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574Re: 1812 vs Napoleonic events

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  • mmathews@xxxx.xxxxxx.xxxx.xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Mar 2, 1999
      >From: probably Lynda and maybe Derek Leopold <leopold@...>
      >I must agree with Betsy (but I don't have the guts to agree as STRONGLY :)
      >as she does...) that there seems to be an impression around here that
      >Napoleonic is somehow "better" than War of 1812 reenacting...and that's
      >something I've encountered HERE on good ol' North American soil...

      I can't imagine where that would be coming from, certainly not from the
      unit I represent. We respect ALL individuals and groups who undertake to
      represent the men and women who have been willing to make the ultimate
      sacrifice. Who put on the uncomfortable clothes, endure the foolish
      questions, and half to lose half the time when they *know* on that
      particular *reenactment* day they could win. Please don't mistake
      regimental pride for a "better than" mentality. There are obviously always
      going to be some individuals, but don't throw out the baby with the bath
      water! ;-)

      I have a
      >great amount of pride in doing War of 1812 AND especially when I get to
      >educate some poor ignorant soul about it....(snip)

      And well you should, it's an honorable portrayal.

      >I'm sorry to offend any of those Nappy types out there (well, in North
      >America at least), but I really have no sympathy for you...there's a
      >perfectly good little War to reenact right here on THIS side of the water
      >for that very same time period...Imagine if all the Napoleonics joined up to
      >War of 1812 reenactment (and I mean CORRECTLY, not as "Observers" as is
      >usually the case)! Not only would 1812's numbers skyrocket, but the whole
      >thing would come across as more accurate instead of all these big stories
      >that Nappies have to concoct as to why they are on a War of 1812

      Perhaps my newness is showing again, have "Nappys" ever gotten to
      participate in a War of 1812 event? My understanding is that this had not
      yet happened, so of course predicting public reaction would be pure
      speculation. Since you specify North American Nappys, have you (or anyone)
      had a bad experience with someone coming over to play?

      >I guess my point overall is....if you are so interested in history, get
      >interested in your OWN history in your OWN backyard! The people you will
      >educate about things that happened where THEY live will astound you!!!
      >That's one of my greatest rewards for reenacting...when a "civilian" listens
      >to me explain something an then is genuinely impressed and says, "Gee, I
      >didn't know that! That's pretty cool." It's actually been said by a few
      >TEENAGERS, too!
      >I would like to hear from Napoleonic reenactors (in North America) as to why
      >they chose to do it instead of War of 1812....I'm not sure I'd end up
      >changing my mind about you all, but it would be an interesting excercise.

      For me my interest in European history goes back to before I could heft a
      musket. There's just so much more of it! But growing up and attending
      public school my knowledge of the War of 1812 was the USS Constitution and
      New Orleans. Cool, but nothing on the scale and grandeur of Napoleonic
      warfare. So with Chandler's "Campaigns of Napoleon" tucked under my arm I
      took the inexorable path (for me).

      Now in fairness to me and most everyone I know in our regiment, we all
      reenact other periods. I do F&I and War of 1812 (shock!), but my first
      love of history will always be the Napoleonic era. If by an accident of
      birth that dooms me to frustration then so be it, but not without trying.
      Others in our group do everthing from F&I to SpanAm to WWII. Most everyone
      was doing something else first when they fell under the spell.

      My F&I group never passes on an opportunity to do school days, some of us
      (me) take leave to go into schools as individual educators. You're right,
      there is nothing quite like seeing the lights come on in the eyes of a
      youngster. I suppose that's why I chose education as a career.

      BUT, sometimes you should do things for yourself. When I was at Waterloo
      in '95 I can't adequately put into words what it meant to me. To stand
      forever waiting for the word to move, to feel the mud sucking at my shoes
      as we marched, to be charged by Prussian uhlans in the flank, to be in the
      seventh rank of an eight rank column... It gave me, if but for a day, a
      real sense of what it was to follow the Eagles. Heck, I even scraped some
      mud of my shoes and put it in a bag to bring home. I hope you can't blame
      me if I want to recapture a bit of that feeling a couple of times a year.
      Being an educator, by definition I'm not rich enough to go to Europe more
      than every few years. ;-)

      This in now way diminishes my pride in being a U.S. citizen, my willingness
      to serve my country for real, or my rancor when I see the flag sullied.
      But when I got to Europe and visited churches 900 years old it was truly a
      humbling experience. Something more Americans should experience IMHO.

      Thanks for asking, and thanks for (hopefully) listening.

      Respectfully yours,

      Michael Mathews -- ITV Specialist
      Winona State University
      Voice: (507) 285-7585 Fax: (507) 280-5568
      "Loyalty to pertified opinion never broke a chain
      or freed a human soul" -- Mark Twain
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