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The roles played in reenacting


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So, when there is a reenacting event occurring, how are the roles clarified?

 

For example, who reenacts the high ranking personel such as Generals etc...

 

Also, if there is a reenactment of a battle how do people involved know who is to be killed/wounded etc..

 

There must be a heck of a lot of organising prior to the event...

 

And rehersing as well?

 

Is reenacting a viable way to earn a living in the USA?

 

I would love to see a real life reenactment of a Civil War battle one day...

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Some pretty good questions there Ben, I've wondered myself about the details of a reenactment.

 

I like cooking (although not great at it), so I'd happily sit around in an M1 helmet stirring a pot of beans for the grunts doing all the legwork!

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Q: For example, who reenacts the high ranking personel such as Generals etc...

 

A: Generally speaking from years of expereince, it's the people who just want to make a scene, act like they're an actor in a B movie, and/or boss people around. But thats probably slightly biased.

 

Q: Also, if there is a reenactment of a battle how do people involved know who is to be killed/wounded etc..

 

A: People who know when to die - die. People who have no grasp of what occurs in combat continue to waddle toward the enemy firing from the hip.

 

Q:There must be a heck of a lot of organising prior to the event...

 

A: YES in a good event.

 

Q:And rehersing as well?

 

A: Usually only in public battles that involve tanks or heavy equipment (risk of running someone over)

 

Q:Is reenacting a viable way to earn a living in the USA?

 

A: You might break even and avoid a divorce if you're lucky, so no :D

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I just want to know how reenacting really honors veterans? Half the reenactment a I have been to are just guys in inaccurate uniforms running around shooting, drinking and partying.

 

-Dave

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I went to a Revolutionary War reenactment recently, a reenactment of the battle of Monmouth, near where I live. They set up a huge camp, and I thought it was very realistic. I took a lot of pics, but I have to take the time to resize. Will post them soon. I felt it was really well organized. You can judge yourself from the pics. I don't know about the accuracy of the uniforms though.

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Sorry didn't get take a good pic of the redcoats, their forces look much smaller in these pics. Also didn't get a good pic of the camp they set up, as it was quite large. They also set up cooking fires, musket holder things, a blacksmith, and much more

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SocietyBrandHatCo

If most reenactors were honest, honoring veterans ranks pretty low on the list of why we reenact. It does for me. That's not to say I don't appreciate veterans and their sacrifice preserving out freedom; I do, very greatly. But I reenact because I like to. I like the uniforms, gear, weapons, and sense of community. I belong to a group of great guys. We reenact as enlisted men. Very rarely do any of us want to be in charge of anything. The highest rank in our group is tech corporal, and he has that rank because he started the group, although he reenacts as a private more often than not. Another reenacts as a sergeant, as that is his rank in the US Army reserves. We all reenact as legging wearing joes, nothing special. Maybe at dances, etc we'll pull out the officers' pinks and greens (come on, they look awesome) but that's it.

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I went to a Revolutionary War reenactment recently, a reenactment of the battle of Monmouth, near where I live. They set up a huge camp, and I thought it was very realistic. I took a lot of pics, but I have to take the time to resize. Will post them soon. I felt it was really well organized. You can judge yourself from the pics. I don't know about the accuracy of the uniforms though.

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Sorry didn't get take a good pic of the redcoats, their forces look much smaller in these pics. Also didn't get a good pic of the camp they set up, as it was quite large. They also set up cooking fires, musket holder things, a blacksmith, and much more

Those are some great shots. Although I've never been to a reenactment, I love looking at photos from Revolutionary War reenactments as the colors of the uniforms, weapons, headgear and general hairstyle of those days really capture my attention and draw me in. Although WWII-Korea is the focus of my collection I can't help but stop and study the details of these shots. Very cool

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Thanks bell. I like taking photos, and I go to the reenactment every year, so this time I brought my camera and took some shots. They would have been much better, even professional looking, if the darn crowd in front of me had followed the rules and sat down! Everyone stood up! I had to hold the camera up to get most of those shots, the exception being the guy walking near the tents. I didn't really even get a good look of the battle.

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Auto, GREAT pics!

 

Sorry I couldn't contribute to the discussion more, I was on nightshift and things got busy...

 

But its the best time to get a maximum online group with the time difference and all..

 

So the people involved in the formation of the group may become the highest ranking officer... seems fair...

 

There must be a long list of eager volunteers to play the role of Robert E Lee or U.S Grant

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Some pretty good questions there Ben, I've wondered myself about the details of a reenactment.

