This is a list of thoughts to help you as you start
your journey in re-enacting in the War of 1812. It is by NO means a complete list but rather some basic guidelines.
You may want to go over the items with someone in the unit you feel comfortable with, the person who recruited you or the
1. First things first. Do not rush out and spend a lot of money
until you have consulted with a member of the Council of Representatives, an NCO or seasoned camp follower. It’s
important to make your dollars stretch and not to waste them on items that are not correct for the unit or the time period.
Things like style, color and appropriate gear do matter.
What to wear in camp? As re-enactors arrive at the event, most will be in modern clothing.
Once they are set up, you will find that they change into period clothing. If you come in on Friday and nothing is planned
for the event that night, you do not have to change into period attire for the evening. However, when you step
out of the tent on Saturday morning you will need to be dressed in period attire. You need to remain dressed for the
remainder of the event. If there is a change in this an officer will tell you.
Dress. This is something that you will need to stay in touch with your fellow members about. It is hard to write
down all of things you will need to know about this area of re-enacting. The general rule is one should always
wear a hat, especially when leaving the camp street area. This applies to both men and women.
The hat and coat do not always need to be worn in the camp area. If an article of clothing contains buttons and you
are wearing it, they must be done up. Dress and deportment are very important and you should not wander around the camp improperly
dressed or in an incomplete uniform. Shoes are brogans. You may need to
try on several pairs and several sizes to get the right fit. A lot of soldiers put insoles in them to help make them
more comfortable. If you plan on doing this make sure they are large enough to handle the insole and do not cramp your
feet. Again, your fellow members can help with information on what sutler is the best to purchase these shoes from and
how to care for them.
Your tent should be a British Bell back wedge period white canvas tent. Only high-ranking officers had wall tents.
Check on prices and see what has worked well with other members.
the time period that you are portraying. Times were different in the early 19th century. It is important
to think about what they would have had available during the war. Things like pop cans and water bottles would not have
been around then and should not appear in camp now. There are easy ways to have modern items around but out of site.
Coolers can be put in covers or kept in the tent. If you have items that are more modern these should be kept in your
tent and you should keep the tent closed so that they are out of site to the public. Other
items that seem not important but make a difference is modern food wrappings, plastic bowls, small gas appliances, coat hangers,
flashlights and we are sure there are many more. Camp furniture should be appropriate to the time period. Modern
camping and beach equipment is not allowed.
Trash is also a must to look after. You should not place trash in the open fire.
It is not allowed in some parks and in some states it is illegal. Even though it seems that it will rid the area of
modern wrappings, not everything burns well and it is still seen by the public. Other reasons not to burn trash is that
it can cause a lot of ash that will blow and could start a fire, and it creates a lot of smoke causing other re-enactors to
have more than the usual sinus and/or allergy symptoms. Trash can be kept in a trash bag in your tent or in a trash
bag that has been placed in a burlap bag.
should be done over the open fire. Members in the unit have grates that can be used to set your cookware on. Cookware
should be cast iron. Many of the events supply some meals, and the unit generally has a plan for the remaining meals. Please see the website for this information.
When in camp you must consult the Mess Mistress of that event prior to using part of the fire as, generally the fire
is made no bigger than is required for the unit’s meals.
Officers. Even though we come from every walk of life and many different career fields, this is a military
organization. We are portraying an actual unit that participated in the War of 1812. Military life was very structured. All
Officers must earn their rank in the hobby and you will not be allowed to start re-enacting as an officer. Our military ranked officers are there to see that the equipment is safe to be used and that you are in
as safe an environment as possible when using the equipment. We all want to go home with the same number of parts (hands,
arms, etc.) that we came to the event with. The officers will give orders at drills and on the field and expect everyone
to follow them. Remember it’s for your safety!
9. Camp duties. It is the
responsibility of all members to ensure that modern anachronisms are hidden from public view, water buckets are filled, wood
is brought and chopped and the camp is neat, tidy and presentable at all times.
10. The members of
the unit elect 2 representative positions each year. These members along with the commanding officer and members appointed
to certain positions are there to handle the business end of things.
Complaint department. We are not sure where this is however, if you have a complaint with a field officer, member or
just a complaint in general, it should NOT be handled on the battlefield unless it involves a safety issue. If a single
person seems to be the problem, you should try to work it out with the person. If you are not comfortable talking to
the person, discuss it with the commanding officer, the Military or Civilian Advisor. A lot of times general conversation
around the campfires work wonders. If you feel that the issue cannot be resolved by any of these means, you may contact
the members of the council of representatives after the event to help with the problem.
12. Weapons. Members of the unit own flintlocks that are used at the reenactments.
It is important that these muskets be used in a safe manner on and off the field. A pot should be purchased to clean
the musket after each use. If you are interested in purchasing a musket, ask the commanding officer, military advisor or another
member about where and what kind to purchase.
13. Eyewear is an area that is important to remember when you are shopping for period attire. A properly
dressed soldier or woman looks out of place if they have on modern eyeglasses or sunglasses. Modern prescriptions can
be put in old frames or you can purchase period correct frames. (It should be remembered however, that although eyeglasses
were available in the early 19th century, unless you were an officer they would not have been available to you.
Eyeglasses were very expensive, as they had to be handcrafted by artisans. You
most likely would have had no need for them anyway as they were only worn for reading and you would most likely have been
illiterate.) If you wear contacts, make sure to carry your solutions with you to events. Events are held during the
spring and summer months when it is dry and dusty or a lot of pollen is in the air along with gun smoke, which can cause irritations.
It is recommended however that if at all
possible contacts not be used during tactical operations because of the possibility of injury caused by burning powder entering
14. Jewelry is also a giveaway. Watches were not worn. Take note that men would
not have worn earrings and ladies need to look for the correct style of earrings. Some women have been seen wearing
lots of bracelets on their arms along with other modern jewelry. This looks gaudy and is not appropriate. We do
not advocate taking off your modern wedding rings (We don’t want you in the doghouse on your first outing), just try
to be careful with the other jewelry.
Remember that we are living historians
and we need to remind ourselves that we should each do our part in portraying our ancestors as accurately as possible.
We have the privilege of being on sacred battlefields, participating in National Park Service demonstrations, and joining
in the camaraderie of hundreds of other re-enactors. This is a hobby and we do want you to have fun. Take the
time to enjoy the events. Always know that any of the members of the unit are there for you to ask questions or
ask for help. We all started as (newbies).