Frequently Asked Questions About Reenacting
With Answers from Reenactors
Question: My son is interested in reenacting. Are there age limits? How do we get him involved?
Answer from (90th General Staff Corps), Capt. Joseph Freas, Commanding Officer. (with minor edits by the webmaster)
Check into varying groups. Ask yourself what you really want to do or in essence, can do. Can you play an instrument? Then you may want to think about joining a group as a musician. The group I used to belong to wouldn’t right out allow me to be a chaplain, even after I explained to them the research I had done. If the reenactment group commander asks you what training you have in their more “specialized” units, and you have specialized training, don’t be afraid to come out and stay what you’re good at. Many reenactors seem to forget that this is merely acting, it’s not real. Any impression is and should be welcomed. Also, ask various groups if they allow teenagers to be officers. Some groups have a cadet program, (ages 11 to 14, or so), to train as a junior officer and then make their way right into a second lieutenant. Typically, however, those groups that do this are larger groups. They usually had a drum and fife corps, they may also have a medical division, as well as a safety officer too. Other groups make you work your way up, generally, (Private to Corporal, Sergeant to First Sergeant, then to Lieutenant and finally Captain). Not all groups have just these ranks however. Some have sergeant majors and both 1st & 2nd lieutenants. Others even have major and a lt. colonel.
The best thing to do is just check around first, ask various reenactment group commanders about what they allow and don’t allow. Sometimes, the baords or councils have to vote on it too. See what you really want to do. Also, if you become an officer, the uniform is generally more expensive, as is the officer’s saber and the other whatnots. I spent a total of a little over $3800 on my officer’s uniform and sword, and other needed gear. Right now, the way the economy is, you also have to ask yourself whether or not you can afford it as well.
I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor.
Question: I’m interested in reenacting. Where do I start?
Answer from “Dixie Patriot”
Starting off, most newbie reenactors get a basic kit. Be sure to take a seasoned reenactor from your unit when you go buy a uniform and kit. Sutlers will sell you anything for a price, and many times the authenticity of the items, as far as applying to your reenactment unit, can be questionable. Ask any seasoned reenactor, like me, and they will tell you they have a closet full of stuff they bought and can’t realistically use.
The weapon is the most expensive item in the kit along with caps and black powder. nipple wrenches, nipples etc. for the weapon. Also cleaning items that fit end of your ramrod. Most folks borrow a weapon the first two or three times, but you have to buy one eventually. Depending on Federal or Confederate impression, that weapon can run up to 700 dollars or more with bayonet and other accoutrements. It is very hard to find a weapon for sale from another reenactor although a deal occasionally comes along, and let me tell you these do not depreciate a lot in value like modern weapons.
Also, wristwatches are not period. Use pocketwatches. Now, eyeglasses can be a pain Some folks like me, with bad prescriptions, find it hard to improve that side of the impression.
When at a reenactment, try to be in first period at all times when spectators are there. Cell phones should be used secretly if they need to be used. Period cups should be used to drink drinks. All modern items need to be covered up when spectators are in camp. We know folks use ice chests and things, but seasoned reenactors either put them in period boxes made for that purpose or cover them with period blankets and keep them covered.
Remember, we are in 1861-1865 time period and we need to do our best to portray that period.