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Stuff to Consider Bringing

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  • Stuff to Consider Bringing

    This was sent to the event listserver several weeks ago, but I figured, "Why not post it here, too?"


    WINTER 1864 2008


    November 1, 2007

    Unless you’ve attended it before, “Winter 1864” is an event that is most likely very different from any event you’ve attended—even from other garrison events. Even if you have attended previous W64s, this one is different because it is four days long. Below is a very basic list of selected items to consider bringing that you would not typically consider bringing to an event portraying troops on campaign. All items brought should be correct for the period (with a few exceptions for health and safety, as noted below). This list is not intended or represented as being comprehensive or covering “all” items that a soldier could have had during winter quarters. Rather, it’s basic items that the event committee believes will be particularly useful; not everyone needs to bring all of the following—this list is merely to promote some thinking and early preparation by registrants.

    Please note that the closeness of participants’ living quarters at this event makes accurate gear and behavior of particular importance, because it is difficult to hide inaccurate or ‘unauthentic’ items from your fellow participants when you are all quartered in a hut that may be about the size of a large closet.” – From page 3 of the W64 2008 event standards

    Personal Hygiene

    This is a four-day event; please take care of your person!

    1. Towel.
    2. Soap (lye soap).
    3. Shaving brush.
    4. Razor for the clean-shaven. *
    5. Looking glass (mirror).
    6. Comb.
    7. Toothbrush and tooth powder (in a pinch? Use baking soda for tooth powder.)
    8. Sanitary paper for the sinks (a.k.a. toilet paper—this will NOT be issued and you probably want to bring some).

    * Note on Razors: Straight razors must be extremely sharp and devoid of burrs and irregularities to be safe and not feel as if your face is being torn off during a shave. A strop to polish the razor before use is required. Many reenactors do not have access to these items. If you are unable to procure a sharpened razor and correct strop, one modern compromise is acceptable: a modern straight razor will be acceptable at this event. Such razors use a modern, cartridge-type razor blade in lieu of a period straight razor. While this is certainly not period-correct, it is A) Sanitary (assuming more than one person may share a razor) and B) Will ensure that the blade is sharp enough for a good, controlled shave. Dull razors are unsafe and more prone to result in a cut than a sharp blade.


    In addition to your uniform and overcoat, consider the following:

    1. Extra pair of drawers (after all, it’s a four-day event)
    2. Extra shirt (if you wear two shirts for warmth, bring a third and/or fourth shirt)
    3. Extra socks (you’re nuts if you don’t bring at least one extra pair, the heavier the better; two extra pair are better than one extra pair)
    4. Mittens (it’s nearly suicidal to attend W64 without them)
    5. Scarf (a darn good idea)
    6. Wool sleeping cap (bring it! W64 2006 proved that a warm fire in every hut’s stove is not guaranteed for all weather conditions)

    Period-incorrect Advice: Consider applying a waterproofing product such as “Sno-Seal” or equal to your bootees. It’s quite likely you’ll be tramping around in the snow. Of course, Civil War soldiers did not have modern waterproofing compounds. That said, very wet, very cold feet are not healthy in the type of weather experienced at previous editions of this event.

    (EDITORIAL NOTE: After this was posted to the event listserver, a good discussion ensued regarding waterproofing approaches that are more period-correct than the one suggested above.)


    The event committee has activities, details, and “scenarios” planned, but we are not cruise directors. This is winter quarters and troops got bored during winter quarters. Idle conversation in your hut or the guardhouse may occupy the first two days, but after that it’s up to you fill much of your time. Prepare for it.

    1. Period books to read, including novels, military handbooks if that’s your thing, and even the Bible.
    2. Playing cards and dice. If you intend to gamble, bring some period scrip (i.e., money) with which to gamble (keep the denominations normal; it’s unlikely that enlisted men gambled with $20+ bets very often).
    3. Period games such as checkers or chess. Bring wooden pieces and use a “board” painted on the back of a gum blanket, or other improvised playing surface.
    4. Items (and creativity) to make your own amusements—for example, a footrace or similar activity.
    5. A period musical instrument and a reasonable amount of talent to play it.
    6. Photos of loved ones at home.

