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Packing for the Weekend

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  • #16
    Re: Packing for the Weekend

    Okay, so we have gotten off the original topic of what to bring for the weekend to improve one's authenticity to lambasting our side of the hobby for not being authentic enough because we are perceived to not portray campaigning soldiers.

    Hmmm. To the original point: ditch the cooler and other comfort items and bring with you that which was carried by a soldier during the war. Read. A lot. Carry what they did and adjust your pack out to what they did. Once you leave your car, don't go back to it for the weekend until it is time to go home, emergencies and common sense not withstanding. I'll leave it up to you to define the latter.

    If you can lug it, feel comfortable carrying it, and deem it necessary, well, it meets your requirements. Messing with a group of pards to distribute items and by default attendant duties is sage advice.

    For all of it, at Bentonville when we left our camp on Sunday there was very little residual trash and no modern wrapper or other karma-blowing BS lying around like Bogangles paper and drink cups. 300 people camped authentically and carried in and out what they needed for the weekend. I had very little to clean up and it was actually impressive considering how many people were in that area.

    We portrayed soldiers for a short period of time, however, so people either went heavy because they knew they would only be in the field for 48-54 hours and not marching 50 miles to fight a battle over three days, or went light and dealt with what that decision entailed.

    To each their own. I agree that less is more in most cases, and further agree with Joe and Sy's points, but let's keep the main thing the main thing. Lots of options out there, and authentic ones at that, to help someone make the transition to our side of the hobby. Perhaps the current poll should not only ask what kind of event people want to attend, but also what they expect to get out of attending it, but that is for another discussion.
    Ivan Ingraham
    AC Moderator


    • #17
      Re: Packing for the Weekend

      Hi Anthony,

      If you need a hand with anything, drop me a note. Your portrayal should be based on impression for event and yes research. Ivan and others are on. Know the impression, the time of year for correct rations, and have fun putting the campaign impression together. Good luck with your pursuit of accuracy!

      Tom Klas
      Hard Head Mess
      Citizens Guard


      • #18
        Re: Packing for the Weekend

        Over the years, through trial-and-error, I have refined my kit for a balance of weight and convenience, as I think any soldier did through the course of the war. Here is what I packed for Bentonville in addition to what I was wearing when we went in:

        Federal Double Bag Knapsack - I prefer the knapsack over the bedroll, but everyone has their preferences.

        Gum Blanket - I put this over the top of my blanket at night to make a warn cocoon.
        Contract Shirt - Wear it in Friday night over my usual civilian shirt, so no need for Greatcoat. Packed it away in the morning before we began the march.
        Blanket Rolled up in Groundcloth - My favorite part. Whenever we stop and camp, I take the bedroll off the top of the knapsack and since my blanket is inside the groundcloth, my bedding rolls right out. Put knapsack down as pillow and presto! Instant bed.
        Nightcap - MUST keep your head warm at night or under forty degrees, you will be miserable.
        Wool Mittens - Again, night cocoon.
        Scarf - Just in case and it is light and provides extra padding for your knapsack "pillow".
        Three Pairs of Extra Socks - In case our feet get wet during the march and for extra padding for my knapsack "pillow" at night.
        Candle Holder with Two Candles - A lot easier to get situated at night when you can see.
        Housewife with Thread and Replacement Paperback Tin Buttons - It is inevitable that you will pop a button on campaign at some point. This is light and a necessity.

        Federal Issue Haversack - Mostly for food, but I also keep items in here that I might need handy. If they go in my knapsack, I will have to open the three straps every time to get to it.

        Small Tin Cup - Buy the small one! It fits right into your haversack and you can put items inside it to save space in the haversack. Don't be the guy with the clanking cup on the outside of your haversack! Stow it away.
        Tin Plate - To eat or use for cooking.
        Two Handkerchiefs - One always gets messed up at the event and they are light.
        Fork - Eating and to help with cooking.
        Twine - A MUST-HAVE! Pool together the gum blankets and shelter-halves from your messmates and with some twine, you have a shelter from the elements. Even if you don't use it, the twine is light and small.
        Spare Knapsack Strap - In case I have to make a bedroll at some point.

        Pockets/Breast Pocket - Items I use on a regular basis at the event.

        Pipe Tobacco in Pouch
        Chaw Tobacco in Pouch made from Gum Blanket
        Two Packs of Matches
        Pocket Knife - A MUST-HAVE!

        Other's mileage may vary...
        Last edited by Eric Tipton; 05-02-2015, 01:20 PM.
        Eric Tipton
        AC Owner
        Founding Member, Mess No. 1
        Cincinnati, Ohio


        • #19
          Re: Packing for the Weekend

          This group has some really good information on their site. I'm not a member of the group but I have used the information they have befor some really good stuff. It's at the
          Last edited by teddy99; 05-20-2015, 12:17 AM.
          Thank You,
          Ted Hubbard
          19th Ohio Infantry


          • #20
            Re: Packing for the Weekend

            My .02....

