Messages from readers of this web page



Hope I'm not a bother :) My son Lucas has shown interest in joining his grandfather in historical reenacting. He has always loved history so he thinks it'll be a perfect hobby for him. He did some research to prepare himself before attending a meeting and found your links page to be very helpful. Thanks a lot for that!

To say thank you, he wanted me to forward you another resource he found useful, HOBBIES THAT TEACH: HISTORICAL REENACTING. The article itself is very interesting, but he thinks the value lies within the many resources listed throughout. He really liked learning more about the costuming that goes behind the reenactments. Lucas was thinking since he enjoyed it so much you might like to add it too!

Either way he wanted to say a quick thank you. (Enough to ask me to reach out)! If you decide to add the resource he found, please let me know! Lucas will definitely feel honored that you added it and show it off to his history teacher (they are doing a research unit right now).

Thanks again!
Mary and Lucas

Mary and Lucas,

No bother! I live for e-mails. I wait beside my PC waiting for them to appear! I added your suggested link to my links page. Frankly, I am gobsmacked that anyone reads it, links pages are so 1990's. But then, so is this page. Anyway, I'm always willing to give encouragement to young folks! I hope your son enjoys reenacting as much as I did! - Jonah


Hi Jonah,

Just read your article Soldiers, Actors and Reenactors. Enjoyed it.

I'm a grandson of Doc Roe from Band of Brothers. I'm doing some research on a project and wanted to know where you got the info on Dye in the middle of your piece? I might want to use some of those quotes and of course, want to be able to give proper credit.



It came from the website. The author is unstated; I presume it comes from a publicist at HBO.



Farb: I wanted to thank you for your work on the word.

In the late 1970's I was a member of the Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia (a 1066 era group based in Maryland) who scoffed at the terribly silly SCA.

This was the first I heard the word "farb." It was explained to me as the incorrect color - meaning "it is not authentic." Once a year the group did a reenactment of the Battle of Hastings at the U. of Maryland. I was really curious about the word for some reason, and asked around. I was directed to a guy who also did ACE, who explained it all and said it came from some guys he knew in a Maryland ACW unit.

Of course being one of the greatest and most versatile words there is, I brought it into the New England area WW2 reenacting circle about 1978 or so (at least no one else ever heard it or used it until I explained to them what it meant). For a while it really was a cool shorthand way to say "look at those inaccurate morons" right to their face without a clue that we were insulting them. And it spread - fast. I vaguely remember writing about this sometime around 1981 in a unit newsletter, but those have long since disappeared.

Over the years I have long argued to people the origin of the word, but thanks to your article I can point to two independently researched searches pointing to the same place and time. No one has ever been able to offer any proof as to "those other explanations" which smack of someone making up an explanation to fit the word.

I can also say that in the 1980's I got involved doing WW2 reenacting in the UK and France. I can vividly remember explaining the term to one of the first real WW2 reenactment units in France - who took it up with great enthusiasm. Again, we could speak openly in front of poor-looking units leaving them ignorant of what we were saying.

So thanks for loving the word as much as I do, and helping me prove the true meaning.



I just came across "Was the pistol John Wilkes Booth used to shoot Abraham Lincoln stolen from Ford's Theatre?" on your site.  Great article.  I never really thought about it until now but when I was young, a friend of mine in Illinois told me his well-to-do neighbor had a large gun collection in a "secret" room in his house.  He also mentioned that he owned the "other" gun that didn't kill Lincoln.  I was a teenager at the time and could not have cared less about history or any articles from it so I never pressed the issue.  Now I can't verify that this is 100% true, but his neighbor definitely was an avid gun collector and it is interesting to think about the possibilities.  Thanks for lighting the fire, now I can't stop thinking about it.   



Hi, Jonah.

I am very new to Civil War reenacting. I attended my first event as a spectator last year in North Carolina, moved to Ohio and participated in three events this year: one mega (Shiloh 150th), one fairly large (during which I actually, due to stress and heat, passed out... Do I get authenticity points for swooning?), and one very small any-excuse-to-don-petticoats one.

Can't recall what I was Googling that brought up your site, but I am most happy about the result. I'm having a blast reading your articles, and those of your fellow writers, such as Mal Stylo and Mr Hendershott, learning about the history of CW reenacting (How long will it be before someone starts reenacting the history of reenactment?), laughing in recognition of things I've seen. We certainly don't agree on everything - I don't have a problem with women soldiers (*provided they play the part convincingly*, otherwise no!), and as for women in the encampment, well, my first experiences in the hobby were with a unit whose captain wanted families included. There are certainly regiments for those who don't. There really is something for everyone in CW reenactment, I believe, and - as the captain of the aforementioned unit said once to me about the hobby - "If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right."

Well, since my season is over for this year (lack of finances unfortunately ruling out the last two events I planned to attend), I'm going to need plenty to tide me over 'til next year. Dress alteration and bonnet decoration can only take up so much time. So, it will be a winter of practicing (my persona writes - mostly maudlin poetry)... learning (period cooking, for instance)... hopefully, educating (The people I now reenact with are a little less concerned about authenticity - or even the appearance of it - than I am. I wouldn't call myself hard-core at all , but please, one petticoat under a day dress??????)... and Shelby Foote, here I come! And you've piqued my interest in Revolutionary War reenacting. Doubt I can find much out here, but I'm going to take a look. Then again, maybe since I'm now in the midwest, I should look for my inner Viking...

Anyhow, I just wanted to say that I love your website and am having a great time reading it. Besides entertainment and information, you've already given me plenty to think about, plenty of new directions to explore. And I just plain enjoy your writing.

I'm sure you have a lot of fans who regularly check for new postings. Please count me now among them.

In gratitude,

Miss Tamara Nesbit
(civilian reenactor attached to Ohio Henry Rifles)



My name is T.H. Gray and I am the Director-curator of the American Hysterical Society. We collect and occasionally create humor focused on history, museums, and reenacting. As you might guess, we spend a lot of time online building our collection. Which is why I was both shocked that I had not heard of you until recently and delighted that I have found your work. While I can't say I have read everything you've written (yet!), I am humbled by your contributions to reenacting and now to, I am pleased to say, our collection.

We have included you, as well as your friend Mal, on our blogroll and just this morning we have shared your works with our audience. You can find our post here.

Thanks for all you do and I do hope to see you on the field some day!


T.H. Gray


Hello Jonah, My name is Andrea and I've been using your ghost page...

I volunteer with the girl scouts and my daughter's troop is going on a camping trip this coming weekend. I just wanted to say "thank you" for putting your page together. I've been tasked with providing the campfire entertainment and I wanted to have some stories to tell. :-)

Have a good week,


Ever since I wrote you about Jonah Hex, I've been on the lookout for the Civil War in the movies and I think I may have found the most farbtastic one yet....Vampire Confederate soldiers.

Yes, I'm one of those grown wimmens who fell for Twilight. I dreamt of Edward sparkling and telling me how good my blood smelled. Only after I saw the second movie and witnessed other women my age making complete idiots out of themselves did I realize how creepy it all actually was.

I totally forgot about the Confederate story line until I dragged my Union reenactor boyfriend to see Eclipse this past weekend. I'm long past the fangirly stage and we actually rolled our eyes and gagged at the overwrought angst. Then the Confederate storyline showed up and I whispered, "You're gonna LOVE this."

.....Jasper was once a dashing Confederate cavalry soldier (my boyfriend whispered, "OF COURSE he is, no one ever wants to be a shoeless regular. At least he's not dismounted cavalry). He ran across some vixen vampires one night near some kind of pond and they decided to "change" him into one of them to train their "vampire army" of the southwest.

Vampire Army. Apparently this was one of the overlooked aspects of the War Between the States and Stephenie Meyer has the scoop. What if the CSA had a legion of vampires at their disposal? Maybe that book "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" isn't so ridiculous?

Imagine the reenacting possibilities! Would they surrender the port a potties? Nope. They would SPARKLE!


A Vampire Army Of The Southwest. Just imagine bloodthirsty Rebs peering at us from behind double-wides in Phoenix or Tucson. Horrible! - Jonah


Your site is the best!

I took my boyfriend/reenactor to see the movie Jonah Hex tonight after seeing it with my son last week. Apparently it's based off a "graphic novel" (comic books for adults?) and it's about an ex Confederate/turned bounty hunter on a mission to get revenge. Josh Brolin hunts down ex Confederate General Gone Wild John Malkovich and tries to stop him from using a "doomsday weapon" on the North during centennial events in 1876.

It's pretty far out and the whole Malkovich character/doomsday storyline is basically a Neo Confederate wet dream. Nuke the North! It reminded my BF of the painting on your site, "Southern Revenge." Sipping coffee whilst thousands burn to death. It's worth the cost of netflix but I don't regret seeing it in the overpriced movie palace. Megan Fox's acting is pretty craptacular too. Forget the farbtastic storyline/doomsday/magical confederate/Crow Indian powers....Does anyone believe for even a minute that any "ladies of the night" were that hot back then? They were lucky to have teeth and/or avoid the STD of the day...gonasyphaherpalits anyone?




Since finding your website and sending my first email, I spent the better part of a day reading and laughing through your site. I spent a few years re-enacting as a Federal Soldier in the Midwest and, I encountered almost everything commented on in your articles. I will also freely and sadly have to admit that I contributed to some of the problems too. I was, for a short time under the delusion that I could help my unit members see the authenticity light and therefore became an irritant to the people that joined for other reasons.

Looking back on those few years, I had a great time and enjoyed many of the wonderfully weird people in the hobby. Every once in awhile, I find my photo albums and portraits that were taken and cringe at the headaches from hangovers and my daily reminder of the guy that opened a hole in my hand. The stuff of countless hours of campfire bragging rights!

Had only I read and took to heart the advice given in your material, I could have saved a few years of my il-spent youth, on second thought....nah...I would have jacked it up some other way.

I do wish I could have had the pleasure to meet you and some of your friends in the hobby, sounds like you had a great time for the most part.

You really should write a book for all those aspiring people anxious to 'serve' their country in re-enactmentland. Your material crosses the majority of Era boundaries although I'm not sure about the Star Wars groups? (grin)

Good Luck in all that you do!
Robert P.



Thank you so much for your website, I'm still rolling about the page dedicated to CW Artwork. I've seen many of the praying Generals but ignored them. I have come to expect almost any level of quality in merchandise at a souvenir store or sutler's booth.

Your presentation and evaluation are entertaining, humorous, and unfortunately, true!

Best Wishes and Keep up the great work!
Robert P.


Dear Mr. Begone:

Since, unlike "Happy Friends," you seem to be still in business, perhaps you will find interest in this trailer for a film that will doubtless never be made. Though tacky in places, if nothing else, you might enjoy, as I did, watching to see who you recognize: click here.

Touch the elbow,
B.C. Milligan
Company K, First Penna. Reserves


I was reading an article by Ross Kimmel about the late 60s after the Centennial. He was writing about George Gorman and how George influenced Ross in both positive and negative ways. I was in reenacting during the Centennial. First with NSSA McGregor'Battery at First Manassas. I find the same bitter sweet memories. It was my transition from being a child going into my teens too. While there were good and bad times I would not change a thing either.

We have the 150th now coming and I just hope there are some pre-teens out there that can ride on the next 5 years for experience and a safe harbor to grow in. It was good for us, I hope it can be good for them too. I have been in and out of reenacting and now I am with the Black Horse Cav/ 4th Va Ca Co.H.

I enjoy your web page very much. Great writing of great tales.



Greetings Jonah. I am a big fan of your site and have visited it many times over the past ten years. I enjoy reading your various articles especially the articles on modern day Civil War art and your articles on historical movies.

I would like to recommend to you the book "One Nation: Patriots and Pirates Portrayed by N. C. Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth" as it contains some wonderful art work pertaining to the Civil War and the American Revolution among other American history art treats. I really think that this work captures the spirit that modern day artists working in the historical field seem to lack.

Biloxi MS



I discovered your site by accident about three weeks ago, and I love it.


My husband and I are going to get into CW reenacting in the spring. Hope that we dont look too farby once we get going!

Ehhh. Don't worry about it, just have fun!

We love the humorous spin you put on the business of reenacting.

The hobby puts the spin on it itself! I just recognize it...

I thought about your site this morning while watching the last half hour or so of a movie called "2000 Maniacs". If you haven't seen this gem, it comes across somewhat like "Brigadoon" written against the backdrop of the Confederacy, a vengeful Confederacy at that. The movie was like a car wreck - you know that you shouldn't look, but, you can't help it.

You must have watched the very same Turner Movie Classics broadcast I did (I recorded it). Yes, this was a real winner. That theme song was so good I posted it... see the What's New page, where you can download this classic for your iPod.

Again, thank you for a fantastic site! - Laura

Thanks for writing! Jonah


Hello Jonah !

I came across your web page while looking to track old toys ( ya, I know kinda round about ). I love the Civ war stuff. I am actually a member of a Rev war fife and drum Corp ( I am a fifer), the Middlesex County Volunteers ( on the web at ).

Are you a member of the 2nd Mass? I saw a link to it on your site.

Thanks for the site. I don't do civ war reinactment, but I had a rather famous cousin fight in the Union Army in the original war. He had the same last name as me and had the rank of General.

Thanks again

Bill Grant Deerfield, NH



I stumbled across this site after running this google search, "why arent there any good civil war movies?" As for that, I think its because only American make them, and Americans can't make a movie about the Civil War any more than most of us could make a XXX-rated movie about our parents having sex.

It will have to be a foreigner and the script should come from Ambrose Bierce, NOT Bruce Catton, or that little documentary guy.

I LOVE THE SITE. It seems to reflect some of my own feelings about Civil War history. I was very interested from the age of 10 till about 17, then I knew enough to know it wasn't really that interesting.

I also "did" Revy War reenacting (age 15 -19). I was a member of the 2nd Maryland Light Infantry, Chuck Gosnell, commanding. I was at the Yorktown and Treaty of Paris bicentennials.

I can think of a couple of other reasons why the revolution is a whole lot more fun to do than CW. The ACTUAL period was far more exciting. First off you're 100% correct about the "cleavage." Kidding aside, this was the age of enlightenment after all, and sex would not be outlawed in the western hemisphere until 1843.

There is an enlightened aura to Revy vs. CW folks. All of this is not class, either. I'm not rich. The motivation of the Revy soldier was largely idealism. Ideas like liberty, individual human dignity, self determination, egalitaranism (certainly among the men if not all the officers). And let's not forget that the English really know how to party. Contrast Stonewall's bible-thumping, Presbyterian, wrath of god, W T legion bull s**t, with Burgoyne's teenage mistresses, and port wine and opium orgies!

Anyway the site is fun, thanks for keeping it up.




I really enjoyed the compilation of art you have on the site for Harry Dierken. I like the way he reflects the stye of the times in his drawings, it looks like the artist from Hardtack & coffee - Charles Reed, and others from that era. Harry puts his own humor into it.

I especially like the drawings for "Gaslight Ghost" & "Mary Surrat's Heartless Judge."

Kevin O'Malley
9th Va, Co. C

Yes, Harry is the Grand Old Man of local Civil War art, as far as I'm concerned. I really like his style, too. I asked him about his style, once, and he told me that he thought it was reminscent of Walton Taber. I can see it. I am happy to report that, according to a common friend, Harry is alive and well and an octogenarian, although he hasn't done any reenacting in a while. - Jonah


Hey Jonah!

I haven't written to you in like, forever, but what the hey. I just wanted to thank you for keeping up the website and the great articles. i especially liked the ones about the 125th events, and also the rouzerville tacticals. i remember well those latter, especially the '83 & 84. At one of them, i remember we Federals running out of rounds while defending an elevated position, and throwing potatoes and apples at the Johnnies while hollering FREDERICKSBURG! at the top of our lungs.

Great times all. I also agree that there will likely not be another sight to our eyes as impressive as the 125th Pickett's Charge scenario. That was amazing in so many ways.

Ah well. Nice to hear you are back in the field. If you get to Ander's gettysburg event this year (At High Tide), look me up. I'll be attached to the CS medical units, in the field with the ambulance (we have an actual 2- wheel ambulance that Jon Noviki built).

Anyway, You have a great website and it's always good to visit and reminice about the "old days" of reenacting.

Tim Kindred


Dear Jonah Begone,

I have been a fan of your website for about a year now and I frequently visit to hear what you have to say. I must say, you do an excellent job. If I need a good laugh, I can always find something funny to read on your site. Recently, I started a website called The Young Campaigner. It is geared towards young people in Civil War reenacting. I know that you are active in the reenactment community and if you are anything like me, you are probably tired of seeing the myriad youthful farbs of the reenacting world out on the field. Being a kid myself, I set out to change some of that. I would love it if you could link to my website on your site. You can visit me here.

William Chapman



I have been reading your site for at least two or more years now.....and I have to say welcome back to the lunatic fringe!

I have been reenacting for five-six years now and am a Captain of a small Confederate unit in Maine. Your observations about the ego and the IDs in the personalities of reenactors is right on the bubble! Our former Captain was the Meglomaniac, reliving his youthful Army glory days...and I know another Captain who is the "foremost expert on everything reenacting/civil war history" and is often indignant about "protocol" and the perception of the south... It has always been my opinion we are not much different than Star trek groupies other than we have a historical basis. Keeps one grounded.

One thing, maybe it hasn't hit you yet, but the last couple of years in the hobby is the "great musket cap panic." Caps are getting harder to find in great quantities (the four wing caps specifically)... leading to the foretelling of the END OF THE HOBBY. We can't use the six wingers as they are dangerous. (But are they really?)

It's always good to read your articles...

Captain Michael Pratt (aka Seamus Kilkenny or most recently Chainfire Pratt)
15th Alabama

I have a couple of tins of ten year old caps in stock, so the Great Cap Shortage (whether real or imagined) hasn't affected me yet. But I briefly encountered a bit of this at the last event I did. Somebody apparently got hit with a bit of cap, and the first question asked was, "Are you using six wingers?" "Huh? Six wingers?" I thought. Well, that's a new one on me. All mine have four wings. - Jonah


I just read your article about the training given to the actors in Band of Brothers by Capt. Dye. I agree wholeheartedly with the entire writing. While I am not a combat veteran, I did serve 4 Years in the Navy and 4 in the Army. I agree that unless you have experienced the rigors of a military basic training, that you can not possibly have a clue as to the closeness of the military unit.

I too looked forward to the completion of boot camp with apprehension. It would be a whole new world, with new leaders and new peers and the fear that you would not "fit in." In both services, I found that fitting in was a matter of as my dear father the First Sergeant told me, "boy, ears open and mouth shut!" That advice served me well along with the reliance upon my petty officers and NCOs. The guys in the Army even asked if I was nuts, leaving the "comfort" of the Navy for the Army. I guess giving up the routine 20 hour days of flight ops for garrison duty with the Military Police was strange to them for some reason???

Anyway, thanks for a great article.

Bruce Stump
Pittsfield, MA


I was searching the web and came across your site "But is it art?" In reference to Arnold Friberg's "A Prayer at Valley Forge." I would agree that this is probably one of the best religious paintings we will get... but have you seen "A Father's Prayer" by David Wright? An almost exact image of Valley Forge... it is amazing two great generals in our nation's history can be at the same spot, only 100 years apart. I understand LHAPs and the whole illustration of a certain specific instant, and I get the idea of a spiritual South, but come on... next we will see General Lee crossing the Potomac in a boat, standing tall with his Stars and Bars behind him.

Are they really running out of ideas? Or maybe Hollywood needs to create some more for them in one of their next films.


Hi MJ!

"A Father's Prayer": That's downright plagiarism!

No, I haven't seen it before - I've been out of the loop with the current LHAP trends (by design). But thanks for alerting me!




I read with some personal interest your explanation of the origin of the term 'FARB' in your article.

As you can probably tell, I have a personal interest in the origin of this term, as it seems to be derogatory. I am glad to see it is not associated with me or one of my relatives, although I can probably point you to a number of Farbs who are in fact farby.

You might be interested in some Farb family history, about the origin of the family name. Whether the following is fact or just family mythology, I don't really know.

