Monday, September 21, 2015

Ridley Creek Reenactment

September has been a very busy month in the 1860s. The weekend of September 19th & 20th found me at Colonial Plantation at Ridley Creek State Park. The site is only a half hour from me, so it was very convenient. Oh, what a great site! The park itself is beautiful, and the living history site is wonderful. They have crops, livestock, and an 18th century house that is very well kept. The site sits right on Ridley Creek, a very nice water way, which saw a bit of bathing during the weekend. Sorry no pictures of that.
The Union camps were located just as you entered the site behind some corn.

The group I participate with, the 97th PVI, sets up a whole street and a fly. I understand they have a full kitchen as well, but not at this event.

The Confederates set up near the plantation house across a field from the Union.

This was my first visit to this event and really my first true event with the 97th. I really didn't know what to expect. Since it was so close, I day tripped for the event. Saturday, I decided to attend as a local woman visiting the camps. I wore my Steamboat dress and bonnet. I set up my table and brought a coffee cake and Necco wafters. This probably wasn't the best choice. Apparently, this event is more of a wash dress type event as there were very few women, maybe three counting me, in fashionable dress.

There were two battles on Saturday that pretty much utilized the full site and the house.

There was some first person living history after the battle with the wounded, which was very well done, most with Confederate units. Wounded were around the house and brought in as well. These men really knew their first person; their conversations, the screams, the worry about mess mates was very impressive. I approached some of the ladies and asked if I could participate in their living history the next day, when I would be dressed more appropriately.

Not much public visited us as we were set back behind the corn, so the rest of the day was spent under the fly talking. I left once the site closed to the public. I have to say that I know I am getting old; I used to really enjoy the camping aspect of the hobby, sitting around the campfire at night. Now I am so grateful for events close to home for the hot shower and my own bed.

Sunday I returned, but this time dressed more appropriately for the event in a wash dress. I wore my blue and white check homespun and found out that is it now about two inches too big; thank goodness for apron ties.

When I arrived I decided to take a closer look at the house and various outbuildings up on the hill. It is lovely. It is set up for the 18th century, the era the site usually interprets.

I also visited the site's small gift shop to purchase something small to support the site and found some short, blue candles that perfectly fit my candle holders on my mantel. 

There was only one battle on Sunday and as I was going to participate in the wounded scenario afterwards I watched the battle from the house.

The gentlemen who portrayed the wounded did a wonderful job again with first person. I have limited experience with a nursing impression. But the others were so gracious and helped me along with the impression. The soldiers' impressions were amazing. One soldier was shell shocked and at first I was seriously concerned about him until I realized it was his impression. Another young man was "gut shot" and died as I tried to help him. I was very appreciative of this group for letting me participate with them.

Attending this event reminded me of what I like and what I don't like about the hobby. The lack of civilian participation and activities is one reason I stopped attending "reenactments" and starting looking for more living history type events. If few public come through the camp and there is no one to interact with, we're basically sitting around in funny clothes discussing the merits of Star Trek versus Star Wars. I'm not degrading this type of event, we all do this for different reasons; some for the camaraderie, others for a weekend activity for the family, and others such as myself who enjoy the living history and role play. OK, and the dress up.

All in all this was a fun event; Sunday's weather could not have been nicer and once I was able to participate in the living history side of it, which I really enjoy. At the 97th's camp there was some discussion about how to better involve the group's civilian participants in event activities and perhaps ramp up the authenticity a bit. I look forward to seeing what we come up with.

More pictures can be found on Stephanie Ann Farra's blog World Turn'd Upside Down.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

For Cause and Country

The weekend of September 12  I attended For Cause and Country; a living history event at Fort Washington, Maryland.

 The scenario I participated in was the Sanitary Commission Fair.

Rather than making a new dress for this event, I spent time producing "fancy goods" for a booth. I decided to make pen wipers and pin cushions. Three of the pen wipers were based on originals.

Another pen wiper I based on images found on patriotic envelopes of the time.

I used cross stitch rather than needlepoint.

The pin cushions were also based, more or less, on originals.

I arrived on site on Friday evening and many people were there setting up.

The sunset over the Potomac was beautiful.

I stayed off site; however, those staying used the two buildings on site. The Sanitary Fair was also in the building in this first picture. 

Saturday was not the best as far as weather was concerned; it rained all day and was humid. But I was inside an air conditioned building so didn't suffer too much.

We had several booths: my fancy goods booth (which turned out more shoes and parasols for sale), baked goods, candies, relics and curiosities, post office, industry table, music, and a display of Scottish items.


Because of the rain we didn't have many visitors; we were prepared for them, but alas...

At one point I decided to get out a bit and left the fort. Upon my return I was stopped and a pass was required. I did not have a pass, but one was quickly written up for me.

This would come in handy on Sunday. After acquiring the pass I noticed that the tie from my hoop had come undone and was dragging in the dirt so I requested to use one of the rooms off the guard's room to remedy the issue. It was quite harmless as the room was dark and I turned my back. However, upon leaving the room I noticed all the gentlemen had turned their backs to the area. I thought it a nice touch.

Also during the day we had a poetry reading of Tam O'Shanter performed by Mr. Duffy. The poem is quite long and written in old Scottish dialect so a bit difficult to understand. That is where Mrs. Duffy comes in and she translated the gist of the poem after the recital. 

Saturday night was a dance with a nice musical group as well as a
dance group. I didn't stay very long as a friend needed a ride to the Metro so we left early and I returned to my hotel.

Sunday morning I returned to the fort and used my pass. As I entered the troops were in formation getting the day's orders. As I approached them I offered my pass to the commander, who first thanked me for playing into the scenario and then proceeded to use my pass to illustrate to the troops what to look for when visitor's arrived at the fort.

I entered the site just in time for church. I am not a religious person; however, the message at this service was delivered very well by the young preacher. I did not participate in the Communion but enjoyed the service very much.

 After the service I went back to the Fair hall. Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day, cool with a light breeze. Some of the ladies required their shawls. We had many more visitors on this day. Part of the visitor's experience was to sign in and then they were given stamps with which they could buy candies and baked goods. Some of the visitors were a little surprised by this but really got into it, picking out different things to try. I thought this interaction was a great idea and it was well carried out by the fair organizers.

I'm sorry for the lack of photos; we were told there was only one person authorized to take pictures so I tried to honor that and not pull out the phone too often. Tim Massey took many photos at the event and you can find some on the "For Cause and Country" Facebook page and on Tim Massey's Facebook page.

All in all I had a decent time at the Sanitary Commission Fair. I would like to see it expanded a bit and perhaps a few other fair activities. However, the organizers did a great job with it this year and really tried to recreate a period Fair for the participants as well as the public.