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Re: [WarOf1812] Re: 1812 Progressive Campaigner

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  • John-Paul Johnson
    Sir: While I applaud your efforts, the “hard-cores” and the rank-and-file re-enactors on this list have come to a sort of “entente cordiale” after the
    Message 1 of 19 , Sep 1, 2004
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      Sir:



      While I applaud your efforts, the �hard-cores� and the rank-and-file re-enactors on this list have come to a sort of �entente cordiale� after the last flame war that erupted over the subject. By coming along announcing and pronouncing, as you have, you are in danger of upsetting this delicate balance.



      What you preach, sir, is not excellence through esprit-de-corps but elitism. Groups that ARE elites lead others and don�t cut themselves off lest they become inbred. This inbreeding, whether or not they espouse �spit and polish� or not, can produce undisciplined and dangerous individuals that will threaten our hobby.



      My regiment used to participate in an event (not 1812) at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto until a so-called �elite� group pinned us down in a pen after bursting THROUGH a crowd of spectators and began firing at us with levelled muskets at a range of about 10 metres. We haven�t returned since.



      We may shoot at each other but one hopes that we can all be friends when the shooting stops. Your attempt to draw people away from this list undermines that.



      If you *are* �authentic�, your duty is to educate not separate. Provide insight and share the fruits of your research on this list. Mentor those who wish to hone their impression. The �hard-cores� that do this have my admiration and respect.

      YH&OS

      J-P Johnson
      Bulger's Coy, Royal NFLand Reg't


      Bryan Stefancyk <billyyankjohnnyreb@...> wrote:
      Another thing that seperates authentics in 18th century and 1812 is
      facial hair! Shave it off - it will not hurt! Facial hair absolutely
      destroys an impression - of course if for some crazy reason it is
      documented to your impression... but in reality shave it off - we
      want to portray the norm.
      Just my two cents worth,
      Bryan

      --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, Bryan Stefancyk
      wrote:
      > Also check out the great article by progressive Rev. War reenactor
      Todd Post at:
      > http://www.revwarprogressive.org/ under "Philosophy."
      > Cheers,
      > Bryan Stefancyk
      >
      > Kevin Windsor wrote:
      > This is what I can't figue out here is that hardcore is being
      associated
      > with dirty filthy etc.
      > Maybe that is okay for ACW confederates, but for 1812 British
      Regulars NO
      > WAY!!!
      > The mark of a ture hardcore Brit is one who is clean!!! Brass
      clean enough
      > to blind a pencil seller!!
      > CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN!!! DRILL DRILL DRILL!!!
      >
      > Hardcore is spit and polish and well drilled.
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      >
      > > and the hardcore are so obseessed with looking campaign (filthy),
      > > that they never drill, and spend too much time fighting with each
      > > other over things like buttons and fatigue caps, and their drill
      and
      > > deportment generally is worse than the guys they can't stand.
      > >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of
      hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the
      fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...
      >
      > Unit Contact information for North America:
      > ---------------------------------
      > Crown Forces Unit Listing:
      > http://1812crownforces.tripod.com
      >
      > American Forces Unit Lisiting
      > http://usforces1812.tripod.com
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups SponsorADVERTISEMENT
      >
      >
      > ---------------------------------
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      > To visit your group on the web, go to:
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WarOf1812/
      >
      > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
      > WarOf1812-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
      Service.
      >
      >
      > __________________________________________________
      > Do You Yahoo!?
      > Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
      > http://mail.yahoo.com
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




      The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...

      Unit Contact information for North America:
      ---------------------------------
      Crown Forces Unit Listing:
      http://1812crownforces.tripod.com

      American Forces Unit Lisiting
      http://usforces1812.tripod.com
      Yahoo! Groups Links







      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • JGIL1812@aol.com
      J-P, Many thanks. You re words are well said and to the point. John Gilmour Royal Engineers [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      Message 2 of 19 , Sep 1, 2004
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        J-P,

        Many thanks. You're words are well said and to the point.

        John Gilmour
        Royal Engineers


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Bryan Stefancyk
        I am not dividing the hobby - it is a place for like minded people to interact. You can be members of both online groups - I am a member of 40 groups. Bryan
        Message 3 of 19 , Sep 1, 2004
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          I am not dividing the hobby - it is a place for like minded people to interact. You can be members of both online groups - I am a member of 40 groups.
          Bryan Stefancyk

          John-Paul Johnson <jpjohnsn@...> wrote:

          Sir:



          While I applaud your efforts, the �hard-cores� and the rank-and-file re-enactors on this list have come to a sort of �entente cordiale� after the last flame war that erupted over the subject. By coming along announcing and pronouncing, as you have, you are in danger of upsetting this delicate balance.