 

I like cooking (although not great at it), so I'd happily sit around in an M1 helmet stirring a pot of beans for the grunts doing all the legwork!

Deal!

 

You cook, I serve!

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I understand and have seen several reenactments over the years from Early Dragoons,Civil War,WW2 etc.

 

People do this for various reasons.A hobby,a form or honoring the service people,display,living history etc.

 

I have in the past done many displays and once wore a set of original USMC hbts from WW2.I felt a little uncomfortable as I wasnt a veteran and hadnt earned the uniform so to speak.The displays I have done were well accepted in most cases but there are always a few who will rain on the parade.

 

I often see at a area military show the group that does a Waffen SS impression.I see them or others as well in Wisconsin.There is a hiearchy so to speak.Leaders,senior seargents etc.Orders are given,camps set out and lived in for the weekend.Even german is spoken to a point by some.I get the reneacting part but I have seen a few at shows out of garb and they still act or are imerssed in their "persona" trying to speak german to each other at a non event or show.Seems a little out there.Is it history,reneacting or are they thinking they are "reborn" from another time and are the reincarnate of a fallen master race.Just seems a bit silly.

 

 

Also notice whether its WW2 US or German,Civil war or Viet Nam the booze seems to be a big part of the camp site(s).Nothing wrong with a drink or downing a cold one but with weapons that can actually fire and sharp pointy things alcohol dont mix.Plus seeing plastic coolers in a Civil war scene or WW2 camp doesnt say authentic to me.

 

I was at a military show in Minneapolis a while back at a military show at the fair grounds.There is a lot of german material there.As It goes there were a couple sellers there from germany.They have some nicer items and odd stuff not normally seen.Not unusual to see german flags and things displayed as its a german heavy show.

 

Friday night was typical but saturday they showed up in full real uniforms.Were strutting around,doing the sig heil etc.There was a jewish person there and older as I understand with a daughter there.I believe they were very offended and went to the show director about it and basically stated if the people were not removed and the flag taken down there would be news crews and reprecussions to the local Jewish counsil and complaints to the fair board with matters to proceed to try and close the show.The promotor asked the dealers to leave and they packed up but were back on sunday shopping out of "character".Im all for freedom of speech and your right to honor or believe as you see fit but some do not use a practical or common sense aproach to the purpose.This in my thinking ends up giving everyone a back view to the public if your a collector or renactor.

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double canister

Infantryboy11629,

I did American Civil War Living History for some 12 years, and I mostly agree with you. The vast majority of CW reenactors do little to nothing to honor the veterans of that war.

On the other hand, there are a small 10% or so who do their level best to recreate a historically accurate portrayal. Mine was such a group. We tended not to attend the large scale reenactments where the dreaded three Bs (beer, ball, and battle) prevailed. Such events are populated with tubby, bearded guys standing in front of wall tents drinking iced beverages from the cooler (not so carefully concealed beneath their cots) and chatting about the Cubs or NASCAR.

My group attempted to show the plain, everyday common soldier either in camp or on the campaign trail. We felt we could correctly demonstrate camp activities such as cooking, letter writing, drill, guard duty, weapon care, fire detail, etc. By no means could we accurately portray a battle, so we didn't. Each of us had a well-defined character that we created and acted. Our conversation remained in first person throughout. Generally we were several messes or a portion of a company. Our equipment was limited to only what a soldier on campaign would carry on his person. Most of the time we slept on the ground without tents. Our uniforms, equipment, rations, and activities were selected to represent a specific time and place during the war.

We upheld three goals: to properly educate the public; to experience for ourselves the soldier's life; and, in doing so, to honor those who sacrificed so much so many years ago.

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Refreshing to see some very honest realistic responses.

 

Not bashing re enactors, but I have heard some pretty lame justifications over the years.

 

Doing it because one wants to is very straght forward.

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So who approves the reenactment?

 

Is there a governing body, or is it the local council?

 

I am enjoying these responses...

