Monday, September 9

The 7 Worst Things About Being a Reenactor

Every hobby has its own quirky PROS and CONS, historical reenacting is no exception. While there are a LOT of delightful PROS, there are plenty of CONS as well...

...Here are the 7 worst things about being a reenactor:

For a weekend event, I need almost an entire day to cram all my clothing and gear into the car and another day to get it all unpacked when I get home. I'm fortunate in that I have a mini van with a little more space, but even then there's the hassle of dragging the heavy seats out of the back to make room. It can turn a Saturday/Sunday event into a Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Monday event.

Why must it be a thousand degrees outside when you have to wear a wool coat on top of other thick layers of clothing? Why must it begin raining right as it's time for the battle reenactment to start? Or it starts raining right before it's time to start packing your canvas? Or it's crazy cold outside when you didn't pack appropriate clothing for it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fair weather reenactor. I am aware that it was occasionally hot/cold/rainy in the past, but yikes!

It can only mean one thing... God hates reenactors.

We've covered these in a previous post... you know the ones I'm talking about. Don't get me wrong, I love working with the public, but these can wear on a body after repeated application.

I love seeing new places and attending events at far flung historic sites... but yikes I get tired of the hours in the car! I have worn a hole in the carpet where the heel of my gas foot goes and mashed a dent in my armrest where my elbow sits. I've worn through oil and tires and put a zillion miles on my poor car in the pursuit of my beloved hobby. I know reenactors who have burned up tires, engines and entire cars in their travels. A moment of silence for our four-wheeled friends who have lost their lives in the tireless pursuit of our hobby.

I'm the worst about it in the world. I goto an event to present or demo for the public, or with some other agenda, and I'm so busy all weekend that I completely forget to eat or drink. Or it's nasty hot and I'm just too sweaty to even consider food of any sort. Then to compound the problem, when the public leaves there's a rum ration issued to the unit or an adult beverage offered to me on an empty stomach.

Crash starvation + Alcohol = I'm missing colors on Sunday morning

For some years I labored under the mistaken impression that cliques went away after high school, SPOILER ALERT... they do not. 

North, South, Indians, Slaves, English, French, American, Militia, Army, Navy, Longhunters, Stitch Nazis, Librarians, Farbs, Mainstreamers, Progressives, Old-timers, Spirit of 76ers, Costumers, Steampunks, Quebecois, Western, Performers, Presenters, Demonstrators, Craftsmen, Research hoarders, Doctors and Surgeons, Officers, NCOs, you name it.

In the end we're all doing roughly the same thing in our own way, giving the public a glimpse of life in the 'old-timey' days while trying to learn and experience some aspect of history for ourselves. Play nice out there kids!

I already don't enjoy using strange toilets. But I REALLY don't enjoy using strange PUBLIC toilets. Then, put that strange public toilet in a cramped, outdoor blue plastic booth while wearing my 'funny clothes'... and it is my ultimate recipe for discomfort. There are so many layers of clothing between you and your eventual goal that it is the least graceful and practical thing you can do at an event.  

I have been known to avoid port-a-potties like the plague unless I'm just absolutely desperate. And even IF I decide to make use of one, I usually try to use the 'handicapped' potty because they're so much bigger than the regular ones, there's generally enough room to take off and hang up the five layers of clothing between me and the plastic seat. God forbid my clothing be allowed to touch any of the mysterious and fetid fluids that lurk on any and ALL of the potty's surfaces.

Now, a tale that the lovely Mrs. Roberts twisted my arm to make me include.

A year or so ago, I was at a nice little event whose name I won't mention (but it rhymes with 'Long Run Massacre') and I had avoided the port-o-johns all weekend and finally was beside myself with desperation. So I picked out one that was partially obscured from public by the treeline. At least the event coordinators had made an attempt to hide them a little bit.

I enter and immediately realize this is going to be an unpleasant visit. The little blue booth was full in the hot afternoon sun and had been baking there for several hours. To make matters worse, it would seem that everyone else had used it before me, leaving it a complete wreck!