          What you preach, sir, is not excellence through esprit-de-corps but elitism. Groups that ARE elites lead others and don�t cut themselves off lest they become inbred. This inbreeding, whether or not they espouse �spit and polish� or not, can produce undisciplined and dangerous individuals that will threaten our hobby.



          My regiment used to participate in an event (not 1812) at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto until a so-called �elite� group pinned us down in a pen after bursting THROUGH a crowd of spectators and began firing at us with levelled muskets at a range of about 10 metres. We haven�t returned since.



          We may shoot at each other but one hopes that we can all be friends when the shooting stops. Your attempt to draw people away from this list undermines that.



          If you *are* �authentic�, your duty is to educate not separate. Provide insight and share the fruits of your research on this list. Mentor those who wish to hone their impression. The �hard-cores� that do this have my admiration and respect.

          YH&OS

          J-P Johnson
          Bulger's Coy, Royal NFLand Reg't


          Bryan Stefancyk wrote:
          Another thing that seperates authentics in 18th century and 1812 is
          facial hair! Shave it off - it will not hurt! Facial hair absolutely
          destroys an impression - of course if for some crazy reason it is
          documented to your impression... but in reality shave it off - we
          want to portray the norm.
          Just my two cents worth,
          Bryan

          --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, Bryan Stefancyk
          wrote:
          > Also check out the great article by progressive Rev. War reenactor
          Todd Post at:
          > http://www.revwarprogressive.org/ under "Philosophy."
          > Cheers,
          > Bryan Stefancyk
          >
          > Kevin Windsor wrote:
          > This is what I can't figue out here is that hardcore is being
          associated
          > with dirty filthy etc.
          > Maybe that is okay for ACW confederates, but for 1812 British
          Regulars NO
          > WAY!!!
          > The mark of a ture hardcore Brit is one who is clean!!! Brass
          clean enough
          > to blind a pencil seller!!
          > CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN!!! DRILL DRILL DRILL!!!
          >
          > Hardcore is spit and polish and well drilled.
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          >
          > > and the hardcore are so obseessed with looking campaign (filthy),
          > > that they never drill, and spend too much time fighting with each
          > > other over things like buttons and fatigue caps, and their drill
          and
          > > deportment generally is worse than the guys they can't stand.
          > >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of
          hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the
          fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...
          >
          > Unit Contact information for North America:
          > ---------------------------------
          > Crown Forces Unit Listing:
          > http://1812crownforces.tripod.com
          >
          > American Forces Unit Lisiting
          > http://usforces1812.tripod.com
          >
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups SponsorADVERTISEMENT
          >
          >
          > ---------------------------------
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          > To visit your group on the web, go to:
          > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WarOf1812/
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > WarOf1812-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
          Service.
          >
          >
          > __________________________________________________
          > Do You Yahoo!?
          > Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
          > http://mail.yahoo.com
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




          The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...

          Unit Contact information for North America:
          ---------------------------------
          Crown Forces Unit Listing:
          http://1812crownforces.tripod.com

          American Forces Unit Lisiting
          http://usforces1812.tripod.com
          Yahoo! Groups Links







          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




          The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...

          Unit Contact information for North America:
          ---------------------------------
          Crown Forces Unit Listing:
          http://1812crownforces.tripod.com

          American Forces Unit Lisiting
          http://usforces1812.tripod.com
          Yahoo! Groups Links





          e
          __________________________________________________
          Do You Yahoo!?
          Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
          http://mail.yahoo.com

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Larry Lozon
          From: Bryan Stefancyk Also check out the great article by progressive Rev. War reenactor Todd Post at:
          Message 4 of 19 , Sep 1, 2004
          • 0 Attachment
            From: "Bryan Stefancyk" <billyyankjohnnyreb@...>

            Also check out the great article by progressive Rev. War reenactor Todd Post
            at:
            http://www.revwarprogressive.org/ under "Philosophy."



            1812'ers all,

            Unkle Larry is not going to get into this one, as we all know he has
            posted to this subject many times. Rather for those who have emailed off
            list, here is the "Philosophy" Bryan Stefancyk posted to.

            Copied from http://www.revwarprogressive.org / Philosophy /


            __________________


            Going on Campaign...
            Delving into the living conditions of the 18th Century Soldier
            Reprinted with permission from the Brigade Dispatch Vol. XXX No. 4 (Winter
            2000)
            Todd Post 2d Virginia Regiment

            Introduction

            Though a veteran of twelve years in this hobby, I am often reminded that I
            still a "newbie" in the eyes of most of those around me. In an organization
            like the Brigade of the American Revolution, with close to forty years of
            history, twelve years is not much at all. However, it does come with its
            advantages.

            For the serious living historian, coming in late in the game gives you
            opportunities that your predecessors never had. While standing on the
            shoulders of giants it allows you to learn from all the research that they
            had to trail blaze, learn from their mistakes, and set out on new paths to
            push the envelope of authenticity and interpretation.