My great-great-great grandfather was born Anders Magnus Sjostedt, November 3, 1793 in Sweden. He was a soldier in Napoleon Bonaparte's army. Apparently Napoleon's generals (many of whom were Prussian I guess) could not pronounce the Swedish names, so the Swedish soldiers were given German names, in our case Farb (color). Apparently Anders survived, and died October 25th, 1871. His son was Carl Johan Farb, whose son was August Theodore Farb, whose son was Carl Alfred Farb, whose son was Kenneth Eugene Farb, my father.

I am somewhat glad to see that the origin of the term 'farb' is not a derogatory reference to one of my relatives, but if you need a derogatory reference to a real live Farb, I can supply several.

There is another 'family' of Farb's, who seem to be located around Rockford Illinois. As far as I know, they are a different family.

David Michael Farb,
A Farb of the Sixth Generation.


I read your article “We Are All Privates Ryan”… I must say that it touched me deeply.

When I was younger (so much younger than today) I never gave much thought to signing up for military service… You see, since birth I have been around the military as an Army Brat so I lived and breathed military without even realizing it, until now. Even now I work as a civilian for the Department of Defense; I am the exhibits specialist for the U.S, Army Signal Corps Museum. The only time I have not been associated with the military was for about six months after I was honorably discharged from the Army.

I was asked if I wanted my old Army job back as a civilian… I did and have been in government service now for 35 years… But let’s go back a bit.

When I turned 18, and fresh out of high school I had a decision to make… join the Army or get drafted… I opted for joining because then at least I could pick what I wanted to do… I became a clerk, not any clerk mind you but THE Company Clerk… The one you didn’t want to get pissed off or your records might become missing or you might be scheduled for KP more than the others etc… It also worked the other way too. You might get to take a 30 day leave home and finance would somehow never know about it and not deduct the time off. After AIT I received orders for Vietnam… As most of the soldiers in my company did.

We were flown to Fort Lewis, Washington to be processed for shipment. So here I was, a skinny 18 year old in jungle fatigues at Fort Lewis getting ready to ship out, was I nervous you bet! Everybody was, even though some acted cool about it… The day before shipping out I went to sick call… The doctor I saw told me that due to a medical problem I had at the time I was not deployable. I just sat there…and finally asked him if that meant I wouldn’t be going to Vietnam. “That’s right” he told me. I didn’t know what to think… I was relieved but at the same time disappointed, a very heavy bag of mixed emotions. Like you I am considered a Vietnam Era Veteran. I am not ashamed at that moniker because I was ever so close to going. And I did serve for 6 years. I was stationed at Fort Lewis with the most wonderful scenery you could imagine. It reminded me of my many trips to Germany thanks to being an Army Brat. I was then sent to Vicenza, Italy, a beautiful town in the northern part of Italy, near the Alps. I have very fond memories of traveling around the world as an Army Brat and also as a soldier.

I know this is getting long winded but like you I do Civil War reenacting of course as a Signal Corpsman. And like you I’ve run into others who having spent no time in the military. I of chuckle a bit when they try to act the part. I think if they only knew. One week in real basic training would, I think, humble some down a bit. I’m doing this for fun, I also did it for real.

Thanks for listening

Mike Rodgers
US Army Signal Corps Museum
“We WILL Get the Message Through”


I think your just jealous because we have a worth while hobby and all you can do is bitch an moan like a button pisser and not do anything about it except bash people who spend their time and money to educate the public about what these people had to go through in the stuggle of freedom for the Southerners and reuniting of the States for the Northerners. Reenacting is here to stay for as long as im alive. And to add alot of the people that Reenact the Civil War are doing it because they had family fight in it. I myself had 4 relatives, 2 of whom died in battle and another in prision. So when you die I pray you will be cast to the deepest depths of hell for your disrespect and dishonor to the brave and heroic men and women who fought and sacrificed in the American Civil War.

On behalf of the Civil War Reenacting community

andrew g

P.S. The Civil War was not fought over slavery till after the Antietam, it was fought to preserve the Union, so get your facts right.

I was wondering when I was going to get a flame. It took being nearly ten years on the World Wide Web - amazing.

Are there any instances of where I'm denigrating a person who actually fought in the Civil War? I don't think so.




There's been a lot of talk going on in the Civil War re-enacting world about "Farbs".

And there always has been. It seems to be the subject nobody ever tires of discussing. (Except me.)

Why is it that when we talk about the farbs that everyone gets the itch to just cut them down.

Probably because it's human nature to identify ways in which we're better than our fellow man. Or the male competitive spirit. I'm not sure!

I'm not standing up for them, if anyone thinks that, it's just that sometimes we should just let things slide.

Agreed. Others, however, will argue that this will be the thin edge of the wedge.

If the public is asking: "How come those people over there have modern stuff showing and you don't?" then why not tell the public that your impression is more on the correct path than most others in the hobby? It's not difficult to explain to the public what the difference is, the public has no clue as to what a "Farb" is much less want to know about it, they could care less. The public is interested in seeing "blood and gore", people taking dramatic hits, the general mayhem of combat and authenticity of the scene. I'm sure that if they saw some modern things in camp every now and then won't harm their deep impression of the Civil War. They know that we live in the "Now" and not the "Then" era.


We recreate or re-enact a part of history, but without the blood and gore details that surround it. The thing is we have to use common sense, without it we'd just be plain arrogant at everything.

Another Jonah

Well, you'll get no strident opposition for what you say from me!

Jonah Begone


Hello Jonah,

I was perusing the web (procrastinating when I should be working on a book) and I found both you site and my article on seeing the elephant. Thanks for using the piece, now (yikes!) twenty-one years old.



Ain't the Internet sumpthin'?

That's the neat thing about JonahWorld! Articles may disappear or be long-forgotten elsewhere, but I keep the better ones!



Hi Jonah,

I was prompted to search for the story of Edwin Booth saving Robert Todd Lincoln after seeing a re-telling on a t.v. show called, "Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction?" (a show that started on the FOX network in 1998, currently in re-runs on the SciFi Channel). I don't exactly place full trust in the show's researchers - as one commenter states, "Just because a no-name author has first-hand accounts doesn't mean the people he interviewed aren't big fat liars." OK, that's harsh -- but it's also a valid concern when researching factual events.

Besides your site, my search brought up the following book by an author I've never heard of. You can find that (or any) book here. Type in your location (following the instructions) and the site's search engine will find libraries near you, with a pre-entered search criteria using the book you're looking for.

The book I found referenced in relation to the Booth/Lincoln story is: "Robert Todd Lincoln: a man in his own right" By: John S Goff, Publisher: Norman, University of Oklahoma Press [1968, ©1969], Subjects: Lincoln, Robert Todd, -- 1843-1926.

While the following site seems "respectable," I still have my doubts as to the truth of the story, since the account rendered here contradicts a letter published on your site. In the letter, the author notes that Booth's sister Asia makes no mention of the incident, while author claims, "...Booth frequently mentioned the event to friends..." It would seem to me that Asia would certainly highlight the story in her brother's biography, even if her family had been treated poorly following the assassination. If anything, it would seem to exculpate the family, and therefore re-attain national favored status (unless, that is, she supported the assassination as a fiercely resentful Southern Sympathizer -- and since the war continues, in some respects, in our present day, I suppose that could be the case). Here is the site.

I think I shall end my search with that; perhaps you ended yours long ago. I'm inclined to accept the unverifiability of the story ... until something more substantial comes to light. Regardless, I hope this email is at least somewhat useful to your work by providing a couple of resources of which you may have been unaware. I thank you for the work you have done.

Best Regards,

Thanks! So far I have not done any real research into the matter, to prove it true or false. I have simply confined myself to reprinting some articles about it. Did it really happen? I'm open eaither way. - Jonah


Jonah -

I too was dismayed by the "Lincoln was gay" article. The point this guy missed (or ignored because it does not further his agenda) is that the world that Lincoln lived in was completely segregated by sex. Except at formal social functions or in rigidly supervised courtship encounters, men and women did not mix. Even then the women were almost universally escorted by a male relative if they were unmarried. Further, Lincoln was a classic type-A personality. He was a workaholic who was completely focused on his professional and political careers and often worked more than 12 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week. This, coupled with the fact that he had almost no likelihood of encountering women during the course of his political/professional conduct, meant Lincoln was immersed in an almost completely male world - as were just about all other 19th century men.

I agree with the article's author's contention that homosexuality existed during the 19th century and it certainly makes sense for it to be more prevalent in a frontier environment where there are fewer women and less stringent social norms. I note, however, that while Illinois was technically the "frontier" during the ante-bellum era, during the 20 years leading up to the 1860 the growth and socio-economic characteristics looked more like what we have seen in the modern places like Silicon Valley. I say with my tongue only partly in my cheek that one would expect more extreme nonconformist behavior to flourish not in high growth, boomtown, ante bellum Illinois but in ante bellum Texas (which seemed to be a place at that time where people who didn't fit in anywhere else tended to migrate).

On a pseudo-related note, I would recommend the book Born Losers by Scott Sandage. Sandage paints a picture of the 19th century intellectual history of personal economic failure that is fascinating. And yes, Lincoln figures prominently but not in the way you might think (he was a spy for early credit reporting agencies).

I have never felt the need to email you before but I have been a lurker on your site for years. I am a former civil war reenactor who no longer does it (i) because I now have a wife and child that I like spending my weekends with; (ii) I simply don't have enough time as a lawyer to have a hobby that is so all consuming; and (iii) I used to be a rebel reenactor and after actually thinking about the civil war feel too conflicted about the pain of the civil war to want to spend time reenacting it (and my emotional tie to the south is too strong to want to do a Union impression). I enjoy your musings and the collection of articles you have posted on your website. You should think about pulling your stuff together into a larger project: You are an engaging writer and your work is interesting and very entertaining to read, and not just on topics that I have a clear affinity for - I checked out your memoirs of your youth in California thinking I wouldn't find it interesting and found that I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Cheers and keep up the good work,

David Tayman


Dear Jonah,

I like your article on "YOUR RIGHT TO PRIVACY" and it has some truths in it but it also lacks one item, the privacy of others on or off the field.

I have a friend that went re-enacting last year and he read all the bylaws and operating proceedures of their company. Now the thing is their bylaws didn't state anything about going online and talking about events and what not. The NCO in the unit got some information from someone online about this and contacted my friend and put him on disciplinary probation without him knowing. Then later my friend asked him a bunch of questions on why they did what they did, he refused to answer his questions fully and made him feel guilty for their ownmistake. My friend feels that the NCO is fully responsible and also feels that they betrayed him when he was a "green" troop.

I, myself, blame the NCO completely because it was his arrogance and ego that made this happen.

Thank you,
Another Jonah

Reenactment NCOs and officers govern with the consent of the governed. In fact, they have no real authority at all. As Mal Stylo once pointed out, sham NCOs and officers must take the Montessori approach and persuade others to do their will. Whenever I hear that one of them is disciplining somebody (and somebody lets them get away with it) I have to pick my jaw up from off the floor. - Jonah


Honored Sir,

Please allow me to take a minute to say how much I admire your work. I have been a reenactor for several years and I think that your site helps me keep it all in perspective. If you can't laugh at yourself...

Anyway, in addition to my reenacting activities (I portray a regimental surgeon), I am also a professional historian. I wish that you would turn your pen to our ranks and poke some fun at us once in a while. Believe me, there would be lots of material! I enclose one item found on the internet as an example:

Why God Never Received a PhD

He had only one major publication.
It was in Hebrew.
It had no references.
It wasn't published in a refereed journal.
Some even doubt he wrote it by himself.
It may be true that he created the world, but what has he done since then?
His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.
The scientific community has had a hard time replicating his results.
He never applied to the ethics board for permission to use human subjects.
When one experiment went awry he tried to cover it by drowning his subjects.
When subjects didn't behave as predicted, he deleted them from the sample.
He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book.
Some say he had his son teach the class.
He expelled his first two students for learning.
Although there were only 10 requirements, most of his students failed his tests.
His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.
No record of working well with colleagues.

Keep up the fine work!

I have the honor to be,
Your ob't servant, etc,
Brady Lee Hutchison
Assistant Editor
The Papers of Jefferson Davis
Rice University MS 43

Thank you! Unfortunately, I can't effectively poke fun at professional historians because I'm not one myself and therefore don't understand the culture! But this bit is a hoot! - Jonah


I miss "The Rebel," too.

When I was living in Summerville, SC, about 18 miles from Charleston in 1960 Nick Adams came to make a personal appearance to promote "The Rebel" during the height of the Centennial. I was not lucky enough to be one of those who got to shake his hand but I well remember they brought him in on a "good-guy" white horse and he rode very close to the small stands we were sitting in.

I have a couple of episodes of "The Rebel" on tape along with an epsiode or two of "The Gray Ghost." The problem with "The Gray Ghost" is that it was recorded on some arcane video format and it costs about $45,000 per episode to transfer it to standard viedotape (or so I was told when I inquired).

At one time it was honorable to be a Confederate...even "Gil Favor" (the trail boss on "Rawhide") had a history of having been a Confederate captain. Maybe that was why he was so understanding of the addle-pated former Confederate soldier "Mushy" who rode on the chuckwagon with "Cookie."

It is going to take a lot of work to get back to being able to portray Confederates as heroic figures...

Col. Kelley
37th Texas Cavalry


Dear Mr. Begone:

I read with great interest (and more than a few chuckles) your review of the "Legendary New Market Flag Film," (formally known as New Market: Field of Honor.) While the film is certainly dated, and had modest production values, it was an award-winner in its day--specifically the Gold Medal for Documentary Film at the International Film Festival of New York, 1967.

However, as Gods and Generals songster Bob Dylan once noted, "The times, they are a changin'." The feature film shown daily every hour at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park is now Field of Lost Shoes. This docu-drama, produced in conjunction with the Harrisonburg, Virginia public television station WVPT, employs both historical images and reenactment footage to a great degree. Like the "bouncing flag" film, Field of Lost Shoes focuses on the unique role of the VMI Cadets in the Battle of New Market. It has been honored with a Virginia Association of Broadcasters award, a Telly Award for outstanding local programming, and an Emmy Award for best direction.

I hope, on your next visit to New Market, that you take in the new production. It is also available for sale in our museum store. Since we receive no public funds to operate the Park, every penny counts.

Oh, and we sometimes still show the flag film, too.

Scott H. Harris, Director
New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

Thanks for the note, Scott! Yes... next time I'm in the Valley I shall see this promising new production. Actually, I want to make sure that everyone understands me perfectly: I like the Flag Film. For me it's one of Virginia's minor historical resources. I always enjoy seeing it in the same way I like watching quirky non-Hollywood-style cult films like Carnival of Souls or Glen or Glenda. (Which is not to suggest that the Flag Film has anything in common with the dead walking the earth or transvestites.) The cachet of this film was first noted to me by members of the Eighth Ohio while at an event ("You've got to go see the 'Flag Film,' Jonah!"), and I have promoted it to other reenactors and Boys Scouts at New Market activities. I'm glad to hear you still show it occasionally!

I also get a kick out of the other one, about Stonewall in the Valley. In fact, even as I type I can hear the military-style incidental music to those throbbing maps...



I have to thank you for making my morning! I love your site; I haven't stopped laughing since I looked at your "But is it art?" section. While I'm not a CW reenactor I've worked on a few film projects with a number of CW reenactors and I doubt they would find any humor in your site, as they seem to be the type that take the idea of the "War for States' Rights" and the religous views of the southern generals a little too seriously.

As a Rev war reenactor I did see alot of good and funny points with your comparison. Though in my unit I think we could drill you until you drop, our canteens aren't for decoration and we aren't the cleanest bunch of guys in uniform :) (though we are considered a "progressive" unit) keep up the great work on the site.



I ran a marathon last May, and I play rugby. Nobody in reenacting can drill me until I drop! (Oh, I might get thoroughly bored and quit, but that's different...) - Jonah



I have to agree with the young lady who wrote you on 1.9.04. She was rather unforgiving in her examination, but I must say dead on-point. If you have issues with the Christian faith, then say that, more people will respect you. Attacking a painting simply because it has the words 'Holy Bible' written on the book spine is no reason to criticize an artwork. The pedophilia thing is way over-the-top...... like, whoa, dude, where did that come from over-the-top--- comments like this devastate your credibility. Moreover, I would say that your analysis is clouded by your prejudices.

I also find it really, and I do mean really, hard to believe that you have only received one other negative email. I would think that most reasonable people would find your verbiage offensive. If I may offer one or two unsolicited suggestions (1) stay off the left-wing/Anti-Christian websites and (2) give this up for something more useful.

Best Regards,

Tampa, Florida

Smarmy Christian art isn't Christian faith, thank goodness. You might be surprised to know that I attend church for at least three hours every Sunday and, in fact, lead a men's group. Have for years. - Jonah



I found your website tonight after looking at the painting "The Christian General." Now I'm POSITIVE that you've gotten a few offending e-mails in the past, but I don't want you to view this one like that. I just want to be straight up with you.

First of all, it is simply a matter of human nature that that which one is able to see hidden in another is most certainly there in himself. It's just a fact - like 2 and 2 is 4. So, in light of that fact, I thought you should know that you are the most blatant pedophile I have ever seen. I mean I'm just a 30 year old woman with no ties to the civil war - as far as who I think was right or wrong - and if you can see pedophilia in the paintings of Lee, hmmmmmmmmm. The question is really this - In the painting, "The Compassionate General," what were YOU looking at?????

You're a freak, dude, and I just thought someone should let you know: )


Actually, in the nearly eight years JonahWorld! has been up I have received only one negative e-mail. It's hard for me to believe, but it is so. And that was from a non-reenactor who accused me (and, by extension, all reenactors) of being a pathetic military wannabe. I pointed out to him that I spent four years in the Marine Corps, mustering out as a sergeant, and that closed the discussion.

If I'm a pedophile it's surely a complete surprise to my twenty year-old son, my sixteen year-old daughter and my thirteen year-old daughter, with whom I have excellent (and wholesomely normal) relations. Not to mention my wife of twenty-three years. (And, I assure you, Mrs. Begone is not the sort of woman to cavort with pedophiles.) This revelation would probably also come as a shock to all of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts I've led in my eight years as a Scouting leader, and, more recently, to my daughter's cheerleading squad (whom I sometimes refer to as my "surrogate daughters").

As for psychological observations being as exact as math (2 and 2 is 4), I strongly disagree. That's why the social sciences are also called "soft" sciences.

Okay, okay, perhaps I was looking for something to lambaste the LHAP artist with in those Lee studies and tried too hard. Or... perhaps, being a diligent parent and a male who has seen somewhat of the seedier instincts in his fellow man, I am overly suspicious. (There were a couple of genuine pedophiles in scout troops I know of while I was serving.) It's just that painted depictions of good ol' Grampa Lee snugglin' up with them purty lit'l children kind of gives me the creeps, ya know? "Son, mah rheumatism is kickin' up agin. Give th' General a little rub on th' upper leg, will'ya?" Brrr.

Or maybe, as a child I was molested by a bearded old man and, as a defense mechanism, managed to entirely submerge the memory - but it still bubbles forth in my writing from time to time.

Anyway, I'm not a perv. Thank you, however, for being straight up with me!

Jonah Begone



I read your review about "the Blue and the Gray" and must state that I think you're being a little harsh here. Calling the main character, John Hammond, "an annoying pacifist wussie" is a weak comment; especially coming from a Civil War re-enactor who is too much of a "wussie" himself to join the real United States military. That's okay though, you go and play with your reenactor friends and try to make it as real as you can--hope no one gets hurt. As for your movie critiques, keep them to yourself and your other buddies around the campfire.

Maj. Dave Clark

Well, this is interesting. In the more than seven years JonahWorld! has been up yours is the first true flame e-mail I have gotten! I was wondering, there, if I would ever get one.

I was in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years, by the way: 1974 - 1978. No, I wasn't drafted. I enlisted. I was honorably discharged as a sergeant. The US government deems me a "Viet Nam Era Veteran," although I was never deployed there. Semper Fi!

Jonah Begone

p.s. I still think "the Blue and the Gray" sucked.


Dear Jonah,

I was happily reading along and agreeing with everything you said. Until I got to the bit about John Paul Strain, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and generals in the snow. My personal triumvirate. I hope you get swallowed by a whale.

