So you are thinking about becoming a Civil War reenactor?
If you are reading this you have probably attended a re-enacting event and were fascinated with what you saw or heard. At the event you saw Artillery, Cavalry, Infantry and Civilian re-enactors. You visited the camps, shopped with the Sutlers, and witnessed a battle or demonstration of life in the 1860’s. If you have always had an interest in history, enjoy primitive camping and meeting colorful characters then you are definitely a good candidate to become a re-enactor. Hopefully this site will help to answer the many questions you might have and encourage you to become involved in this amazing, life-changing hobby and lifestyle.
You should not reenact if:
- You are unwilling to obey orders and live a military life-style.
- You don’t like to rough it in the great outdoors.
- Can’t physically withstand the stress of marching in freezing temperature or extreme heat.
- You have an agenda of promoting racism, hatred or bigotry.
Let’s see if we can answer the many questions you might have!
Who is the 2nd Missouri?
The 2nd Missouri is a group of individuals, located throughout the state of Missouri and southern Iowa, who are actively involved in portraying the men who fought during the American
Civil War. We have other non-combatant members who represent 1860’s families, and civilians. At most events we portray the Missouri State Guard, who were citizen soldiers,
which answered the call of Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson, to defend Missouri from the invading federal troops. Other times we portray soldiers from Missouri who joined the Confederate army and served in the Trans-Mississippi Brigade. Still other times we “galvanize” and portray Union soldiers so that an event will be more historically correct.
In 2005, we served as Union soldiers and performed military services at the burial of the last unburied Civil War veteran. John Byrne’s cremated remains had been sitting on a shelf, in a mausoleum in California, for over 85 years, until his descendents found them and returned them to Memphis, Missouri for proper burial.
What kind of individual becomes a reenactor?
Everyone has their own reason for re-enacting, but we have found several common interests in the members of our company. First, we all enjoy history, especially the decade of the American Civil War. Secondly, we love the outdoors, especially camping and spending time
around the campfire. We also have an intense desire to learn. Learning how soldiers lived, dressed, drilled and fought consumes much of our time. Each member strives to become better informed so that
they can more accurately portray the Civil War soldier to the public. The fourth thing we have in common is the willingness of our members to share what they have learned, not only with fellow re-enactors but also with the public. We all enjoy visiting with the spectators and educating them about the Civil War.
Why do we reenact?
The reasons we reenact are as varied as the individuals who participate. Some do it because they want to experience what it was really like to have been a civil war soldier. Others do it because they see it as a challenge to live and survive using period items. Some do it to relive history by following the actual footsteps of a civil war soldier, and fighting on the same field where many sacrificed their life for something they so strongly believed Still others do it as a way to escape, if only for the weekend, the real world of TV, cell phones and modern amenities. Regardless of the reason, all develop a great sense of pride in accurately portraying the civil war soldier in their dress, lifestyle and performance on the battlefield.
It doesn’t take too many events before you start-developing friendships, which will last a lifetime. Over the years we have become like a family and miss each other in the off-season and look forward to the next event for the fellowship, which soon becomes more important than the actual re-enacting.
What usually goes on at an event?
This varies from event to event. Most events are held on Saturday and Sunday for the public to attend. During the school year many events will have a school day on Friday for students to see camps and demonstrations. Our members usually arrive the Friday night before an event and set up camp. After an early breakfast Saturday morning the company will have safety inspections for the weapons and practice drilling just like the civil war soldier.
The battles are usually held after lunch. What happens in the battle is scripted out during the officer’s meeting from the research done on the original battle. When we take the field, we try to re-create the original battle as closely as possible to the way it happened in the civil war.
Following the battle we clean our weapons and get ready for the Saturday night events. These usually include a meal furnished by the event organizers and sometimes a period dance. Sunday mornings are usually a little more relaxed as members have the opportunity to attend a period church service. Sunday afternoon is usually another battle, which afterward we load up our gear and head for home. During the weekend we try to keep the camp as authentic as possible and welcome spectators and answer their questions about how things were done in the 1860’s.