            Another situation I have benefited from is that of starting a new unit. When
            a career change required me to move to a new location, it also required me
            to create a new "home" for living history. The nucleus of this new group was
            fellow "veterans" of the hobby. While there were research questions to be
            answered as to what our clothes should look like or what cartridge pouch
            pattern we should use, we all had years of living history "know-how" to draw
            upon. It also meant that we all could start with a clean slate. Units are
            like living entities of their own, over time they take on certain
            personalities, certain quirks, and certain bad habits.

            General Steuben is quoted as saying the following regarding the mindset of
            the American solider:

            "In the first place, the genius of this nation is not in the least to be
            compared with that of the Prussians, Austrians, or French. You say to your
            soldier, 'Do this,' and he doeth it, but I am obliged to say, 'This is the
            reason why you ought to do that,' and he does it."

            Some things haven't changed. With forty years of research behind us, we have
            the luxury to look back at where we came from and conduct self-evaluation.
            As Steuben experienced two hundred and twenty-three years ago, some of the
            reasons why we ought to do some of those things we've always done need to be
            reexamined.

            The Campaign Movement

            The American Civil War living history community has been experiencing a
            growing trend in their ranks. They've come to be known by various names:
            campaigner, hard core, serious, progressive, etc., but progressive seems to
            be the most accepted. While "hard core" would imply that if one does not fit
            into this category, you must be something else with a negative connotation,
            and "campaigner" makes people get caught up in whether or nor you use tents,
            which is really not what this is about.

            Campaigners have taken one of the mottoes of the 60s radicals to heart and
            applied them to living history, "Question everything." Like Steuben's
            Continental soldier, they want to know why they ought to do the things they
            do. This desire to rethink how we go about recreating the life and times of
            the common soldier has been coupled with a thirst for higher levels of
            authenticity and enough courage to take a hard stand on sensitive issues in
            living history.

            This hard line grit has some times developed into full-blown evangelical
            zeal in a manner that is counterproductive, turning what they call the "main
            stream" of living history off because of the confrontational nature of their
            delivery. But their goal is true; the purpose of our hobby is to recreate
            the life and times of the common soldier to the best of our ability with the
            highest degree of the historical accuracy based on the best in current
            research.

            As Revolutionary War living history is generally smaller, it has taken
            longer for this to really be called a "movement" as yet, but we are on the
            brink of it. This is not to say that this is a new concept, but the means
            for bringing progressives together within the hobby are making are becoming
            easier. With no rallying point such as the Bicentennial, when national
            attention was focused on our hobby, progressives of the past for the most
            part seem to have operated independently. This is beginning to change. The
            Internet and the commitment of some to pursue this course are acting as the
            binder for campaigning in the Revolutionary War community to truly come
            together and make an impact.

            Progressive: What does it mean?

            Having established the philosophy of "progressive", it is necessary to
            explore what it means to be a progressive. To articulate this is tricky,
            less one falls into the pitfall the "hard core" partisans fall into, which
            is to create a hostile "us versus them" mentality. This does nothing besides
            create animosity and is damaging to the movement itself. The examination of
            what it means to be a progressive is meant to be prevocational though. It is
            meant to stimulate constructive debate and truthful self-reflection. If it
            can create healthy discourse that brings the authenticity of our hobby even
            the slightest bit closer to our goals, it is worth it.

            It is important to note the points about to be outlined are generalizations,
            and as such, needs to be taken within context. They are broad statements
            within the context of what is common to the war, yet might be contrary to
            particular aspects of the war.

