This was an article I wrote for my new reenactment unit, the 110th Pennsylvania, in October 1985, after I left the 1st Minnesota. Good bunch of guys. - Jonah
Campfire Ramblings - October 1985
by Jonah Begone
While participating in events this year I've been brigaded with several different reenactment regiments.
So, prior to my finding a home with the 110th I've had the unique opportunity to camp, march and fight with other units. I've found that having to go "solo" to an event every now and then is
rather fun and there are some interesting experiences to be had that way...
It's a little intimidating to be in a reenactment with a bunch of people you don't know. The experience is probably a little like arriving for your first day of boot camp, or just mustering on with a volunteer regiment. In other words, the feeling of displacement is authentic. While many civil war volunteers enlisted in home town companies and therefore knew a good many of their fellow soldiers, they all found Army life to be a new and unusual experience. Doing a reenactment with strangers is a new and unusual experience.
You act differently around people you don't really know. A fellow member of the 110th told me: "Basically, all reenactments are the same; it's the night activities I like because they're
different." This is because many of us have self-programmed behavior patterns. It's not the events that are the same -- it's the people, and we usually act the same way around our friends and
acquaintances. I think this is what sometimes gives reenacting a "sameness." In agreement with my friend's comment, I think that we do act differently at night but I really haven't given much
thought as to why. Maybe it's the hot buttered rum that does it.
"Visiting" other units is a real learning experience. It's always interesting to meet people from other regions of the country, of course, but it's also neat to see how different people do reenactments. There's always something to learn. I can honestly say that I didn't really learn how to fire in company front until I did New Market with the 8th Ohio, for instance. It would seem that some drill sessions are more valuable than others, and I don't think any one reenactment group has a monopoly on the Gospel According to Hardee.
Before anybody gets the idea that I intend to be the "Flying Dutchman" of reenactments, let me say that being a part of one group has a whole lot of advantages, too. For one thing, the camaraderie developed by people that sleep, sweat and hike up and down hills together for a long period of time is very gratifying. Another thing I've noticed is that people in reenactment units tend to group in smaller sub-groups (perhaps 3 or 4 people each) according to personal preference and compatibility. My guess is that this would be very authentic -- I was in such a sub-group when I was in boot camp. It just happens.
I think the best event I did this year was the tactical at Rouzerville, PA, the "Mason-Dixon" tactical. There are two reasons why I thought it was the best. The first is that it had a lot of what I enjoy best about Civil War reenacting: marching and fighting! It was also my first event as a full-fledged member (and not as my usual role of "hang around"), and that made it sort of special. I got to make some new friends in the regiment and also got to spend time on the march and in battle with "old" ones. One thing that immediately attracted me about the 110th is the esprit de corps and spirit of the unit -- much the same thing I was referring to in the previous paragraph. So even though I'm not one of the Philadelphia-area "home-town" folks that seem to make up most of company E, I think I'll fit in in some capacity!
Anyway, let me conclude by saying that I'm happy to be with you and that I expect to have a lot of fun with this unit in next year's activities!