There were no interior hooks for me to hang my waistcoat etc from, so I very carefully folded it up and placed it precariously on a little shelf attached to the exhaust pipe. Then, I very carefully got myself arranged so as to do my duty (as it were). I was mindful the entire time not to allow my breeches to touch the wet floor.

Once my transaction was complete, I stand to pull up my breeches. But because of the small size of the little potty and the awkward angle at which I had to stand in order to keep my breeches from touching the floor. I was having a hard time. Then the perfect storm occurred, Leather soled period repro boots met slick plastic floor, awkward crouching angle met wonky balancing act center of gravity. I sliped forward and banged my head on the plastic door then fell in a half-clothed crumple onto the wet floor.

Needless to say, the scream that issued forth from the interior of that little blue hell must have sounded like a middle school girl.
Be sure to check out other lists of interest:

That does it for this reenactor list. If you have enjoyed reading this or the other adventures of the 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 very 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 on Facebook, Tumblr, Google Plus, etc. so they can enjoy it too!

Monday, September 2

About Mark Ledford

If there ever was a living, breathing embodiment of that Jolly Jack Tar what is in all the songs it was Mark Ledford. He was a big bull of a man, strong as one also, but I never seen him loose his temper or even his good nature. No matter what the weather or officers throwed at us he would just take it all with a smile and a laugh.

Once a gang of us was ashore on liberty and there was a gang of lobsters in the same grog shop, but at the start they kept to their side and we ours. After a bit the biggest one come over to Ledford, who was standing at the time. He might have picked him cause he was the biggest, or maybe cause Ledford was laughing the loudest.  Mark just ignored him until he speaks up real loud and says “there ain’t a Tar alive what is fit to wipe the boots of a Royal Marine.” Mark just smiles at him and says “I see you ain’t acquainted with many tars”.

All to once there was a loud noise and the Lobster is standing funny lookin cross eyed. It happened so fast none of us caught it but Tony Weremacheck. Tony was born someplace that was not Russia, but nearby to it. He never said much, but he studied everything going on around him real careful. I don’t know if that is the way they are where he was born, or it was just his own way of hisself. Anyway he didn’t say much, but he didn’t miss nothing either.

He told us later the Lobster looked quick back to his mates then went to throw a punch, but Ledford beat him to it and give him a uppercut to the chin that almost lifted him off his feet. It throwed him against the wall so hard he bounced of it- that was the noise- and left him still standing, Tony said Ledford set his mug on the table with his free hand while he was doing it. 

Ledford took a sip from his mug and says to the Lobster “you shifted your weight before you started your punch- and ya looked back at yer mates to make sure they was watchin. That was a dead giveaway”. He says it just like he was telling the fellow his shoe had come unbuckled,  At that the fellow kind of comes to hisself and goes to throw another punch- we was all watching this time- but Ledford beats him again and punches him first, this time in the gut. That doubled him up and put him on his knees, then he starts to puke. Mark waits till he is about done puking , then squats down beside him, friendly like. “ We gonna keep this up much longer? I’d really like to get back to drinkin” he says. “Let me buy ya a drink” gasps the Lobster.

As it was he bought the next two rounds for both our whole crew and his mates, by morning we a was all pretty good chums.

-James Cullen,
Remembrances of Eight years before the Mast,

Monday, August 26

Upon the occasion of the Admiral's Retirement

Old Harbour, Jamaica
29th July, 1812
Aboard Mercury

My dear Sir,

If this letter was deliver’d as it was meant to be, it should have arrived to you with the Portrait that I have commissioned. Know sir that it was only my Esteem and affection for you that gave rise to its creation, and in no way motivated out of a desire for advancement or favour with the Admiralty. You have always been so very kind to my men and I in our endeavours aboard the Acasta, it was my desire to repay that kindness to you in some small way.

It is my hope that it will adorn the walls of your home for years to come, and then, the walls of your children and grandchildren who will look upon it and recall, with fond emotion, the fine man that you are.

My only regret is that I am unable to deliver this portrait to you in person. I am bound for England where I must see my man of business and tend to the final details of the purchase of my new estate, Purvis Lodge.