            A progressive's main purpose is to recreate the life and times of the common
            soldier to the best of their ability with the highest degree of the
            historical accuracy based on the best in current research. Acceptable
            limitations to accuracy are primarily health and safety. Another constraint
            is those areas where research has been exhausted with no results due to the
            loss of information over time.
            All clothing, accoutrements and personal belongings are of the recreated
            with the highest historical accuracy in materials and construction
            techniques. If an item is available in multiple forms but there is one which
            is of greater accuracy, the more accurate item should be the only
            consideration, regardless of reasonable cost. There is an understanding that
            some items are not available due to the lack of a particular resource or
            skills to reproduce that item.
            Certain aspects of recreating the life of the Revolutionary War soldier can
            not be reproduced such as the considerations of disease or injury. These can
            be interpreted for the general public, but not recreated, as doing so can
            often undermine the importance of these hardships.
            Impressions are based on diligent and exhaustive research, not assumptions
            or speculation. Quality primary research or extensively footnoted secondary
            sources should be the cornerstone of any impression. Research is not static;
            impressions should consistently be examined and reexamined. If in the course
            of this reevaluation of research new information is found with contradicts
            current interpretation, improvements and changes are necessary.
            As with all wars, the common soldier fought the American Revolution and
            impressions should reflect that. My choice of impression should be based on
            what was most common and what areas are glaringly underrepresented within
            the hobby. Consideration should be given to portraying the common foot
            soldier before pursuing specialized troop types. This is not to say that
            certain branches of service or armies should not be recreated, but within
            the ratios they were known to exist during the war.
            Recreating the common soldier means recreating his lifestyle as well.
            Soldiers generally did not have the luxury to have baggage carried for them,
            so personal items should be kept to what the soldier could carry with him.
            Likewise, shared equipment such as tents and cooking equipment should be
            representative of what was commonly available to the soldier, not simply
            common to the period, as life on the home front and in the field were very
            different. While in garrison, soldiers were known to increase their personal
            items, but as most events are representing armies on the move rather than in
            fixed positions, garrison impressions should be limited to the occupation of
            posts or towns, or recreation of sieges.
            Though not always possible, modifications of impressions to better suit
            particular events or scenarios are explored when possible. If a
            progressive's impression is not suitable to a particular event (a
            Continental soldier at Lexington for instance), alterations to the most
            glaring items should be considered.
            As 18th century soldiers were required to perform heavy physical activity,
            those portraying these soldiers should be capable of the same.
            Camp cooking should be representative of what was generally available to the
            soldiers, even if it is just in a "best case" scenario, rather than ornate
            cooking which though period, is more appropriate in a home kitchen.
            The 18th century soldiers life was largely spend away from the battlefield.
            Taking this into consideration, everyday life scenarios are just as worthy
            of recreation as combat recreations. These include, but are not limited to
            drilling, martial ceremonies, sentry duty, food preparation, etc.
            As the war was generally fought using massed troop formations employing
            linear tactics, whenever possible units with consistent safety and
            authenticity levels should be willing to be brigaded together into larger
            formations, no smaller than a platoon (sixteen men). Command structure
            should be in balance with troop strength so that there are no more
            commissioned and non-commissioned officers than which are truly needed to
            manage the troops.
            As 18th century soldiers did not exist in a vacuum, it is necessary to be
            just as knowledgeable regarding the basics of 18th century society and
            material culture. Such knowledge should come from respected sources with
            ample documentation.
            A progressive is a "team player", that is, works well with other units and
            sees events as opportunities to demonstrate by example. It is
            counterproductive to be confrontational or demeaning to others in the living
            history community, the best course of action to spread the campaign
            philosophy is to participate, leading by example while maintaining their own
            standards for themselves.
            The Arguments against Campaigning, and the Rebuttals

            There are many reasons not to be a progressive, but they generally are
            several variations of the same motives; it requires effort. Here are some of
            the most common reasons, and the answers to them.

            "It's too expensive": Living history in general is expensive, but
            campaigning does not add significantly to the cost. Most of the cost is
            incurred in the initial investment of joining a unit and starting from
            scratch. As we are merely "weekend warriors", most of our clothing and
            equipment will last much longer than the 18th century soldier could dream
            of. If while in this initial investment an individual went that extra little
            step to use linen over cotton, or to hand finish their topstitching instead
            of machine stitching, the added cost is not great and the item will last a
            long time. The money you save by not purchasing needless or inappropriate
            impedimenta offsets these added costs. For instance, the $20 more you might
            spend on a linen weskit can be made up for neglecting to buy an undocumented
            lantern stand.

            "It's a family hobby": Families and civilians certainly are important aspect
            of what we recreate, their roles are subject to the same rigors of
            authenticity as the hobby at large. It should not be forgotten that we are
            portraying the War for Independence, which means that realistically the
            military has the emphasis in what we do. Civilians are a very important part
            of adding to the complete landscape of the 18th century soldier, but a
            civilian impression requires the same amount of effort, less their roles are
            trivialized. Civilians always had a reason for being with the army;
            stragglers and idlers however were not tolerated, as they were nothing but a
            liability to an army. Impressions can be developed as wagoneers,
            bateaux-men, artificers, refugees, laundresses, nurses, and petty sutlers,
            which are just some of the portrayals which can be explored. These roles are
            just as educational to the general public as that of a soldier, if not more
            so, as they are often overlooked in our hobby.

            "If you're so authentic, why don't you contract smallpox and use real musket
            balls?": Not to be undiplomatic, but this is truly a "head in the sand"
            response. Rather than looking at what tangible steps campaigning is trying
            to emphasize, detractors are zeroing in on those conditions that can not be
            replicated. What separates from "playing soldier" and "interpretive living
            history" is the willingness to pursue what we can reasonably attempt to
            recreate. Though from an unusual source in a discussion of authenticity, the
            Alcoholics Anonymous prayer which asks for "The serenity to accept the
            things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to
            know the difference" provides a good response to this excuse. We can not
            recreate the hardships of disease, wounds or starvation without trivializing
            them. Hand finishing our seams, using proper materials, and presenting a
            more "martial air" to what we do can be done. The wisdom is knowing the
            difference and acting upon it.

