Authentic Campaigner FAQ

Here you can find answers to questions about how the board works. Use the links or search box below to find your way around.

Who makes the best _____________ ?

The most authentic vendors of various items come and go - so often that it's difficult to answer this question. The Authentic Campaigner website tries to maintain a stable of excellent vendors for you to choose from - you can find a full list of them here.

You'd be well-served to do a little looking around - ask your messmates. Whenever possible, compare the reproductions with originals - not other reproductions. Try to find reproductions that do not sacrifice in any of the most important three categories: Authentic materials, correct patterns, quality of construction.

What uniform should I buy for my ___________ ____________ impression?

If you're in a unit, your unit should be able to answer that question for you. If they can't, you need to ask yourself if you're in the right unit. Living History units need to do their own research in regard to uniform impressions - it's one of the most rewarding studies you can embark on. If you're not in a unit, perhaps you should join one before you decide what impression you want to do.

How much does it cost to get a full set of authentic gear?

Depends on whether you're Federal or CS :

Here's your typical Eastern Federal impression, not much difference from a Western Federal impression on an itemized list. The Westerners wear more slouch hats and wear their gear just a little different. (Western suggestions in parantheses.)

Note - These prices are from 2004.

85.00 Forage Cap (or 100.00 P1858 unadorned Army Hat)
165.00 Sack Coat
100.00 Federal Issue Shirt
150.00 Trousers
100.00 Shoes
400.00 Rifle
200.00 Accoutrements
40.00 Bayonet
15.00 Socks
125.00 Blanket
50.00 Canteen (Smoothside Canteen and hemp twine to stopper)
50.00 Haversack
50.00 Messgear
50.00 Gum Blanket

Here's your typical Eastern CS impression, note that the permutations and variations on this theme can be as varied as the day is long:

200.00 Richmond Depot Jacket (Columbus Jacket)
100.00 Civilian pattern Shirt
200.00 ANV Pattern Trousers (AoTT pattern trousers)
100.00 Shoes
400.00 Rifle
200.00 Accoutrements
40.00 Bayonet
15.00 Socks
100.00 Blanket
100.00 Canteen
50.00 Haversack
50.00 Messgear
50.00 Ground Cloth

Note that neither one of these includes any tentage. Which is just fine as we do much on campaign and the documentation is rich and lengthy about our forbears not having tents. Some of the odds and ends can come later, like great coats, frock coats, tentage, officer gear, etc.

Why shouldn't I just buy my gear from sutler row, and what constitutes an item to be authentic?

Sutler Row at your typical reenactment is perhaps the worst place to find things for your authentic impression. The sutlers who generally set up are selling low quality, high profit items as quick as they can - they are in business to make money, not supply authentic goods.

You need to visit the Resources page of this website and look through the 'approved vendor list. This is a list of folks who are reproducing items based upon close inspection of extant authentic Civil War items. They generally have authentic Civil War items in their own collections and/or have spent numerous hours in museums or in private collections reviewing the same articles our forefathers actually used and wore. They are using period patterns and using materials that closely or exactly match what our forbears used.

DISCLAIMER: Note that we suggest which items in particular are authentic for that vendor - we urge you not to stray outside of what we suggest for a particular vendor as they may have things which are not-necessarily authentic for their 'mainstream' customers. Make sure you know what you want and who to beware of.

Get used to ordering by mail as this is virtually the only way to get authentic goods. There's a couple stores around Gettysburg that have some decent things such as Spiros Marinos' shop right behind the angle. Outside of that though, call the folks on the Resources list.

What determines the authenticity of a piece of reproduction gear?

Originals usually determine the authenticity of a piece of reproduction gear. AS an example, please see Chris Daley's Uniform Notes page.

You'll note that Chris has extensively researched the garments he is reproducing. Thats a good sign that Chris know's what he's doing and would be a preferred choice when purchasing your equipment.