I wish you all health and success in your endeavours, and please know that I am

Your most humble servant
Captain Jas. Robt. Rehme K.B.
HM Ship Acasta

Vic Suthren with his portrait

Wednesday, August 21

The Royal Navy Doctor becomes HMS ACASTA!

We're changing and growing! 

For those of you that have followed us for a long time, you know that our Royal Navy Doctor page on Facebook has evolved and become a place for not just the Doctor, but all things ACASTA. In the past few years, the page has showcased and highlighted the adventures of the entire crew and it's time for a little rebranding to reflect that change. Therefore we are working diligently to change the Facebook page's name to "HMS ACASTA".

HMS ACASTA is one of the largest Royal Navy reenactment units in North America and it's time we had a properly branded Facebook page to reflect that!

Look for the change to take effect in the days and weeks to come as we work with the powers that be at Facebook to make that happen. We're excited about the big change of name, and look forward to continuing to bring you the same quality posts, images and research.

Thanks for your continued support!

Monday, August 19

The Battle of Georgian Bay

Report on the recent actions at Penetanguishine and Georgian Bay, off Lake Huron, in Upper Canada: 13 August, 1813

To Sir James Rehme, K.B. Captain, HMS Acasta, on the American Station, via Halifax.

Sir James:

     Herewith is my report as Senior of the Special Detachment from Acasta, assigned to H.M.A.T. Chatham, Captain Christopher Sorenson, commanding. 

     As my travels were delayed by necessary preparations, en route, I sent the detachment ahead to the Penetanguishene Station under the command of Mister Midshipman Linden. With him were Master’s Mate P. Mahone, Surgeon’s Mate J. Girard, Landsmen A. Weremeichik, N Weremeichik, and M Ledford, and Ship’s Boys A Girard and F Girard.

     Mister Linden reported to Captain Sorenson in the afternoon of Thursday, 8 August, at the site of Chatham’s encampment. Camp was speedily set, and the Acastas were exemplary in their efficiency and zeal, in helping to set the camp.  The evening was spent in preparation, in anticipation of expected action, the next day.  In the morning, a combined crew of Chathams, Acastas, and a Psyche or two, who had arrived as a “Vanguard” of sorts for their ship, set out to scout the harbour, and the adjacent inlet to the south. They, in company with the flotilla under the command of Commodore Hurlbut,  engaged a pair of American “Schuners” that had been sent to harry us.  After an effective, but inconclusive engagement, our boats broke off the engagement, leaving the Americans in place, as they would need repairs to follow, or continue the engagement. The afternoon saw our boats again engaged with the Americans, to the Americans’ advantage. It was only the next day, Suaturday, that we were able to secure the upper hand, when the Americans sent troops to try and capture HMS Tecumseth, nearing completion at the Penetanguishine shipyard. By the combined efforts of our flotilla and our land forces, we were able to force the Americans to retreat. 

    All of this, Mister Linden reported to me, upon my arrival, that evening. On Sunday, the Americans made a final, fruitless effort to take the harbour and shipyard, but they met with even less success, than previously. At last report, the Americans present struck their camp, and retreated back across the Niagara River, leaving the harbour once again secure. 

     I am pleased to report that all the Acastas present in our party  served their duty with great zeal, and little difficulty. Mister Linden had no qualms about exerting authority as needed, without resorting to excess. With the usual guidance and tutelage, I make no doubt he will become an officer of  perceptive ability, and will continue to bring honour to his crew, his ship, his service, and his King and Country. 

     The only dark note on the whole expedition, was that Master’s Mate Mahone shewed serious neglect to our navigational equipment, leaving it out to be dampened by the dew. No significant damage resulted, but I had rather stern words with Mahone, and, unless he shews better stewardship in future, it may be necessary to reconsider his appointment.

