Friday, February 23

7 Stupid things asked of Historical Reenactors

As reenactors we work with the public at historic sites and events all over. We invest small fortunes and zillions of hours of research to make sure that we are dressed and outfitted properly in order to teach history to the masses. Sometimes the public will ask really thoughtful, intelligent questions...

...and then, there's everyone else.

That being said, I believe that every question can be of value and that they all deserve to be answered... that's what people attend historical reenactments for, right? So, I take a second to answer even the most goofy questions...

This is one of those questions I've never been asked personally, but I've heard stories of other reenactors being asked it. Maybe it's a reenactor 'urban legend'... I like to hope that people aren't stupid enough to really ask this sort of thing.

6.) ARE YOU NORTH OR SOUTH? (to any NON Civil War reenactor)
There is always at least ONE of these couples wandering around any historical event of any era at any given time. They wander up to your camp, see you cleaning your 1770s style brown bess flintlock musket while wearing your tricorn hat and buckle shoes to ask this one. They seem to be of the opinion that ALL reenactments MUST be of the Civil War variety.

When I first got started in reenacting, my daughters were still quite young. One day I laid my youngest one down for a nap in a cabin at the site so she could get a nap in and not be crabby later. A mom and her son marched into the cabin, stomped over to the cradle loudly and practically shouted, "Hey look! Is that a real baby?" No nap THAT day.

You've crammed your tiny vehicle full of your clothes, canvas, tent poles, coolers, camp furniture, gear, cots and enough blankets to smother an army. You get to the site early because you need several hours, and potentially a few friends to set it all up. Then, not only does the public ask this question of your tented weekend home, they generally wander on in without asking. Hey public, don't do that!

I'm wearing a wool coat in Kentucky in July and it's 98° in the shade,  yeah I'm a little toasty.  Aren't YOU a little hot in YOUR costume? Also while we're here... what I'm wearing isn't a 'costume', this is clothing. I only wear a costume on Halloween. If you think of your historical clothing merely as a costume, you're doing it wrong.

It never fails that you slave all day over a firepit at an event just to have a group approach and ask this one. This question is usually accompanied by a look of horror or disgust from the asker.  Are the people of the 21st Century so far removed form their food preparation that they don't know it when they see it?

It never ceases to blow my mind that human beings in this modern age cannot identify REAL fire when they see or smell or feel it. The same people that ask this sort of question when confronted with a real fire are the same people who are allowed to operate heavy machinery, take care of children and vote! And to add insult to injury, their vote counts as much as yours does!

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Thursday, February 22

In The News

The London Gazette 
Publication date:5 March 1814 

Wednesday, February 21

Meet LT McLean

HMS Acasta is proud to introduce to you, dear reader, the latest member of our esteemed company!

Shea W. McLean was born and raised in Mobile, AL and is of Scottish and English heritage. His father was a steamship agent in the Port of Mobile which is, presumably, how he received his fascination with all things maritime. McLean was an exchange student at Kings College, University of London, in 1986 and received his BA in History at the University of South Alabama in 1987. While still in college, he received his commission in the United States Army in 1984. After a brief stint in the Army, McLean decided to continue his education and received his MS in Nautical Archaeology at The Florida State University in 1997. Since then, McLean has pursued a lifelong career in nautical history and maritime archaeology. 

Over his 30+ year career as a marine archaeologist and museum curator, McLean has worked on a myriad of archaeological projects and is a member of several historical societies. His archaeological exploits range from early vessels of exploration (De Luna’s 1559 colonization fleet) to a number of civil war era vessels (Confederate submarine HL Hunley, CSS Alabama, etc.) with a healthy dose of colonial vessels in-between. 

McLean’s expertise and interest lay mainly with historic artifacts, ship construction, celestial navigation, and maritime history. He has been a living historian and reenactor since 1998.

McLean currently serves as the Curator of Battleship USS Alabama Memorial Park in Mobile, AL. He spends much of his time with his beloved wife Caroline Newton-Jones McLean (Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK) and his three cherished daughters: Brooke, Chelsea, and Katherine.

Tuesday, February 20

The Diary of George Hodge

From the article:

Diary of 18th century sailor provides fascinating insight into life below decks in Nelson's navy 

UPDATED: 07:35 EST, 14 August 2008 

"A unique record of the British navy between 1790 and 1833 that was compiled by a sailor has emerged in the US.

The diary of George Hodge shows the "below decks" view of life at sea during a crucial time for Britain's senior service.

The self-educated seaman begins the journal with the words: "George Hodge, his Book Consisting of Difrint ports & ships that I have sailed in since the year 1790. Aged 13 years." 

He recorded the ladies of leisure with whom he associated, painted stunning pictures of ships and flags as well as a self portrait.

Images of ordinary seamen from the time of Nelson's navy are very rare."

Be sure to read the rest of this article and see the rest of the images over at the Daily Mail:

Monday, February 19

Recent Updates

It is our pleasure to inform you, dear reader, that we have recently updated the CREW and SCHEDULE pages to be as accurate as possible.

The purpose of the HMS ACASTA and the ROYAL TARS of OLD ENGLAND is to accurately portray a crew of His Majesty's Royal Navy circa 1800-1810 for the educational benefit of the public and for the mutual research and enjoyment of the individual members.

Our organization will educate via a series of first person activities designed to demonstrate the real lives of sailors as they go about their business and live their lives. Landing Parties, Surveying Crews, Recruitment Drives, Press Gangs, Shore Leave... these are but a few of the activities that our crew will undertake whilst encamped at an event. During duty hours, we follow proper Navy protocols and sailors are expected to live a sailor's life.

You can learn more about our group on the ABOUT US page.

If you enjoy reading the adventures of HMS Acasta, be certain to become an honorary member of the crew. This is a easy way to show us that you're out there and paying attention. It is a simple matter really, there is a blue button at the bottom of the page that will allow you to join.

And Second, I would ask that you comment from time to time on the posts that interest you the most. This is an excellent way to let the crew of the Acasta know what you, the reader, is the most interested in seeing. It is always most gratifying to know what the readers like. For those of you that have commented in the past, we thank you for you support and interest!

If you find a post that you are particularly fond of... be sure to share a link with your friends, over Facebook, Tumblr, Google Plus, etc. so they can enjoy it too!

Thursday, February 15

Know Your Nelson 5