There are others who provide solid research to backup their production: Nick Sekela, Charlie Childs, Butch Myers, Pat Brown, etc are all good examples of guys who do their homework.

Are there inexpensive ways to improve my impression?

Read Cal Kinzer's article entitled A Dozen Inexpensive Ways to improve your impression.

Also, read Fine Tuning your Impression by Bob Denton.

These articles and more can be found featured in the articles section of the Authentic Campaigner Website.

How do I defarb my rifle?

Read Geoff Walden's article on Authenticitizing an Enfield here.

How can I tarnish my buttons to make them look more authentic?

This is something of an overdone reenactorism - meaning people do it because other reenactors do, not because its necessarily authentic. Your best bet is to purchase authentic buttons to begin with.

Curt Heinrich Schmidt gives some excellent details in this forum post on dealing with unusually bright buttons.

On oilcloth and painted accoutrements.

A search of the forums will yield several discussions on these topics but Jack Cox has written an article and provided recipies for your use. You can find that article here.

How do I make a blanket roll?

See Wayne Thompson's article here for detailed information on blanket rolls.

What kind of food should I be taking to authentic events, and how should I prepare/carry it?

Find out what would have been issued to your counterparts and try to avail yourselves of those same foods.

Salt Pork*, Salted Beef, Coffee, Sugar, Salt, hardtack, rice, oats, corn meal, canned foods and semi-fresh vegetables are all examples of foods that they might have had at any given time.

There are variances depending on who, when, what and where you are. Southerns did not have much coffee, but often had tea and tobacco.

Food should be kept in period containers, ie. poke bags (small drawstring bags), waxed paper, newspaper wrappings, etc. Food would have been carried in ones haversack, knapsack, blanketroll pockets. The haversack is for food though, don't make it into your knapsack.

*Salt Pork - what you find labeled salt pork on most grocers shelves is NOT akin to period salt pork. What we have today is mostly fat, used for cooking. The salt pork of the 19th century had much more meat content. We suggest finding double smoked bacon or ham, or using 'Smoked Pork Jowl' as can be found at most groceries.

The articles section of the AC contains several articles on Cooking and Rations.

What qualifies as an EBUFU event?

An EBUFU event is an event that's designated as an Event Buy Us and For Us (authentics.) An entire alternative event circuit is being established for authentic reenactors consisting of EBUFU events. Here's a description of what we consider to be an EBUFU or alternative event:

Alternative Event Guidelines This is a set of general selection guidelines in the form of questions to better analyze prospective Alternative Circuit Events for inclusion in this schedule.

1) Event Portrayal: Is the event portrayal in a documented historical setting? What "slice of life," or "vignette" in terms of the historic event scenario occurring on the given date, will we portray? How deeply will the firper be researched?

2) Authenticity: Will there be guidelines and standards published well in advance? Will the material, physical, social, and political (period) culture of the unit impression be appropriate?

3) Communication: Will there be a listserver? A website? Printed and mailed packets of materials? Will registration be individual or group?

4) Logistics: How are the logistics to be handled? If it's a march, what has to be lined up in terms of landowner permission, cooperation of authorities, and a chase vehicle? Will there be special accomodations for people flying to the event. How will safety be handled? Will there be a logistics and admin support cell for this event?

5) Location: Where is it physically going to be held in terms of geography and location? Is it on original ground? Will it trace or parallel original march routes? How much actual campaign movement is in this event?

6) Participation: Who will participate? What type of event will it be? Will civilians be actively encouraged to have meaningful roles and interaction?

7) Organization: Will the leadership selected be able to plan, organize, resource, and execute the event both on and off the field? Leadership i.e. who can execute? Who has the vision? Can and will this vision be instilled in the participants?

8 ) Preservation: Is the money going in part, in whole (net), or not at all to preservation? If so, where and how much? Who benefits? Will the accounting be made public after the event?

9) Freshness: Has this been done before? If so, has it been beat to death? Is this impression and event covering new ground? How does this event push the envelope?

