Reenacting Once Again?

A teenaged me - dressed as a Union soldier
for the one and only time.
I think I cut a pretty good figure, don't you?
My husband and I just discussed last night about starting up reenacting as a family. This is the first time we've seriously considered it. I did Civil War reenacting as a teenager, and as I was homeschooled through high school, this was my biggest social time. Even my "prom" was my own Civil War coming out ball at the beautiful Hannah House in Indianapolis. I grew out of it/became disenchanted with reenacting in my early 20s for various reasons. One big part was the stupid politics and the other was that I found it pointless. I wanted something meaningful to do, but as a single young 20-something, the opportunities weren't that many. I did participate in dress competitions and did well at those, but it wasn't very meaningful in regards to teaching history. Not to mention I discovered that I really don't like the 1860s very well!

When I got married, my husband had never been to a reenactment and while he enjoys history, it's just not his thing like it is with me. So, reenacting never really came up on the radar for us until recently when we were looking for something to do as a family. I miss a lot of aspects of reenacting. The smell of wood smoke still gets my heart racing and I was pleasantly surprised how much our children enjoyed going to a couple events in costume. Reenacting with kids isn't easy by yourself (Ft. McHenry last September was a big eye-opener with my husband overseas), so it wasn't something I was willing to embark on all by my lonesome.

So, I was very thrilled when we talked about doing it as a family. We both like camping, but haven't gone much with our kids. Going to specific events would definitely make sure we go camping at least a few times during the year. And being involved in the history community is really important to me, so the historical aspect of reenacting helps with that. We also homeschool, and reenacting is an irreplaceable part of being immersed in learning about a specific time period. I'm interested to see how my husband takes to reenacting. I'm very grateful he's just willing to give it a try!

I am still against 1st person interpretation. "Creating a character" doesn't interest me. So, I'm going to need to find a niche of something I can do to feel like my time spent is meaningful, but also useful toward teaching my children and visitors. We're leaning toward Revolutionary War era because I like the history, the clothing, and the Rev War events and sites in our Mid-Atlantic region are plentiful. I feel very blessed for this! I also don't think the silly politics are as prevalent as they are with Civil War reenacting. I am especially excited to research my ancestry more and identify those that lived during the late 1700s. I already know of one great-great-great (etc.) grandfather that served in the Continental Army. This will really help us connect to our heritage as a family!

Since we've decided this, my mind has been going crazy thinking of all the things we need to prepare. We need a tent, clothes, and some basic gear. I am so happy that we recently got a pick-up truck. This makes going to reenactments a lot easier! Our clothing is the biggest task. Rev War has been at the far nether regions of my brain since I've been focusing on Regency. Last night I even ironed my fabric in anticipation of cutting out the pieces for my cross-over gown. I was going to use the fabric that I'd set aside for my first Rev War dress. Now, however, I'm having second thoughts! What to do?! I don't know how historically accurate the fabric is for Rev War, but I think it's a good choice.

Here's what I need to make:
- dress for myself
- corset (another one!?)
- underclothing (2 sets)
- cap and hat
- invest in shoes for myself
- girl's dress
- girl's underclothing & bonnet
- boy's shirt and breeches
- boy's drawers
- shoes & stockings for the kids
- man's shirt & breeches
- man's drawers?
- man's shoes?

Aaack! I know my husband said we should take it slow and not expect to be 100% accurate right off the bat, but the clothing... I can come close, right? There's just something inside me that screams out in frustration if we don't have accurate clothing. I try not to be a history snob, but I want to do my best at being accurate. That's a lot of stress though. It's a lot of clothing to make for one person, so I need to get started!

My husband found a good tent link: Tentsmiths

Links for getting together our Rev War attire:
How to construct an 18th century corset
Burnley & Trowbridge - good for patterns, shoes, and a bit of fabric & notions
Jas. Townsend & Son, Inc. - everything Rev War! (I used to sigh in happiness over their catalog. haha!)
Past Patterns
Mantua Maker Corset Patterns
Reproduction Fabrics
Rennaisance Fabrics

Finding a family-friendly Rev War unit is a big task as well. I think the first event is sometime in April. I need to do more research. The best way to meet up with new units is to go to the event and we haven't been to any Rev War ones. I've e-mailed a couple people, so we'll see if I get a response. Lots to do, but I'm really excited!


  1. Sarah, you guys are so awesome. And interesting.

    Did you know there are a couple of YA books about historical reenactment? Past Perfect by Leila Sales and The Pursuit of Happiness by Tara Altebrando. I haven't read either, but I am curious about them both.

  2. Hey JoLee,
    Thanks! :-) I did not know about those books. I'll definitely put them on my goodreads list. Thanks for the recommendation!


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