Your obt. servant,

Lillie Ann

Ah, but if I were swallowed by a whale, who then would become the Confederates' replacement as a target for scorn?

John Paul Strain: Perhaps it's a measure of when I was born (in the mid-Fifties), but a limited edition historical art print in his "Moon" series entitled, say, "Robert E. Lee Moon" doesn't conjure up a landscape at night.

Jonah Begone


Cruising the web, researching Edwin Booth, my mouse fell upon your site, and your question about the source of the story of how Edwin unwittingly saved Robert Todd Lincoln.

In "The Mad Booths of Maryland" (1940), the author, Stanley Kimmel, retells the story which he attributes to an article by Robert Lincoln which appeared in "The Century Magazine", April 1909.

Then, in Eleanor Ruggles' book, "Prince of Players" (1953), a version of the story is told by Adam Badeau which more resembles the form of the story you include on your webpage. If memory serves me right, Adam had a military connection with the White House at the time, and may have heard the story from Robert Todd himself.

Then, again, in Richard Lockridge's "Darling of Misfortune" (1932), there is the briefest of mention of the story, saying only the Edwin saved the son of the man who his brother John would later kill.

What I find odd is that Asia Booth Clarke, Edwin's sister, makes no reference to the story at all in her biography of her brother which she wrote as part of a series of bios on great American actors. It may be that Edwin never told her the story, or that she decided not to include it as a snub for the treatment the family underwent following the assassination. Whereas Edwin may have been respected and allowed to remain at house arrest, the rest of the family fared worse. The older brother, June, and Asia's husband spent almost a month in a jail cell. And, while Edwin may have been content with house arrest, the rest of the family was not. Especially when they were all confined in their mother's home in NYC. The Booths were not a small family.

This has been a rather long answer, with a few extra bits thrown in. Hope they help. I, myself, am searching for a copy of the article from The Century Magazine. I want to include some of the text in my play that I am writing about Edwin's life.

If you have any leads on anything else that has connection to Edwin, I would be more than happy to learn of them.

I will visit your website every so often to see if there's anything new.

Have a good life,



Jonah - Highlight of my weekend to discover your site! I laughed out loud at a couple parts of your limited edition art prints critique. I, too, had seen a flyer with that Gallon painting of the town burning in the distance (being "nuked") and wondered why anyone would want to display such a thing.

I can see it in a museum, but not in a private home. (Unless somebody hated the town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, or something like that.)

I had the good fortune of having Mort Kunstler respond to a "snail mail" letter I sent to him once. I was sympathizing with him after Don Troiani had taken sort of a veiled potshot at him in a Civil War magazine article. To make a long story short, it was just a case of Troiani preaching the obsessive historical accuracy gospel again. I joked about how the belt buckles would have to have their origin and history recorded in the accompanying literature, it would seem. Well, people are entitled to their opinions.

I just can't see the point of excruciatingly authentic art. Real art, it seems to be, can be independent of hobnails on the bottoms of brogans, etc.

I'm in Minnesota which is pretty removed from the re-enacting scene, although there is a First Minnesota Regiment group which I saw at a parade. Women with infants complained about the loud noises of the guns.

I used to reenact with the 1st Minnesota in Maryland (1984-1985) and saw your guys a number of times for events down there. (I also used to write articles for their newsletter - see entry for 3/10/03.)

I'm trying to encourage discussion of the "Gods and Generals" movie, which, alas, is not going to be a classic. It can't even hold a candle to "Gettysburg," I feel, although the re-enacting community may like it. The new movie has the same problem as art prints. It's so scared of having one hair out of place in terms of historical accuracy, it forgot that it had to be a good movie.

The new movie falls short of "Gettysburg" in every respect I can think of. Will there be a "Part 3" no matter how badly the current movie bombs? Who will Stephen Lang play in Part 3? Jefferson Davis? I'm irritated by the fact that Lang, who did such a great job as Pickett in "Gettysburg," turned around and played Stonewall. They should have found a completely fresh actor for Stonewall. I'm also amused that two very well-known critics completely disagree on whether Duvall or Sheen made a better Lee. My own opinion: Sheen. Duvall had the advantage of being a winner in the new movie (i.e. winning battles), while Sheen had to taste defeat, but I felt Sheen was much better, exuded more personality. I've read where Lee had an "effeminate" air about him, in a certain way. Sheen was much more like that.

Is it just me, or did the new movie lack the high-pitched "Rebel yell," which was so noticeable in "Gettysburg?" Did someone get to Ron Maxwell and say that the yell made the southerners look like a bunch of screaming idiots?

Good questions. Perhaps somebody thought it was undignified or something...

Also of interest: Every Civil War movie in which Ted Turner is involved has the song "Bonnie Blue Flag" inserted prominently somewhere. Turner's cameo is part of the newest rendition. In the "Hunley" movie, Donald Sutherland led people singing the song in a Charleston theater as shells were falling on the city. In "Gettysburg" it was an instrumental. (It's interesting how the Confederates could tote along musical instruments, presumably with valve oil etc., when half of them were starving.) If Maxwell has succumbed to putting a Confederate "spin" on this trilogy, how will this be handled in "Last Full Measure," when presumably the Union takes over and wins?

He'll have the version Union lyrics to Bonnie Blue Flag playing, I guess.

I read the book "The Killer Angels" before I saw "Gettysburg," and can fully see why Ken Burns was so inspired by it. It was a great book. The Burns series was great. "Gettysburg" the movie was great.

Well, we part company there. I thought it was boring.

Why couldn't it just end there? "Gods and Generals" is where they Jump the Shark! I read the paperback of "The Killer Angels" and found so many typographical errors, I started over at the beginning to document them, and then wrote a letter to the author care of the publisher.

The standard for printed English isn't what it was thirty or forty years ago. I find typos all the time in printed works. I blame a declining grammatical education in the US. People don't know how to parse sentences or spell anymore, and they think it doesn't matter. It does!

I then read about two days after sending the letter that the author was dead. Was the letter forwarded to the son, who presumably wrote the new book? I don't know; I never got an answer. I say "presumably" because I have a sneaking suspicion a ghostwriter may have been involved. Through reading on the web I learned that the son's professional background was not in writing and that he had never before written a book. I cannot believe that he just sat down and turned out "Gods and Generals." If I'm wrong, may lightning strike me.

I purchased one Dale Gallon and one Mort Kunstler art print, both accenting Union subject matter. It's amazing how the Union stuff is buried under the flood of Confederate topics. You might say the Union paintings are a "loss leader" in the field. Joshua Chamberlain seems to be the only real marketable Union character. Back when I followed this field, U.S. Grant seemed to be nonexistent. Grant was a "brass tacks" leader who eschewed the pageantry of war, thus he is of little interest to the artists.

I like the Grant art that came out just after the Civil War. Engravings, that sort of thing.

I think it's neat to be a Civil War enthusiast, as long as you put it in its proper perspective, in that we are 100 per cent distanced from the events depicted, and that a sober assessment would have these subjects pushed from our collective memory as much as possible, such was the tragedy and pain entailed. But as a writer once observed, the battlefield had an "eerie beauty" to it.

Many battlefields do. I am now heavily into studying ancient Troy, a place I would love to visit.

It's been fun writing this e-mail. I'm just wrapping up my "Sunday night shift" here at the Morris Sun Tribune in Morris, Minnesota, where I'm the associate editor.

Your text betrays your occupation!

Morris, incidentally, has an old home that was built by the son of Secretary of War Stanton. It has a stately quality but is deteriorating. If I remember the story right, the son was heading west, fell ill, and liked the hospitality here so much he settled here. I believe he eventually moved on (persuaded by his wife, if I recall right, because maybe she didn't like this "Gopher Prairie" existence.) We also have a miniature version of the "Running Rifleman" statue (from Gettysburg) at our local cemetery, because the man who posed for the sculpting of that statue lived here. The story is that this person served in place of someone else who had bought his way out of the war, thus the man was known as both "Smith" and "Zimmerman," one being his real name, the other the name of his "sponsor" as it were. I'll keep reading your site in the future!

Brian Williams
Morris, Minnesota

Thanks! I'll keep posting things to it. - Jonah


Dear unknown mystery dude:

I love the tampons jokes may I order 5,000,000,000,000,000 of them I really like the laser guided ones. You see I have this friend in the rebs who keeps making fun of my shiny brass soooooooooooo..................... I need some.

all for the Union
Ryan Miller
1st Independent Ky. light artillery

Send me cash and I'll send you a tampon. - Jonah



As I was going through your website (and laughing my ass off at some of the articles), I came upon the "Annoying Re-enactors" that included the "elder statesmen of reenacting" due to the 125th anniversary of the Civil War.

Well, WWII re-enactors have now the same problem now, we've got the re-enactors that attended the 50th anniversaries of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge events in 1994. I know this because I was present at the 50th anniversary of D-Day at Virginia Beach.

I too, have found myself foolishly pontificating about "how great the battle was...." at some recent WWII events I've attended like I'm some "all-knowing" idiot. Thanks for that article.

Jay Sproat

Thanks for the kind comments! The article you refer to was written by Jeff Hendershott. I wrote the original one and he did a follow-up. I guess we're easily annoyed...

I guess the warning is that we all can suffer from being pompous old fools if we're not careful. Maybe the best thing in life is to become proficient in one thing and, before Elder Statesmanship sets in, go on to a new thing as an amateur?

Jonah Begone


In your Vernors article, you write,

"Believe it or not the technique and formula remains: Vernors is still aged for years in 47-gallon oak barrels. ...

The exact ingredients are a closely-held corporate secret. It's safe to assume there's ginger or ginger flavoring in there and perhaps also cinnamon. .... "

They say,

Ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, citric acid, sodium benzoate (a preservative) (

"Corn" syrup was not used widely until after 1906. Dr. Wiley, who worked on the first Food and Drug Act, was highly opposed to it as a food adulterant that it is. We know now that it triggers fat storage and increase triglycerides, unfortunately it is in damn near everything, including some spaghetti sauces!

In short, I doubt the original recipe included ANY of the current ingredients except 'water.' Perhaps the 'natural ingredients' is ginger, perhaps not! Who can say? They don't. Seems like they would if it were true as it would be a selling point, wouldn't it?

Sorry, I don't mean to offend, I'm just a stickler for the facts. Best wishes. :-)

Allen Whipps

I got the phrase "the technique and formula remains" from the Old Farmer's Almanac, my original source for the article. I suppose the company has updated the formulation somewhat. For instance, Coke used to be made with "sugar," period. Now they - like Vernor's - have switched to corn syrup because it's cheaper. Is the taste the same? We cannot know. The original tasters are all dead! But it's safe to assume that the "natural flavors" are their trade secret (like Coke's) and they won't give that away to satisfy curiosity! - Jonah


I just thought I would let you know that your review of the Civil War art was completely stupid. They are both disgraceful and uneducated. Simply put, you are a moron.

Josh McCain

p.s. Thank you for including me on your wonderful web page! You're still a moron.


My name is John R Walker, founder of the DCDDR - the first Warsaw pact reenactment group in the USA. I found you through this page: Reenactors: America's Strength in Reserve!. You mentioned Warsaw Pact reenactors and I was intrigued, being that I started the first group in the USA. With your statement made on your web page about going to war with reenactors we are ready to join the call. Although we kind of have to do this anyway because most of us are active duty military.

I founded the D.C.D.D.R. Grenztruppen on June 25, 2001 as a Warsaw Pact collecting and reenacting group, based in the Washington, DC area. Our club name, which stands for the "District of Columbia German Democratic Republic Border Guard", was formed by a group of local amateur historians and collectors that, in conjunction with our brother organization the DDR Militaria Club, now boast worldwide membership. Both these internet-based clubs are dedicated to the education and preservation of this era in history.

Our members have received the honor of appearing in full uniform to provide visual and informational accompaniment to the Newseum's Berlin Wall display and as an Honor Guard for the pre-opening party at the International Spy Museum. We are currently working on future events with Mr. Francis Gary Powers Jr., founder of the Cold War Museum.

Yours truly,
John R Walker
Founder of the DCDDR


Dear Sir,

I just read your closet pacifist article, and with a few exceptions, I agree wholeheartedly.

I am a veteran of the uniformed services, though not a combat veteran, and I agree with you about some of the inconsistencies in The Hobby. I recently attended my first real living history event at Andersonville, playing a federal prisoner (my unit is a dual impression unit). I think this event is must for all reenactors, so they understand the horror of the "good old days".

I believe reenactors should spend more time reading diaries; they would see that even after "hardening" soldiers were still weary of the death and destruction they saw as daily life.

Why am I in the hobby? I enjoy living out a small part of the past, but I like the ability to transcend the modern world and escape... reenacting is escapism, pure and simple. I enjoy the camaraderie of my unit, and yes, I like the excitement of a battle.

Part of me wants to get to know the life of the soldier, but more of me likes to just get out of our modern fast-paced world and enjoy the outdoors with good friends who have a similar interest. I am not a hardcore. I try to be as authentic as I can be... but I enjoy the hobby more with my new (and new-to-reenacting) wife along with me.

"No one desires peace more than the soldier, for he must pay the ultimate sacrifice in war" - Gen. Douglas MacArthur

Robert W. Hughes
Co. G 28th GA Inf/Co D 123d NY Inf


Dear Jonah,

It does seem a bit strange to be writing to a man who wears a paper bag over his head and uses an alias name conjuring up images of whales that swallow men (which of course leads to stories of puppets with long noses).

It's okay once you get used to the muffled sound of my voice and the lack of facial responses.

It is also with a degree of embarrassment that I admit to having quoted you several times in speaking engagements, and having referred those quotes to the alias "Jonah Begone" never once suspecting its bogus nature. Well, people have said of me: "He's smarter than he looks - but then, he'd have to be."

Well, see, that's why I wear a bag.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoy your writings and was thrilled to find your website, really quite by accident--as seems to be the case with most discoveries in my life. My favorite article is Aging Children of Reenacting, and I have quoted that extensively, at school presentations and at women's group luncheons in Pasadena - where, I'm afraid, much of the audience was over eighty, sound asleep and snoring, or pitching from their seats onto the floor.

My articles have that very same effect on me.

You seem a man somewhat of my own dilemma (and possibly dementia): Drawn always to the Civil War, and at the same time examining the peculiar behavior and asking why? (Some of the guys in my reenacting unit are getting quite tired of my questions in this area, I think.)

This doesn't surprise me. The only people other than you and I who intellectualize about reenacting are academics - and they invariably ruin everything they touch.

In recent reenacting years I have also been embroiled in a mid-life crisis phase of life, so some unkind people tell me (family members mostly). I don't necessarily believe that - and I certainly don't want to hear it.

Oh, I can tell you all about MLC for males; I'm going through it now myself. It's real. Sometimes, sitting at my desk at work, I get these overwhelming waves of despair and anxiety over the passing of time. It seems to happen most often in the summer months, for some reason. My guess is that it's because I'm not playing any rugby in the summer - the regular seasons are spring and fall. Anyway, MLC seems to be alleviated somewhat by exercise.

But I have been working on a website, when time permits, currently bearing the long title: Off To the Civil War - The Search for John Wesley Hargrave - (or How I survived my mid-life crisis). The site can be found at The site is a Civil War reenacting, Wilder's Brigade ancestor research, and mid-life crisis story, all thrown into one jumbled concoction; or as I sometimes coin the abbreviated title: "Off To The Civil War -- A Mid-life Crisis Adventure" (Portions of this work were previously published.)

Anyway, as my web story is slowly translated into the virtual world, out there somewhere, I would probably like to quote you at some point, and perhaps add a link to your site on my home or links page. I was hoping that would be Ok with you.

That's fine with me!

I also have a Civil War musket storage box web site, where I sell musket crates with a somewhat vintage, semi-authentic look--I suppose at ridiculous prices. It is actually just a hobby with me, not a vocation. I find just enough business from it to afford me a day's worth of mental activity and exercise once a month (that works out to about two boxes-which is all I care to do). I would like to put a link to your website there also. You can check this site out at You can also get there from the site.

Well, that's all for now, unless I hear back from you - in which case you may never see the end of my correspondence. So be careful.

Thank you for all of your humor, entertainment, and great writing.

Very best regards,

Ron Safstrom

Thanks for writing, Ron! - Jonah


Hello! I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you that I really enjoy your site!! Even though I am very green in the hobby, I laugh so hard at some of the things I can relate to in the stories. I've gotten so in to the hobby in this my first year, buying over $1300 in stuff, my unit named me the sutler whore. Keep up the good work and may I'll run in to you at an event one day... brown bag and all!
Take care!

Michael L. Colosimo
105th Pennsylvania



By sheer chance I happened to stumble across your page on LHAPs and decided to read it through. I haven't laughed this hard in some time! Your observations were very direct and, well, valid - to use a much-abused phrase from the world of art criticism.

I often run across these items in galleries and have been moved to wonder just who buys them. Alas, your page doesn't really answer that question but I do feel like you've done a better job of point out their sheer foolishness than I ever could.

Best regards,

Ken Strayhorn
Duke University
Durham NC

P.S - if it matters, I'm a life-long Southerner.


Hello Jonah,

The weather is cold and rainy. I'm unable to work on the house so I thought I would surf.

A few years past I was really into reenacting. However, to use Matt Stylo's words, the "hardcores vs. farbs" got to be a little much.

Well, I've moved on to a respectable computer job. The "reenacting" bug bit me. However, this is not mere Civil War reenacting. I'm building a German Fokker Eindecker EIII of the great war. Here is a link to the aircraft web site

When I finish my aircraft, I look forward to lazy flights over the Michigan countryside. Also, I can have the happy thoughts of being invited to attend three or four local airshows per year. The going rate is free hotel rooms, free meals, two free fill ups of gas, and VIP treatment at the airshows.

It sure beats paying $7 for straw and water at a reenactment.

Best of luck on your site. I love your writing.

Wilhelm, the Michigan Baron

...and good luck to you, Wilhelm. Perhaps some day I'll see you buzzing by... - Jonah


J.B. --

I recently stumbled upon the your site: a fortuitous accident. Truly the most entertaining time-sink in cyberspace. I'm thrilled that someone in the reenactment (note: not 'living history') community has the sanity and intelligence to point out so eruditely that the proverbial emperor is underclothed.

And I say this as an intermittent reenactor (WWII--like C.W. but the scary rednecks wear SS camo), in fact one who enjoys the whole business in small doses, and as one of the precious few 'real' historians (thanks for making that distinction) running around in repro garb.

I hope your work has the cleansing effect on the hobby it deserves to. At the least, it's thought-provoking and hugely entertaining.

Keep up the great stuff!

Dr. John Schindler



I just wanted to drop a line to say hi, and of course to put in my comments about your site.

I know this probably sounds totally UnCivil Warish, but I'm the bugler in our group. And yes I am a girl.

It may sound un-Civil War-ish but it sounds completely Civil War reenactingish!

First, my unit is called the First Illinois Light Horse Artillery. We are cavalry and artillery combined, and instead of wearing the yellow of a cavalry soldier we wear the red of an artillery soldier. I am told that it was not a real unit during the Civil War. Have you ever heard of a unit by that name?


And also were there units of mounted artillery?

Uh... I'm not sure. Artillery units had horses to pull the equipment, of course, but I don't think they were referred to as "mounted." (That conjures up some funny images.)

I've been looking on the internet, because I've just recently become interested in finding out.

I just finished reading some of the previous letters sent to you, and something someone said caught my eye. I believe it was the 14 year old Yankee from Mississippi looking for a unit. But he made a comment along the lines of something about gun grabbers. I agree with him. The government is getting worried about gun control, and I'm concerened for our hobby. Would the governments passing of a gun control law effect our hobby in any way?

It depends on what kind of gun control law it is. There are many gun control laws on the books right now, and we still reenact.

If so in which ways??

It depends. It's a complex issue. The state and federal laws are often a tangled mess.

No more muskets or pistols??

It depends. But so far nobody seems willing to stop historical reenactments, unless it's an unintended consequence.

How can we reenact without them?????

We cannot reenact credibly without muskets!

Would the passing of a law seriously jeopardize out hobby and in the worst case shut us down????

