A Typical Event
We participate in several types of activities. These include reenactments which are usually a small scale recreation of a particular battle. These may be put on by civic associations, individuals, or by historical associations. A reenactment usually will last for an entire weekend (Friday evening through Sunday afternoon) and will include living history demonstrations as well as a scripted battle. Another type of activity is a living history event. These are very similar to a reenactment except that no battle is included. A tactical is similar to a reenactment except that it is not scripted, there is no spectating public and all outcomes are dependant upon the command of individual officers. All of these types of events are similar in that authenticity is strived for and demanded.
You will likely come to an event, let's just say for an example, a reenactment, on a Friday afternoon. Members of the unit and other units will also be arriving also. A campsite is assigned to us and we begin to set up camp. All tents are set up, gear is unloaded and the tasks of procuring hay, water and firewood (these are the amenities usually provided by the host) are attended to. At least one firepit is dug. Friday is usually an unofficial
day and modern anachronisms can be allowed to some extent. Usually, however, we will dress in our wool uniforms. Generally, there is usually enough tent space to facilitate everyone so that should not be a problem and you may obtain your own period tent as you are able. You may bring whatever food you choose to cook over a campfire.
Saturday morning usually begins an event and all modern items, which include iceboxes, wristwatches, clothes, vehicles, chairs, modern food, cold drink cans etc. are forbidden in camp. They must either be removed or hidden from sight. The reason is two-fold: we want to put on as realistic example to the public as possible and we want to be able to appreciate the realness of the event ourselves. We do permit alcohol in moderation and expect all
drinking and eating to be done from period articles. Your uniform is to be kept up to military standards. Time is usually allowed for breakfast, unless the particular event has an early morning battle. We have a provision within our unit to drill, that is, the manual of arms and marching drill according to 1861 methods. The drill each day allows you
the opportunity to learn and stay refreshed on the drill that is used in the movement of troops that is used on the actual battlefield. This helps us to stay up to date, it makes our impression look better during the battle, and it is an entertaining part for the spectators to witness prior to battle. At many events, time is also allotted for the cavalry and artillery units to have a form of drill and this will be done in conjunction with the infantry drill. Lunch is usually a meal of your choice. A short rest period usually follows that may be consumed by sutlering. Sutlers are merchants that come to events and set up tents full of merchandise for soldiers with everything from shirts, pants and coats to cigars, candles and gun parts.
Battles are usually staged events and take place in the early afternoon. While the outcome is usually known to the reenactors, the way to get there is not always according to script. The variations are endless and will usually involve artillery, cavalry and artillery on both sides. Many events will also have ground charges. These are explosive charges to simulate cannon fire explosions. Many events will have field hospitals set up with people doing surgeon and nurse impressions. Many people will ask, "When do you know who gets shot?" Well, many times, the commanding officers will tell the troops that we need casualties. Sometimes, you must just determine on your own that it is time to take a hit. Battles last anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. During battle, you are always responsible to your commanding officer. The military aspect of this is very important. You must never lose sight that this is a military impression and that you must act accordingly. It is not a place for one man shows. All actions, such as when and where to march and when to fire are commanded by your commanding officers. Following the battle is usually a time for one to rest and recuperate.
There may or may not be an evening meal provided. Many events will have dances open to anyone in period clothes on Saturday evening. We may also call a unit meeting to discuss upcoming events or business at this time. We also have a tradition of having singing around the campfire on Saturday night. We have several musicians and singers and are always eager for more. This was a very relaxing pastime for soldiers in 1862 and it is the same for us.
Sunday will bring another day and the morning starts the same as on Saturday. Time is usually available for breakfast. A morning drill is the order of the day. Most events will have a period church service. Lunch is followed by an early afternoon battle. Many times, one side is allowed to win one day and the other side will win the next day. At the close of battle, camp may be struck and you may pack for the trip home. It is also our tradition that all members stay and help everyone strike camp and that way we all get to leave earlier. Some members bring camp equipment or extra tents for those who do not have tents and it is only fair that everyone participate in breaking camp.
Keep in mind that, like football, rain does not usually cancel an event. Unless it is raining too hard to be able to load powder, the event will go on, rain or shine, snow or hail, hot or cold! The dances or balls that are usually held on Saturday nights can be anything from just a guitar picker to a full blown dress ball. Ladies are usually very found of these events and you are encouraged to bring a lady to them. Speaking of ladies, we encourage members to bring ladies to an event. We must remind you however, it is a military camp and must be treated as such. If ladies are visiting the camp, they should be dressed in authentic, non-military clothing of the period. Civilians dressed in modern clothing are welcome into the camp but should not stay in camp for excessive periods of time. They will either need to dress in period clothing or to locate at the Officer's tent to maintain the integrity of the military camp. Members are responsible for the control of their own children and guests, and are reminded not to let them run unsupervised.
8th Louisiana Company B