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.

Hunsader's Revisited

Oct 23, 2000

Here is the latest news from the front: Friday my "Whats it Wagon" headed South over the Sky Way Bridge to cattle country east of Sarasota. During the War Between the States this area provided beef for the Confederacy as well as the Union. Ostensibly the ranchers were loyal Confederates, but they were not above making a profit where they could. Cattle was sold to Federal forces as well as to a booming Cuban market.

At Hunsader Farm another confrontation was taking place between the boys in gray and those in blue. Hunsader Farm also hosted a lively harvest fair in conjunction with the reenactment, so there was plenty of activity to keep a spectator occupied over the weekend.

When we arrived early Friday morning the weather was much warmer than an October day should offer, even in Florida. The temperature seemed to be hovering close to ninety. Friends came forward with just a little encouragement and helped me unlimber the wagon from the trailer. Others lent a hand in raising the wall tent to store provisions and camera gear. The sun was so hot it was necessary to put up a canopy extended from the side of the wagon. In shorts and tee shirt the work would have been a bit more comfortable, but I always arrive in period clothing and leave the same way. Over the years there are many reenactors who have never seen me in contemporary clothing. I like keeping the period impression.

Somewhere around noon friends, Nancy Spanial and her daughter, Sara, dropped by my encampment. They had their guitar and fiddle in hand. I was invited to come over to the festival across the street and sing with them. Since the reenactors were not yet in camp in any great numbers, I did just that. It was fun to work the crowd like an old time huckster. We sang Civil War songs, Irish ballads and even church hymns. It was wonderful when we could get people to join in with us. One elderly lady even managed to out sing me and my bull like voice on "Amazing Grace". Young Sara was amused at the woman's vocal force and occasional off note, but I thought she was marvelous for the zeal she put into her singing.

After the concertizing we walked through the merchants known as sutler's row. I presented Miss Nancy and Miss Sara with Irish harp pins for their minstrelsy and then bought Miss Sara a parasol to preserve her delicate complexion from the harsh Florida sun and a snood to hold her lovely locks in place while she fiddled away. For her mother, I presented her with some pictures I had taken twenty five years ago of the Old Crowley farm and the little community of Old Miakka. This was the area she had grown up in when Florida was not as crowded as it is today.

Throughout the weekend I photographed an artillery crew with their cannon, a scarlet woman and her children from the Gentleman's Refreshment House, a young boy fresh off the boat from Scotland and new to a Federal uniform, and various families representing both the Union and Confederacy.

All through out the weekend, in addition to my busy camera work I played my own guitar and banjo. I was my own "drummer" for business with other musicians including Miss Nancy and Sara who dropped by to accompany me. I did drop by the ball Saturday night to listen to the 97th Regimental String Band that I helped to start some fifteen years ago, but when one is as "outstanding in my field" as I am, the feet get tired and the eyes grew heavy quickly. After seeing Miss Sara's lovely new ball gown and wishing my apprentice, Doug, good success with the lady I headed off to my wagon for a night of repose, ready to do my image making all over again on Sunday.

By the end of the weekend, Doug's friend Matt graciously offered to take the "Whats It Wagon" back to his plantation for a much needed overhaul and paint job. I look forward to taking to the road again in January if not before with a fine new paint job and plenty of fresh plates. That's all the news from the Florida battlefront. Keep your powder dry and remember to duck when the bullets start to fly. Your pard in the field, Fritz Kirsch

Copyright ©2000 City Gallery.