Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

BGA Gettysburg 150 event - Press release 11-28-2012

Reenactors Make Gettysburg 150th their Own

Blue Gray Alliance reenactment draws interest from volunteers for the 150th commemoration June 27-30, 2013

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – 11/28/2012

CONTACT: Kris Shelton- Event Media Coordinator Longstreet’s Corps/Blue Gray Alliance

Reenactors from across the country and especially those from the Gettysburg region want to be part of the 150th Commemoration and Reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg well before it starts June 27 to 30, 2013. “We’re ready to spend as much time as we can get on the site early in the spring to help get it ready for the big event,” said Darryl Markijohn, Commander of the U.S. Volunteers many of whose members are based in Southeastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding area. “My guys are already talking about work days on the property, clearing land, and tidying camp areas.” Similar offers have been made by other reenacting units as the 150th Gettysburg Reenactment has ignited a spirit of cooperation among many of the major reenacting organizations in the country.
Planned improvements to the land in order to accommodate the battle scenarios include a fence and stone wall for Pickett’s Charge as well as improving roads for better traffic flow. “The reenactment site is in very close proximity to Gettysburg National Military Park and has ample land to accommodate the attendees and the battle scenarios being planned,” Mark Way of the Blue Gray Alliance explained. “Work days for this activity are being discussed and will be put together in coming weeks. The help of the volunteers will really make a difference in getting the site ready for the event.”

The Blue Gray Alliance has committed to providing quality events administered by reenactors in order to heighten the experience and offer a highly authentic presentation. To address this need for an authentic experience for reenactors, the battles for Thursday and Friday, June 27-28, 2013 will be non-spectator events for reenactors only. Spectators will be welcome from 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, June 29-30, 2013 when the major battles of the event will be reenacted.

“Every detail of the planning has been worked and reworked to make all aspects of the event smooth flowing,” commented K.C. Meadows, event organizer and Adams County resident. “For example, we were concerned about a possible traffic back up either on the roads or in the parking lot as spectators paid for the $3 parking fee. To address this, we’ll be offering free parking and spectator tickets will be $10 per person per day and 12 and under will be free.”

As with all Blue Gray Alliance events, special attention to camp layout will provide for all facets of reenacting to have the ability to enjoy a rewarding event. As well the natural topography of the land will lend itself to realistic portrayals of the Battle of Gettysburg and will enhance the attendees’ experience. “We welcome everyone and will do our best to make you feel like family when you attend,” said Way. “We will not falter in our commitment to provide you with the best Gettysburg event you will ever attend. We are with each of you and we would appreciate you each being with us as we continue to plan and implement the Blue Gray Alliance 150th Commemoration and Reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg.”

The Blue Gray Alliance comprises many of the major reenacting organizations across the country including over 18,000 members. Member organizations share common goals including reenactments planned and managed by reenactors to ensure the experience is authentic and rewarding for all. For more information on Blue Gray Alliance member organizations, visit
For additional information regarding the 150th Commemoration and Reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg, a Blue Gray Alliance event, visit or find us on Facebook or Twitter @150thGettysburg.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Harpers Round Table 1896 - A Soldier of Napoleon

The man you see in the photograph at left was born in 1794, and is the only known veteran to have fought in the Napoleonic War as well as the Civil War. His incredible story follows:


"Most of us nowadays, when thinking of the Napoleonic wars, consider them as a part of the remote past, and it is difficult to realize that there may be people still living who took part in the battles of Marengo, Jena, and Waterloo.  But all of Napoleon's soldiers are not yet dead, and one man who fought under the great French general is said to be living now near Cleveland, Ohio.  Whether it is true or not, it is a fact that only recently one of Napoleon's old warriors died at the Soldier's Home, Kearny, New Jersey.
His name was Henry Mueller, and a picture of the old gentleman is given herewith. He was born in Germany in 1794, and when the French armies invaded Prussia Mueller was fifteen years old.  With many of his compatriots, he was drafted into the Grand Army, and marched off to Russia to fight the Cossacks and the cold. He was at Moscow, and tramped all the way back in the disastrous retreat, suffering untold tortures, and seeing his fellow soldiers falling in the snow at almost every step. But Mueller kept up, and lived to get back into Germany, and to fight at the battles of Bautzen, Leipsic, and finally in the great battle of Waterloo.

