The Reenactor's Dictionary

by Jonah Begone

"Amenities Provided": a lack of firewood, wet straw, indescribable food and port-a-johns that runneth over.

"Authentics only": a phrase used in the ads for every reenactment event, whether attended by farbs or not.

Auto-rest: what the company goes into when the officer giving the commands neglects to say "order arms, in place rest" during frequent extended drill discussions with other officers.

Breastworks: the stuff that terrible nineteenth-century puns are made from.

Camp furniture: unintentionally collapsible things to sit or lay on.

Confederate camp: that field full of A-tents.

Confederate cavalry: the guys shooting off revolvers and yelling "yahoo" who try to wake you up in the morning.

Corps badges: fuzzy objects on the tops of forage caps, seen at 1861-1865 reenactment events.

Dixie Springfield: the ones without the front sight.

Event sponsor: depending on who you believe, the people making a lot of money or never coming out even.

"First-person impression": when guys sound like Si Clegg or the Lucky Charms Leprechaun.

Galvanized Yank: the guys in camp that get upset about Stonewall Jackson jokes.

Greatcoat: that bulky sky-blue thing that hibernates in your knapsack all summer and only comes out for Remembrance Day at Gettysburg.

Heel plates: sort of an authentic Wham-O Slip 'N Slide.

Historical Society: those older people wearing the polyester dresses and uniforms.

Hollywood: the Tailored Look. Used interchangeably with the term "farby." Also, where the queenish producers and camera crews at historical mini-series filmings come from.

Living Historian: presumably, any historian that is still breathing.

Living History event: where you sit around and eat a lot. Attended by real Living Historians.

Local event: you don't fall asleep at the wheel on the way home.

Massengill: reenacting Satan or Savior, depending upon who you believe. Before 125th Bull Run this name had other connotations.

North-South Skirmish Association: the nation's largest collection of authentic campers and Winnebagos.

"No set camps tactical" a good excuse to call in sick Monday morning.

Paid event: Where we get the phrase "Maximum Effort Event" from. Has restroom facilities.

"Pop" history: learned by viewers of "North and South."

The Public: the people who ask why, if this was a battlefield, there are no bullet holes in the monuments.

Reenactment season: when the afternoon high is in the 80s or low 90s with 80-90% humidity. Events held during May or September have special designations: "fire and ice events" (hot during the day and cold at night).

Registration deadline: something that's strictly adhered to only in the event sponsor's fondest dreams.

"Right Shoulder Shift": the command that precedes "At the Double-Quick..."

Safety inspection: slight verification that the rifle you fired safely all day yesterday will fire safely today. Always held on Sundays.

Shelter half: one half of a good way to get wet and uncomfortable.

Staff officers: the possible future of the National Regiment.

"Start taking hits!" what you hear when the guys in charge figure it's about time to wrap it up.

"Steak-in-a-Sack": the taste discovery of the Quasquicentennial.

Sutler: one of the reasons why we now have the Better Business Bureau and consumer protection laws.

Tactical event: restroom al fresco.

Troop pass: that unused, wadded-up piece of paper you find Sunday evening when you get home and empty out your pockets.

"Weather permitting": the event will be cancelled if more than 6" of rain and 3" of mud appears.