How militarily accurate are things done?
We try to do things as close to how it was done in the 1860’s as possible. The men elect our field commanders who, assume the duties and responsibilities of a civil war officer, the same as it was done during the civil war. Our officers give orders and assign work details, which we are expected to obey and do. Drills are conducted according to the manuals of that time period and all soldiers are expected to know and perform the drills accurately. If we don’t, we get yelled at just as those soldiers did. The same military structure, chain of command and rules for the civil war soldier are followed.
How physically demanding is reenacting?
Reenacting can be very physically demanding. We have to deal with the same conditions of heat, cold, rain and snow that they had to deal with during the civil war. Sometime events require long marches with heavy packs, sleeping on the ground under the stars, cooking over an open fire and following orders whether we agree with them or not. This is all done wearing period clothing and using replica items that they would have had available. About the only exceptions made are for health and sanitary reasons. At most events port-a-potties are available and we are allowed to keep perishable food in ice coolers as long as they are out-of-sight from the spectators.
How many events do I have to attend?
You can attend as many or as few events as you like. The reenacting season in our area usually begins in March and runs into December. Few events are held in June, July and August due to the extreme heat. Some events are held on or near actual battle sites, where we try to accurately reenact the original event. Other events are fabricated as entertainment for the community to gain a better understanding and appreciation of Civil War history.
We hold a company meeting in the winter to elect organizational and field officers and to plan the season. We vote on which events we want to attend as a company (Maximum Effort events) and make our members aware of other events available (Voluntary and Listed).
When you pay dues ($20 single, $25 family) you also become a member of the Missouri Civil War Reenactors Association, which allows you to participate in any event they sponsor in the state. We are also members of the Missouri Battalion and are welcomed at any event they attend, many of which are regional or national events sometimes held out of state. Many of our members also participate in Living History events where there is no actual battle but educational events for the public.
How do I get started?
The first thing we would suggest is to attend a reenactment and visit with the members of the company and ask lots of questions. Don’t be embarrassed about what you don’t know, we all started out the same way.
Don’t go out and purchase items without first researching what is period correct and what is not. Not everything sold at the Sutlers are authentic reproductions and many of the things they sell you don’t need. We also have several members of our company who make items or have extra items that they are willing to sell cheaper than the sutlers.
Some of our members have items they are willing to loan you until you have the means and knowledge to purchase what you actually need. If you are ready to purchase items ask one of us to go with you to the sutler or if you are purchasing online, email us for assistance. We have dealt with many of the different sutlers at events and online and can give you valuable advice as to what you really need before you invest a lot of money.
What does it cost to get started in reenacting and what do I need?
The initial investment can be well over $1,000 but if you are patient and do your research you can get by much cheaper. Ask around to see if any of our members have items for sell. After your initial investment the only cost you will incur will be the cost of getting to and from events, what you eat at the events and the weapon consumables such as powder, caps and cleaning supplies.
Since we portray citizen soldiers, a uniform is not necessary. Cotton broadfall pants, a period shirt and suspenders can be purchased for well under $100. If you, or you know someone handy with a sewing machine, these items can be made for much less. Eventually you may want to purchase a civilian sack coat for that early spring and late fall event.
A period slouch hat from Dirty Billy’s or Clearwater Hat can cost you over $100, however, a period correct hat can be purchased at an Amish store for under $20. Don’t waste your money on a Kepi as these were not worn by citizen soldiers.
This is one item you should spend a little more on for quality. After a long day or two of reenacting you and your feet will be happy that you didn’t skimp on this items. Missouri Boot Company will custom make your Brogans for around $125. If that isn’t in your price range, you can still purchase decent quality shoes at a sutler for half of that. Some of our members have purchase modern day boots and modified them to look period.