            "We've always done it this way...": For an organization born in the 1960s,
            it should not be too much of a stretch to embrace the ideology of the time
            of "question everything." Though history is in the past, our comprehension
            of it is ever changing. What we knew of the Revolutionary War forty years
            ago is vastly different than what we know today. Failure to implement new
            information as it is discovered is irresponsible interpretative living
            history. We should be able to answer the question the public is bound to
            ask, "Is this really what it was like back then?" with a straight face and
            straight answers. I came across a quote, which I can not place, but I think
            sums it up well: "Questioning is one of the noblest of human acts. As human
            beings require knowledge and truth in order to live successfully,
            questioning is also one of the most selfish of acts...it represents the
            struggle to discover the truth necessary to live."

            "I don't have it documented to the war, but there is an obscure reference
            in...": Documenting an item to your impression is just as important as
            documenting it to the period. For instance, reflecting ovens are well
            documented to the 18th century, however they would be entirely incorrect for
            an army on the move. There might even be items that were issued to the
            armies, but incorrect in the context of which we represent. Bed rugs were
            some times issued in winter garrison, but to have one in your tent while
            portraying a battle which took place during a campaign when two armies
            collided with each other would be just as historically inaccurate as a
            wool/polyester blend blanket. Our portrayals should not only be accurate to
            the period, but accurate to the situation in which the soldiers were living.
            It would be like saying that a vintage 1940s radio could be toted around if
            portraying a soldier of World War II on the beach at Normandy.

            "It's too physically demanding...": A soldier's life was physically
            demanding, therefore recreating the life and times of that soldier will have
            an element of challenge to it. Call it an occupational hazard. However,
            which sounds like more of a challenge? Packing a car, van or truck full of
            equipment, unloading it at the event, hauling it to where you are encamped
            for the weekend, packing the car, van or truck again at the end of the
            weekend and unloading it back at home. Or, leaving your gear in its
            period-correct packs and walking in and out of the event with those packs?

            Some Final Words on Campaigning

            Campaigning appears to be the "next step" in living history, the next
            evolution in a hobby that is based on history, but should always be
            changing. While it requires a greater attention to detail and perhaps a
            greater degree of effort in certain areas, campaigning also eases our burden
            and is easier on our pockets in other ways.

            The ideas and views expressed in this article are meant to advocate
            campaigning, not demand it. The Brigade of the American Revolution has
            membership rolls in the thousands and some might take up campaigning, some
            may choose not to. This is a personal decision either way. It is my hope
            though that this article was food for thought.

            When we consider how much time, money and energy we invest in living
            history, we should also consider why. Is it just to "play soldier"? That can
            be achieved at the local video arcade or paintball establishment. If it is
            to understand and appreciate the "adventures, dangers, and sufferings of a
            Revolutionary soldier" as Joseph Plum Martin referred to his life as, we
            need to approach it with the level of detail it deserves.

            See you on campaign...

            This article was inspired by "The Campaigner's Manifesto" by Nicky Hughes
            regarding American Civil War living history. Thanks to Chris Anderson 2d
            Virginia Regiment, Mark Hubbs Garrison Regiment , Chuck LeCount North
            Carolina Volunteers, Greg Theberge 40th Regiment of Foot, Light Infantry,
            and Rob Weber Steven's Brigade, Virginia Militia for their input.


            __________________
          • Larry Lozon
            From: Bryan Stefancyk Also check out the great article by progressive Rev. War reenactor Todd Post at:
            Message 5 of 19 , Sep 1, 2004
            • 0 Attachment
              From: "Bryan Stefancyk" <billyyankjohnnyreb@...>

              Also check out the great article by progressive Rev. War reenactor Todd Post
              at:
              http://www.revwarprogressive.org/ under "Philosophy."



              1812'ers all,

              Unkle Larry is not going to get into this one, as we all know he has
              posted to this subject many times. Rather for those who have emailed off
              list, here is the "Philosophy" Bryan Stefancyk posted to.

              Copied from http://www.revwarprogressive.org / Philosophy /


              __________________


              Going on Campaign...
              Delving into the living conditions of the 18th Century Soldier
              Reprinted with permission from the Brigade Dispatch Vol. XXX No. 4 (Winter
              2000)
              Todd Post 2d Virginia Regiment

              Introduction

              Though a veteran of twelve years in this hobby, I am often reminded that I
              still a "newbie" in the eyes of most of those around me. In an organization
              like the Brigade of the American Revolution, with close to forty years of
              history, twelve years is not much at all. However, it does come with its
              advantages.

              For the serious living historian, coming in late in the game gives you
              opportunities that your predecessors never had. While standing on the
              shoulders of giants it allows you to learn from all the research that they
              had to trail blaze, learn from their mistakes, and set out on new paths to
              push the envelope of authenticity and interpretation.

