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Posted By: Chuck Lee on: 06/14/2002 15:58:17 CDT
Subject: RE: Signal Corps Reenactor Uniform/Equipment Recommendations (Round One!)

Message Detail:
Walt Mathers and Dave Gaddy have said essentially the same thing you have here. It's always good to have all of the experts on the same page.

In my small world of reenacting, we're recruiting fellows from the State Commemorative Areas, and we're just starting to break the ice with some ham radio operators in our sphere of reenacting, hoping to draw them in. We're also working with two high schools where there are teachers that want to field young men - high school juniors and seniors - and have them work alongside select men from select units. Many of these young fellows are like the impoverished snake of old - so poor that they don't have a pit to hiss in.

None of these fellows have "original unit" uniforms to fall back on, as they've never reenacted. That's why I saw establishing what was normative by way of a Signalman's uniform during the Civil War as a compelling reason to develop guidelines. Not so much to tell everybody what they can and can't wear - barring the occasional polyester and gold braid Confederate General with sequins on his epaulettes and a rattlesnake hatband on his cowboy hat (and I've seen this fellow at two different events, no lie!...lol) - as to give folks an idea of the range and variety they have available to them within the realm of authentic dress for this particular impression - without letting them all turn up as Zouaves, for instance...lol.

I'm making a conscious effort to NOT recruit from other, established groups, with one exception: my present unit, an Artillery group that has an excess of men even when we field 5 cannons. I'm working to give them meaningful employment at events rather than becoming the "unwanted Infantrymen". Our fellows who "go Infantry" are no more wanted in Infantry units than fellows untrained as cannoneers are welcomed without qualification on our gun crews. "It ain't fittin'," as Mammy said, "It jest ain't fittin'."

I tell you all that just to say that a lot of the fellows we expect to see on the field with us soon are going to be new not just to the Signal Corps, as I am, but to reenacting in general. There are lots of second-rate groups out there who have no guidelines or standards at all (the group I come from obviously has no standards - or pride, either - 'cause they let me in...lol). We want our folks to be right and do right as early on in the process as they can.

You're absolutely right about folks being pleased with not having to plunk down some more of those hard-earned Yankee greenbacks, too, when they decide to change their service branch affiliation. We have several young fellows in our Artillery group who expressed interest, but wanted to let me know that they wouldn't be able to come play with us due to the empty pockets syndrome. They're tickled to death to be able to try something new without having to buy more stuff.

On the other hand, I'm dealing with one fellow - a peacock, you might say - who's eager to find a justification he can offer his wife for getting a whole new reenacting wardrobe...lol.

With some guidelines and knowledge that goes beyond the guidelines, we hope to have the bases covered. Veterans as well as fresh fish. And that, as Martha Stewart would say, "is a good thing."

Ted, did the 18th Indiana wear kepis very far into the war? Just curious, because the Confederate unit we portray wore kepis all the way through. Also, being in Indiana, do you ever run into a group that portrays 5th Company - Washington Artillery and - if I remember correctly - the 18th Indiana Heavy Artillery - and also run a hospital? I had some dealings with them - Tony Burnett is the commander of that group, if I recall correctly. Within the short-term, limited contact I had with them, they struck me as extremely sharp folks.

Again, Ted, thanks so much for helping steer me right.

Chuck Lee

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