Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Successful First-year Event

October 22-23, 2011

I was impressed with the effort Monroe put forward.  Reenactor turnout was rather weak, but Monroe has a lot of potential if they can keep up the community support.  They had plenty of sponsorship, plus they had an impressive five sutlers—which is more than Fort Recovery had for their second year.  One of the sutlers even had a supply of blackpowder and caps for decent prices.

Since the 9th Kentucky had the largest numbers, the four of us (plus one returning from years ago) of the 1st Tennessee fell in under Capt. Mike Hernandez.  The event commander was the captain from the Confederate Marines, so I was glad that we had enough infantry to be on our own.

The numbers were too small to have made the battle memorable, other than from our four, led by Sgt Jack Nyman, leading the Confederate forces with a skirmish line toward the Yankees.  I had neglected to clean Christine after Hartford City, so had just done a quick flushing a couple of hours before the battle, and Christine was not very happy about that, constantly misfiring until we reformed with 9th Kentucky.  Once she got warmed up, she performed admirably.  But it is rather embarrassing when you are in a line of four, and you are the only one not making any noise.

Friday night was the first time over the entire season I had to set up camp in the dark—and I am going to have to avoid doing that again at all costs.  Usually I try to defarb even the inside of my tent so that I can leave the door open, but I had to just dump everything everywhere in the tent, hoping to straight it out later when I could see what I was doing.

On Friday, I usually try to stop at a local grocery store to pick up some sliced bacon or jowl bacon for Saturday and Sunday breakfast.  I had my mind set on jowl bacon, but the local Krogers only had salt pork or the sliced bacon.  I had never really tried salt pork before, and since that is a period-correct meal, I thought I would give it a try with a twelve-ounce package.

My first mistake was thinking it would fry up like bacon.  It came pre-sliced, so I dumped half the package in my skillet.  As it fried, I realized I was not going to get enough grease for my eggs—I had to add some olive oil for those.  But I realized my biggest mistake when I took the first bite.  One time I had some jowl bacon that was rather salty, but it was still very good.  This salt pork was about ten times saltier.  I could feel it pickling my stomach as I finished off the slice.  I finally gave up on it after the fourth slice, letting Jack experience the last slice.  I was tasting that salt for hours afterward.

To correct my mistake, I tried something different for Sunday breakfast.  I soaked the remaining salt pork in my cup with water, heating it over the fire until it steamed, emptied out the water, and repeated.  Then I fried up the salt pork.  This time it was edible, even palatable.  But I am going to stick with bacon from now on.

My first impression of the battlefield when I arrived on Friday was that it seemed small.  However, once we were actually on the field for battle, I would have to say that it is actually a little larger the battlefield at Jackson MI, which held a total of four battalions fighting each other.  There is definitely plenty of room for many more reenactors.

Davis and Lincoln conspire with Sgt Jack Nyman
Dinner, catered by a local restaurant called the Red Onion, was also spectacular with pulled pork and cheese potatoes.  It ranks among the best meals of the year.

I was also surprised by the numbers of public that passed through our camp.  I am not sure if it is how we normally have our camp set up or where we normally have our camp, but we usually do not see many public pass through.  However, it almost felt like Grand Central Station with the amount of public we saw passing through—some taking a moment to warm up by the campfire before moving on.

I am not bothered by the public--in fact, I welcome them.  If it were not for the public, there would be no event.  And if there were no event, we would not be able to play on the battlefield, shooting blackpowder at each other.  So, whether I like it or not, I will talk with the public and answer their questions—basically do the living history part of it.  I do not have much of a first-person impression down, but I try a little to put on a southern drawl and get recruits to fight the northern aggressors.  If I can make the event coordinators happy by making the public happy, then there will be another event next year that I can come and play at.

I bring this up because Jack had one member of the public talk to him for awhile, and this guy said that the Yankees would barely give him the time of day.  Now I am only going on what I heard from what this one guy said, but those Yankees need to be careful doing that—we as reenactors may be there to have fun, but we cannot have fun without an event—so part of being a reenactor is to entertain and educate the public.  Do not be afraid to drop everything to talk with them—even if you sometimes have to put up with the stupid questions, like “Is that a real fire?”

It certainly caught us by surprise Saturday night when the event was holding a candlelight tour.  As we were shooting the breeze in the dark by the fire, we were unexpectedly surrounded by twenty or thirty public with lanterns.  We quickly put on our game face and tried to put ourselves into the period—but it did catch us by surprise.

At any rate, the event was good.  We had to fight to keep warm Saturday and Sunday mornings, but that is to be expected for this time of year.  The days were actually perfect weather otherwise.  It is one I definitely want to come back to next year.

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