Oh, I suppose this is possible. Not likely, but possible. When historical programs - which are popular with the public - get shut down because of unintended consequences of gun laws, there's media coverage and a disgruntled public.

Now on a happier note I just wanted to say that I love your site. I go to it at least once a week just to jump on the new news.

Thank you. I have made it easier to find what you're looking for by adding a search box; something I've wanted for a long time. Now I need to title all the articles so people don't get all "no title" returned from searches.

Oh and before I go I wanted to add that I loved the Ross Kimmel Centenial Memoirs.

I liked them, too. There's a lot of good comments about them in the Camp Chase Gazette, too.

I'm sure I've talked your ear off by now, and I'm sorry for that. I'm often told I talk too much, and I guess it's true. I'll let you go for now, and hope that you have a chance to get back to me on my questions.

Carol Netemeyer
1st Illinois Light Horse Artillery
Bartelso, IL

Thanks, Carol!

Jonah Begone


Hello Jonah

Enjoy your work. It adds a sense of reality to this great hobby of ours. (Yes I did say "reality". I spent almost 30 years working for the Department of Defense and believe me, your viewpoint is closer to military reality than you can imagine.)

One show I'd like to add to your tv critique is an episode from the Twilight Zone called "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge". That was one chilling episode!!!!!!

Keep up the good work and see hope to see ya at sea someday.

Dan Cashin
WBS Naval Reenactor

I mention "Occurance" briefly in my first movie article. It's the only French Ambrose Bierce short story adaptation that doesn't suck! It was also used as an episode in Twilight Zone, but started life as a movie short subject. The same "He (or she) is dead but doesn't know it" theme is found in one of my all-time favorite horror films, "Carnival of Souls" as well as the recent film "The Sixth Sense." It's also the theme in the film "Jacob's Ladder" and the more obscure "Lulu on the Bridge." I'm pretty sure an excellent film noir features this, too: "Point Blank." Oh, it's also the connecting story in the British horror anthology "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors." Come to think of it, it was also the main theme of a couple of Twilight Zone episodes, "The Hitch-Hiker" and "The Passerby."

Gee, I guess it's time to give the idea a rest! - Jonah


Dear Jonah

I recently read the article 'Battle Acts' by Tony Horwitz that you posted on your site, and I was prompted to write to you about a couple of things that puzzled me.

Firstly, allow me to introduce myself. I have only been doing this re-enacting lark for around four years over here in the UK - so I'm still pretty new at it.

A U.K. reenactor... that's interesting. I've always been fascinated by the fact that people in a nation with so much history would choose to reenact the American Civil War!

If you were to take a scale from 'farb' through 're-enactor' to 'hard core', I guess I would be near the 'hard core' end of 're-enactor'. That is to say that I strive to give an authentic impression of a soldier from the 1860's without sharing the masochism of the true 'hard core' enthusiast.

My clothes are grubby-looking (stained with wood-dye to look dirty, but freshly laundered after every event)

...and there you vary from the American super hard core in that they don't have their clothes laundered at all!

and I try to eat authentic food (bread, cheese and chicken mostly, with fresh corn as a snack). I tend towards the 'tubby bearded guy' in appearance, but as I portray an officer - the company surgeon, to be precise - I feel I can get away with being slightly better fed (although I would prefer to shed a few more pounds).

Okay, that makes sense.

Now without wishing to disparage other enthusiasts, I found myself confused by a few things that were mentioned in the article.

Firstly, this idea of pissing on your buttons in order to give them an authentic 1860's patina. Surely the oxidation seen on buttons from that period has developed during the time that they have been kept in museums. Back in 1861 those buttons would be pretty shiny and new, so wearing buttons that look 150 years old is wrong, surely. In all of the photographs I have seen from that period, the buttons look bright. O.K. so the average soldier probably wouldn't have had time to polish them, but they would certainly not be covered in verdigris, I would think.

I have never understood this either, and I have no light to shed on the matter. As I general rule, I try to minimize the weirdness I encounter at events, so I stay away from the hardcore wackos. Needless to say I don't challenge them on the subject of green buttons, which makes no sense to me, either.

Secondly, I have never read anything about the practice of 'spooning' in any of the books that I have used to research my role. It is certainly true that both officers and men would roll up in blankets and lie on the bare earth when on campaign, but not once have I come across the term. Perhaps it was something they thought it best not to document.

I've encountered it before in CW literature, but I can't remember where. Maybe in "Hard Tack and Coffee," maybe in a book like it. But it is mentioned.

Having said that, I personally have never spooned with anyone but my wife, thank you very much. (But then, I play rugby, so I am a second row forward - which is just as much body contact with other males as spooning, so I really can't talk.)

Thirdly, in his account of the breakfast of salted pork provided by Rob Hodge he described it as tasting 'like a soggy cube of salt' which leaves me to think that it had been simply taken out of a haversack and fried. As I understand it, this was not the case in the war. The pork was salted in order to preserve it, but in order to eat it you had to soak it in water overnight to remove most of the salt and then fry it the next day. Nobody in 1860 would think of trying to eat salt pork 'as it was'.

Very true. At one of my very first events in Utah I bought some fatback and tried to eat it without removing the salt with a good amount of water. It didn't work. It was a memorable dining experience. So the next time I hung it in a river in a bag for a few hours, which resulted in a product somewhat more digestible. I gave it up entirely as being too much of a pain (both preparationwise and indigestionwise).

remember reading an account of the 4th Texas (the unit that I am a member of) being surprised by an attack just before they were about to eat, and they were forced to march on hungry because the food was in the process of being prepared, which also made it impossible to take with them. Cornflour had been made into dough but not cornbread, meat was soaking but uncooked, etc. .

Finally, the thought that struck me hardest was that the soldiers that suffered the privations of war did not do so willingly, but were forced to endure it by circumstance. If they had been given the option of sleeping in a nice warm cabin or shivering in a cold muddy ditch, my bet is they would choose the former.

Of course - they weren't fools!

Ironically, my feeling is that if those 'hard core' men of the war could be magically transported to a modern re-enactment they would instantly become the biggest 'farbs' in the area! "Forget head-lice, give me an RV and some cold beer!" would replace the 'Rebel Yell'.

Well, they didn't really have "reenactments" per se when the real soldiers were alive, but they did have encampments. (Oftentimes on the battlefields.) And guess what? They stayed in big tents with camp furniture. Not merely because they were old, I think, but because they had had enough of camping privation. (A refrain I hear from a lot of Vietnam veterans is, "I did enough of that during the war. No thank you.")

I suppose that none of this really matters as long as the participants are having fun - however they define it, which is the point of the whole exercise after all. Isn't it?

Richard Edwards
(a.k.a. Surgeon Major John C Jones, 4th Texas)

Yes. One man's privation is another man's recreation!

Thanks for writing!



Stumbled onto your article "But is It Art?" this morning. Thank you! I kept wondering if it was just me or why it is that much of the historical art done nowadays fills me with wonder at the artist's eye for detail, but little else. For all the authenticity, there is little soul.

Agreed, agreed, agreed.

No wonder "Scotland Forever!" makes my pulse quicken, and the Gettysburg Cyclorama continues to thrill me, despite the many inaccuracies in both works. They have soul; they're rooted in the firm conviction that art should move us in some way. The French revolutionary artist David seems to have known this too.

Yes - David's art helps me to understand the passions behind the French revolution better than anything else!

TW, who would you consider the finest "historical artists," both living and dead - those whose work transcends being genre artists? Thanks again.

>+-:-) Rob Weaver

Hmmm - good question! Well, I like Frederick Remington, of course - despite the fact that he painted brass grommets on shelter halves! (It's true. I saw the original in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.)

Ilya Repin is a wonderful Russian historical artist. I included his painting of the Murder of the Tsarevich because it moves me at the enormity of the crime, but his other paintings are masterful, too. (He did one of some Cossacks that compelled me to buy a Borodin LP which featured it as cover art.)

David, of course.

Uh, who was that Victorian fellow who painted the standing Federal soldiers firing rounds at the viewer? I like that a lot... name escapes me. Gilbert Gaul.

A gulity pleasure of mine is Arnold Friberg! I get a kick out of his Book of Mormon paintings. Even the children are buff.

August Saint-Gaudens in sculpture, of course. His "Shaw's Colored Regiment" has been rightly called the greatest single American sculpture. (His coinage designs weren't bad, either!)

I must admit a fondness for the guy who used to do paintings for the National Geographic books. Name escapes me. His Civil War image was the VMI cadets. He also did one of the Battle of Hastings that I liked. Oh, what's his name? (Another "senior moment.") Tom Lovell! That's it!

George Caleb Bingham. I like "the Jolly Flatboatmen."

I understand it's now okay to express an admiration for the work of Norman Rockwell, so I will. (If you want to label me bourgeois, go ahead, but it's rare to find an artist so skilled in human expression.)

Grant Woods. (Perhaps not a "historical artist.")

I'll stop here.

Jonah Begone


Hello, My name is Tyler Underwood I am a union re-enactor with the 64th O.V.I. and I have looked at your site many times and I think you have some very funny things.


I am e-mailing you because I have a complaint about straw and hay bales that are used at events. I can understand the importance of having them for camp, but when you walk into camp and see so-called hardcore re-enactors with bales laying around I just have to laugh at them. I am not sure if people realize that there was know such thing as hay or straw bales during the time of the Civil War.

As for me, I know that there was such a thing as straw, so I happily strew it around in my tent to sleep on. But you're talking about the square bales.

And the thing that I really get a kick out of is when you see them on the battlefield and the men are using them for cover to shoot behind.

It wouldn't do a real good job of stopping a bullet!

You see these hard cores (and they call others farbs) but what they don't know is that they are hiding behind a product that came from machinery that wasnt invented until the 1920's. So if you could knock on the use of bales in re-enactments I would appreciate it. Thanks

Cpl. Tyler Underwood
64th Ohio

Actually, I tend to leave people alone about authenticity. There are so many others who are willing to take up rhetorical cudgels for that cause... - Jonah


Dear Jonah:

After spending about three hours on-line reading snippets of your page, let me say, with all sincerity:


I am very much impressed w/ your work as a historian, a living historian, and a eagle-eyed critic of historic reenactment. Your pithy opinions, background work tracing down "farb," and web publication of the memoirs of Ross M. Kimmel has undoubtedly earned you a significant number of footnotes in my eventual doctoral dissertation. These items are also going to provide me wonderful ammunition in a CW conference I'm attending next week at the Huntington Library, especially as I already know of two papers to be read on reeenactment come from the pens of PC scholars w/ agendas....which are apt to be deflated by primary evidence from your prolific pen.

While you may or may not have seen my contact letter to historical reenactors, taken part in my CW reenactor survey, or seen me mentioned in the CCG as regards my research....I am another one of those "academics" who is interested in reenactors. Not as a class of others to laugh at, nor as a group to study like anthropologists among naked tribesmen; rather, I expect by looking at civil war reenactors to be able to compare and contrast how academics and the public act to construct history.....good, bad, or indifferent. Yes I know it's a hobby, living history was a hobby for me until I tuned in, turned on, dropped out to get a MA in public history (writing a thesis on applied living history), and semi-formally turned pro. Not that has slowed me down (....that took AGE...), rather it gives me a little perspective and a wider variety of groups to be considered weird by. Some of the best history of the last millenium was written by people who did not think of themselves as "historians," just folks with a interest, viewpoint, or story to research and tell. In that tradition, I'd like to be a part of telling the story of modern reenactment and living history.

I have already managed to get close to 900 responses to my reenactor survey, which I am in the process of roughing up into a chapter on "who are the reenactors?" as well as a much briefer version for an article for CCG. In doing this writing, I realized...Hey, Jonah Begone is a pseudonym! (sometimes I amaze myself)Unfortunately, as an academic & researcher I need to really probe my sources. So: What name goes in the brackets after "Jonah Begone, pseudo."? Yes, I know you want to remain anonymous. No, I don't intend to "out" you with the reenactor community. However, unless there is some reason why you would not want your name enshrined in the back bibliography of a dry academic tome, why not claim the credit you deserve, and spare me the grief of turning loose the bloodhounds?

Your new fan,

Mark L. Shanks
UCSB, Dept. of History
"Clio Eternum, Vita Brevis, Ludisimus"


My buddy Jonah,

The young "yankee" in Mississippi looking for a federal unit [See below] might like to know that most of the federal units in Mississippi are just galvanizing confederates. For instance, my unit, The 46th Mississippi also portrays The 2nd Kentucky whenever needed. .....and Jonah.....SOME Confederate reenactors (....infantry) are intelligent people who respect both the Union and the Confederates. AND I would like to stress that doing an ACCURATE portrayal of a federal uniform is in my opinion, ALOT easier than pulling off an accurate potrayal of a confederate. I think that my federal uniform is just about perfect, and I bought it all at once. But the confederate uniform is a little more difficult, and for those of us who do reenacting because we enjoy history, it offends ME to see "redneck rebs" running around (without the horses they don't even have!!) shooting seven pistols. I would like to think that my confederate ancestors were a little more intelligent and had a little more dignity than these buffoons who give confederate reenactors a bad name.

Your confederate bud,
Pvt Ryan Burns
46th Mississippi
States Rights Brigade
Army of Mississippi


Hello oh great one,
I'm a 14 year old civil war buff (yankee of course) in MISSISSIPPI! Rebs to the left of me, Rebs to the right of me, Rebs everywhere. I even got a reb reenactor in two of my high school classes. I hope to be a reenactor someday if the gun grabers dont win and take every gun away. But am looking for a federal unit in the state and can't find one. Help!

Thank you,
Will MacDonald (aka Surrounded by Rebs with nowhere to go :) )


Jonah has heard your plea in the wilderness and takes pity upon you for your youth.

I am unfamiliar with reenacting in Mississippi, and who's who and what's what. As much as I hate to suggest it, you might strike up a conversation with that reb reenactor in your classes, and ferret some information from him.

The following is a suggested approach:

You: "Hi, . How's it going? Shoot any Yanks over the weekend?"

Reb reenactor: "Yeeeeeeeeee-haaaaaa! Yew bet ah did! It was fine! Killed 'em dead, yep yep!"

You: "Gee, I wouldn't expect there would be any Yank reenactors in this state. What units are they in?"

...and so on. You might even include the information that you'd like to do Yank reenacting, to give him extra targets - you know, appeal to his self-interest.

Failing that, you could search through the Federal websites located on the Camp Chase Gazette's web site ( - look for "links to Civil War sites") for a Federal outfit in your state. There must be some. (Who are the Rebs shooting at? Each other?)

Or visit an event and head for the Yank camps.

Hope this helps. And act fast - after Columbine, the gun-grabbers will be getting more attention.



You have got a wonderful site going, I really enjoyed it. I think the reason I enjoy it the most is beause I am a Jonah. I'm in the 46th Mississippi Infantry and everyone in the entire States Rights Brigade in Mississippi knows me as either Jonah or Pvt name is ryan, so they call me Pvt Ryan. But at every reenactment, no matter how calm I am, I always end up destroying someone's tent or knocking someone's food into the fire, I guess I am just a regular Jonah!

Some of us were put on this world to bless or curse others. (I guess you know where you and I stand...)

What unit are you with?

The Camp Chase Gazette, nowadays!

And where are you from?

My hometown is Burbank, California.

Also, I'm gonna be majoring in History and minoring in Journalism in College, and I was wondering how you go started writing for CCG. That would be something I would like to do sometime.

I started sending in unsolicited manuscripts back in 1987. I tried to make them as different as possible from everything else I saw in the magazine... this tactic worked!

And you might be pleased to know, that of the 37 people in our regiment, 22 are under the age of 25 and all members are in shape. I am proud of the my unit!

Well, good. This seems commendably authentic!

But I do agree with you on the horrible state of Confederate Reenactors.....especially the ones that do dismounted cavalry impressions, they have like fifteen pistols and a sawed off shotgun, it's ridiculous..anyways. thanks Jonah. Take it easy

Pvt Ryan Burns
46th Mississippi Inf
Army of Tennessee

Thanks for writing!




I've gone to your website a number of times now and laughed every time! Keep up the service.

Glad you like it.

I wish to respond to your article on revy war reenacting. I've done 11 years of revy war up to now and most everthing in you say is true and hilarious. I disagree on two small things - the canteens rev war uses, at least when I attend, are used for water, not just for decoration.

Yes. When I bring my canteen to events I use it, too. But what I was trying to point out was that, unlike in Civil War reenacting, where a canteen is absolutely essential and virtually all reenactors get use of of theirs, in Revy War reenacting a "show" canteen is possible. A guy in my unit has one - he only takes it to living history sit-arounds. But he needs water on hot days the same as the rest of us, and when this is the case he drinks out of his "use" canteen.

Second - the population at rev has a great range from young to old - not just generally older as you had mentioned. Rev war tends to be more family-oriented than Civil War and there are usually more children and younger moms and dads showing up. I perfer Rev war for this reason as I can bring my daughter and son with me - usually they find young ones their age to play with.

In my Revy War unit there is a "Sunshine Committee." Generally, it is composed of older folks who send cards to older members in hospitals, that sort of thing. I have never, ever encountered a "Sunshine Committee" in any Civil War unit. This - and observation - is what led me to state that Revy War tends to be grayer.

I just started Civil War recently (just a few events) and I must say - I'm hooked! I was awed by the numbers of participants. I didn't plan on it but I found that I love the higher degree of battle scenarios than you would find in rev war.

Enjoy it. When I first began reenacting the really big events were a major attraction. Nowadays I enjoy the mid-sized ones more since my expectations have decreased somewhat with experience. (Other Civil War reenacting veterans have expressed the same opinion to me.)

For now, I plan to stay with rev war - mainly because my kids love to come with me to the local living history events. I plan to stay with my local civil war unit for some events - this will be my "Dad's only get away" thing. It would make sense to only do one era only for now - but I like aspects of both eras and can't get myself to quit one time period.

I still do both, too, for different reasons. - Jonah

Kevin O'Malley


Thanks for the absolute best laugh we've had in a good long while. Your utterly irreverent, yet dead-on take regarding our admittedly eccentric hobby is totally refreshing. Your site is a gem.

Scott & Robyn Futcher
Orland, Maine

Thank you - I'm glad you appreciate this site. Speaking as modestly as I can, I believe the main difference between this site and most others is content. I emphasize that and not bells and whistles. It is my hope that there's a lot of useable and entertaining stuff here. - Jonah


I'm terrible sorry...really I am...overflowing with regret, regurgitating remorse.....really. Alas, I can not think of a memorable thing to say!!!!!! I stumbled and bumbled upon your site, and...I think I'm in love with you!!!!!!!! :)

Thanks made my day..


Sue Neely

Well, this is the first time I've ever provoked that kind of response! - Jonah


Dear Jonah,

I love your articles, published and unpublished. I am the editor for my unit's newsletter. I would like the opportunity to print your Event-o-Meter article. I would not consider doing so without your permission however. I do not know if you have a policy for republication or not, but I figured it certainly can't hurt to ask.

If permission is granted, I will certainly credit the article to you. I'll even post the address to your website.

I thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Mark Reitz
33d Wisconsin Reenactors


My attitude towards publishing my stuff in unit newsletters is go ahead and do so; it's a major reason why I set up this site in the first place! If you give me credit and add a link to this site, that would be nice, too. But I don't make anything writing and, frankly, I never expect to. (However, if you plan to make money off of something I've written, why, that's another matter!)



Dear Jonah,

As a co-conspirator in the campaign to subvert the readership of the Camp Chase Gazette with irreverent humor, I want to commend you for both your acerbically delicious columns and a web site that requires possession of an IQ in excess of room-temperature to appreciate.

I'm presently completing a "diabolic dictionary" of reenacting and would like to include you and your website in the definitions. If you have a free moment (in between blackening in the teeth on Hillary's photograph) drop me a line.

Best Regards,
John "Epistles From The Left Coast" Lamb


Impressionable youth

Mr. Begone,

I am 14 and have just gotten into reenacting (up here in my state I can actually shoot!).

Good for you. I am always heartened when I read about a young person finding an interest in history, guns or camping. (Beats video games any day of the week.)

