Friday, 29 September 2017

Swinging 60s.

So another period to be ventured into, so how does American civil war (ACW) reenactment differ from Napoleonic or indeed medieval/renaissance?

Popular culture suggests ACW is very popular and the event this weekend was said to have been the largest event of its kind for years yet was probably about as big as Hole park, itself the biggest UK event for Napoleonics.. so that notion probably owes a lot to American media whose go to reenactor is a simple ACW guy.
It was agreed to have been a great event, two societies, Soskan (The southern skirmish association) and ACWs (American civil war society) working together and both having encouraged new comers to come along as guests and give it a go seems a good way to put on a bigger show and bring in new blood.

I think I mentioned before that I have a theory that British reenactors have an ingrained idea that the army is about standing to attention, respecting your officers, keeping a stiff upper lip etc all from exposure to TV and films and the likes of trouping the colour in the UK and that this is a contributing factor to why the French Napoleonic camp has a reputation for being more relaxed. We are free of those conceptions.

All of ACW stuff is a bit like that. It's not British (or German) and they are volunteer armies of citizen soldiers, often poorly supplied, fighting for democracy. Rank distinctions in the Confederate army were particularly hard to tell, everyday duties seemed to just organise themselves.

More people want to be Confederate. Why? I feel the popularity of being Confederate is about the mood and the dressing up box. To an Englishmen it's more exotic, more wild west, and the poor supply gives more leeway in clothes and equipment. To some the south is romantic, the union is a more regular army. With shoes and everything. The elephant in the room is slavery but people do subscribe to the 'it was about southern rights and secession' argument. Right, yeah. But politics didn't come up. Most people I know from Napoleonics were Confederate, maybe they'd spent all their money on fancy kit for that.

The groups I camped with in the trees were fond of using the term 'Progressive' to describe what they do, living like we did at the campaign weekend except for them it is every event. Progressive was also used for anything going a bit further than usual.. want to give out handbills to people? You could print them off from your computer.. or you could actually construct a working printing press and use that instead.. that would be progressive. However there was a faction amongst them who felt women should stick to historical female roles and also that no Union troops/people should be admitted to the Confederate camp, it's all got to be that real. I wonder if as they get older and fatter they will give up in the name of authenticity? Wouldn't be a lot of people left!

One thing I'm not so keen on, may be the music. I don't mind the fiddle, which can be emotive and soulful as well as frenetic but the whole banjo yeehay! cotton eye Joe thing does make me grimace somewhat. Dixieland always makes me think of excitable old men having a hoe down at a wedding.

Will I be doing ACW again? Yes I hope so, looking forward to seeing calender for next year. Will I continue as a war correspondent? Maybe.
It was fun to be an independent civilian without military duties or timetable or rank although there was a bit of a lull on Saturday. Sketching was a good way to spend time.
Normally reenactors don't take on an almost role play identity, they are themselves as generic soldiers or whatever their role, but as a civilian and a new guy it seemed appropriate.
If I could be in any ACW unit it would be the Zouaves, I love the big red trousers and uniforms copied as a military fashion from French colonial troops but sadly, and perhaps strangely for people who like dressing up, there are no zouave units in the UK.

I had been in correspondence with a few folk about joining up, a challenge was I can not get another firearm without getting a big cabanet which is impractical so I need a non infantry soldier role, or borrow a rifle every time, which is also a drag. Artillery? Musician? Medical corp? The latter seems most likely.. especially as I may have taken advantage of a fellow selling old kit....

and so ends the season, which means things may be quieter here but I do have some musings I may yet choose to pour forth, until then Au revoir!

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