Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 Civil War Civilian Meeting

No "Civil War smiles" here!! We're all just happy to be together while in our period clothing. It's been a long couple of months since we've time-traveled!

March is here!
You know what that means in my household? Yep - - another period dress civilian meeting!
I really enjoy these meetings for a number of reasons, first and foremost being that we get to put on our 1860's clothing. I get asked every-so-often from members of other units on why we do this; why do we wear our reenacting clothing for a meeting?
Well, number one it keeps us in the right frame of mind through the meeting; it helps to keep us focused on the reason for the gathering in the first place.
It also gives many of us the opportunity to make sure we haven't 'outgrown' our clothing over the winter months, though a few in our group (including yours truly) tend to wear their period clothing numerous times during the off season.
But most of all I believe it's because we actually like to wear it.
The main topic of this year's civilian meeting focused on the immersion experience; to get as close as one can to time-traveling back to the early 1860's by learning to use the five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and even taste - to mind-travel.
Much of what I had to say on the subject came from a posting I wrote earlier this year (click HERE to read it), and I must say I was very pleased at the reaction from the members of our unit, especially with the prospect of utilizing what we all learned for use in upcoming events, for we have opportunities to, once again, use period structures in our immersion excursions. 

One of the best things about the civilians of the 21st Michigan is that we each look at reenacting not just as a time to sit around camp with our friends, but to actually take on a persona - an occupation, if you will - of one from the past. In other words, just as our ancestors each had jobs, whether as a chicken farmer, a post master, running a household, or a laundress, we also make the attempt to replicate that life as well. As you will see in the photograph directly below, Margaret is learning her new station in life as a domestic servant. Her employer, Mrs. Paladino, recently opened up a boarding house and will need servant girls to help her in this endeavor, and Margaret, who has recently fallen on hard times, has found herself in a position of servitude.
Margaret was just hired on as Mrs. Paladino's domestic servant and is learning her role in this new life station. Mrs. Paladino's husband is off fighting for the cause, and to show her support she has Margaret looking sharp in a patriotic apron.
Our group also has a U.S. Christian Commission, a politician (Senator Jacob Howard), a school principal, a teacher, a lighthouse keeper (hey! This is Michigan - the state with more lighthouses than any other state in the Union!), another domestic servant (who happens to work for my wife and I), a telegraph operator, a Quaker Abolitionist (Mrs. Laura Smith Haviland), and a farm girl (who actually works at the Firestone Farm at Greenfield Village!).
We have many other civilians, mostly women, that portray domestic life, including young ladies who attend Dame Schools, a seamstress, and my wife who enjoys pulling out her spinning wheel to show visitors - especially children - the fine craft of spinning wool into yarn.
I believe this young lady, who attends a school for girls, has her beau on her mind instead of her studies...
I foresee a very exciting future in the past!

My wife made a delicious chicken soup for everyone to eat during a break in the meeting, and most everyone brought food, snacks, and temperance drinks to share as well, including sugar cookies, goober peas, summer sausage, cheese, muffins, celery, apple pie, sarsaparilla, and so much more.
After break I thought it would be fun for everyone to look through my books containing images of actual photographs from the mid-19th century and to try and replicate them.
I was right - - it was fun!
In fact, at times there was a line up for photo replications. I would position the 'subjects' in as close a manner as I could to their 19th century 'counterparts.'
I do not have a period camera, however, but I do own a digital camera and the Paint Shop Pro photo computer program (which I like much better than Photo Shop) and can *magically* transform a modern picture into a tintype/Daguerreotype/CDV in no time.
So...(you knew this was coming, didn't you?)...without further ado, I'd like to present the originals and the replicas:


Now, the following photos are also replicas but, I must confess, I cannot find which books that I own that the original photographs came from. Even without a comparison, I think you will agree that these images have a very period look and feel to them, for, just like the above pictures, they are posed in the same manner as an original.
I hope you enjoy them:



Here we are with our 19th century smiles
And thus ends the 2013 21st Michigan Civilian meeting. As you can see, we had a very large number of our civilian membership show up. It's living historians/reenactors like who you see here that, through their dedication and want of history, truly do bring the past to life.
As the civilian coordinator, I couldn't be more proud!



Angel Blue said...

I think that is a wonderful idea to dress for the meeting and loved the photos

A Country Victorian said...

That looks like so much fun! I need to find someone to dress up like that with me. One day...

-Veronica K.

Historical Ken said...

Thank you both!
Veronica - - is there a reenacting unit near you?

A Country Victorian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Country Victorian said...

I've looked around a little bit, but I'm working on getting my silhouette period-correct first. I live about 5 minutes away from Historical Charlton Park. Do you know of any groups near there? And I have to add I love reading your blog. I've been lurking for a bit but only just made a blog of my own.


Historical Ken said...

The Michigan Soldiers Aid Society's leaders are right in your area.
Try Linda Smith at
They are a wonderful civilian group.
Please let me know how it goes.

A Country Victorian said...

I will do that! Thank you! :)

Donna said...

Loved the photos, everyone looked 1860's!