I am a Confederate but I promise never to sport a "Lee Surrendered But I Didn't" bumper sticker (When I get a car) and furthermore NEVER to practice "the bloat"

Ahhhhh, go ahead. You're young. You can repent of it later!

I found your sight refreshing after meeting some of the people in the hobby.

Hmmm. Bumped into some oddballs, huh? Well, that happens in any hobby. Last year I took up playing rugby, and some of those guys make reenactors look tame in comparison!

Thanks for all the garbage you're filling my young mind with. Keep up the good work.

Rifle Musket

But it's not garbage! It's USEFUL FACTUAL INFORMATION!

Okay, maybe the piece about crucifixion reenacting is garbage...




Hello! I think your site is hysterical, but it's not like no one's ever told you that before :) I don't even do reenacting, or particularly like the Civil War.... I was reading the new article on why people dress up, and thought one sentence was especially amusing: What motivates a person to dress in wool clothing in the heat of summer?

Why, because it's recreational, of course. It's fun. Really. The same impulse convinces people it's fun to take a dip in semi-frozen water in the middle of winter (The Polar Bear Club).

I have often wondered this myself, and not about you guys. I do horse shows, and I think I can sympathyze with that covered in wool in 90+ degree heat feeling.... And I used to think the regualr outfit of light wool jacket, pants, knee-high leather boots, black hat and gloves was bad - now I've taked up sidesaddle and that seems like air conditioning!

Generally speaking, those riding pants will make your butt look better than CW trousers will.

Now I get a much heavier wool jacket, a wool vest, some silk wraped around my neck, and a heavy wool skirt over the pants. Heat stroke, here I come! At least I get a spiffy tophat to wear instead of the hot hunt cap - just have to hope I don't fall off and squish my head!

Who cares about functionality? It's THE LOOK that's important. Just ask any British grenadier, tramping through the wilds of North America in a tall bearskin hat.

I suppose you could consider this a form of reenacting, since I end up looking like something from the 1920s, and all my stuff is period (saddle from 1905, etc.)

Yep, you're a reenactor, all right.

Now, remember, if someone asks you about the scandal in the White House, be sure to respond, "What has Coolidge gotten himself into?"

Still not as bad as I used to be, though - at age six, I insisted everyone call me Martha, because I couldn't very well be George Washington. I had an outfit and everything. Years later, my mother would have people come up to her and ask how Martha was....

Ah, see, you have the calling after all. It's like being a nun. You either know you're meant to be one or you're not.

Wish I had more money, so I could actually do some reenacting.... Guess I'll have to be content with passing out in my layers of wool! do we all...

Well, I'll shut up... Great page, I hope you never take it down!

Michelle :-)
(Who has no wish to run around with a gun, and would probably look stupid in a corset)

Perhaps, perhaps, but Revolutionary War stays flatter every woman. (Well, perhaps "flatter" isn't the right word. Sort of "up-and-outs" them might be more appropriate.)




In the interests of historical accuracy, you might be interested to know that the S.B. Buckner who wrote the julep letter was the "son" rather than the "grandson" of the civil war general. If you're counting up, yes it is a very long generation. See

I have, of course, fixed my article. I don't mind people accusing me of wearing farb clothes, but farb articles, well, that's beyond the pale.

Too, if you're interested, the background that prompted the julep letter is recounted here.

Simon Bolivar Buckner IV

Thanks for the correction. I encourage my readers to follow up on this link - it's interesting! - Jonah



I would like to add an addendum to my letter of 8-11-98. After my company's HR Manager made me take down my pictures of me in my reenacting uniform and those of my unit (Federal unit), I in turn took down all my pictures and put a small flag stand with the US flag and the State of Georgia flag. Shortly, thereafter, two more people did the same thing. Maybe this was a silent show of solidarity.

After about 2 months, the infamous, HR lady...I mean HR person,

Yes, this is correct. There are no "men" (when's the last time you heard the word "manhood" used in a positive sense?), "women" or "ladies" anymore. We're all persons, enjoying our personhood. Vive la simularitie!

called my boss and told her to have us take down our State of Georgia flags because they were offensive. The HR manager would not talk with me dirrectly for fear of the possible debate. She did call my co-worker and debated him. He told her that the International Team would need to take down their flags. She said, no they would NOT since they are NOT offensive and the Georgia State flag represented slavery! He said, no it doesn't and referred her to talk to me regarding its meaning. She declined that invitation (probably knowing she might lose the debate with me).

Liberals and people of this stripe don't want debates or to even be informed about something they possibly did not know (if such a condition exists). They just want compliance.

So, before I left work that Friday evening, I dropped in her box a copy of the Georgia State stautes regarding the GA State flag. On Monday morning I got the following e-mail: "After further research, I have found the Georgia State flag to be the legal flag of Georgia and you may put them back up. signed XXXXX HR Manager"

You ought to inform the people of Georgia. They will no doubt be happy to hear this news.

Hoorah, finally a small victory for sanity. This is aside from the fact that I found out that she had broken the law by requesting they come down in the first place. Just thought you might be interested in this update.

Pvt. Jim Butler

Here's some fun: How about playing liberal group against liberal group by calling in the ACLU? Tell them your employer is infringing upon your civil rights to free expression - just to see what happens. (My guess is the ACLU will decline with some kind of limp excuse. They're really only interested in the civil rights of ethnic minorities and non-Christians.)

Or you can put up little "Bonnie Blue Flags" and "Stars and Bars" on your desk. That ought to confuse the thin-skinned at work. Life can be difficult if you're not sure if you're offended or not... Or, better yet, put back up your Federal pix and claim you're doing a reenactment in support of African-American "Buffalo Soldiers" (or the 54th Massachusetts) then defy them to make you take it down! - Jonah


Dear Mr. Begone,

Although I've never seen, much less participated in ACW reenactment, (I do 16th century Spanish in La Florida), I must say that I love your articles. I suspect that though the weapons and clothing may change from era to era, reenactors are basically the same no matter what period they are portraying.

Thanks! Yes - I have found this to be true with Revy War reenacting; the essentials remain. When the Kenneth Branaugh "Henry V" came out a reenactor friend and I went out to see it. We both had to smile during the evening-before-the-battle scenes ("...a little touch of Harry in the night"); it looked like a typical campfire scene at an event!

But enough pontificating. Your recent addition of an article on Florida Boy Scouts brings to mind my own recent experience (June) in St. Augustine with the scouts. To quote from my own newsletter editorial:

"Great fun was had throughout the day at the Fountain of Youth battlefield as the 'Heathens' (Indians) attacked the English. Later in the day a brave company of Spaniards ( Well okay, it was 2 arquebusiers & 1 flag bearer) sought battle with the English who where drilling in a Dutch brigade (Pikes centered with musketeers on the flanks), in spite of our later reinforcement by a squad of pike wielding boy scouts the commands of 'run away' & 'fall down' were the ones greatly in evidence.

The scouts later provided one of the highlights of the day. When everybody was assembling at the city gates prior to the battle, it was apparent that the scouts were weaponless. An inquiry into their disarmed state elicited the now classic response, 'Our moms went to get the pikes.'"

Also your New Market Flag Film brings to mind a local example of symbolic reenactment cinema. I'm a living history volunteer at De Soto National Memorial (1539). Our Visitor's Center shows the 20 minute film "Legacy of a Legend" aka "These boots were made for walking." The movie contains a classic c.1966 pre PC line, "The Indians did not understand that we came in peace, all we wanted was their gold."

More importantly, the film depicts the 600 man, 220 horse, four year, four thousand mile journey of Hernando de Soto with one pair of boots. The film opens with the boots jumping of a boat into the water and claiming the land for Spain. The boots then march though a muddy swamp, are then seen in the mountains, warming themselves by the fire, and later marching though a sandy desert (still in pretty good shape though). I forget whether or not the boots are filled with rocks and tossed into the Mississippi when De Soto dies. I would have thought that this school of real low budget film making would have died out with all those reenactors willing to work for little or nothing but I caught on the History Channel a documentary on the Mississippi River featuring a Spanish Flag marching though the woods. To give the film makers (well actually video tapers) credit the flag was held by a gauntleted hand and it was a very nice gauntlet!


Timothy Burke

-<):{)} (bearded conquistador smiley)

Calderon's Company
A 16th Century New World Garrison

ALIQUEM DE VIA CONSULAMUS (The unofficial motto of the De Soto expedition, translated from the Latin, "Let's ask for directions")

Well, I wouldn't have thought the flag film could be surpassed, but it sounds like "Boots" does the trick. This is one film I'm going to have to see. (Being a fan of unintentional hilarity.) Thanks for the information! - Jonah


Hi Jonah,
I enjoyed the bit about the origin of rap..
ciao! Lizzzzzz

Thannnnnkkkkkssssss - Jonah


Hey Jonah,

My family just began "reacting" (in 5 year-old lingo)

My son used to call it this!

and have had very interesting conversations and eye rolling contests with my liberal friends about the authenticity policy of our unit. We are with a small unit from western Indiana which remains all white and male. Since this was the authentic enlistment of the unit, we feel that we should stay true to it. This seems to offend non-reenactors who much prefer the rewritten kinder and gentler version of American history.

They probably feel it's more important for them to enlighten you than it is for your unit to enlighten the event-going public.

Don't be too hard on them. It must be difficult, being the moral conscience of the nation. Glad it's not me!

Indiana in the 1860's was a racist state and continued to be so after the war for many years. I hear many people here still say "colored" for a nice word and the dreaded N word for referring to black Americans.

I get the distinct impression that *every* state was what we would now call "racist" all the way up to, through and well past the war. They may still be that way.

I, of course , spend no time at all explaining to my children about the realities of the war or the honor due the men and women involved in the conflict. I instead try to glorify war and death to them (how many times have I heard that from people who have no idea what we do) and allow them to tote around toy weapons in the hopes that they too will order a Ford F-150 with a gun rack in the back when they get that real good job at the factory working with all of the other rebel flag-waving rednecks.

What is entirely lost upon the gun-grabbers is the fact that most of us grew up with TV Western and cops and robbers violence - but somehow didn't become thugs, murderers, rapists and manslaughterers as adults. (Despite the silly false statistics feminists come up with about the slaughter of the innocents on Superbowl Sunday.)

I had a communications class from a female liberal once and she reported the results of a study that indicated that TV's influence on making people violent was greatly overstated. She reported this as if it were great news, and I indicated that such a thing was no surprise to me. I grew up with violent programming but - aside from a passion for rugby - I am a non-violent person. Gee, could something else like, say, a stable home and family have something to do with it? Duh.

Hey, why did I keep getting this annoying small message screen that said I was not down loading right when I was trying to read this site? I ain't eddicated real good like whin it cums to this here cumpooter.

I think that's Geocities trying to do something cute with those annoying popup advertisements and failing. Oh well - that's the price I pay for not paying for web space!

I enjoyed your site otherwise and am only offended by a rebel flag when the person has no idea what it really stands for.


I'm offended by Klan use of a reb flag, but that's about it. I really don't offend very easily.

Oh, the Clintons offend me.




I have written you previously and enjoy your writings that can inject some fun into our hobby when it gets just too serious about petty things!

Well, here is something that happened to me at work last week and you won't believe it!

I bet I will.

I am a desk jockey at a large telecommunications equipment distributor and as many people do, I work in a low-walled, cubicle.

One of those people celebrated by Scott Adams in "Dilbert." Yes, even Jonah Begone worked in a cubicle once. I did a lot of unit newsletter writing and editing in that environment.

I am happy to say I have since graduated to an office of my own, with a nice urban window view.

As many reenactor probably do, I have a few snapshots of my Civil War reenacting unit (Federal OVI unit) and a few pictures of me in my uniform (also Federal)...not that that should matter whether it was Confederate or Union.

Silly boy! Of course it matters... not to you or I, but it does to a PC Office Weenie.

Though not intentional, I have no Confederate anarcronisms or battle flags at my desk. I was called into my Human Resource Managers office (who is an African-American woman) and she sat me down and said, "Someone came to me and said you have pictures at your desk of you in the Confederacy?!"

I would have said, "No, there are no pictures of me in the Confederacy," and left it at that. Any further discussion would have highlighted the ignorance of the accuser.

I said, "Wow!, that would make me about 155 years old!!! But, if you are talking about my reenacting pictures of me in my Federal (ie Yankee, ie North, ie Union) uniform...than yes, I have those pictures at my desk! Why?" She responded, "It doesn't matter if they are pictures of Mickey Mouse, if they offend someone, then you have to take them down."

Interesting criteria. Do you have any pictures of Mickey Mouse in a federal uniform?

I replied, "Okay, I'll take them down after you listen carefully to the three things I have to say...1) Tell the offended individual that they

"He," not "they." You see, you were unthinkingly being PC yourself, there. I know it's common these days to mix singular (individual) with plural (they) to avoid having to use that horrible sexist word "he" in a sentence, but it's still bad grammar. There is no gender-neutral word in English for what you wanted to say - we have to use "he," understanding that it can refer to females as well as males in the same way the word "mankind" does.

The feminists and social reconstructionists realized long ago if you can control the language you can control the debate.

are stupid, ignorant and uneducated since they don't know the difference between Confederate and Union. Thus, they don't even know factually what offends them!

Good point. These days offense is very cheap and common. Nearly everyone buys into it. It's gut level, not intellectual.

You could have pointed out that an uninformed opinion offends YOU.

2) I have had these photos at my desk for three years and probably a hundred people both white and black have seen them and none were offended! And anyone who know me, knows this is my hobby and not avehicle for some modern agenda or bias. and finally 3) if it weren't for my ancestors blood and sweat with over 300,000 black soldiers, I might add, we would not be having this conversation today!"

You didn't relate what the Af-Amer woman said then. (See, that's how you can turn PC against the practitioners. They want to use the phrase "African-American?" Fine, use it, but annoyingly abbreviate it to "Af-Amer," like it's some foreign word or something, and watch the enlightened wince.)

This is very sad since many people who inquired about the pictures usually left my desk more enlightened about the Civil War and reenacting. But, I guess the politically correct movement is everywhere like a plague on our society. I work in Atlanta and I will tell you that it is really just the San Francisco of the south. You really don't enter Georgia till you leave Atlanta!

Oh, yes, I know. Atlanta is quickly becoming the Home of the Sensitive. (Forget about all that outdated Land of the Free/Home of the Brave crap...) The last Olympic Games pretty much confirmed that.

So, I took down my pictures and put up a generic white sign that says "POLITICALLY CORRECT WORK STATION" Hopefully, big brother is happy now!

Pvt Jim Butler

Nope, that won't work. As long as somebody is potentially offended or has an independent thought Big Brother's work is unfinished.

Remember when the ethnically sensitive wanted to change the designation of Squaw Lake in Minnesota? The alternative "PC Lake" was offered and quickly - and angrily - rejected. (The word "squaw," in case you didn't know, was originally a slang term for female genitalia. Somehow I got through most of my adult life knowing that the term is hateful to the majority sex.)

My suggestion for combating PC is to not visibly oppose it in any way that will identify you as an ideological enemy. Subverting it is a better idea. Outwardly embrace this stuff in such a way that its silliness is all the more apparent to the layman. ("Af-Amer" is an example.) If I were you I would try to find - or make up - the goofiest Minorities in the Civil War poster you can find. Looking in the public school system for material is a good start. Refer to females as "the majority sex," that sort of thing.

Anyway, I commiserate with you, brother. I'm a Federal employee.



I must say that your site is one of the most enjoyable that I've stumbled upon during my time on the internet. I've throughly enjoyed your cynical articles . From thrashing dismounted cav to putting a new perspective on reenacting. Hurrah for the grunts.

Aaron Harvey
12th Virginia Co. B



I have enjoyed the Jonah World webpage and visit often. I wanted to pass along a few things for you that I have heard about in the last week or so.

1. I was in Little Rock, Arkansas and stayed with a man named Don Hamilton. He has been working for over a year establishing Civil War markers at various skirmish and battle sites in and around Little Rock that were almost forgotten (i.e."Old Pap" Price) and other notable things.


2. I saw a hilarious Simpsons ep. (I believe you mentioned this) where the students from Springfield Elementary go to "Fort Springfield" to witness a Civil War reenactment. Too much!:-)

My son Ulysses is a big fan of the Simpsons, but I can't say that I am. I haven't seen many episodes, but that doesn't matter since he relates them all to me.

3.Was reading about "Wilderness Tavern" in "A Stillness At Appomattox" and the next morning, NPR specifically mentions this tavern in a piece about Stonewall Jackson's arm! Weird, eh?

The site itself is kind of weird, too. Not spooky like at Antietam, but just sort of odd.

4.I'm a writer for a newspaper and I went and covered a memorial service for a Confederate soldier from a nearby town. The family of the soldier wouldn't allow the bugler to play "Taps" because it was written by a Yankee.

That's pathetic. Many real Confederates gave up such nonsense after the war ended. What makes their descendants think they are in some way more patriotic?

5.The recent reenactment I attended in Raymond, Miss. will be shown July 1 on Primetime Live, I believe. That was a great spectacle to be sure!

6. Came across "Confederates in the Attic" at a bookstore in Little Rock. Have you read this?

No. I refuse to buy it so I'm currently waiting for whomever has it checked out from my local library to return it so I can read it. I have thumbed through it, though. It looks hilarious!

Apparently there is a Confederate widow living in a town about 13 miles east of here.I'll have to check that out myself.

Keep it up. I want more, more!

Well, okay. I added stuff today and yesterday. Look here. And thanks for writing! - Jonah

Andrew West Griffin
Andalusia, Alabama



Not only have I seen the infamous "Flag Film", but my friends and I laughed so loud and heckled the movie to such an extent that we were asked to leave the theater.

Yours in eternal condemnation of the flag film,

Martin Husk

I told you, I told you. - Jonah


You know i read articles from every spot on the map but, never about the pacific northwest reeanacting members, why is this?

I have no idea. Population density, I guess.

George Pickets house still stands here in Bellingham. So we have links to the war too.

I'll say. Did you see the Twin Peaks episodes where Benjamin Horne thought he was a Confederate general? It was one of the weirdest parts of a normally weird show.

Yes we to have our problems {like rain,rain,and yes some sun " Hey guys see it up thare" and the usual complants like " you want us to run up that hill!!!!!!,rite" wa`re still young at this, well get thare someday, member ship is 700+ and riseing. We have some vary colorful charactors like "bo wevil,pvt Molsen,dirtywater and deadeye,me. got the name from wining the target match with my captain`s gun!! never did use that rifle again.

You're probably better off leaving it alone.

anyway loved your article this mo. "The Vandals at the Gates" keep up the good work and i`ll`keep up the bad spelling.

Yeah, well, I normally edit stuff I get from people but I sort of gave up with yours!

got to go can see some white thing in the night sky!!!

Do a first person impression and pretend it doesn't exist. - Jonah

Best wishes to all from Washington st.
Pvt.T.C. 15th Alabama co. G


The song you posted on your EVER enjoyable web-page is, I believe, written by Matt Merta. He has a couple of tapes out that are available at many sutlers (not the "hardcore" sutlers!). These are under the name "Pvt. Partz" and are collections of many similar "modern" versions of "original" CW-era songs. Many are hilarious though some require knowing "who" they were written about to be enjoyed. I realize that many modern take-offs on "Marching Through Georgia" must have been written and sung, but the version you posted is word-for-word from Matt's tape. If your interested and can't find another source let me know and I'll see what I can do about getting you a couple of his tapes. Keep up the good work on the page and in CCG, your always enjoyable!

David Post

P.S. Matt, is a re-enactor from Michigan and falls in with the Cumberland Guard.

I'm always interested in the truth and have corrected things accordingly. Thank you for this information! - Jonah


Hey Jonah,

OK, my brother and have been reenacting for only a little over a year and a half, but have already decided Confederates are insufferable and the rest are unbearably farby. We have decided to form a unit exclusively of Federal privates and draw lots for officer and sergeant positions (one event only - a trendy term-limit kinda setup).

I have noticed that a good number of Federals are ex-Confederates; certainly my unit had a bunch of these. Why this is is probably fodder for a future article. As far as an all-Federal private outfit is concerned, my unit made a decision very much like this as well. It makes sense and it's nice to always be in demand.