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I'm a teacher, military historian, and reenactor. There are more than a fair share of "farbby" reenactors out there with their "good enough" and plastic water bottles and hidden coolers. I reenact the French and Indian War, American Revolution, and War of 1812. As a historian there is no better way to study these conflict than to love them. Now that being said, I was at the Battle of Monmouth discussed above. There were plenty of farbby reenactors there. To the general public, they look great. To a historian they are all wrong. I feel reenacting, done for historical understanding, interpretation, and knowledge truly honors veterans. While reenacting the Battle on Snowshoes which took place during the French and Indian War in the mountains around New York's Lake Champlain I was part of a group depicting Robert Rogers and his rangers. We slept in the snow (February), with no fire, no coolers, no plastic water bottles, hiked through a foot of snow 2 miles to engage the French on the actual terrain of the battle while only eating period correct food and drink (we did have some rum). I have read every book written on the battle. Nothing put things into perspective like that experience and I felt through the cold, wet, hunger (although for only 24 hours) my little "suffering" helped me to understand, thus honor the veterans from that time period. Freedom is not free and these early veterans suffered for it. I felt a taste of that. Anyway, just my opinion and pleae take it for what it's worth. I CAN'T stand the reenactors out there playing cowboys and Indians and getting rip roaring drunk off Coors light!!! That's not what it's about. Go play paintball then!!!! Oh yeah, those that stay in "character" all the time are a bit odd in my opinion as well. Wear the correct and documented gear that is based on historic study and then you will surely live history.

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double canister

Thanks for the testimonial, Kilgarvan. I did F&I War once, sort of, as an extra in the movie "The War That Made America."

"Those that stay 'in character' all the time" are indeed a bit odd. I'm guilty as charged. Before we would go to an event, we would research, not only the battle itself, but the unit we were representing. It was a lesson in micro-history, if you will, for us as well as the spectators.

My home unit was Company G, 11th Iowa Infantry. Many of those soldiers hailed from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Consequently, many of our members chose their first person characters from the rosters of same. Information gleamed from county histories, period newspapers, journals, letters, etc. helped to "flesh out" these portrayals. Others, like me, chose to honor a family member who fought in the war by adopting his name and persona.

No, it was not the fraternity party in wool the farbs enjoyed with the cold beer and delivery pizza. But there was a "period rush" that I got by keeping it as real as we possibly could.

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Double canister that neat you were an extra in the war that made America!! A well done documentary. And I always tell my students it's not reenactor tv. So, there are some minor inaccuracies but for the most part well done.

 

I applaud your research in reenacting. I do much the same. Every item I have has been researched and documented including the persona. I studied a lad named John Martin who was an irish immigrant, catholic, and a farmer from Dutchess county New York. He was a member of the New York provincial regiment in Crane's company enlisting in 1757 then volunteering to serve with the ranger corps (see, reenacting if done right I feel honors these veterans). Mr. Martin then engaged in the battle on snowshoes. So I guess I stay "in character" as well, lol

 

What I mean was the ones who when you ask "I gotta grab something from my car".....and they say "what is this car you speak of" in some crappy accent.....they are the odd ones!

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double canister

Good reenacting demands effort and sacrifice and expense. All of which are usually unrecognized and unappreciated by the casual onlooker.

Kilgarvan, I'd proudly join you in ranks anytime.

Answer me this: Why is it that the media (be it TV,radio, or newspaper) at any given event seems to gravitate to the most outlandishly attired and irresponsibly portrayed clowns for interviews or pictures? I've witnessed this countless times.

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I am glad there are at least 2 reenact it's that actually try to feel how those men felt in those scenarios instead of just going to fire guns then get drunk.

 

-Dave

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I remember reading "Confederates in the Attic"...

 

Boy oh boy, did those reenactors get into character!

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double canister

That book and its featured reenactor, Rob Hodge, were instrumental in my starting to do living history. Until then, all I had ever been exposed to were mainstream events and farb clowns; so, I just figured all reenactors were from the same mold.

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I remember reading "Confederates in the Attic"...

 

Boy oh boy, did those reenactors get into character!

I love that book, I was wondering if it would get mentioned here.

I have never reenacted and have no desire to do so but I've always found it interesting and i enjoy watching them and seeing static displays.

I definitely appreciate the spirit of the dedicated reenactors and their efforts to honor the vets. At the same time i can see why the "farbs" are just looking to get drunk and have a good time. I don't think they necessarily have to honor the vets any more than an air softer....as long they aren't claiming too

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double canister

But I maintain the farbs are doing a dishonor to the veterans and a disservice to the viewing public by their blatant disregard of authenticity. I know that's narrow-minded and a bit arrogant, but I guess that's me.

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But I maintain the farbs are doing a dishonor to the veterans and a disservice to the viewing public by their blatant disregard of authenticity. I know that's narrow-minded and a bit arrogant, but I guess that's me.

I don't think that's narrow minded or arrogant. You obviously have a more personal view of this and more experience with this type of thing. I agree that it is a disservice to the viewing public and spreads misinformation.

I guess my only point is I can see the enjoyment factor of having a few beers with friends and playing war (of course without real weapons). Definitely would be better done out if the public eye

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