After Napoleon had been captured by the British and sent to the lonely island of St. Helena, and the great armies of Europe had been disbanded, Mueller took ship and came to the United States. Not long after his arrival in this country the Seminole and Mexican wars broke out, and the old spirit of the soldier was reawakened in Mueller, and he went again to the front, this time wearing the American uniform and fighting for the American flag.  So much warfare had now made a confirmed soldier of the German, and so when the war of the rebellion broke out in 1861 he again took up his musket and fought through the entire war.

One of the most wonderful things of all these experiences is that Mueller was never seriously wounded, and managed to keep himself in such good health that he lived to be over one hundred years old, and spent his last days in peace and comfort in the Soldier's Home, smoking his long German pipe on the lawn under the trees, and telling of his own personal experiences, which, to most of us, are part of a very remote history."

See the full scanned page of this incredible article on Scribd here:

It's very hard to believe, but what if it was true?  If this magazine is from 1896 and the man died recently, born in 1794, could a man his age have fought in four different wars, from Napoleon to Lincoln?  What amazing stories that man must have had.

Other veteran facts:  The oldest known veteran of the Civil War died in 1956. Albert Woolson was 105.  He is the only soldier of which color film footage exists.  He outlasted one of my favorite veterans (Johnny Clem) by about twenty years. I read in a guidebook that Woolson made frequent trips to the Gettysburg battlefield during his old age. It also mentioned how, as a young boy, he knew old men who had fought in the Revolutionary War and much later as an old man himself, had friends who fought and died on the beaches of Normandy.  That shows us how our country is not as old as we think it is.

The last veteran of the First World War died on February 28, 2011.  Corporal Frank Woodruff Buckles, aged 110. They called him "The Last Doughboy"

How long will it be until all the World War II vets are gone?

Passing the Winter

Having nothing new to post about reenacting, we must instead look backward into the past. Meet my new best friend for the next 6 months:

This old dusty book sat untouched on a shelf in my grandfather's bookcase for decades. It's from 1896 and nobody has any idea where it came from. A girl's name is written in the book, but she's not a relative and no one we know of. As many Civil War historians well know, Harper's Weekly newspaper was a staple of 19th century living. It was once called "The Journal of Civilization." People would gather around the fire in the parlor and read Harper's stories to one another, in much the same way we gather around the glowing plasma TV screen in the man-cave and use our iPads to read Twitter posts to one another. Nice analogy, eh? You get the idea.

Well, Harper's Round Table was a weekly magazine that grew out of the huge success of Harper's Weekly. Each issue was like a small book in itself, and contained articles on every imaginable subject. At the end of a two-year period, the issues were bound into a hardcover book and sold, as "anthologies", if you will. There was even a book club that one could buy an annual membership to where you could meet and discuss the material. Can you guess what it was called? "The Knights of the Round Table." Members wore a special medallion. This book turned out to be bursting with relevant information, almost as if I was meant to find it. I mean first off, look who's engraving is on page 2:

This is just some of the material of interest it contains:

-Stuff about the Civil War

-Short stories about the Civil War and the American Revolution which ran from month to month

-Instructions on hunting, shooting and caring for 19th century firearms

-Insights into what life in the Army & Navy of the 1890's was like (This was 2 years before the Spanish-American War broke out. At this point we were mobilizing all our forces because we knew war with Spain was imminent. There is a large calling for men to enlist)

 -How gunpowder was manufactured in the 19th century

 -Women coming into their own as free and equal individuals in society (teaching them how to do novel and "manly" things like ride a bicycle)

-Intercollegiate sports such as baseball and football during the Victorian era

-A speculation about what a voyage to Mars would be like (Heavy H.G. Wells/Jules Verne influence)

 -Advertisements for products which are still in use they looked in the 1890's

 -Industrial machines of the 2nd Industrial Revolution and how they work

 -Tips & techniques for developing photograph plates in your home

 -How insanely much money was worth then (a yearly subscription cost $4.00)

-The sort of toys and games children played with at the turn of the century

-The life, times and culture of the world my great-grandparents enjoyed

 -Much, much, much more.... 