            Federal Double Bag Knapsack:
            Buckle Part: Great Coat (substitutes for a blanket right now as I still have yet to get a good one, having sold off my mainstream one)
            Tie Down Part: Extra Shirt, Poke Sack with Toiletries (toothbrush, comb, toothpaste, etc), "Utility Poke Sack" (journal, candle, housewife, etc)
            In Between: Gum Blanket for Easy Access
            On Top: Nothing

            CS Kibbler Pack:
            Folding Flaps: Blanket and Ground Cloth
            Button Part: Extra Shirt, Sleeping Hat, Poke Sack with Utilities/Toiletries (toothbrush, housewife, letters from home, bible, etc)
            Small Frying Pan in Between the Two Halves

            Haversack (either US or CS):
            Rations for the weekend, Utensils, Tin Cup

            Pockets of Pants/Coat:
            Matches in Match Safe, Pipe w/ Tobacco, Pocket Knife, Handkerchief
            *I usually carry some extra rope/twine in my knapsack for either impression in case I need it too.

            I've made it through the weekend with just this stuff...if I get wet from rain (I have), I dry off by a fire or marching. Have marched with this stuff before and had no problems with it.

            As Eric said, my experiences through trial and error.....:).
            Robert F. Wallace
            38th NCT (River Rat Mess)
            North State Rifles

            "Do your duty in all things...for you can do no more and should never wish to do less." General Robert E. Lee


            • #21
              Re: Packing for the Weekend

              I have learned through trial, that there is no alternative for a knapsack IMHO. After misery in all sorts of inclement weather, I like my belongings dry. It is also invaluable as a prop more my head while I sleep, seeing that many times the night may call for me to retain my jacket on my torso.

              However, I like it light, VERY light. All those personal knick knacks are neat for LH and showing off, but why on earth would they be thought practicable on a campaign? As Balou always stated: "The bare(bear) necessities".

              What are you going to use/NEED for comfort,

              My pack:

              US Blanket
              Gum Blanket
              2 Pair Socks
              Sewing Kit
              Shelter Half *if applicable for the impression
              Roll of pencils
              Tobacco Pouch and Pipe

              Another reiterated opinion,
              Jonathan Siltman
              24th Missouri Vol. Inf.
              Bully Boys Mess
              Ft. Sill Museum Gun Crew
              Good ol' Fashion Troublemaker


              • #22
                Re: Packing for the Weekend

                The cooler says the most likely culprit he is dealing with is food. I'm still figuring this out so won't offer much beyond coffee, hard tack, in season fruits and vegetables and a pre-cooked corn beef. Expect to get hungry but its usually three days or less and you will survive. Stay hydrated.
                Sleeping and sitting on the ground is what they did so leave the furniture. Get with like minded folks who will show up so you can share the community items like axe and shovel.
                Mike Stein
                Remuddeled Kitchen Mess


                • #23
                  Re: Packing for the Weekend

                  I fall back on semi modern Infantry (I got out in 89) lessons. Pack everything you think you might need for a weekend and go for a 7 mile hike, full kit and uniform. Around the 7 mile point, those thin leather straps should be digging into your shoulders pretty good. Flop down and unpack your stuff and lay it out. Now, what do you absolutely have to have, what is nice to have and what is dead weight? Safe bet you dump at least half your load without much thought. Not worried about cooking? Pack some hardtack and fry up a pound of two of thick slab country bacon and pack it up. Unless it is really hot, it should keep for a weekend. Summer event? Gum blanket and a maybe a blanket. If the temps are not expected to drop below fifty, you can make do with a gum blanket only. Will you get chilly? Yep. Will you get wet? Probably. Will it kill you? No. Throw in a spare pair of socks and a clean shirt or two and you are about where any infantryman over the last three centuries would be.

                  When you get home, you will find that you are tired from only getting a few catnaps in over the weekend, hungry because you did not pack 10 pounds of food and probably wet. When I was in, we regularly did three day, 100% security missions, meaning no sleep for three days. We might get three MRE's for that three day mission and usually did not even bother with a poncho. It will suck, but you will be fine. Besides, if you get cold or bored because you cannot sleep, there are always fires to be made and kept, a bonus we never enjoyed because of noise and light discipline. Being an old fart, I take two blankets and a gum blanket. I still do not sleep more than about 2 or 3 hours during a three day weekend, but I am warm laying there wide awake. I did freeze my butt off one event where I only had my thin blanket only, temps dropped down to the high 40's after a rainy evening. I was miserable that night. Turned out to be the best reenactment I ever attended.