I sign myself 
Your Servant
Will’m Mooney
Sailing Master, H.M.S. Acasta,
On detached service to H.M.A.T. Chatham,
At Penentanguishine Harbour, Upper Canada


     The 1812 Grand Tactical at Discovery Harbor was a great success, from my perspective. It was
our first Grand Tactical, so we weren’t sure what to expect. We had intended to arrive Wednesday evening, but weren’t able to leave Maryland until then. We drove all night, and arrived on sight at about noon, Thursday. Signage was little help in figuring out where we were supposed to go, but somebody had posted that we needed to enter by the NORTH gate, and that was the clue that helped us find our way.  Once there, we located our camp, and reported in to Christopher Sorenson, and met those Chathams (and Psyches) present. Over the course of the day, the remainder of Acastas and Chathams arrived and set up. Weather was variable, rotating between drizzle, cloudiness, and open (hot) sunshine. Needless to say, we only got the comfortable cloudiness when we decided to take a break from setup. As soon as we went back to campwork,  the alternating sunburn and rain returned.  
     The Chathams were experiencing the usual trickiness associated with their first real gathering as a unit, but they soon figured it all out. They were gracious hosts, and it was a joy to work with them. I hope we will continue to host each other, as needed, at future events. 

     The events of the weekend run together, in my memory, so I hope you’ll all forgive me, if I jumble things up, or misspell or completely omit names.  I’m not even entirely sure who was Acasta, and who was Chatham!

Sam Linden wore his coat the entire weekend, rain, shine, or drizzle, which only served to enhance his image as the eager young Officer-in-Training.

Tony and Berna Gerard brought their whole family, though once on site, we saw little of the boys, as they were off fighting their own war, with the other kids of the camp.  By Sunday morning, all the kids had pretty much formed their own Penentanguishine Militia, with a Captain, Serjeant, and semi-formed ranks.

     As I spent most of the weekend out fighting the Johnathans, I can’t say how the ladies spent their weekend, but I can say that there was ALMOST TOO much to do, for those of us “under arms”.  I got to tour H.M.S. Tecumseth, and we all sang below decks, and in the Tecumseth museum, there was a Twilight Zone moment, when I called Tony over, to point out a jackknife fleam, only to have Tony pull the EXACT SAME FLEAM from his pocket! He had recently bought his from eBay, and it was clearly made by the same maker, and definitely within a FEW MONTHS of the one in the display case! They even had chips missing from the horn scales, in the same place!

     There could have been a bit more effort beforehand, with regards to signage, camp assignments, etc., to make setup a bit more streamlined and effective,  A pile of street signs on the ground near Registration should have been placed by Wednesday, IMO, and a map showing camp assignments would have helped everyone get properly set, earlier. Perhaps, in future, each unit could be asked to submit a roster of tent space needed, with a nearby overflow area, for late additions. From this, an assignment map could be generated. 

     My other criticism, and my most significant one, is that there was a large area of picnic tables under marquis canopies, in the corner of the camp, with a modern stage, lights, and loudspeakers, with various bands playing in the afternoon and evening, almost to midnight. It very effectively broke the historical feel of the camp, especially when the bands were playing Dolly Parton or Bob Seger songs. However, even sea shanties over loudspeaker ruin the ambience. I hope that, in future, they decide to eliminate the live “entertainment” element, entirely. It put a HUGE damper on our own usual practice of singing, in camp. 

     In conclusion, the event was MOSTLY well-organized, and, except for trying to sleep to the nearby amplified strains of “That Old-Time Rock & Roll”, really enjoyable. I hope to visit the site again, soon, and to likewise attend another Grand Tactical.

     H.M.S. Acasta did well, and it was an honor and a joy to accompany Chatham on her “Maiden voyage”. I come away from this event, with one, inescapable conclusion:
H.M.S. Acasta needs a boat!   ;-)

Monday, August 12

Whatever Shall I Read Today?

In the event you haven't noticed, we research and write a LOT, there's always something new to discover on the Acasta website. You can find specific content by following the labels at the bottoms of each day's posts, or by clicking on the links below. Let us know what your favorite stuff is:

200th - Posts with this label are posts that have to do with the 200th anniversary of some event that took place during the War of 1812. Either with the Acasta herself, or the war in general.

Apple - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's carpenter Mr. Jas. Apple.

Baptiste - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Acasta Surgeon's Mate.

Book Review - These posts take a look at books written about Naval subjects of interest.

Capt Hurlbut -  Posts with this label are either written BY or about Captain Tom Hurlbut, friend to the Acasta.