Here is a sample of an advertisement page:

If I had to live without the internet, this would be the next best thing.  Stay tuned for a flood of historical eye candy!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Missing in Action

  Hey folks (I know people are reading this even though none of you comment or subscribe. Somehow this blog is up to 3400 views, so I know you're out there)

Well today was Remembrance Day, and it appears another season of reenacting has come to a close until the springtime. The Lincoln movie came out in theaters today and, though I didn't get to see it yet, I hear it's doing well in reviews.

Regretful to say that this year left a lot to be desired, as far as my own reenacting experience.  I did go to Greenbank Mill in DE and the September skirmish at Ridley Creek Plantation in PA; without my dear Southern cousin I probably would not have known these places existed.  There were only 2 events with my home unit I was able to make it out to.  I  attended one living history at Gettysburg in the peak of the July heat wave, and then the 150th sideshow event in Boonsboro.  Maryland my Maryland was an awesome event, and I'm glad I was able to go to it.  But I still don't own a rifle or gun of any kind, and I quickly began to realize how much of a hassle it is to borrow equipment in a group that doesn't have loaner gear readily available.
Rule #1 for new reenactors: When first starting out in this hobby, the FIRST thing you should get is your own rifle and a pair of shoes. These are the hardest things to borrow. The rest of your gear can be acquired a piece at a time as you save up for it.  

Sutlers at reenactments can be the best opportunity to get all your stuff in one place, but be wary of the quality.  Especially late in the season, even the most well-known and popular sutlers are trying to get rid of their products nobody was buying to make way for next year's shipments.  Prices could be reduced, but the goods might also be defective. I bought a canteen from Regimental that lasted me less than a year before all its strap brackets snapped off.

Last year, 2011 of the 150th anniversary of 1861, was a much more fulfilling experience for me.  I attended living histories in Gettysburg, Olde Dover Days and Separation day in New Castle, Delaware. (For those non-Delawareans, Separation day is held in June and celebrates the day in 1777 that Delaware declared its independence from the state of Pennsylvania) I was featured for a brief second on Channel 6 Action News, as a US flag bearer to one side of a podium where a General was giving a speech on Memorial Day, also in New Castle. A picture of me and a short bio appeared in Delaware Today magazine during School of the Soldier in June. (Link to the article)  The 2nd Delaware was a tiny group, and the only official reenactor regiment from my home state.  Everywhere we went it seemed, journalists and photographers followed us.

I tasted my first action at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse in May 2011.  In July I had a near-death experience at First Bull Run/Manassas, as I had to be evacuated from camp as a heat casualty.  And in October I finally got to "see the elephant" at Cedar Creek, lasted the entire battle and had a great time.

This year was quite different. I had a death in the family and was pulled away from reenacting for most of the year so I could clean out my grandmother's estate.  And then my brother got his first job, which made transportation for me all but impossible.  It's hard to make any commitments when you don't know if you'll be able to drive yourself to anything.  And I still don't have a real paying job yet, so everything has to be put on hold for another year.  I switched units, leaving the 2nd DE Volunteer Infantry and joining the 1st PA Rifle Reserves, the 'Bucktails', and then ended up having to back out of every scheduled battle and living history, because I have a brother who works every weekend and needs my car.  Sigh...reality is overrated.

And reenacting is a crazy thing to do for somebody without a job or a savings account.

I can only hope 2013 (150th anniv. of 1863) will hold better times. But until next spring, I'm afraid posting on this journal will be very sparse.  I just simply don't have anything to post, I'm not a scholar on the Civil War and I don't claim to know any more than the next guy.  Just a scared, clueless private who does what he's told and tries to live to fight another day.  And a bit of a Jonah who's barely fit for duty. 

But if you're looking for entertaining anecdotes from a neophyte in this world of bringing the dead back to life...look no further than Company Q.

Happy trails and see you next year!