Information for Civilian New Members
Contact our civilian coordinator Susan Metzger for information on joining the 28th PVI civilian detachment firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following information is presented as a guideline for dress and behavior for reenacting. Please note we will do all we can to assist you in assembling essential items for this hobby. Feel free to enlist the aid of the civilian coordinator or any of the other civilians in our unit when shopping for or considering the purchase of items to be used in camp. Some purchases can be quite expensive though suitable substitutions can often be found. We can help you navigate the maze of supplies and sutlers.
A word on why we reenact. Most of us reenact because we love history and want to share that love with others. Many of us find a topic that interests us and then learn all we can about it so we can pass that knowledge on to spectators. In the beginning, simply walk around and talk to other reenactors. I have found reenactors to be some of the most fascinating, generous, well-informed people I have ever met. They are more than willing to spend time talking to you and demonstrating their craft, cooking, sewing, quilting, tatting, knitting, or other special skills. They will take you by then hand and teach you their special interest if only you ask. The military has many fine historians who can talk for hours about different battles, campaigns, military leaders, tactics and weapons. Once you find an interest then you can start finding books and articles to research your topic. Take your time. Try different things. See what interests you. Most of all, enjoy yourself.
Useful Vocabulary Terms
Sutlers- businesses that sell authentic or reproductions of Civil War era supplies
The Necessary- restroom
Dipper- a cup
Time piece- device to tell time, pocket watch
Garb- clothing, we do NOT wear costumes
Period correct- fits the time period or era
Farby- not period correct; not appropriate for the time
Wrapper- a dress that is worn early in the day before dressing completely for visiting or working. It would not generally have been seen by other than immediate family in early AM.
Day dress- a dress with long sleeves and bodice to the neck and a full pleated skirt worn with a hoop for visiting, going to town, etc.
Work dress- a long sleeved dress with a bodice to the neck with a gathered waist, often worn with an apron.
Ball gown- a usually short sleeved dress with a low cut bodice and full pleated skirt
Pinner apron- an apron with a piece that came above the waist to cover the bodice. It was pinned to the dress bodice underneath.
Hoop – an undergarment used to keep the voluminous skirt of a dress fully extended
Cage- an open type of hoop, same use as a hoop
Chemise- a full length slip
Corset- a sturdy undergarment worn over the chemise to give the desired shape to the torso and waist, made with boning, back lacing and front hooks.
Work stays- a more flexible garment worn instead of a corset, lacing in back; worn with work dress
Petticoat or petti-one of at least 2 half- slips worn under dresses of any kind
Drawers- a pant-like undergarment with legs and an open crotch
Corset cover- an undergarment worn over a corset to help protect the garment from perspiration
Reticule- small purse
Parasol- umbrella to protect from the sun, color other than white
Cloak- a cape or shawl-like outer covering
Accoutrements- jewelry, accent pieces, accessories; also includes men’s military accessories
Guidelines for Physical Appearance
1. Authentic looking garb. No zippers, polyester, inappropriate prints, etc. Ask us- we have plenty of sources for you.
2. Proper accoutrements (jewelry, hats, bonnets, reticules). No modern watches, necklaces, earrings. Eye wear should be of period style.
3. Period style boots, ankle high, brown or black with low heel, 1 inch or less. Tie or slip on style, no hooks.
Worn parted in the middle and in a bun at the nape of the neck or other acceptable style. Men wore their hair with a side-part.
Very little was worn. A little mascara or a touch of foundation is fine. It is usually sweated off anyway. Please be sure to wear sunscreen even if the temperature is not hot. Ladies of ill repute wore lots of rouge and lipstick. We do not have any of them in our unit!
No long finger nails, false nails or nail polish. No one will see your toe nails, so they are exempt.
E. Cell phones or cameras
We all have these modern conveniences, but please keep them hidden. If you must use your phone step inside your tent or walk away from the camp. Yes, we take pictures, but try to be discrete about it.
Women did not smoke in public during the 1860’s. If you must smoke, do it inside your tent or walk away from camp.
A. The Mifflin Guard Civilians are expected to maintain high standards of authenticity at reenactments. We are to be in period garb from the opening of camp on the first day (usually Saturday) until camp closes on the last day (Sunday after the last battle). We do not change into civilian clothing (21st century) until we cleared to do so by the civilian coordinator for the event.