10) Camp life: Letters from home? Packages? Ration Issues? Equipment issues? Contests? Entertainment? Activities? Drill? Pickets? Guard Mount?

11) Educational Opportunities: Will it be at a deserving NPS/State/Local/Private historical site where people are there looking for CW history? Are we educating ourselves through an immersive experience? Is this an event where people are there to gawk and be entertained?

12) Attitudes: What kind of personality clashes might arise during the course of this event? Could they ruin the event? What is the mindset of those considering attendence? What do they say, what is their personality and attitude like when the event is discussed?

Charles Heath

How do I get invited to an invitation only event?

The key to getting an invitation is networking. You need to make contact early and be willing to answer questions about your uniform and accoutrements.

Sometimes folks will ask for a list of where you buy your gear. Othertimes they'll want to see a list of groups you've fallen in with and/or events that you've attend which are acknowledged as authentic.

Be willing to make changes to your gear as prompted by the event coordinators. Once you do get an invite, get your registration fees in early and make sure you get up to speed before the event by studying any materials they send you.

When event-day comes, show up with your game face on, ready to immerse.

Paul Calloway

What are acceptable topics of conversation at an immersion event?

As the scriptures state, there is nothing new under the sun. The same things that we talk about today, they would have talked about then:

- Politics: "That Henry Seward is a lying, cheating scruff."
- Current Events: I guess it'll be time at home to bring in the wheat" or "Did you see the latest Sunday Mercury?"
- Music: "Steven Foster has a new piece of music out."
- Family: "I got a letter yesterday and Father writes that...."
- Camp Controversy: "Did you hear what the Sutler set his prices to on cheese?" or "Word is that so-and-so is going to put his name in for Corporal when we vote."
- The War: "Word down on Co. B's street is that we'll be moving within the week."

Avoid the obvious, if a plane flies over, dont say "Well what is that?" Ignore it. Read a few diaries or some letters available in our primary resources section and you wont be left short of things to talk about.

We have several articles on first person in our articles section.

What are desiccated vegetables?

The desiccated vegetables furnished by the Government are serviceable in arresting tendencies to scorbutic disease, and in promoting and preserving the general health.

The bulk of these articles in the ordinary merchantable condition, and their liability to spontaneous decay with changes of atmospheric conditions, render their transportation as raw material to any considerable distance, quite out of the question. The percentage of water is large. My determinations (Liebig's Annalen, 1846,) gave the following results:

White Potatoes........................74.95% water
Blue Potatoes...........................68.94
Red Beets.................................81.61
Yellow French Beet..................83.28
Carrots .....................................86.10

As desiccated vegetables, the water is in large part removed, the bulk correspondingly reduced, and the liability to injury from variations of heat and atmospheric moisture overcome. Potatoes, cabbages, turnips, carrots, parsnips, beets, tomatoes, onions, peas, beans, lentils, celery &c., are thoroughly cleaned, sliced, dried in a current of heated air, weighed, seasoned, and pressed with the aid of a hydraulic press into compact forms, sealed in tin cases, and enclosed in wooden boxes. In this condition they are sent to the field. An ounce is a ration. A block on foot square and two inches thick weighs seven pounds, and contains vegetables for a single ration for 112 men. It requires only to be soaked in cold water, and then sufficiently boiled, with a piece of meat, to make a savory and every way delicious soup. If the meat be wanting, the vegetables may be served as soup without other ingredients. This ration is furnished in lieu of potatoes, rice and peas or beans.

The proper officers may, within certain limits, vary the ingredients of the ration according to the Tastes of the men and the facilities for procuring supplies.


The Army Ration. How to Diminish It's Weight and Bulk, Secure Economy in it's Administration, Avoid Waste, and Increase the Comfort, Efficiency, and Mobility of Troops. By: E.N. Horsford, Late Professor in Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Published By: D. Van Nostrand, 192 Broadway, New York. 1864. pp 10-11.

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