More and more we want to hide from the spectators and the generally more farby-esque members of our community. Is there anything we can do to keep from becoming the jaded writers like Jonah Begone and Mal Adroit?

Not all evolutionary stages of reenacting result in becoming like us. There are people out there who still, after 20 or 30 years in the hobby, continue to research seam threads and discuss reenactment military field maneuvers with gusto. Not only that, they still like close order drill. So there's hope for you. (If you find this type of thing hopeful.)

We are not the most authentic and consider a shelter half luxurious. But we would consider some advice to temper our "drive to hide."

No advice coming from this corner; I stopped talking to publics a long time ago. There are plenty of other wannabe educators, I figure.


Todd Martin 22nd Iowa Co.E (5th LA...yeah, like I'll ever go CS again)


Dear Mr. Begone:

I'm just now getting back into this strange business after a respite of about ten years and have certainly enjoyed your splendid web site. It's gratifying, in a sick kind of way, to see how very little has changed.

"In a sick kind of way?" Hey, consistency is good. Just ask Dewar's Black Label - they've been running ads to that effect for years.

Reading your "TV Guide for Reenactors" articles brought to mind an episode of the Time Tunnel I saw as a kid, probably back in '68 or '69.

Your dates are off, you farb. Time Tunnel was on TV for one season only, from September '66 to April '67. (My thanks to the Internet Movie Database for this bit of information.)

They sent that poor brunette fellow in the mock turtleneck

This was James Darren, I think.

back to - what would you guess - Gettysburg! I don't remember much about the episode. I think my synaptic gaps must have fused with the enormity of it all. Come to think of it, I think I might've just seen the previews for next week's episode and never got to see it at all.

I saw the pilot episode and the one for the Titanic and lost interest, so I didn't see the Gettysburg episode.

I don't know about you, but we were literally starved for data in those days - there just wasn't much to subsist on.

I subsisted on Star Trek and reruns of Twilight Zone.

What about "Branded" with Chuck Conners? Non-Civil War but the introductory scenes were about as close as we could get on a week-to-week basis; the snare drums beating; Chuck getting the eagle buttons and shoulder straps popped off his uniform; the disgusted officer breaking the saber into and flinging the hilt outside the doors of the fort. My friends and I watched it every week just for the lead-in; we didn't care much for the actual show - except when Chuck started fiddling with the remnants of the saber he'd made into the coolest of side-knives.

Most people our age remember the opening sequence and the title theme, which of course got altered to a bathroom theme: "What do you do when there's no t.p./And you have to use your hand?"

Hey, we even watched reruns of "Rawhide" just to see the kid who wore the rebel kepi around the chuck wagon.

Anyhow, thank you for the excellent work.

Glad you enjoy it! - Jonah


Greetings from a person who loves to write. I would just like to say "thanks" for all the good and funny stuff you write for us history nuts. I read your articles every time I can (boring college classes and at work when the computers fail to operate). Your quotes have given me a lot of ideas for my own work.

Lots of thanks,
Jim A. Asbury
Pennsylvania Bucktails

Glad you enjoy it, Jim! - Jonah


Dear Mr. Begone,

After wasting many laughing-out-loud hours reading your site, I thought that I might send you a couple of words expressing my thoughts on some things, in particular the issue of women portraying men in CW reenacting.

Firstly, let me tell you where I'm coming from. I'm a VMI grad, and supported the school in its fight to remain all-male. While at the Institute (incidently, burned in 1864 by the Union army I now "play" at) I was a member of their Civil War Roundtable/Reenacting Group. If you were at New Market in the mid-1980s, which I suppose you have been due to your references to the hilarious "flag-film", you probably shot at me a couple of times. (BTW, that film absolutely KILLS me, and is a MUST-see every time I go there!)

Why, yes, I did shoot at you. Nothing personal, of course.

Yes, I make the pilgrimage to New Market every May I can to fight it out with the Rebs and view the sacred flag film. I've been doing that since 1985! A couple of years ago I had the honor of taking my scout troop up there for a camporee, and got to see an entirely new generation freak out at the weirdness of the film.

Anyhow, I got used to the all-male, hard-marching, hard-drinking, and hard-living experience while in that group (we probably were the most "authentic" Confederate unit out there back then: we slept on the ground, we ate REAL simple food, had 3 tents for 20 guys (!), and could march circles around anyone else out there. I suppose we hardcore without even realizing it. And since our average age was 20, we LOOKED like real Civil War soldiers.

Very true - you guys looked like (and still look like) what you were (and are): credible soldiers, not reenactors.

I always loved answering the spectators (and some reenactors') questions of who we were: "You guys are the VMI Cadets? So what do you do in real life?" But I suppose now there'll be women reenactors depicting Civil War-era cadets too!


Back to my real point though. The unit I belong to now, Company F, 2nd Rhode Island Infantry, is performing one of the most unheralded duties of all of the "Union Army". We allow women in the ranks, and as one of the few units to do so, have begun to "collect" them in ever greater numbers. I think that we now have SIX! So all of you should be thanking us! Think about this the next time you call us "The Amazon Regiment", or ask us what the "F" on our kepis stands for. We are protecting your all-male habitat from incursions of wool-clad females!

Why, yes, a great cry of thanks is due from the reenacting fraternity - you are certainly owed it!

Be grateful we exist! And have pity on the few of us in the 2nd RIV who would prefer to NOT have women in the ranks, but have made FRIENDS with them despite this (what a quandry!). They're good people, but they're handicapped by accident of birth. Oops! My sexism is showing. My apologies.

Thanks for listening, and keep up the humor.

John McConnell
Cpl, 2nd RIV, Co F

Thank you, John, for the public service you and the 2nd Rhode Island perform. The Vandals are certainly at the gates, and you have cleverly diverted them with your cunning plan. - Jonah


You bad boy! It's now 3:00 p.m. - the kids and hubby will soon be home and I've spent all day laughing at your stuff -- which is better than a Benny Hill marathon.

Naughty things like you need to be throttled!

PS - Loved the write-in of "My Favorite Things."

Most Sincerely,


If you want to throttle me you'll just have to wait in line like everyone else. - Jonah

I have been reticent in not writing to you before, but I have been Busy/Lazy/Somesuch nonsense, and have frittered away my time online reading your homepage articles.

...a mighty fritter, indeed.

It has been enjoyable these past few years to see your humor's effect on those in the ranks who seem to have lost theirs. As a long time member of Vincent's Brigade and the 15th NJ, as well as 20th Me, and my own group, the 1st Maine Veteran Volunteers, I have seen most of what you write about first-hand.

All of my weirdness comes directly from life, I embellish very little. If you think I'm weird, so is reenacting.

I like the campaign style of reenacting primarily because I'm lazy, don't like company streets much anymore, and generally find like company out in the woods. It also keeps me upwind of the Porta-Johnnies. I am currently working on a CW Yuck video that I hope to complete by Christmas. It will have a number of scenes that will (hopefully) offend most of the purists in our hobby one way or the least it will point out those who lack a sense of humor.

Sounds like a wonderful idea - I'd like to see such a thing.

I thought I would enclose some examples of my own CW humor for your edification....feel free to use them, as long as I get some of the credit/blame.....

My Favorite Things (CW Reenactors Version)

Click here to see this inspired lyric.

Q. How many Confederates does it take to change a light bulb?
A. 100: 1 to read the directions and 99 to echo the commands!

...and they still don't get it right!

So as you see, Things up here in Maine are still a-winter and the cabin fever is setting in. I do hope to be out in the contented feild soon, or I might really go crazy. I hope this finds you well and in good spirits, and I remain, your Pard and faithful reader

Tim Kindred
1st Maine Veteran Volunteers

Thanks, Tim. Your lyric is on JonahWorld!


Oh wise and just Jonah,

O sage and martial Corporal,

I know that you know that there are two sides to every story so here is my side to a recent letter sent to you by Pvt. James Butler. [It appears three of four letters back. - Jonah] This is NOT a flame just a clarification. if one were needed, but go ahead.

I am a member of the 'hard-core unit' mention in Mr. Butler's letter. We consider ourselves very authentic but not hard-core.

Definitions, definitions. What's the real difference between the terms? Well, in my limited view, you're hardcore if,

1) You mentally ponder the authenticity advantages of getting loose bowels, tick infestation or lice,

2) You walk around without shoes,

3) You spend an inordinate amount of time away from family and friends doing research about uniform details the general public will never care about,

4) You hold mainstream reenactors in any sort of contempt for their lack of diligence and fail to enjoy their company as a result,

5) You turn your nose up at a camp chair, an a-frame tent, blankets or straw.

Just a working definition, mind you, and entirely my own. I'm sure there can be more. Let's say any two of these qualify one as being hardcore. One of them is cause for suspicion and possibly justification for the use of mood-altering substances.

We don't pee on our buttons but we do require our members to correctly portray the unit we are representing.

Reflect that peeing on buttons was never the activity espoused by Rob Hodge in his now (in)famous Wall Street Journal article. Soaking them in urine was. (There's that delicate matter of aim that distinguishes the two actions.)

This includes correct clothing and equipment.

Okay - understanding for a moment that one can haggle endlessly about what "correct" means. Personally, I drew a line about that one long ago. Reenacting is too faddish. The $125 forage cap you bought with perfect confidence five years ago can be denounced as farby in the next unit newsletter. Enough is enough - I maintain all that's really required is a reasonable facsimile.

We don't want women in the camps as many other units don't. (My wife camps with Civilian dependents and not with me and that's OK with us.)

I don't like 'em in the camps, either. In fact, I'd just as soon they not show up at events at all, thank you. (Jonah's use for reenacting is something like boy's night out, you understand.)

By the way, I'm happily married, in case there might be any misunderstanding about my sexual preference.

In his letter he states "We have an ongoing rivalry...." This may be in the past but nothing could be farther from the truth today. There was a problem last year but that has been cleared up.

Actually, a rivalry isn't necessarily a bad thing. (And neither is reenactment politics, by the way, but let's not quibble about that one at this time...) If it's causing both units to "better" themselves, I would think you would think this is good for reenacting.

But you think your problem has been permanently cleared up, huh? Ha! Jonah knows better. Just give it time and you'll be at each other's throats again. Tribalism is a reenactment thing you'll just have to accept. You see, we emulate military units, which means, deep down inside, we want to believe that our unit is number one. Everyone else is number two, or three, or zero. Sure, there are Utopian appeals to a great brotherhood of living history, but on the local level guys are usually zealous of their groups and can easily be incited against guys in other units on the flimsiest of causes.

In fact we all agree that the 125thOVI is a fine Federal unit, with a great bunch of guys that is family oriented. They have an excellent band. (I have personally sent recruits to them and I am friends with the Lieutenant.)

Okay, okay, so perhaps the differences are overstated a bit.

Yes, there are differences, we aren't family oriented and we don't attend the smaller events in Georgia. Does this mean that our two units can't still co- exist in the state and both tell the story of the Federal soldier during the Atlanta Campaign?

And, more to the point, is there anything either one of you can actually do about the other if the answer to your question is "no?" No, there isn't. You both have an equal right to exist. So you'll just have to get along and behave yourselves. (It sounds like perhaps you have - for the time being.)

I don't know there is any problem between our units now. Mr. Butler was rehashing past events.

Aren't we all? I mean, isn't that what reenacting is all about? If he's guilty of rehashing past events, I submit all of reenacting stands guilty on that charge.

Why just recently we fielded 16 men and 2 musicians at Olustee and have gained several new members.

Cpl. Phillip Whiteman
21st OVI Co. A
Alpharetta, GA

Thank you for this clarification, and I hope you have gleaned some entertainment value in what I have written. Thank you especially for doing Federal in the South - I understand there's a crying need, and, let's face it, it takes two to tango (or tangle).

Jonah T. Begone

Jonah, I can't tell you how impressed I am and how appreciative I was of your Huck Finn article.

Thank you - it's one of my favorites.

Please let me explain. I am a transplanted Southerner living on politically correct yuppified Bainbridge Island, Washington (a truly beautiful Island in Puget Sound near Seattle).

Oh, yeah, Washington State. It's PC up there.

While I do not expect the schools here to fully appreciate Eastern American history, I have been dismayed at the vehemence displayed by my 17 year daughter's "American Studies " "teacher" who has projected no end of prejudice and ignorance toward the South and American history. Recently they studied Huck Finn... how I wish I had your article to pass on to this narrow-minded "teacher."

Are you aware that Huck Finn has been twice banned? The first time was not long after its publication in 1888 - the excuse then was that it was "veriest trash," and more recently because of the unflattering picture it paints of blacks.

I am confident Mark Twain will prevail against all comers, however.

Written by a Federal too!!! (Just camp humor there.)

Actually Samuel Clemens spent two weeks in the Confederate Army (sort of). His experience is recounted in his short story "A Private History of a Campaign That Failed."

Seriously, you made so many common sense points that it was a breath of fresh air to this lone partisan. I assure you this "teacher" will get a copy of this at the end of the year.


I suppose the teacher's next question will be, "And what books has this Jonah Begone written?"

Frankly, I fear the prejudice of this "teacher" is so strong that there would be retribution toward my daughter if I gave it to her now. If that sounds strange... I find it so sad that we in America must now be careful of everything we say for fear of the "political correctness police," the "office sex police" and so on, ad nauseam.

I'm a Federal employee and speech codes are taught as a condition of employment.

Jonah, thank you so much. Keep up the good work. I am a amateur historian and do some reenacting in 18th Century groups. Not a lot here for an old Alabama boy to wear the gray.

P.S. Do you suppose that "teacher" would comprehend that my daughter can trace her roots to soldiers of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Seminole War (Oh, God, not a slaughterer of the Redman!), and the War Between the States - with five documented ancestors who served in the First Alabama Vedette Cavalry, UNITED STATES ARMY?

Well, I'm impressed, but what makes you think this kind of lineage will mean anything to him or her? He or she may be a raging pacifist as well.

By the way, I am searching for information on this regiment if you can help.


Mike Dorsett, Bainbridge Island, WA.

Thank you - Jonah.

I just finished touring the Wacky World of Jonah and got a good inside chuckle at the whole idea of your page. I like it, nice humor. Thanks for doing it.

Wayne L. Pierce

Dear Jonah:

I write a newsletter for my unit and I need material. If I give the appopriate credit, may I use material from your great website?

Tim Williford

ABSOLUTELY! That was one of the purposes I had in creating this site! (However, the flattery helps as well.) - Jonah

Esteemed Mr. Begone,

Before I say anything about how much I enjoy your writing, I would ask you to be so kind as to convey to Mme. Honoria my complete, unqualified, ecstatic, 'yahoo!' approbation of her article about Hellary Clinton's book. spelling intentional.

OK, consider it done!

I have borne and raised three children and I did it by being a full-time mother, not relying upon some flim-flam, fictitious village.

Yeah - Honoria and I are taking the same route with our three kids.

But of course, as you so correclty point out, what would H. know about motherhood? She's never even been a mother, to my way of thinking. An in-vitro pregnancy would have suited her just as well. I feel sorry for Chelsea. She didn't ask to be born to such a pair of monsters. Please bestow more of your opinions on us, your grateful readership!

Nawww, can't do that. It's properly a forum about reenacting, not politics. (Besides, since the Clinton reelection I have become very tired of politics. If all of his scandals haven't gotten him out of office, what use is my losing sleep over it going to do?)

Mr. Jonah, I just spent four hours of this afternoon perusing your marvelous site.

Four hours!

I haven't done the laundry, started supper, or picked up my ill son's school homework assignments. Shall I blame you for this perilous state of domestic affairs?

Well, you could, but I won't take the blame!

Au contraire. I shall put a whatsit--bookmark--on your site and come back later!

Enjoyed the article on CW music. I'm familiar with most of them, as my CW specialty is researching and performing--guitar, voice, tin whistle, piano if available, etc.-- CW music.

For awhile I collected CW music on LP, CD and cassette. I must have about thirty versions of "Dixie." After awhile I began to notice a sameness from recording to recording, so I stopped.

Have you ever heard "The Cumberland Three?" Old album--ca. 1960. Reissued on CD. These guys went onto become members of the Kingston Trio, etc.

I must have it, but the name isn't ringing any bells right now.

Some renditions seem rather dated, but some I've taken into my own repertoie--example, 'Roll Alabama Roll' and 'Abraham's Daughter.' --- to which I did the period thing and wrote Rebel lyrics--'Liberty's Daugther.'

No offense, but I hate that! (Southern lyrics for "Rally 'Round the Flag," Northern lyrics for "Dixie.") The altered lyrics always sound forced to me... Yes, I realize there is ample precent for this. Seems like every Reb song has a Northern counterpart and vice versa.

To comment on everything else I enjoyed would take all evening. But I will add a few words about myself. I began reenacting in a Federal unit. Politics erupted like Mt. St. Helens, and in Jan. of this year I 'seceded' to Co. A, 9th Texas.

Politics and unit schisms are part of reenacting. To hope "politics would go away so we can all just have fun" is merely wishful thinking. As long as people are in reenactment units, politics will always be there.

Always did feel Rebels seem to appreciate music more than Federals--at least out here in Midwest. Having been forcibly ejected from editing the First Kansas newsletter, I did what I probably should have done in the first place: I started my own newsletter.

I spent about eight years editing and writing newsletters. When I reached the pinnacle of perfection, I quit. A lot of the stuff in JonahWorld! - the Harry Dierken Project, for example - comes from my old newsletter articles.

"The Border States Courier" has been in existence since Feb. and continues to grow--slowly. I hoped to provide a forum for reenactors to publish items which unit newsletter editors usually tell them are too long, too funny, too personal, etc. Actually, I have concluded that most reenactors would rather read the product of someone else's research than come up with their own.

I have discovered this as well. Fortunately, however, I've always been in units where the members liked to write and draw.

That's ok. I'm having a marvelous time digging up all kinds of treasures. September's issue featured an article on the history of hoopskirts. Starting in Jan. I am going to serialize the Articles of War. Everyone hears about them being read to soldiers--nobody knows what they are. There so many wonderful period items ofhumor---for example, I keep a file of 'Weird Commands.' Needless to say, I write lots of parodies myself, some on CW songs, others based on newer tunes--for example, a Gilbert and Sullivan version of the Civil War, or 'Tribute to Jeb Stuart--at the expense of th Beach Boys.---'I Ride Around.' 'Somebody's Hoopskirt.'

Good idea!

And you can see that i'm quite longwinded! One last remark; my singing partner has a second impression: Federal infantryman. So i've been keeping tabs on the to admit female soldiers or not to admit them controversy. Kathleen did it the hard way: the right way. She worked on adopting male mannerisms--did you know you guys sit differently than women?

Of course. There are countless subtle mannerisms.

Remember the part in Huck Finn where the old woman throws Huck - dressed in girls clothes - a yarn ball, and gives himself away as a boy by closing his legs to catch it?

--learned the manual of arms backward and forward, and never-never-never wimped out. The guys tried to make her/him fold at first, but she took it all and kept on coming. She's fought in three battles and the guys have told her that she's always welcome to fall in. For what it's worth, I strongly suspect that some of the women soldiers in the news have NOT tried to do it the correct/hard way. Makeup and jewelry, indeed! To fight as a soldier, you have to work hard and earn the respect of the other soldiers.

Yeah, those beer bellies require a lot of devotion to THE HOBBY.

Duh.....Whining and lawsuits are not only NOT authentic but are darned childish, FINALLy the end! So glad to have made your acquaintance. Will return to site after preparing supper. Time I did something around here!

Your grateful --and loquacious--servant, Sir.

Celia Mater.

Hey Jonah!

I am with the 125th Ohio Infantry in Atlanta, Georgia. We are not a hardcore unit!

Well, I'm glad to hear that sanity can still be found across the fruited plain.

We do make an authentic impression as far as uniforms, drill, battles and for themost part we look and act just as hardcore as any unit. The difference is at night in camp...we all sleep in A-frame period tents (not many real soldiers slept in A-frames on campaign), we eat whatever we want (we hide our coolers in our tents), we don't have anal retentive knapsack inspections, we don't criticize other units and their impressions we don't get anal about the actual length of a seam in 1/8 of inches.

In other words, you more or less practice reenacting as the mainstream does.