B. What you wear inside your tent at night is your business. This also means sleeping bags, space blankets, polartec blankets, battery operated fans or heaters etc. should be out of sight at all times. If you cannot cover them, keep your tent flaps closed.
C. Use of flashlights and other modern lighting is discouraged. Lanterns with candles should be used. Also remember that light in the tent silhouettes those inside the tent. This can be embarrassing to others outside your tent who are watching.
D. Plastic containers or modern packaging should be covered while preparing food or while eating. If you purchase food at the vendors, please eat it there if it is in Styrofoam or paper or plastic cups or with plastic utensils.
E. Modern conveniences should not be visible to the public. Yes, we want you to use ice chests to keep food safe, but please cover them so spectators cannot see them when walking by.
F. Remember voices carry at night when it is quiet. Carry on private conversations in your tent in low voices. This is especially courteous in the early morning before reveille & late at night when most have retired for the night.
G. There are certain foods which were not available to the northerners during the war. Bananas, oranges, exotic fruits, most citrus fruits were not available. These should not be eaten in view of spectators. Anything we can grow in Pennsylvania should be OK.
H. Wild animals can be a concern when camping. Keep food up high if not in sealed tins or plastic containers. Do not throw food in your trash bag at your tent. Dispose of it in trash receptacles away from tents.
I. Safety is always a concern with open fires. Please note that we keep a bucket of water at every fire pit. Use extreme caution when standing close to the fire wearing long skirts or hoops. Skirts should be tucked between your knees to keep them away from the flames. Hoops should not be near the fires. We have witnessed tent fires from uncontrolled spread from a fire pit. It is the reason we do not put straw around the outside of our tents.
J. Any source of heat in your tent is to be treated with great respect. We have known death from asphyxiation when a propane heated tipped over and did not shut off.
K. A word about alcohol in camp. As long as you are 21 years of age or older your choice of beverage is your business. Please note most sites have a no alcohol policy. If you drink, use discretion and drink in moderation.
Camping procedures and equipment
A. Our camp is laid out by the Quartermaster Sgt. of the Guard. Please set up camp where you are directed to do so.
B. Items you will need to camp are: a wall tent or an A-tent, a fly is optional; a table and chair, a lantern, a cot unless you will sleep on the ground; blankets-more are always better as it often gets cold at night. I would suggest a space blanket to help keep the cold and damp away from you. A box to hide your modern-day items in is recommended.
C. Water is an essential for camping. Most events have potable water, but it is safest to bring bottled water to drink. Other water is used to wash hands, etc.
D. Ice is another necessity. You will need an ice chest and a cover for it if it is to be outside your tent. A number of events do not have ice available locally and so it must be brought in with you. Some events do sell ice daily. It is best to come prepared. Do not take a chance on food poisoning.
E. If you will cook over an open fire you will need a cast iron pan or tin pots. If you use modern fire starting methods like fire starters, they should not be visible to spectators. Lucifers or other wooden matches are good.
F. Other strongly recommended necessities are toilet paper (sometimes they run out), hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and first aid supplies.
CIVIL WAR BOOK LIST
Who Wore What- Juanita Leisch
Dating Fabrics- A Color Guide 1800-1960- Eileen Jahnke Trestain
The Way They Were: Dressed in 1860-1865, vol. 1 & 2- Donna J. Abraham
The Genteel Lady – A Woman’s Guide to Civil War Reenacting- Sherian A. Hose
At Gettysburg or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle- Mrs. Tillie Pierce Alleman
Memoirs of a Soldier, Nurse, and Spy- Sarah Emma Edmonds
Battle Cry of Freedom- James McPherson
Killer Angels- Michael Shaara
Gods and Generals- Jeff Shaara
The Last Full Measure- Jeff Shaara
Days of Uncertainty and Dread- Gerald Bennett
Gettysburg A Strange and Blighted Land- Gregory A. Coco
Civil War Soldiers- Reid Mitchell
The Civil War Infantryman- Gregory A. Coco
The Life of Johnny Reb- Bell Irvin Wiley
Reliving the Civil War A Reenactor’s Handbook- R. Lee Hadden
Ghost Cadet- Elaine Marie Alphin
When Will This Cruel War be Over? The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson-