Wednesday, August 29

7 Historical 'Facts' Learned From Reenactments

It is with tongue firmly planted in cheek that I offer you the following post. What would happen if you attended a historical reenactment knowing nothing about history? What lessons would you learn?

7.) Everyone used to live in tents in the old timey days
Just go to any historic reenactment and look around. The event grounds will be virtually awash in canvas shops and domiciles of all shapes and sizes.

6.) Historic stuff only took place on weekends
It's true! Have you ever been to a historical reenactment on a Tuesday? Historical events of import also generally occured between May and October.

5.) Battles took place according to the printed schedule
Battles in the era were opened and/or closed by music parades and had announcers on the field telling the public about what was going on with a microphone through big speakers.

4,) All soldiers had terrible aim
I got that sharpshooter up in the tree!
Nailed 'em.
Pew pew!
We nailed that Zeppelin!
Okay before you pen me a sternly worded email about the finer points of weapons safety... I realize that you're supposed to cant and elevate and so forth. But elevating sure does make for some funny pictures!

3.) Almost nobody ever got killed in battle
Just watch any battle reenactment. A line of troops marches into a harrowing volley of enemy fire and one dude falls down dead! Then to add to the confusion, all the dead jump up at the end of the battle and march off with their unit.

2.) All events of historical significance ended at 3-4pm on a Sunday afternoon
Sometimes earlier if the participants think they can get away with pulling their cars onto the field to pack up and beat the rush.

1.) Fairies Existed
Been to a Ren-Faire lately? Yeah, that happened.

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  1. #8: Redcoats in Wellington's Peninsular Army were regularly out-numbered by Riflemen on the order of about 3-1. Admittedly, this isn't quite so true of recent years - I have been to events where it is quite the other way around, of course, but that's generally due to either having most or all of the British redcoat regiments in attendance or by virtue of the fact that the greenjackets were attending other events that same weekend.

    #9: All soldiers of the Peninsular Army wore bright red coats and spotless white or grey trousers, all the time.... I'm a member of the 50th (one of whose nicknames was the Dirty Half Hundred) and I attended an event back in about 2007 at Newstead Abbey, where I paraded with the 2nd Queens. There is in existence, somewhere, a photo of our line-up and you can pick me out because my trousers, which started off as white, are probably the grubbiest there. (Or follow the line of shakos until you see just a green plume, which is on top of my shako...)

  2. #10 It is de rigueur for every gathering of tall ships to have a similar gathering of pirates (some in kilts) in their shadows.

    I think every reenactment/interest group festival has its, ah, marginalia.

    1. American Civil War's got the Steam-punk generation!

  3. my boat is Famous!!!! where can I find these fairy reenactments I love watermelon

  4. #6 & 7- Columbia State Park Diggins Days is different. We have partial canvas and wood structures that come to life for Thurs thru Sunday- one weekend a year. Plus all the mudanes are gone when we roll up our sidewalks about 4pm Sunday. Everything is packed up after close, and is put away on Monday (including the canvas).

    #11 - The California Gold Rush had women outnumbering men almost 5 to 1.... More women like to play than men out here, I guess.

  5. #12-- Men typically took their coats off to do anything strenuous or even if the day was slightly warm. If it was very warm they would take their waistcoats and neck stocks or cravats off as soon as they could.
    #13-- Everyone carried haversacks. All of the time.

  6. 4&3 - I have seen 3 shots kill no one and one shot kill 3 soldiers. The math all works out in the end.