              Another situation I have benefited from is that of starting a new unit. When
              a career change required me to move to a new location, it also required me
              to create a new "home" for living history. The nucleus of this new group was
              fellow "veterans" of the hobby. While there were research questions to be
              answered as to what our clothes should look like or what cartridge pouch
              pattern we should use, we all had years of living history "know-how" to draw
              upon. It also meant that we all could start with a clean slate. Units are
              like living entities of their own, over time they take on certain
              personalities, certain quirks, and certain bad habits.

              General Steuben is quoted as saying the following regarding the mindset of
              the American solider:

              "In the first place, the genius of this nation is not in the least to be
              compared with that of the Prussians, Austrians, or French. You say to your
              soldier, 'Do this,' and he doeth it, but I am obliged to say, 'This is the
              reason why you ought to do that,' and he does it."

              Some things haven't changed. With forty years of research behind us, we have
              the luxury to look back at where we came from and conduct self-evaluation.
              As Steuben experienced two hundred and twenty-three years ago, some of the
              reasons why we ought to do some of those things we've always done need to be
              reexamined.

              The Campaign Movement

              The American Civil War living history community has been experiencing a
              growing trend in their ranks. They've come to be known by various names:
              campaigner, hard core, serious, progressive, etc., but progressive seems to
              be the most accepted. While "hard core" would imply that if one does not fit
              into this category, you must be something else with a negative connotation,
              and "campaigner" makes people get caught up in whether or nor you use tents,
              which is really not what this is about.

              Campaigners have taken one of the mottoes of the 60s radicals to heart and
              applied them to living history, "Question everything." Like Steuben's
              Continental soldier, they want to know why they ought to do the things they
              do. This desire to rethink how we go about recreating the life and times of
              the common soldier has been coupled with a thirst for higher levels of
              authenticity and enough courage to take a hard stand on sensitive issues in
              living history.

              This hard line grit has some times developed into full-blown evangelical
              zeal in a manner that is counterproductive, turning what they call the "main
              stream" of living history off because of the confrontational nature of their
              delivery. But their goal is true; the purpose of our hobby is to recreate
              the life and times of the common soldier to the best of our ability with the
              highest degree of the historical accuracy based on the best in current
              research.

              As Revolutionary War living history is generally smaller, it has taken
              longer for this to really be called a "movement" as yet, but we are on the
              brink of it. This is not to say that this is a new concept, but the means
              for bringing progressives together within the hobby are making are becoming
              easier. With no rallying point such as the Bicentennial, when national
              attention was focused on our hobby, progressives of the past for the most
              part seem to have operated independently. This is beginning to change. The
              Internet and the commitment of some to pursue this course are acting as the
              binder for campaigning in the Revolutionary War community to truly come
              together and make an impact.

              Progressive: What does it mean?

              Having established the philosophy of "progressive", it is necessary to
              explore what it means to be a progressive. To articulate this is tricky,
              less one falls into the pitfall the "hard core" partisans fall into, which
              is to create a hostile "us versus them" mentality. This does nothing besides
              create animosity and is damaging to the movement itself. The examination of
              what it means to be a progressive is meant to be prevocational though. It is
              meant to stimulate constructive debate and truthful self-reflection. If it
              can create healthy discourse that brings the authenticity of our hobby even
              the slightest bit closer to our goals, it is worth it.

              It is important to note the points about to be outlined are generalizations,
              and as such, needs to be taken within context. They are broad statements
              within the context of what is common to the war, yet might be contrary to
              particular aspects of the war.

