Why re-enact?

Section for re-enactors and those interested in the re-enacting of Victoria's wars.

Re: Why re-enact?

Postby QSVC » 01 Dec 2010 03:30

Its been working for a while now.....Started re-enacting in 1976...

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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby balaklava » 06 May 2011 12:34

Greetings. I have been reenacting & performing living history in the mid Atlantic region of the USA since 1990. I spend a lot of time that I should not commit to or do not have researching my role or portrayals. Equally so, I spend monies I should perhaps hold more dearly. Yes, a lot of the reenacting thing is the impression cost but the travel expenses can also be huge. So time & money - but for so many the impression and the portrayal is so dear.

Last weekend I went uniformed and accoutered as a private in the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders c.1854-56, to the Southern Maryland Highland Games. This was a perfect place for this impression. The event's historical display area is rather large and many periods of Celtic history are represented. They do well I say. But I was very well received and many listened when they caught me in camp explaining the beligerents of the Crimean War, the land battles & how the 93rd Highlanders were involved, the seige and bombardments of Sebastopol & the war's outcome.

For me, being able to mildly educate interested persons while in the proper period attire is about the best reward for my level of commitment and efforts.

Cheerio, Johnnie, 93rd Highlanders 1812-1858.
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby Chasseurs » 21 May 2012 18:42

Why do people collect stamps? or postcards?
it is a bit of the same question. I started, unwillingly maybe, in 1979, when I participated in the 35th anniversary of the D-day landings and drove with my brother in his Willys jeep all the way to Omaha beach, and dressed myself wearing an original GI outfit.
in those days it was somewhat of uncommon view, considering the circus it is nowadays. But thats how it started, first a personnal way on getting to know clothing, equipment and everything else. A decade later, older periods were explored, opening new horizons and finding myself on the educating end at public displays. Especially when you turn up in my country in a British army uniform of the 1879 period, as people here are used at the red coats at Waterloo.
Totally off forum topic, but I also portray a Belgian soldiers of the 1914 campaign, and you would be amazed on how ignorent people are in their own history. Sometimes they think we portay napoleonic soldiers because of our appearance, and they hardly believe our army went to war dressed like that, in august 1914 ! it gives a rewarding and a satisfactory feeling, one can, outside stuffy libraries and museums, tell people, well this is how it was.
may be that is a good "why" oh, and btw, I don't use the term "re-enactment" anymore, rather "living history" There seemes to be a thin line of difference :wink:
w've got at least 60 of them !
Well that leaves another 3940.....
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby vodkafan » 06 Feb 2014 16:06

fantomark wrote:Ciao!

Well the same question is frequently asked me my most of my friends here in Italy!

I believe that people re/enact for all different sorts of reasons, and it is not really easy to find one common motivation behind all re/enactors.

For what it is worth I can just mention my own personal experience .
I have come to the re/enacting and Period Costume Shooting world as a result of a sort gradual evolution of my hobby as a history buff .
Since a child (I am now 49) I have been fascinated by military history. As a result of this I started on a long career of military modelling , continued, to a lesser degree now, to this day.

Being a military modeller means I needed to get the right reference material and information in order to make accurate models, which means a buying a growing number of books and frequent visit to museums.
The result of all this researching activities was that slowly but steadily i found myself shifting my aim from the scale model world to the real things , and so I starting collecting original books, militaria, and weapons relating to my favourite periods.
Eventually , I gradually started to wish to move to a sort of 1/1 scale modelling in which by using your own body and a mixture of original and reproduced items you can get an as close as possible to appearance of the subject/s you like most. T

Once I got my outfit right than I started asking myself what I could do dressed like that!!
So I inevitably got in touch with other re/enactors , and re/enacting events provided the right context where I could wear the uniform I liked most, without looking like someone who had just missed a fancy dress party !

I soon made new friends in the re/nacting world and now and more often then not taking parts to events and organizing them has become almost as a perfect excuse to spend some of my free in company of friends sharing the same hobbies and interests, providing at the sane time , in good weather at least, a good opportunity for some outdoors activities.

The next, almost inevitable step, was Period Costume Shooting.
While for obvious reasons (in Italy at least) re/enacting is mostly with fake or deactivated fierearms, gradually , like most re/enactors I sarted to develop an interest in the real proper functioning firearms , and therefore the wish to own and actually shoot some of the original guns from my favourite historical period.
For me this has always be the British Colonial Period, The Old West, WWI and WWII , and the Viet Nam War.
Reading about Battles of all these periods is a definitely necessary background , but to actually experience the smell of the cordite (or black powder as appropriate), and feeling the differently kicking of the butt against your shoulder when you fire a Springfield .45/70 carbine, a .303 Lee/Enfield , an M1 Garand or an M16A1 , etc, properly dressed in a hisctorically accurate period uniform , surely helps some peple like me to feel even closer to the period they like. And even the apparently less pleasant task of cleaning an oiling ones weapons after a shooting day , also becomes part of the game, contributing to a better understanding of firearms functioning and required maintenace operations that troops in the field had to carry out .

