Gear wise I think I can now tick everything off the list, having yesterday received a pair of Brogans (shoes) from Mcfarthingbowls . Who were actually also the first company I ever bought anything from, a canteen, bowl and spoon. It was almost this time last year that I got the 45eme tattoo, yes, marked for life now.
Hoogstraten was the foreign adventure of the year and Fort Amherst the most novel, as in adventure novel, rife with anecdotes. Who knows what the new year will bring? well, here are some clues...
(que dramatic Dino Laurentis music)
is the elephant in the room when talking about 2015, the almost last battle of the bicentinials and of course a very anglocentric one. there was already talk of it when I started and it was doubtless a contributing factor to me getting involved whilst some of the 200 year events were not yet passed.
Generally there is a lot of moaning about it.
The gist of such complaints it is that the tourist board has taken over the event as a money spinner, and the reenactors are expected to be in full on camp mode from 9 to 5 and then fight the battles in the evenings (separate tickets are required to see the camps and then the battle), by the end of which it will be dark. Some add to this the fear that this will seriously cut into drinking time.
Personally Im still looking forward to it. The organisers may be seriously trying to marshal everything but they are literally dealing with three armies and a bigger army again of tourists/visitors. We can make our own fun, we will be there with friends on a historic occasion and there will be good company, food and drink. Participants can be grumpy or try and make the most of it, personally I am hoping for the best, and people like moaning, especially on the internet.
Experienced reenactors everywhere can be heard saying 'Oooh, it wont be like Waterloo '98, that were a fine year that was.'
One thing that does niggle me slightly is press releases and newspapers talking about it being the biggest reenactment EVER when im sure some Gettysburgs have been HUGE and Leipzig had more participants than the maximum numbers for Waterloo (you had to apply online to get a place for Waterloo, which incidently no one has yet had verified but having been involved in 'The road to Waterloo' events and the British Napoleonic Associations main French unit puts us in good stead).
Whatever happens we can say 'We were there.'
and then? in a way which events are organised/attended once it is over will become freer, not being overshadowed. Could go anywhere! For the French forces it will be nice to go back to the years of victory.
I do worry a bit about age in general though, in ten years time most of the 45eme will be, well definitely beyond the average age of even veteran French soldiers and most of our new recruits are not much younger, indeed our youngest are the children of the regiment. I think being a French unit in England contributes to this as older (and wiser!) folk are more open minded and less prone to peer presure, you want to fight for the Emperor you do so! Younger reenactors are often idealisticly patriotic and less willing to put up with 'froggie' comments.
Older Napoleonic enthusiasts had the film Waterloo with its fairly even handed portrayal of armies, and a sympathetic Napoleon, then there was the Duellists (with French protagonists) and Colonel Chambert, there was the adventures of Brigadier Gerard and the Seven men of Gascony. The era of the French hero on stage, screen and literature, though history books, more than historical novels, informed the multitudes.
As mentioned previously we now have Sharpe, on TV and in novels, as well as Hornblower and Master and commander.. all beating the French for King and Country and maybe this really has had an effect on recruitment. The 85eme are a 'French' group with lots of Dutch and Belgian members and they seem to have a lot more young faces in the ranks.
(so dont call me Gandalf)
One of the biggest Napoleonic events in the UK is the battle of the nations, this year at Wollaton where I turned up for my first ever event in great coat and bicorne and everything in a sack. The campagne de la Bossiere-ecole is another temptation, an international campaign in France with everyone out under the stars and living out of their 'pack. I am in the throes of getting a potential new job, or possibly my old job, and either way I can see myself turning up on day one with a long list of holiday dates 'already booked', yeah.. I cant really do .. June.
EN AVANTE! MARCH INTO 2015!