Read the latest dispatch from the What's It Wagon

11 Jul 2010 Gettysburg

19 Feb 2002 Olustee

27 Jan 2002 Alafia Mountain Man Rendezvous

19 Jan 2002 Brookesville Reenacment

21 Feb 2001 Battle of Olustee 2001

27 Jan 2001 Alafia Mountain Man Rendezvous

19 Jan 2001 Bitter Weather Makes Reenacting A Chilling Experience

23 Oct 2000 Hunsader's Revisited

16 Oct 2000 The Photographist

04 May 2000 Off to the Ancient City

31 Mar 2000 Cow Cavalry Wedding at Hunsader's Farm

21 Feb 2000 Front Lines at the Battle of Olustee, Florida

12 Feb 2000 Return From The 1840s

19 Jan 2000 Mountain Man Rendezvous, Alafia, Fla.

19 Jan 2000 Brookesville Raid Reenactment Brookesville, Fla.

03 Jul 1998 Mountain Man Rendezvous, Fla.

The Photographist

Oct 16, 2000

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 business conditions.

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.

Copyright ©2000 City Gallery.