "Of course, they say wars never settle anything - but that business about secession was settled by that war." Shelby Foote

  7. #7

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    Hallo!

    This will sound odd, but...

    IMHO, what "makes" a civilian impression is the appearance and persona of a civilian. Tied in with a Believeable Image, Context, and Activities.

    The other side of the coin is civilians who are or who have the appearance of being armed hostiles such as "home guard," non-uniformed militia, unorganized militia, bushwhackers, deserters, and criminals. (Perhaps in the Modern World term... partisans or paramilitary.)
    To an invading or occupying army, an armed civilian is a potential hostile threat. (And martial law can often confiscate arms in the hands of locals, arrest and detain suspects, or hang bushwhackers/querillas).

    Where that can get comlicated is at events where the scenario or on-the-clock schedule of events does not spell out theframework realities- and not everyone is on the same page. Such, as an armed local attempting to enter or having been found in an enemy encampment, etc., etc. versus one "Confederate" reenactor visiting another friend who happens to be doing "Federal" to modern visit and socialize...

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  8. #8
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    Curt

    You are correct. A lot of what transpired in that case, was a scenario based miscue. While the Confederate command had communicated the civilian town scenario quite well, there was a break in the line somewhere in the Federal chain. Some units were keenly aware of the Town scenario, right down to the individual private, while other units did not have information even at their top levels.

    Rather like the no fire pits thing, the lack of communication, or the failure to read what is clearly communicated, causes many problems.
    Mrs. Lawson
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  9. #9
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    As requested, and thanks to Tom Davison, here is the impression in question.

    http://tgdavison-photography.smugmug...3886&k=jdCL6kT
    Robert Orrand
    Forrest Camp #215, SCV
    Mayor of Dover, Little York, Purdy, Raymond, LaFayette - and now, Gettysburg
    4th TN CSA - Co A - Shelby Greys

  10. #10

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    Hallo!

    Thanks for the picture (s).

    But.... what I am not seeing is the context just the "clothes." What was the action or interaction in the moment?
    And perhaps more particularly, I am not seeing a weapon or military accoutrements of a home guard?

    See where this is going?

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

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