We have an ongoing rivalry with a hardcore unit here in Georgia. They do a lot of living histories and we do more battles. We let them be and respect their hardcore portrayal, but they loathe us and sometimes make it that clear.

As I have discovered many times, one is not only judged by the quality of one's friends, but by the nature of one's enemies as well.

They can only field about 7-8 soldiers at a battle and we field 20-30 (which is alot of Yanks for Georgia)!

...which begs the question, what is more authentic overall? Fewer guys with better details, or more guys who don't sweat the details?

Many of our numbers, including me, defected from this unit since they do not allow women or children in camp and they nit-pick you before they have even met you! My very first meeting with them was met with, did you the seam on the back of your pants should be straight across and have no dip in the line. Well, after my shock wore off I said, "Hi I am Jim and you are?

I would be backing away slowly, nodding and smiling all the while.

There was a guy in my Revy War unit who used to like to handle people's clothing, uninvited. When he tried it with me I slapped his knuckles and demanded to know why he was trying to grope my person, then loudly yelled "GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME, YOU FAG!" (I'm lying, I never said such a thing.)

My response was, 1. My coat usually covers my seam when I am around the public,

The Public has no Need to Know.

2) If you would like to buy me a new pair of pants, I'll gladly wear them

A Jonahesque response.

and 3) why are you checking out my ass?"

Sort of in line with my comment above about that Revy War guy.

They wonder, in their new newsletter, why their enlistment is down!

Uh, people expect to have fun during their recreation time, perhaps?

I was very turned off by this! My point being, why so much hostility from hardcores?

Because they're right and you're wrong. It's easier living in a world that's black and white. (Or blue and gray.)

I enjoy the comaraderie and friendship in my unit!

It's the primary reason why I reenact...

I am here to have fun and portray an accurate soldier's impression. Beside, in the south...they put the Federal camp so far from the public...we never see any visitors!!!

This is not necessarily a bad thing if you happen to be reenacting in Deliveranceville, Georgia.

To me, we have this unspoken line of farbiness that is not crossed. This hardcore outfit would say we're farbs now!

Fear not - it's an increasingly meaningless word. It doesn't mean "unauthentic" anymore, it means "I don't agree with you."

But let's keep this in perspective...can anyone truly be TOTALLY AUTHENTIC! I believe NO!

My question is, Why would anyone want to be? To what end? One-upsmanship?

I believe the main reason for reenacting is to have fun and sometimes we miss that point.

Pvt James Butler
125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry - Military Dept of the Mississippi
Disclaimer for the easily-offended: Jim Butler happens to be a member of the 125th Ohio Infantry, and all comments are those of me and nobody else. (For those of you who are very sensitive and might cry!)

Thanks, Jim - uh, James. I'd say something friendly and in context like "Keep your powder dry!", but that might seem to indicate an authentic mindset on my part, and I certainly wouldn't want to lead you astray. - Jonah


Always did love your page. When ever I needed cheering up, or when ever I was wondering why I was in the hobby of CW reenacting, well, I turn to you.

That's a disquieting thought, Jim. - Jonah

Not much going on, I would just like to invite you to look at the web page for my civil war reenacing unit. It is here.

Thanks, Jim Boyle

My Dear Mr. Begone,

Thank you for the lovely endorsement and link. I have been wanting to gnaw my way into this reenactor market! Too many suffer who need my help!

My upgraded address is "".

Dr. Bukk

You're welcome. Always willing to support someone desiring to sink their teeth into the American capitalist system by being a bridge of prosperity over the canal of poverty. - Jonah


You ain't seen nuthin (as far as fake teef go) until you see "Dr Bukk's".

These here are made by folks in Georgia who KNOW what bad teeth look like, unlike some farby feller in Cicero, Indiana (re: JonahWorld! "What's New!" posting, 4/14/97--Important Reb uniform accessory

Deo Vindice,

Reb, you are, of course, absolutely correct. Dr. Bukk's web site is not only hilarious, but an important part of anyone's Civil War impression. (Stuff these into your haversacks!)

Even better is the fact that "Dr. Bukk" is not only a female, but a former Atlanta debutante!

I got such a kick out of this that I'm adding it in the Jonah's Links section. Thanks!


Dear Jonah,

I really enjoy your articles. I especially like your "Quotables". I am trying to be extra careful, so I don't end up there. LOL

My husband and I are members of the 6th Alabama Cavalry. No, I'm not a soldier...LOL

Dinner Bell


Sure like that email ID. (Call me a traitor or copperhead - just don't call me late for dinner.)

Getting in my quotables section is an exhaustive process. Less than 5% of the population can do it, and further yet know about it (or care).


Dear Jonah,

I have to ask a couple of questions about the Civil War.

Certainly. "Tis the reason I exist.

1. Where is this elephant everyone is asking me if I have seen? The only thing I have seen is his dung on the battlefield. When I anwser no I have not "seen the ELEPHANT" THEY LAUGH AT ME.

Try, "I've haven't seen the elephant but my brogans know he was here." Or, "I'm a Democrat. I don't look at elephants."

2. Whose hole is the fire in or what hole is the fire in ?These people keep yelling "FIRE IN THE HOLE " and there is a big bang. I just keep getting confused!

This is not a good thing to be confused about.

3. Where is this poor man "WILL?" He must have more holes than a cheese grater. And when I ask who he is I always end up with KP! It is not fair.

Life isn't fair, and neither is reenacting.

Thank you for the time sir

Your obediant servant,

JACOB LAMITIE 1st North Carolina State Troops CO.B

Any time. Hope I cleared things up for you.


Dear Jonah,
After serious consideration and , I assure you, deep thought. I have decided that you are my last best hope (tacky illusion to Mr. Lincoln).

Yes, I have often been called this.

Will you tell me what it means when you have a naughty dream, shall we say, and your partner is Hillary Clinton. I know, I know , I'm not an American. Hell, here in Canada I'm a Reform party supporter (equal to your Republic Party). But there she was larger than life. I'm not kidding, this actually happened. What does it mean? Will I grow hair on my palms? Is blindness far behind? (I hope not - according to my company captain I can't hit anything now). Will I vote socialist in our upcoming election? Help me Jonah! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

This really did happen and it was weird!

Andrew M. Phillips
2nd Michigan Vol. Inf.
'A' Company

Well, Andrew, you might be interested to know that many Americans report having dreams about the First Crooks, uh, First Couple. I heard this on a talk show (so we know it must be so), and the statement was subsequently analyzed by some worthy like Dr. Joyce Brothers. Anyway, the explanation is that the dreams are a by-product of all the media coverage the two get.

The fact that you had the "naughty" kind of dream with the Hill, however, can best be explained by the fact that you reenact. (Even Dr. Joyce Brothers would be hard put to explain reenacting.)

Anyway, I, myself, once had a dream about the Clintons. In my dream he was touring a Civil War reenactment at which I was present. The presidential entourage stopped by my tent, and the Great Man shook my hand. I asked him why he was doing such a farby impression of a centrist when everyone knew he was a hardcore liberal. He laughed, thumped my back with that big ham hand of his, and in a bluff, hearty tone of voice asked me if I would like a FEMA grant to buy straw, firewood and porta-potties.

Hillary was following along, dressed as a male soldier. A White House press agent was telling onlookers that if they didn't know she was female they wouldn't be able to tell from six feet away. Stopping by a pard, she reached into her haversack and offered him a chocolate chip cookie.

Just then, a crazed Reb jumped up, yelled "Sic Semper Tyrannis" and threw a pie.

It was very unnerving.


Jonah : I know this fellow Doug Tichenor, a Rebel, dangerous, always smiling. He has an additive personality. If it wasn't you it would be someone or something else. I believe Doug is a stalker type individual. Hangs out with the Malone, New York based, 1st North Carolina State Troops. To hell with his addition what about that $!#@$!# sex dream I had involving Hillary Clinton. I need real help.

Warmest Regards
Andy Phillips
2nd Michigan Volunteer Inf.
Ottawa, Canada

Only 90 minutes away from being able to put a serious stomping on some smiling North Carolinians

P.S. Because of the amount of rain this year I'm doing a special re-enactment in September where re-enactors from all over are welcome to come together and re-enact the thrilling underwater battle scene from 'Thunderball'. Please bring your own thermo-nuclear device.The band 'No Doubt' will sing the title song 'Bite This Ian Fleming'

Hey, I loved "Thunderball!" Me and my friends used to see it two or three times on a Saturday afternoon. It's where I got my attitudes about masculinity and relations with the weaker sex. (Which explains why I spent much of my teenage years dateless.)

As for me, I don't make it a practice of hanging around Rebs much. When you're Jonah Begone, you have to be very sure of who it is you're socializing with, you see.

North Carolinians are wonderful, however. Never met one I didn't take an immediate liking to.

About your need for help: Yes, I agree. But I am insufficient to the task. I'd give you the email address for Dirty Mike Shurig, but he isn't connected.

Sweet dreams.


I enjoyed the 2nd installment of the TV Guide for Reenactors submitted by Mal Stylo and yourself in the May Camp Chase Gazette. So many of the shows subliminally steered us toward the hobby! I missed, however, your review of the TV series "Rat Patrol". Great fodder for budding cavalry impressionists!

Waiting impatiently for the next CCG installment,
Doug Tichenor


I really can't say a lot about Rat Patrol - I didn't watch it for some reason. (Maybe something else I preferred to watch ran against it on their time slot or something...) That doesn't stop me from writing about it, of course. If I do a TV Guide Part the Third article I'll be sure to include it.


While reading Burke Davis' book Sherman's March, I came across an interesting reference to Pilot Crackers on page 12; "Sherman climbed a steep hill crowned by old entrenchments that encircled the city and overlooked a stark, scarred landscape... Irregular ranks of graves marked the tide of Federal advances...with headboards made from cracker or ammunition boxes, the names of soldiers crudely scratched on one side and on the other 'Pilot Bread' or 'Watervliet Arsenal.'"

At first I assumed the obvious, that Pilot bread lids were used simply because they were readily available, but then I thought of a rather chilling explanation: perhaps they were intended as a warning...

Are you saying that for Civil War soldiers Pilot bread *wasn't* the staff of life? Nonsense! If hardtack was bad for soldiers the Surgeon General would require a warning be placed on the boxes.

Food for thought, indeed. Warily eyeing the case of Pilot Crackers that my unit recently purchased, I remain,

Pvt. Jim "Dr. Mudd" Stephens, Co. E, 15th NJVI

I say, eat without fear! It's not like it's binder or something... - Jonah


Many thanks for providing an enjoyable way to put off doing the grad school research that I really should be working on.

You're not the only person to tell me this. Apparently, for reenactors, JonahWorld! has become Procrastination Central.

Thanks to your recent posting of the article on Nabisco's decision to bring back the Pilot Cracker, my unit (Co.E,15th NJVI) has decided to be the first to field test these biscuits that stir the hearts (and shatter the molars) of the New Englanders that love them so.

I'm very glad to hear this. Now I can cash Nabisco's checks with a clear conscience.

Our enterprising Sgt. Sangi (who said to say "thanks!") called Nabisco a couple of weeks ago and ordered a case of them.

Ah, yes, Larry Sangi - a legendary reenactor. I know him well. We first met 13 years ago in the middle of a rainy field. He and his pards were doing a line from a W.C. Fields movie, "It's a Gift": "LaFong, Carl LaFong. Capital L, small a, Capital F, small o, small n, small g. LaFong, Carl LaFong."

We should recieve them soon. You are more than welcome to drop by our camp and sample that which your valiant research made available for us. Of course, they may turn out to be lame...

...or then again, they may revolutionize the way you eat at events. Who can tell?

By the way, thanks for the friendly note you sent us for our 25th anniversary. Are you sure we deserved it?

No, I'm sure you didn't. Just wanted you to feel guilty.

Soldiering on, despite having been rained on at every event I've attended since Monmouth last September (you should have seen our naval base impression at Shiloh!)

I remain, Your ob't sev't,etc.,etc.
Pvt. Jim "Dr. Mudd" Stephens

Has it really been that wet this year, or is this merely illustrative of your luck?

P.S. If the 125th anniversary was the Quasquicentenial, what is the proper name for the 135th. Just wondering...

Quasquicentenntial plus a deca? I don't know. I'm not a marketing type the way Pat Massengill was. - Jonah

Bon soir,

(Speaking about Mrs. Begone's Hillary Clinton article): Very excellent writing, and, from my perspective, "right-on."

Did Hillary's mawkish diatribe actually sell?

Honoria Begone speaking: Yes, apparently this load of garbage did sell. I had thought she'd sold a million copies. I do not find it hard to believe she sold 500,000. She was on the New York Times bestseller list for several weeks, actually hitting (gag!) number one.

It is claimed (ap, 4-15-97) that she made $742,852. in royalties. This is, literally, incredible (so what else is new). Even if she made 15% (a high figure--usually goes up in increments, e.g., 5%, 10%, etc, maxing-out at 15%, depending on copies sold--she would have had to sell (assuming $20. per copy) about $11 million dollars worth of her nonsense, or about 500,000 copies. She would have been on the NYT book list for a long, long time.

What do you think? Institutional buying? A DNC perq for small contributors, in lieu of Lincoln bedroom or Air Force One? Is this "gate" the ordure of the day?

Frank Maguire

(Honoria again) I suggest you read David Brock's book, "The Seduction of Hillary Clinton." This is pretty close to the mark, I'd wager. However, Brock thinks "Village" (although I like your "Pillage" myself) is a good book. It's obvious he doesn't have any kids. Anybody who does would not be fooled by this baloney. Someone told me Brock is a homosexual. That would explain his blind spot where this, er, "book" (and I use the term lightly) is concerned. I simply cannot express to you how lousy this tome actually is. But the thing that makes me the maddest--especially after reading Brock's book and the meticulous footnoting therein--is that she does not in any way, shape, or form list her sources of information.

Thanks for reading!

Honoria Begone

Dear Almighty,

I need serious help. I'm down to 5 months before I head to Colorado, and I haven't been able to find a regiment out there. Me being one of Uncle "Billies" boys, cannot just give up reenacting. I'm addicted and I can't just attend one mega-event once a year with my current regiment like I told them I would.

Your fellow in arms in the war against farbism,
Milo Otis
121st + 49th OVI

What do you think I am, some sort of lonely hearts club coordinator? I'm one of the pariahs of reenacting - you think I have contacts all over reenactingdom and can use my good graces to find you a regiment? I'm a man who was once suggested as a subject for the new National Regiment guidon - the image being my head in a noose.

Nevertheless, I have taken pity on you and have forwarded your cry of distress to Al Aronson of the Pequot Mess, who runs the Civil War reenacting list "cw-reenactors." If there's anyone who can help you they'll contact you directly. - Jonah

First, I got addicted to reenacting. Then, I got addicted to the internet. Now I am addicted to the @#$% Jonah Begone web site! All in ONE YEAR!

Is there a support/help group out there that can rescue me?

Yours helplessly,

Douglas Tichenor

No, you must grin it and bear it until you burn out. (Look at it this way: at least you don't have to pack the car, drive, drill, sleep out, etc. to read my web site...) - Jonah

Dear Jonah:

The CCG has hit an all time high for the April issue. A centerfold in the issue.

A centerfold?!? This is the first I've heard - haven't gotten my CCG yet.

Wow. I knew there would be some editorial changes when Grant gave up and Bill took over, but I had no idea...

Can't wait to see this!

The Reenactor crowd will cry for more of them. Maybe you could pose for the female reenactors to keep them happy.

My posing for females wouldn't make them happy. What would make them happy is if 1) I kept my clothes on, 2) I kept out of the pages of the CCG, and 3) I quit making fun of female musketmen.

The male side wishes to see more like Miss April !!!!!

Mike Nichols
2nd Delaware Co G

"Miss April?" Now you really have me wondering.

Say - this isn't Lauren Burgess Cook, is it? An April Fools sort of thing? - Jonah

Dear Jonah,

I was glad to find your website on the net.

I always look foward to your articles in the CCG. It is a nice change from the sometimes dry drill and uniform uniforms. I like to save your article for last in order to end the magazine on a happy note.

Keep the ink flowing,

Ken Callaway
Chesterton, Indiana

Yeah, those drill and uniform articles sometimes have my eyes glazing over. Thanks for the kind remarks! - Jonah

Jonah: Actually this is addressed to any re-enactor. On the way back from the store a thought came to mind. As everyone knows one of the age-old questions is,"When a tree falls in the woods does it make a noise"? What I want to know is, "Does the sharpshooter in the tree have to be tagged as "taking a hit?" Is he dead? Do you amputate if alive? What do you amputate, head, arm, leg?

A knotty problem, indeed. It is well that you came to me to answer it.

The answer, of course, is that a sharpshooter *never* takes a hit, for the following reasons: 1) The foliage causes enough uncertainty with aim to make it worthwhile to argue about ("I hit you!" "No, you didn't!" "Yes, I did!" "No, you didn't!" etc.) 2) No reenactor in his right mind is going to take a hit out of a tree (doesn't mean that you'll never see this, of course - there are plenty of reenactors who aren't in their right minds), and 3) Those shapshooter uniforms - not to mention muskets - are too %!#@ expensive to risk damaging by taking a hit out of a tree.

Finally, the tree can amputate any bloody limb it wants. (Get it? "Limb?" That's a tree joke.)

Also how long would it take for a second re-enactor to show up if you place one in a field by himself?

You're obviously confusing this line of logic with the well-known fact that two Greeks meeting together will start up a restaurant.

The answer to this question, of course, is that two reenactors will eventually meet, and quickly. One will notice an authenticity flaw with the other and, being forsworn to educate, will approach to tell the other about it.

Of course, if that one reenactor is a scantily-clad female, other reenactors will quickly show up. (So will non-reenactors.)

Would the second re-enactor be on the same side?

Perhaps, but not for long. Some of the greatest scientific minds on the planet are working out the half-life of reenactment units even as we speak. It seems to be a couple of years before the inevitable schism takes place.

Would he bring his company with him? Who pays for the first round?

They would both seek to get the event sponsor to pay for it. He of course would refuse, offering instead "amenities" like hay and smelly porta-potties. The reenactors would quickly cave in and attend, and the event would be on!

Andrew(90 days, Sir)Phillips
2nd Michigan Vol. Inf. 'A' Company
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Glad to be able to clear this stuff up for you, Andrew 90 days, sir. - Jonah

Thank you for answering those questions, they really had me in a bit of a bind. Especially the sharpshooter question. As to "taking a hit" I sometimes wonder if re-enactors have death wishes. Certainly some of them can and do take tremendous chances just to fall dead. Falling out of a tree and smashing your melon open is a small price to pay to get the spectators to go "ohh" and "ahh." A great way of meeting the fairer sex, too. Now they won't actually date you, because they mostly think we're all looney, which we are, I guess, but at least you get some ice and perhaps a hint of ankle under twenty five layers of petticoats. It is a marvel to me that families were so large back then as I would either lose interest or forget what it was I started half way through layer 15. Short attention span syndrome. Hope I may use the Jonah approved label for my site. Keep in touch.

Andrew (90 days, Sir) Phillips
Still waiting for my dischage papers
2nd Michigan Vol. Inf.


I had a doubt when I saw your page said it was "The most authentic waste of time" on the web. Now I believe it; there needs to be more pages like this on the web. Thanks for giving us all something to laugh about.

Thanks again,
Ben Newton
A.K.A "Quincy Quickstep"

Thank you, Quincy! - Jonah

Just want to know if you are OK in Union country. I visit your page on a regular basis, and since I haven't seen anything new in the past couple of weeks, I thought I would check on you. Even though I am a Southron to the bone, I do get a chuckle from your articles. (Actually, if you want to know the truth, I am only a few months old in "the hobby." If I hadn't stumbled across your page when I did, I really would have been scratching my head when I first heard the term "farb.")

Seriously, you have helped educate me (as well as many others, I am certain), and I appreciate it, even if you are a misguided Yank.