                  Bare boning it, you can get by with a blanket roll. On the plus side, your set up and camp striking will take about 5 minutes total, so you are among the first fellows to hit the parking lot. Good luck to you.
                  Dave Hull


                  • #24
                    Re: Packing for the Weekend

                    We all have personal preferences -- John Gould in "How to Camp Out" mentions an officer who carried a rubber inflatable pillow through the war. I did what others mentioned for Bentonville -- cut down to the maximum I thought I could carry on a nine mile march and live with for the weekend. I have been fortunate to have had a lot of practice for such. But rather than detail what I did, here's what the army thought you should do, which can serve as a model, or a theme for your own weekend variations:

                    “An Experiment in Knapsack Weight”
                    From the Official Records, Series I, Volume 25, Part II, pp. 486-489

                    No. 65. Camp near Falmouth, Va., March 7, 1863.
                    * * * * * * *

                    In pursuance of Special Orders, No. 65, from headquarters Army of
                    the Potomac, the board therein detailed assembled, and proceeded to make the experiment required, and arrived at the conclusion hereinafter stated.
                    In order to ascertain the amount of weight usually carried by soldiers
                    in this army, average knapsacks were weighed, with the contents therein and blanket rolled on top, and the mean weight was found to be l5 pounds.
                    We then took out the contents of the knapsack, and packed inside ten days’ rations of hard bread, to wit:
                    100 biscuits and ten days’ sugar and coffee, and it then weighed, with blanket. 17
                    Without blanket 11¾
                    With a change of clothing—shirt, drawers, and socks. 18½
                    With coffee, sugar, and desiccated vegetables 20½
                    Three days’ rations of biscuit, bacon, and small-stores were put into a haversack, and it weighed – 5¾
                    The average weight of blanket 5¼
                    The average weight of overcoat 5¼
                    The average weight of half shelter-tent 1¾
                    The average weight of change of clothing 2

                    It was found that knapsacks would easily contain one hundred crackers, and that it was better to place at least as much as one shirt in the part of the knapsack next to the soldier’s back, in order that the biscuit might not chafe the skin, and that so long as a knapsack is carried neither the weight of the extra clothing nor the space occupied by it was sufficient to justify dispensing with the same; in fact, it can be carried better than not.
                    It is also to be observed that ten biscuits, although called a day’s ration, are not sufficient upon the march, when no other articles, such as beans, rice, and desiccated vegetables, are issued.
                    The board further placed five days’ rations of bacon in a haversack, with ten days’ coffee and sugar, and that amount was tried upon a soldier and worn without difficulty. But it should be here stated that the haversack is found, when loaded to its capacity, to fatigue the men in moderate or cold weather more than a knapsack with 15 pounds inside.
                    The board, after numerous experiments, and from their previous experience with troops in the field, agreed upon the following conclusions:
                    At a maximum, the men, by dispensing with extra clothing, except one extra shirt, drawers, and socks, can carry in their knapsacks one hundred biscuits and eight days’ small-stores, and, in the haversacks, two days’ cooked rations, which, with eight days’ fresh beef upon the hoof will make ten days’ full rations. Two days’ only are put in the haversack, for the reason that the weight is more easily carried upon the back.
                    The board also thought that if two pack-mules with pack-saddles were furnished to each regiment, a sufficient number of camp-kettles might be carried, with rations of rice, beans, and desiccated vegetables sufficient to cook the fresh beef properly, and furnish the necessary quantity of soup upon all occasions, and make the one hundred biscuits last ten days instead of eight, as before stated.
                    The question creating most embarrassment in the minds of the board was how to provide for line officers who have no knapsacks, but it is considered that all difficulties can be obviated upon ordinary marches if each line officer is required to employ the servant for which he is paid. The officer himself can carry his blanket and two days’ rations, and the servant the balance; it being understood that his necessary baggage and mess-chest should be carried in a reserve column of transportation.
                    The foregoing is stated to show what can be carried under the most favorable circumstances, but considering the marching rate, the state of the roads, and the fact that three days’ rations has heretofore been the maximum amount, the board recommend as follows:
                    1. That all extra clothing, except a change of underclothing, be stored.
                    2. That five days’ rations of bread and small-stores be placed in the knapsack.
                    3. Three days’ cooked rations in the haversack, and five days’ fresh beef upon the hoof
                    4. Two mules per regiment to carry camp-kettles, rice, beans, &c.

                    Each soldier will carry—
                    Haversack 5¾
                    Knapsack 6
                    Blanket 5¼
                    Clothing . . . . 2
                    Total 19

                    Making 13¼ pounds in the knapsacks, being 2 1/4 pounds less than the weight usually carried by soldiers in this army in their knapsacks.

                    Maximum, with 2 mules’ transportation 12
                    Maximum without transportation 10
                    Mean 8

                    All of which is respectfully submitted.
                    Michael A. Schaffner