Your musket will be your largest investment. There are several that are period correct. The three band 1861 Springfield and three band 1858 Enfield are the most common ones used in reenacting today. A new reproduction will cost you around $450-$500. Once again, ask around; as many of our members have loaners or have used ones for sell. This is one item you will eventually have to purchase but for the first year you can get by borrowing. Another alternative is to carry a period pitchfork or other farm tool, which were documented as being carried into many early battles.
Accouterments are those items soldiers used to carry their cartridges, caps, water and personal items. Handmade cloth bags and pockets can be a good substitute for cartridge boxes and cap boxes; however, at some large events these are unacceptable due to safety reasons. No one wants to be standing next to you when that pocket full of cartridges accidentally goes off. We do have a couple of members who do great leather work and have made many of the boxes members use today. The canteen for water is an absolute necessity. However, I’ve seen some gourd canteens that are as authentic as you can get or Crown Royal bottles wrapped in twine that look great. A haversack is relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to make as well. All it these items together can be purchased for well under $100.
Cooking and Eating Utensils:
Period plate, cup, pan, forks and spoons can be found at many antique stores. These are essential items that really don’t have to be period as long as you only use them in camp when no spectators are present.
Depending on how much you like to rough it, bedding can be pretty simple. Most events provide straw, which you can use for a mattress. All you need is a ground cloth and a period looking quilt or blanket. A good quality rubberize poncho purchased from a Sutler is a handy item to have for those rainy days and it also makes an excellent ground cloth. Hand made cotton quilts or 100% wool blankets will meet your basic needs.
This is one item you don’t have to have to start out, but you will eventually want to purchase. There are several period correct styles such as the dog tent, wedge or A tent and wall tents available from sutlers. You can start out “campaign style” and just sleep under the stars without one, and if it rains one of us will gladly share a tent if you can stand the snoring. If you are wanting to get your entire family involved you may want to consider purchasing a wall tent which will sleep everyone. You can spend anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on the type and size of tent you purchase.
Hopefully this list will give you some ideal of the things you need or will eventually want to gather to complete your impression. Using a little creativity and wise shopping is not only an enjoyable part of the hobby but will save you money in the long run. The bottom line is if you are unsure about what you are purchasing don’t buy it. We all have closets full of stuff we bought thinking it was what we needed only to find out, as we got more experience, that it is either inappropriate or not needed. Come join us in camp at an event before you buy, and look around, you’ll be happy you did in the long run.
If you have any questions about attending an event and checking out what reenacting is all about, contact one of our officers for more information.
2nd MISSOURI ORGANIZATIONAL OFFICERS
President - Greg Walter Vice-President – Ron Ulrich, Jr.
20 Overbrook Dr. 706 E. Burford
Kirksville, MO 63501 Marsfield, MO 65706
lwalter @ astu.edu r.ulrich @ mchis.com
Secretary – Dan Hill Treasurer – Tim Hanlin
508 Miller St. 802 N. Main
Doniphan, MO 63935 Monroe City, MO 63456
moconfed @ gmail.com TimHalin @ charter.net
2nd MISSOURI FIELD OFFICERS
Captain – Ron Ulrich, Jr.
706 E. Burford
Marshfield, MO 65706
r.ulrich @ mchis.com
1st Lieutenant – Stephen Gale 2nd Lieutenant - Mark Dover
312 Elm St. 2023 Garfield St.
Licking, MO 65542 Unionville, MO 63565
gale4family @ hotmail.com msg1861 @ hotmail.com
1st Sergeant – Lee Smith 2nd Sergeant – Karl Juntenen
5082 Hwy 137 654 Loch Carron Dr.
Yukon, MO 65589 Wentzville, MO 63385
email@example.com kc0zhp @ gmail.com
1st Corporal - Don Yorker 2nd Corporal – Greg Holland
3321 Leola St. 625 E. Slater St.
St. Louis, MO 63139 Marshall, MO 65340
donyorker @ yahoo.com cmgholland @ yahoo.com
3rd Corporal - Jesse Baker
28360 State Hwy 6
Kirksville, MO 63501