"Educate people?" Yikes! I'm trying to entertain, not educate! Yes, Janet, I'm still here. I haven't added anything to JonahWorld! lately because I've been making major additions to my other two web pages. (They're under my real name so you don't get the links here.) Glad that even Southrons can learn something from misguided Yanks! - Jonah

After about six months of mulling this over with others in my unit, I think I have come up with a great gag: "Farby the Clown." Clown makeup, sackcoat with a zipper, trousers with cargo pockets - you get the idea. The Followers of Farby (FOF), could sneak around camp at night placing "I Love Farby the Clown" stickers on all visible beer coolers, aluminum cookware, modern period equipment, etc.

You know, on second thought this "anachronarc" raiding party could result in the injury or death, possibly by a camp virago finding a damn decal on a dutch oven. Or you could just be overwhelmed at an SCA event, and run out of stickers.

By the way, I am one of those "ten Hessian reenactors" who can take the third side of a two-sided war: "Well it's not really our fight, we're European Continentals." [He's referring to my Revy War article - Jonah]

Great page, great articles. Fight the good fight.

William Rush
Grenadier Co.
Infanterie Regiments Von Donop
Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foote

Ah, yes - Von Donop's. Used to get bayonetted every year by one of your guys as I lay helpless at an annual event. Splendid fellows!

"Farby the Clown?" Hmmm. Where does one get authentic clown gear, I wonder? (If Farby isn't going to be an authentic soldier, he has to at least be an authentic clown.)

Thanks for the nice comments. - Jonah

Dear Jonah,

Just finished reading every word of JonahWorld. Took me a few weeks since I'm doing it at work during officially sanctioned breaks. No, really, I mean it! I also don't use the official phone for personal phone calls.

Wow! You read *every word* of JonahWorld? That's a lot! This, however, is a dubious achievement...

Loved it all. Here at Leavenworth (the Army Command & General Staff College NOT the Federal Pen!), I'm finding it difficult to resist the repeated attempts to recruit me by my colleagues.

For prison? Oh, no, you must mean reenacting, right? (Right?)

Although I'll probably go with a "gallant southron" unit (I'm originally from S.C.), I promise I will :

1) Never engage in self-delusions of that I am somehow honoring the memory of my ancestors.

Well, not necessarily by reenacting, anyway. As far as I'm concerned, simply remembering them is enough. Trying to *be* them is a little odd.

2) Willingly "galvanize" whenever necessary.
3) Never forget (if I go thru with this) that I'm doing it for fun.
4) Keep "yee-ha's" to a historically-appropriate minimum.
5) Get out of reenacting if my waistline ever exceeds 36" (I'm 34" now, which no doubt is already downright corpulent by CW standards, methinks.)

Thanks for putting it all in the proper perspective.


...and yet another well-adjusted and sane recruit hits the ranks of reenacting! Huzzah!

Thanks for your kind remarks! - Jonah

Dear O Great One :

"O Great One" - I like that!

I really did enjoy the Reenactors TV Guide in the Jan/Feb issue of Camp Chase Gazette.

Thank you!

One film that you should put in there is the 1951 Red "Badge of Courage." The crossed rifles on the kepis and the haversacks that are as big as pillow cases. Maybe they are going on a long march and need to stock up!

I don't care - I loved this film! Okay it wasn't terribly authentic in costume - so what? It was authentic to the book and was wonderfully cast.

By the way, it being a film and not a TV production I covered it in a movies article that ran in the Jan/Feb '93 CCG. (Click here to see it.)

As to the Wishbone version my kids thought it was pretty good and even laughed at the rifle Wishbone carried. That is why I bought the movie version and got a big laugh when I watched it.

Mike Nichols
2nd Delaware Co G

I think Wishbone is really cute, and my kids love it. Ulysses, the Begone son, has expressed an interest in hearing the opera "Faust" based on a viewing of the Wishbone adaptation. Mal Stylo likes Wishbone, too, by the way.

Click here for an image of Wishbone dressed as Henry Fleming - the little rifle you mention is also shown - and click here to read Crane's sequel to "Red Badge of Courage," entitled "the Veteran."

Milk Creek Mercantile Co. wrote:

Hi -

My name is Teresa Harrison and I have recently volunteered to edit our club's newsletter (the stupidity of this action has been making itself more and more apparent).

Nahhh - it's fun! Be creative about it and you'll find it becomes something of a hobby! I did unit newsletters for nearly eight years and had a kick! And remember what Cardinal Richelieu said: "The pen is mightier than the sword."

The organization is the Northwest Civil War Council based in Oregon. I came across your articles that you have written over the past several years and am writing to ask permission to use some of them in future editions of the "Bugle Call" - of course giving credit to you and when and where they appeared.

Thank you


I am thrilled to hear that JonahWorld! is being used by newsletter editors; this is one of the prime uses I intended for it!

As long as you credit me with what I've written you may use anything you like. (If it appeared in the CCG you should indicate that as well.)

There is tons of filler material for newsletter editors in the "etc." section - it's what I used as filler in the 8+ years I edited CW reenactor newsletters... there are also some good quotes on the quotes page.

Jonah T. Begone

Grier, Charles R. wrote:

> How does one get his site "Jonah approved"?

A long process of fasting, seeking spiritual guidance and wisdom from wizened Tibetan monks and tearful, humble supplication to me.

But since you seem to be in a hurry I'll truncate the process somewhat. See below.

> I have noticed the jonah graphic on a few web sites and if this is an award for good civil war sites

It's a recognition that the bearer has a discernable sense of humor, which, when you think about it, is *everything* in life.

I have duly inspected your site, and approve of the fact that you have included JonahWorld! as a link. (Making it flash would be a big step in the "Jonah Begone Approved" process. I might even waive the plane trip to Tibet.)

There are two hard and fast requirements:

1) You must visit Leann Thompson's web site at - she's the kind soul who created the image.

2) You must never, ever, reveal my true identity (which will shortly be revealed to you).

A few observations:

- "Heel" plates, in your uniform section, is spelled as I have it, and not as you do: "heal plates" (unless there's some miraculous powers you expect recruits to bring along with them).

- That private at the Cabin Creek event looks like he's having too much fun. Tell him to knock it off and snap another photo.

- Your event schedule seems to be short on overnighters in December and January, fix this.

Normally my standards for "Jonah Approval" are so high that you wouldn't normally qualify - nobody short of my pard Mal Stylo would - but on the basis of that neat animated Yank waving the flag around I shall grant approval.

In Hoc Signo Vinces.

Jonah Begone

Gee,I never knew that there was a person as cynical as me about reenacting out there. Jonah, you truly are the master of making fun of Farbs. Me being ultra-mega hardcore, have nothing to worry about. Great page man!!!

Pvt. JOEYO,3rd KY USA,19th TN CSA

Uh-oh. Did I miss making fun of the ultra-mega hardcores?

Thanks for your kind words.


My name is Jean-Dominique Gille (JD) and I enjoy your page. I am located in Atlanta GA with 42nd Geo. Inf/125th O.V.M.

I hope to be able to be a good reenactor and your articles are a very good help to me as well.

No! Avoid my writing like the plague if you want help at being a good reenactor!

Would it be possible if I do have any questions being new in the hobby and suffering in the middle of the galvanization issue in my unit re: the hobby and how to improve my knowledge and gear to send you an E-mail?

Thanks and keep up the good work

I suggested JD subscribe to the "cw-reenactors list" Al Aronson maintains, and this would be my advice for any other feckless innocents out there as well. - Jonah

Dear Jonah,

Thanks for all of your contributions on the JonahWorld webpage, I have enjoyed them immensely. I am glad you are helping all of us in this hobby get a better perspective on the humor of it all! When we stop having anything to laugh about in this hobby, it will be time for us to find a new pursuit for our spare time.

Thank you - I couldn't agree more (obviously).

On the other hand, I have to say that I find your complaints about 80s-90s movies being overly "politically correct" a bit misplaced-- although certainly the norm among a majority of reenactors (yes, we have only two out-of-the-closet liberals in our unit here in the home state of the Kennedys).

I know: They keep trying to surrender your unit on the field, right? "Let's negotiate with the enemy! War never solved anything! No blood for cotton!"

Just keep in mind that any film is simply an interpretation of a subject based on the values and ideals current at the time the film was made (this coming from someone who has never had a college course in film or theater).

Precisely - which is why I prefer historical films from the 70's. The 60's films all seemed to have defiance of authority and the celebration of youth as themes; in other words, 60's culture. 80's and 90's productions are full of propagandizing about the contributions and values of minorities (i.e. political correctness), and some sort of eco-consciousness permeates. 70's films seem to have less of that stuff. (I am thinking of "Barry Lyndon" and "The Duellist," for instance.)

Thus, the campy 60s films that you love so much are simply reflecting a set of politically correct values that you embrace from that era.

No, no. I wrote that I like campy 60's *Disney* films (like "The Parent Trap," "Polyanna," etc.) because I can enjoy them with my kids without fear. This is a matter of the film producer marketing to an audience more than a matter of 60's PC. And while it is true I was much more liberal as a youth than I am today ("If one is not a liberal when young, he has no heart. If one is not a conservative when he is older, he has no brains." - Winston Churchill), I was *never* "politically correct."

And believe me, they were just as much rammed down the throat of the public then as the "PC" stuff is today, there was just no organized and well-funded conservative political lobby existing at the time to rail against it and make it a sterling campaign issue.

Well, there was a crucial societal and political juncture in the 1964 presidental campaign (Johnson vs. Goldwater.) America took the leftwards path. The rest is history.

In other words, I don't see how this makes PC themed films of late to be so bad, just a reflection on where our society (or Hollywood at any rate) is at this time.

Which, apparently, you think is not bad. Here we disagree!

I am sure Hollywood will come up with a new twist in the next decade, although I shudder to think what it might be (police-state fascism is a good contender)!

Nihilism seems to be a coming trend. One often leaves the theater feeling depressed and in want of a shower.

Enough of that! What I really wanted to write to you was to nominate another full-length film for your consideration. This being the 1981 Nebraska Public Television adaptation of Mark Twain's THE PRIVATE HISTORY OF A CAMPAIGN THAT FAILED.

Part of a series of excellent TV renditions of Mark Twain stories. I've seen it. I didn't include it in my movie reviews because I was doing theatrical releases, not TV matter. I have a Civil War TV Review floating around in my head.

This is a really fantastic rendition of Twain's fictionalized reminiscences of his brief

Two weeks.

and inglorious career in the Confederate militia. The fifteen youths (ranging in age from maybe 14 to 18) do a superb job as the "Marion Rangers" portraying the early idealism and enthusiasm common at the beginning of the war in wonderful, convincing dialogue amidst the context of a bunch of country hayseeds from rural Missouri. Although I am no purist thread-counting fanatic, the mismatched clothing and array of antiquitated guns (I don't think any one of them carries the same weapon), the camp layouts, and encounters the intrepid group has with local folks appears to demonstrate a good appreciation for authenticity.

Authentic perhaps, save in one regard: What the writer intended. See below.

The film has a great twist ending (epilogue actually) with Twain's classic anti-war War Prayer included in a scene appropriately set at the beginning of the Spanish American war.

I think this "twist" is a total perversion of what Twain had in mind. You see, he wrote "the War Prayer" - a wholly separate work - in his bitter later years. (He was adamantly opposed to the US war with the Spanish and spent much time speaking out and writing against it.) "Private History" has to do with a much younger, more idealistic Twain. It is artistically wrong, in my opinion, to combine the two - especially turning it into a lame ghost story by having the man shot down in the first story deliver the war prayer in the second.

Would Twain have approved? I doubt it.

You really need to see this one, if you have not already. It has been printed for distribution by MCA Home Video (1984),

I saw it in '83, so I think it may have been originally aired in '82.

and I suppose appears once in a blue moon on PBS-affiliated stations. I have not checked with the local video palaces, my copy coming from the college library (which has a full set of the series that NPT did on Mark Twain classics, some others of which might also make it to your list). By all means, check this one out! I look forward to hearing your opinion in the next glorious edition!!

Why wait? Read it here! Actually, what I'd do is stop the video player at the end of the first story ("Private History") and not even show the War Prayer part. Maybe even put 'em on two different videotapes, as Twain probably would have preferred.

See Ya in the McDonald's Adjacent to the Next Mega-Event.

Actually, I prefer Wendy's. I like looking at those old advertisements on the table surfaces.

Don C. Williams
28th Mass. Vol. Regiment

And thank you for writing such a thoughtful letter! I love getting this kind of feedback! - Jonah

great page......I am sitting in computer class.....boring

As boring as drill? I bloody doubt it! - Jonah


Gee, you love me! You really, really love me! - Jonah

Re: Jonah's Tips for Economy Reenacting:

A pox on you Begone.

My unit, sir, bought a Dixie truck horn on your recommendation but the blamed thing only played the first ten notes a Dixie, not the first 11.

It was like a guy going "shave and a haircut" and then not "two-bits!"

As we used this device at reveille on Saturday morning, the whole event was a wash. We kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. My mind wasn't on the battle and them five yanks routed my gallant command -- 25 sons of the south waiting to hear a c-sharp "dah!"

Be advised sir, you are not welcome in the camp of the 85th Arkansas Yankee Eradicator Guards!!!

Waldo Hoffenbaager
Colonel Commanding
also President of Waldo's Dial-a-Muffler

Snubbed and scorned by yet another unit. What else is new?

And as far as purchasing from J.C. Whitney is concerned: It's buyer beware! (I've learned this from many exchanges and returns. Mrs. Begone thinks K-Mart employs the most stupid people in America - I'm convinced J.C. Whitney does.)

Hey, Hoffenbaager, tell the guys at Waldo's they still owe me that girlie calendar - you know, the one with Home Improvement's "Heidi" sitting on the Parrott Gun... - Jonah

Well Jonah, how are you faring after the Great Cookoff?? Boy, do they mistreat you. You deserve a medal . . . (Stomach?). . .

Well, a little Maalox seems to help. I figure I'm okay as long as I can avoid the Chef and binder. - Jonah

Admit it! The article "Admit it! The Civil War Sucks! By Joe Queenan" is beneath even us! Lose it Jonah.

A Concerned Reenactor

I'm undecided about this. I will agree that there's a lot to dislike about the piece, however, it's needlessly insulting and of a totally contrarian tone. That being the case I could argue, therefore, that it belongs here (it's in the "et cetera" section). Tell you what: When I start to run out of disk space it'll be the first thing that goes. (By the way, good try at double anonymity, there, Mal!) - Jonah

Later note: I removed it to make space for "Axe Reb" in the "Know Your Enemies" article. Happy, Mal? - Jonah

Even later note: I put it back in, thanks to Al Aronson's donation of disk space. Sorry, Mal. Here it is.


How much would it cost to oufit the Western Brigade with Camp Chase Gazette baseball caps instead of kepis?

Billy Yank

Irrelevant in light of the fact that such headgear would immeasurably improve the overall "look" of the Western Brigade. I say let's do it! - Jonah

Great page!!! Wanted to let you know I put a link to your page on my index page.

Had to send you another note on the webpage. After looking at your page in more detail I can't believe the work you put into it. What a waste of time!!!! Just kidding :) It really looks good. Great Job! Hope I don't get to many flames for linking to it. Ill probably keep it on my main page for a month or so then just leave it in the Links section.

Thanks for your kind comments. Hope you weather the slights from the (self-proclaimed) "hard-cores" and the humor-impaired for providing a link to JonahWorld! - Jonah

We (the public) want more Gimbles & Stark!

No way. They're dead. Mal keeps talking about bringing 'em back to life, and I keep trying to talk him out of it. (I hate the literary gimmick of killing off characters and finding improbable ways of rescuing them from certain death.) I've passed your comment on to Mal, however, who has responded by discovering "Gimbels and Stark - The Lost Episodes." Oh, dear... - Jonah

I love the homepage! The captions are a scream! The altered Camp Chase Gazette crew photo is my favorite.

Thanks for the funny commentaries. I really appreciate your humor. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in authenticity that we forget that the soldiers had a good sense of humor.

Of course they did! Read John W. Haley's journal excerpts, for instance. It's the reenactors who are frequently found wanting... - Jonah

This comment from an Internet friend of mine (we've never met). Just because he's a friend, however, doesn't mean his assessment isn't true...

Hey Jonah! --LOVE YOUR PAGE BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's right up there with my Ed Woods movie Collection!!!!!!

This one is from a pard in England. He does Dark Age Arthurian reenacting (and you thought your Union telegrapher impression was exotic!) and writes,

Hiya, just got back from an hour (when I was meant to be doing project work) of reading your Jonah Begone pages - I couldn't stop laughing! Loved the seven types of re-enactor - may I be so bold as to add an eighth?

The "Seen it, done it, bought the T shirt type" often found at British Dark age and medieval re-enactments.

This form of re-enactor knows absolutely everything there is to know (unconditionally) about every period of history. We are not talking a passing interest here, but this person wrote the entire screenplay!

You probably know the type :

Seen it : "Well of course this form of formation is far inferior to the one used at the battle of much-bonking-on-the-marsh in 1797. I've been doing some researh into this period, and I can definitely say that that professor Smith doesn't know what he's talking about. So if we just move slightly over there, excuse me - you're kits inferior to mine get off the field, we'll..."

Re-enactor X : "Aye lassie, but this is Bannockburn..."

Seen it : "Ah yes,but it doesn't mean to say that the Portuguese would NOT have had this formation at their command in this period."

Re-enactor X : "But we're Scottish..."

Seen it : "Yes, but the Scots could have have access to the Portuguese experience and learned from it."

Re-enactor X : "Ok, well if we change formation, what about a pike block and..."

Seen it : "Oh yes, done that. Shite."


You must know the type! Also, films for you to review, I'll add my thoughts at a later date (pushed for time - really sorry). Here is the main discussions around UK camp fires.

Flesh and Blood Jennifer Jason Leigh basically in a state of undress over and over and over again. But this film is actually on my medieval society's recommended film list for not being farby! <= do I sound american? :-) Good battle scene at the start.

Highlander Favourite Re-enactor film over here

The Wicker Man Hammer's Pagan style film popular in my group. Christopher Lee in it.

Rob Roy For the Music and Tim Roth. And the final fight scene

Braveheart Good fight scenes, but bad for being really farby kit wise, and that $!%@#!-ing annoying irishman. I don't really hold to swearing but I can see its merits here. Loved by Scottish re-enactors for some reason.

Henry V You've already got it down, but its worth two mentions. [Or a third. - Jonah]

Hamlet Both versions. God, I love Helena Bonham Carter...

Judge Dredd Discussion centres around whether he should have taken his helmet off or not.

Conan Films Actually the first one is rated overall as being not bad! Second is okay apart from Olivia D'Abo screaming all the way through

Steel Dawn Not bad fight scenes when they occur. Pity about the rest of the film though.

Last of the Mohicans. Nuff said. The amount of injuries caused by that move with the tomahawk and dagger doesn't bear thinking about.

This is Spinal Tap SEE THIS FILM! It is hilarious...

Excalibur. Good film. A bit farby though to say the least. Good music

Star Wars Series The number of re-enactors who pick up a sword and say "you underestimate the power of the force Luke" and then proceed to make humming noises as they whirl around their head...

Zulu Every damn shield wall starts jumping up and down yelling the famous word. Then somebody with a sword "Dull wit type" comes out with, "Don't point, bloody spears, at me."

Name of the Rose Haven't really seen it though [I objected to the incredibly graphic and unneeded sex scene with Christian Slater. - Jonah]

First Knight Cos we were in it. Awful film though

Ivanhoe 1950's style swordplay. Stand 20+ feet away and try to tap the end of your opponents sword with yours.

Prince of Thieves Generally for being bad. And no offence mate, but "This is English Courage!" in an american accent?! [I hereby apologize on behalf of all of America for this one... - Jonah]

The Princess' Bride The Dread Pirate Roberts scene and left handed fighting!

Apocalypse now Da da da daa darrrrrr, etc.

Cromwell Well, the protestants amongst us anyway!Always well discussed at Civil War events.

Who Dares Wins (I think "The Final Option" over the Pond) For the last five mins, we love the SAS

Patriot Games See above

Anything on the Gulf War/Falklands or made us feel important

Any Monty Python We are british after all!

Also, Robin of Sherwood, and the Sharpe series.

Oh yes, and WWF Wrestling causes no end of hilarity over here!

So there you have it - reenacting with an English flavor.