During the last couple of years, in Italy Period Costume Shooting has become a sort of hobby and sport in its own terms and we have now an increasing number of competitions in which competitors attend , say, dressed as a German Afrikakorps Officer when firing a Luger P08 and Mauser K98, or in Desert Rat Outfit with SMLEs and Webleys.
Here the accuracy of uniforms is obviously essential for both participants and spectators alike, adding to the show, as we would say in Italian!

Here in Italy we are now planning to develop a pre/WWI and Victorian Era Costume Shooting group. At the start I will be probably the only British Colonial (I am putting together a First Sudan Campaign British Infantry Officers uniform), since most would be Italian Risorgimento Period, but we do not dispair to add more Victorian Colonials with time including hopefully some convincingly looking Zulus and Dervishes!

So , to get back to the original question ,at least in my case , re/enacting was a gradual evolution > it all started with building an Airfix Bengal Lancer and a box German Afrikakorps infantry , and in a process lasting more than 30 years it has ended up in shooting Lee/Enfields and Lugers in full uniform!!!


I very much enjoyed reading your post about your evolution Marco! Good for you.
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby Larmo » 08 Mar 2015 17:05

Greetings, being a new guy here this is my first post, however seeing this thread encouraged me to comment on a once very important activity of my past, one which became a near way of life for me and other close friends involved in "living History" here in Arizona. Trying to get "it" right, be it drill, camplife, rations, speech, those were our watchwords then. Our experiences were quite similar to those of other comrades who have posted here, the rattle of the drum, the smoke of a campfire or the weight of one's knapsack and musket on your shoulder can sometimes open that door ever so briefly into the past.

The most remarkable account I have ever read regarding this subject was written by a former Confederate soldier, Berry Benson of the 1st North Carolina, he wrote "Who knows, but it may be given to us, after this life, to meet again in the old quarters, to play chess and draughts, to get up soon to answer the morning roll call, to fall in at the tap of the drum for drill and dress parade, and again to hastily don our war gear while the monotonous patter of the long roll summons to battle? Who knows but again the old flags, ragged and torn, snapping in the wind, may face each other and flutter, pursuing and pursued, while the cries of victory fill a summer day? And after the batrtle, then the slain and wounded will arise, and all will be talking and laughter and cheers, and all will say: Did it not seem real? Was it not as in the old days?"




This is a photograph taken of our company on the movie set for Gettysburg in 1993. We (and others in our Battalion) spent 7 nights sleeping on the field, this was taken about the 5th day in. We were getting pretty ripe by then..
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Re: Why re-enact?

Postby NemoMcN » 12 Apr 2015 13:58

Awesome picture Larry.

My own personal experiences with reenacting are very similar to several members that have spoken up thus far. Rendered down to its purest form, my approach to reenacting is as a tangible form of learning that collaborates with the history I learn while reading. The biggest attraction the reenacting concept has for me, is the research and creation of the "impression". I can spend all year researching a uniform or particular piece of equipment, much like a modeler or painter will do the same for their project. After hitting the books, I get a chance to be creative and source the materials to build said uniform, and "get it right". Then the ultimate day comes when I finally get a chance to use the piece at a reenactment, the enjoyment gained from that is on par with uncorking a long cherished bottle of fine wine. :D

When I was 18 I was fascinated by a local WWII reenactment group that actually went out and played with the uniforms and weaponry I was already collecting. I Got my start in the hobby with them, and had a good run reenacting various units of the British Army and RAF. I could never hold an interest in portraying American units, It always has to be British or Commonwealth. The unbroken timeline of English/British history has always been my ultimate interest in all things I study, so It was only natural that my reenacting interests were reflected in that. Unfortunately as I got older I became more aware of the stigma attached with people who dress up in third reich memorabilia on the weekends (the necessary evil of WWII events), and in an effort to disassociate myself from the hate groupies that migrated in and out of the "baddies" side of WWII reenacting, I nearly lost my favorite hobby.

Luckily I have friends who participate in several other time periods of reenacting, and thanks to them I now participate in everything from American Revolutionary War to WWI. As a Maritime Archaeologist who studies the Royal Navy in the age of sail, I captain a reenacting crew who portrays Royal Navy Tars from 1780-1815. I would love to participate in a Victorian British event, but those are few and far between in the American Southeast, so I make do at my American Civil War events by using as much of the British imported equipments that were used on both sides of the war as I can without compromising authenticity.

Going back to those impressions... I'm constantly researching and working on something to some degree, and I need an outlet to use this stuff!


- Brian
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