There are so many things to get ready to bring to a reenactment if one is
a sutler, the word we use for people providing goods and services to the
soldiers. There are tents to pack, trade goods to organize and all the
items needed to make a comfortable camp life. Of course, after a while,
the packing does become a well planned routine, but there is always
something else we wished we had brought to make our presentation more
authentic, or even more showmanship-like. I have brought tons of gear to
events over the years and then sat and fretted whether the elements were
going to tear it up. Still, if no one ever sees what one has collected,
what's the point?
Each time out, each new reenactment becomes an adventure. That is why we
keep coming back over and over to reenact some element of the "Late
Unpleasantness" as one writer once called The War Between the States in
the greatest understatement of all time.
Food is usually one of the bigger questions to consider. How much should
one bring? Will it spoil? Does it bear any resemblance to what the people
ate back then or is it a matter of quick convenience so that one can get
on with the business at hand?
Weather always plays an important role at the events. The more favorable
the weather, the better the event is remembered with affection. Cool clear
days and brisk chilly nights with NO RAIN are the optimum conditions.
Then, as a sutler, one wonders where one will be able to set up. Being on
the beaten path where the soldiers and other period dressed people is very
important. Or to have the spot one has occupied for years and years is
also essential to doing business. As much as one loves the hobby, there is
still a shop to run. If one can not make enough sales, then that event may
have to be dropped from one's annual schedule. Hunsader's, our current
event is not a problem for me as I want to maintain this event as a kick
back and relax opportunity. Every reenactor and sutler has to have a few
of these events a year to renew the spirit otherwise reenacting just
becomes another chore, another business date with potentially trying
Brookesville, The Alafia Mountain Man Event, and Olustee Battle are the
moneymakers for me. They provide the extra funds for summer expenditures
and the trinkets one likes to buy but I don't want to take my paycheck
money to spend.
Another important reason to go to the reenactments is to meet friends. The
reenactors are like family members. Sure there are squabbles and politics
within the hobby. But many of us have been seeing each other at these
events for as many as twenty years or more. We've watched each other's
kids grow up and even seen some of our fellow reenactors pass from the
scene either to retire from the hobby or to go meet the real Civil War
soldiers in Heaven.
I love being out doors. Reenacting has given me that opportunity with an
activity within the natural environment to keep my mind and body active. I
do dread the rains, the heat and most especially the cold, but I keep
going at it over and over to keep the excitement in my life going that one
is unable to find in the daily grind that occupies our everyday activity.
One final thought each reenactor faces is the matter of getting to the
event. Often these reenactments are at far distances from home. We worry
about will our car, in my case, the van and the wagon make the whole trip
safely and bring us back on time to return to the real world. All these
thoughts race through our minds as we plan to go to each and every event.
The challenges and excitement are what gears our energy to go to the next
event held somewhere in the woods and fields miles from where the
twenty-first century is unfolding. We truly step back in time.