Capt Rehme - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Captain Sir James Robert Rehme, the captain of the ACASTA.

Capture - Information regarding historical captures made by the Acasta during her service.

CFNA- Posts related to the organization known as Crown Forces North America (CFNA).

Event Invite - These posts are invitations to the general public to attend specific historic events. A great way to figure out where the Acasta crew will be during the year!

History - Posts involving the REAL history of HMS Acasta or her crew

HMS Bounty - Articles or images concerning this particular vessel.

HMS Victory - Articles or images concerning this particular vessel.

Hollybrass - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta crew member Samuel Hollybrass, a generally unpleasant sort of fellow.

Images - This label is given to any post that is picture heavy. Looking for lots of awesome War of 1812 or Royal Navy recreation pictures? Look no further! The Acasta has been gifted with some amazing photography over the years from a variety of sources.

In The News - Historical news articles that make mention of the Acasta or her crew.

Jane Austen Festival - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Jane Austen Festival that is held every July in Louisville, KY.

Letter Writing - Posts relating to writing letters that look to be from the period portrayed by HMS Acasta. Great help if you wish to participate in the Mail Packet project.

LIST This label is given to the series of reenactor list, Ways to improve, the best and worst things about the hobby, stupid questions asked by the public and so forth.

Master & Commander - Posts that have to do with the Aubrey-Maturin series of books by author Patrick O'Brian or the 2003 movie.

Mail Packet - This label will involve letters (real or digital) sent or received by Acasta crew. It also occasionally has to do with a call to readers for letters, a fun project for authors and historians alike!

Medical Journal - These posts have to do with entries in the Surgeon's log book. Some are transcriptions from log books of the period, some are fictional.

Miscellany - A grab bag of odds and ends posts that couldn't really be labeled anything else.

Mission 1 - All posts pertain to the Acasta's first play test of the "Spy Game", a first person activity played between teams at Mississinewa 1812.

Mission 2 - A writing exercise by members of the crew involving the 1813 chase of the US vessel, 'Young Teazer'

Mission 3 - These posts involve the Doctor's special assignment to take part in a mock Naval assault at Niagara on the Lake.

Mission 4 - The Acastas go ashore at the Fair at New Boston in an attempt to catch a spy, and the Doctor gets engaged!

Mission X - All posts related to the Doctor's covert mission to France.

Mississinewa 1812 - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Mississinewa 1812 event that is held every October in Marion, IN.

Mooney - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta crew member Buzz Mooney.

Music - Music or lyrics (or both) to old period songs.

New Boston - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Fair at New Boston event that is held every Labor Day Weekend near Springfield, Ohio.

Night Watch - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Night Watch event that takes place in St. Augustine, FL.

Press Gang - Content and images from the Acasta's Press Ganging activities at events.

Purvis Lodge - Given to any post that has to do with

Real Crew - Posts with this label are either written by or about REAL historical members of the crew of the Acasta between 1797-1815.

Signal Flags - These posts involve images and information having to do with this means of communication during the War of 1812. Sometimes they even involve fun messages to be decoded!

Tall Ship - Posts with this label contain information about or images of tall ships.

The Doctor - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's surgeon Albert Roberts

Toasts - information pertaining to the Daily Royal Naval Toasts given at dinner.

Vassermann - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Surgeon's personal servant James Vassermann.

Video - Any post with a video or a link to a video in it can be found here.

Wedding - These image heavy posts are all about the Doctor's 1813 style wedding.

Monday, August 5

Don't Forget Your Old Shipmate

We discovered after we got home from the Jane Austen Festival, that our friend and fellow Acasta member Jim Apple was hurt while on vacation. He sliced the palm of his thumb on his right hand, severing the flexor tendon and nerves. Not only did he have to have emergency surgery while he was far from home, but now he’s going to miss out on several months of work. 

A fund was set up to help him where you can very easily donate to help out our shipmate.He is dealing with medical bills from the injury and concerns about his income for the next few months while he recovers. He is a very private person and would never ask for help, so we’re asking for him. You can help by going to the link below.

And if you can’t donate NOW, donate LATER, and share the link around to those that may be in a position to assist! Thanks so much!