              A progressive's main purpose is to recreate the life and times of the common
              soldier to the best of their ability with the highest degree of the
              historical accuracy based on the best in current research. Acceptable
              limitations to accuracy are primarily health and safety. Another constraint
              is those areas where research has been exhausted with no results due to the
              loss of information over time.
              All clothing, accoutrements and personal belongings are of the recreated
              with the highest historical accuracy in materials and construction
              techniques. If an item is available in multiple forms but there is one which
              is of greater accuracy, the more accurate item should be the only
              consideration, regardless of reasonable cost. There is an understanding that
              some items are not available due to the lack of a particular resource or
              skills to reproduce that item.
              Certain aspects of recreating the life of the Revolutionary War soldier can
              not be reproduced such as the considerations of disease or injury. These can
              be interpreted for the general public, but not recreated, as doing so can
              often undermine the importance of these hardships.
              Impressions are based on diligent and exhaustive research, not assumptions
              or speculation. Quality primary research or extensively footnoted secondary
              sources should be the cornerstone of any impression. Research is not static;
              impressions should consistently be examined and reexamined. If in the course
              of this reevaluation of research new information is found with contradicts
              current interpretation, improvements and changes are necessary.
              As with all wars, the common soldier fought the American Revolution and
              impressions should reflect that. My choice of impression should be based on
              what was most common and what areas are glaringly underrepresented within
              the hobby. Consideration should be given to portraying the common foot
              soldier before pursuing specialized troop types. This is not to say that
              certain branches of service or armies should not be recreated, but within
              the ratios they were known to exist during the war.
              Recreating the common soldier means recreating his lifestyle as well.
              Soldiers generally did not have the luxury to have baggage carried for them,
              so personal items should be kept to what the soldier could carry with him.
              Likewise, shared equipment such as tents and cooking equipment should be
              representative of what was commonly available to the soldier, not simply
              common to the period, as life on the home front and in the field were very
              different. While in garrison, soldiers were known to increase their personal
              items, but as most events are representing armies on the move rather than in
              fixed positions, garrison impressions should be limited to the occupation of
              posts or towns, or recreation of sieges.
              Though not always possible, modifications of impressions to better suit
              particular events or scenarios are explored when possible. If a
              progressive's impression is not suitable to a particular event (a
              Continental soldier at Lexington for instance), alterations to the most
              glaring items should be considered.
              As 18th century soldiers were required to perform heavy physical activity,
              those portraying these soldiers should be capable of the same.
              Camp cooking should be representative of what was generally available to the
              soldiers, even if it is just in a "best case" scenario, rather than ornate
              cooking which though period, is more appropriate in a home kitchen.
              The 18th century soldiers life was largely spend away from the battlefield.
              Taking this into consideration, everyday life scenarios are just as worthy
              of recreation as combat recreations. These include, but are not limited to
              drilling, martial ceremonies, sentry duty, food preparation, etc.
              As the war was generally fought using massed troop formations employing
              linear tactics, whenever possible units with consistent safety and
              authenticity levels should be willing to be brigaded together into larger
              formations, no smaller than a platoon (sixteen men). Command structure
              should be in balance with troop strength so that there are no more
              commissioned and non-commissioned officers than which are truly needed to
              manage the troops.
              As 18th century soldiers did not exist in a vacuum, it is necessary to be
              just as knowledgeable regarding the basics of 18th century society and
              material culture. Such knowledge should come from respected sources with
              ample documentation.
              A progressive is a "team player", that is, works well with other units and
              sees events as opportunities to demonstrate by example. It is
              counterproductive to be confrontational or demeaning to others in the living
              history community, the best course of action to spread the campaign
              philosophy is to participate, leading by example while maintaining their own
              standards for themselves.
              The Arguments against Campaigning, and the Rebuttals

              There are many reasons not to be a progressive, but they generally are
              several variations of the same motives; it requires effort. Here are some of
              the most common reasons, and the answers to them.

              "It's too expensive": Living history in general is expensive, but
              campaigning does not add significantly to the cost. Most of the cost is
              incurred in the initial investment of joining a unit and starting from
              scratch. As we are merely "weekend warriors", most of our clothing and
              equipment will last much longer than the 18th century soldier could dream
              of. If while in this initial investment an individual went that extra little
              step to use linen over cotton, or to hand finish their topstitching instead
              of machine stitching, the added cost is not great and the item will last a
              long time. The money you save by not purchasing needless or inappropriate
              impedimenta offsets these added costs. For instance, the $20 more you might
              spend on a linen weskit can be made up for neglecting to buy an undocumented
              lantern stand.

              "It's a family hobby": Families and civilians certainly are important aspect
              of what we recreate, their roles are subject to the same rigors of
              authenticity as the hobby at large. It should not be forgotten that we are
              portraying the War for Independence, which means that realistically the
              military has the emphasis in what we do. Civilians are a very important part
              of adding to the complete landscape of the 18th century soldier, but a
              civilian impression requires the same amount of effort, less their roles are
              trivialized. Civilians always had a reason for being with the army;
              stragglers and idlers however were not tolerated, as they were nothing but a
              liability to an army. Impressions can be developed as wagoneers,
              bateaux-men, artificers, refugees, laundresses, nurses, and petty sutlers,
              which are just some of the portrayals which can be explored. These roles are
              just as educational to the general public as that of a soldier, if not more
              so, as they are often overlooked in our hobby.

              "If you're so authentic, why don't you contract smallpox and use real musket
              balls?": Not to be undiplomatic, but this is truly a "head in the sand"
              response. Rather than looking at what tangible steps campaigning is trying
              to emphasize, detractors are zeroing in on those conditions that can not be
              replicated. What separates from "playing soldier" and "interpretive living
              history" is the willingness to pursue what we can reasonably attempt to
              recreate. Though from an unusual source in a discussion of authenticity, the
              Alcoholics Anonymous prayer which asks for "The serenity to accept the
              things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to
              know the difference" provides a good response to this excuse. We can not
              recreate the hardships of disease, wounds or starvation without trivializing
              them. Hand finishing our seams, using proper materials, and presenting a
              more "martial air" to what we do can be done. The wisdom is knowing the
              difference and acting upon it.

              "We've always done it this way...": For an organization born in the 1960s,
              it should not be too much of a stretch to embrace the ideology of the time
              of "question everything." Though history is in the past, our comprehension
              of it is ever changing. What we knew of the Revolutionary War forty years
              ago is vastly different than what we know today. Failure to implement new
              information as it is discovered is irresponsible interpretative living
              history. We should be able to answer the question the public is bound to
              ask, "Is this really what it was like back then?" with a straight face and
              straight answers. I came across a quote, which I can not place, but I think
              sums it up well: "Questioning is one of the noblest of human acts. As human
              beings require knowledge and truth in order to live successfully,
              questioning is also one of the most selfish of acts...it represents the
              struggle to discover the truth necessary to live."

              "I don't have it documented to the war, but there is an obscure reference
              in...": Documenting an item to your impression is just as important as
              documenting it to the period. For instance, reflecting ovens are well
              documented to the 18th century, however they would be entirely incorrect for
              an army on the move. There might even be items that were issued to the
              armies, but incorrect in the context of which we represent. Bed rugs were
              some times issued in winter garrison, but to have one in your tent while
              portraying a battle which took place during a campaign when two armies
              collided with each other would be just as historically inaccurate as a
              wool/polyester blend blanket. Our portrayals should not only be accurate to
              the period, but accurate to the situation in which the soldiers were living.
              It would be like saying that a vintage 1940s radio could be toted around if
              portraying a soldier of World War II on the beach at Normandy.

              "It's too physically demanding...": A soldier's life was physically
              demanding, therefore recreating the life and times of that soldier will have
              an element of challenge to it. Call it an occupational hazard. However,
              which sounds like more of a challenge? Packing a car, van or truck full of
              equipment, unloading it at the event, hauling it to where you are encamped
              for the weekend, packing the car, van or truck again at the end of the
              weekend and unloading it back at home. Or, leaving your gear in its
              period-correct packs and walking in and out of the event with those packs?

              Some Final Words on Campaigning

              Campaigning appears to be the "next step" in living history, the next
              evolution in a hobby that is based on history, but should always be
              changing. While it requires a greater attention to detail and perhaps a
              greater degree of effort in certain areas, campaigning also eases our burden
              and is easier on our pockets in other ways.

              The ideas and views expressed in this article are meant to advocate
              campaigning, not demand it. The Brigade of the American Revolution has
              membership rolls in the thousands and some might take up campaigning, some
              may choose not to. This is a personal decision either way. It is my hope
              though that this article was food for thought.

              When we consider how much time, money and energy we invest in living
              history, we should also consider why. Is it just to "play soldier"? That can
              be achieved at the local video arcade or paintball establishment. If it is
              to understand and appreciate the "adventures, dangers, and sufferings of a
              Revolutionary soldier" as Joseph Plum Martin referred to his life as, we
              need to approach it with the level of detail it deserves.

              See you on campaign...

              This article was inspired by "The Campaigner's Manifesto" by Nicky Hughes
              regarding American Civil War living history. Thanks to Chris Anderson 2d
              Virginia Regiment, Mark Hubbs Garrison Regiment , Chuck LeCount North
              Carolina Volunteers, Greg Theberge 40th Regiment of Foot, Light Infantry,
              and Rob Weber Steven's Brigade, Virginia Militia for their input.


              __________________
            • Kevin Windsor
              Well said JP. Those who know have an obligation to teach those who don t. If those who don t, won t there is nothing you can do but move on to those who do.
              Message 6 of 19 , Sep 1, 2004
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                Well said JP. Those who know have an obligation to teach those who don't.
                If those who don't, won't there is nothing you can do but move on to those
                who do. Mentoring is the way to go in this hobby. I mentor some new
                members of the 89th (as all veterans of the 89th are required to do) and I
                have a mentor as well and he teaches me to be a better officer.
                Share your knowledge. Don't be so old school re-enactor and say "I know
                something you don't know" those days are long gone.

                Kevin
                89th

                ----- Original Message -----

                While I applaud your efforts, the "hard-cores" and the rank-and-file
                re-enactors on this list have come to a sort of "entente cordiale" after the
                last flame war that erupted over the subject. By coming along announcing
                and pronouncing, as you have, you are in danger of upsetting this delicate
                balance.
              • glifencible
                ... who don t, won t there is nothing you can do but move on to those who do. Wow! :P
                Message 7 of 19 , Sep 2, 2004
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                  >Those who know have an obligation to teach those who don't. If those
                  who don't, won't there is nothing you can do but move on to those who do.

                  Wow! :P
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