    Stuff to Make Life Easier

    1. Candles. The huts are dark inside even in the daytime, and are even darker at night. The Quartermaster Sergeant will issue a certain quantity of candles (to be determined, but think “about two candles per man”), but also plan to bring anywhere from two to six of your own candles per man.
    2. Candleholder. This is important, because tipsy candles present a very real and dangerous fire-hazard in the confines of the huts. Be safe: bring a candleholder or period-correct soldier-improvised lantern. (See the event standards regarding lighting.) *
    3. Other lighting. A tin (such as a sardine tin) filled with modern lamp oil and a wick makes a soldier-improvised light similar to that described in Hardtack and Coffee but that is much safer (i.e., lamp oil instead of using animal fat as fuel; animal fat sputters, splatters, and inflicts burns).
    4. Coffee pot for your hut’s stove, plus coffee and sugar to make the brew. There is also a campfire at one end of the company street, but no guarantee it’s “cookable” when you want to brew coffee.
    5. Ticking to serve as a mattress—or canvas. Straw will be issued by the Quartermaster Sergeant at the start of the event. If you don’t bring a mattress bag, you’ll be sleeping four nights on a bunk of very hard wood planks.

    * Note on Lighting: The following huts have “chandeliers” with spaces for candles: Pine Cottage, Lawyer Office, and Post Office (commissioned officer quarters). Each participant will be made aware of their hut assignment well in advance of the event.


    Additional discussion here on any of the above-listed items is welcome and probably educational.

  • #2
    Re: Stuff to Consider Bringing

    Appreciate the advice Kevin. Seeing photos of some of the past W '64 events, your suggestions about extra things for warmth appear to be quite on the mark. Does anyone in the "Western" cabin have a chess set and board? I've got some cards. Euchre anyone?
    Eric Tipton
    AC Owner
    Founding Member, Mess No. 1
    Cincinnati, Ohio


    • #3
      Re: Stuff to Consider Bringing

      Period-incorrect Advice: Consider applying a waterproofing product such as “Sno-Seal” or equal to your bootees. It’s quite likely you’ll be tramping around in the snow. Of course, Civil War soldiers did not have modern waterproofing compounds. That said, very wet, very cold feet are not healthy in the type of weather experienced at previous editions of this event.
      Sounds like good advice. While I am sure frostbitten toes are also a period-correct happenstance, I am sure that might detract from your overall experience, heh. ;)

      Wish I could make this event.
      Ron Mueller
      New Madrid Guards

      "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?
      Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
      Abraham Lincoln


      • #4
        Re: Stuff to Consider Bringing

        We used MINK OIL for decades up in Wisconsin.......before Sorel's (rubber bootee, leather uppers) or SnoSeal. Apply it twice....30 days before the event and 14 days before the soaks into the leather...
        RJ Samp
        (Mr. Robert James Samp, Junior)
        Bugle, Bugle, Bugle


        • #5
          Re: Stuff to Consider Bringing

          Originally posted by Eric Tipton View Post
          I've got some cards. Euchre anyone?
          Are you serious? Ya know how cold it will be, I sure would hate to see those tears freeze your little eyes shut when you lose Eric!!:tounge_sm
          Grandad Wm. David Lee
          52nd Tenn. Reg't Co. B

          "If You Ain't Right, Get Right!"
          - Uncle Dave Macon


          • #6
            Re: Stuff to Consider Bringing

            Murphy's Law implies that, if everyone attending W64 2008 brings an overcoat, scarf, mittens, wool sleeping cap, extra socks, etc., then the outdoor air temperature will be about 50 degrees F. :) (Such a thing may not be common in western New York in February, but it's hardly unheard of, and has been experienced at past W64s--most recently on the first day of W64 2004.)


            • #7
              Re: Stuff to Consider Bringing

              I got the Chessmen.
              [FONT=Book Antiqua]Justin Runyon[/FONT][FONT=Book Antiqua]; Pumpkin Patch Mess: [/FONT][FONT=Book Antiqua]WIG-GHTI[/FONT]
              [FONT=Book Antiqua]Organization of American Historians[/FONT]
              [FONT=Book Antiqua]Company of Military Historians[/FONT]
              [FONT=Book Antiqua]CWPT, W.M., Terre Haute #19[/FONT][FONT=Book Antiqua] F&AM[/FONT]
              [FONT=Book Antiqua]Terre Haute Chapter 11 RAM[/FONT]


              • #8
                Re: Stuff to Consider Bringing

                Well, golly, here is a bit of useless information.

                The list of good stuff to bring includes an extra pair of drawers. While you may have been led to believe the temperatures outside the huts will range down into the negative digits (and it can happen), the interior of the huts can range from the same temperature as the outside world to as high as the tropics. That's right, those sheet iron stoves get to glowing a bright cherry red (a nod to you blacksmiths out there), poppin', rockin', and knockin', and the whole house gets to be very, very, warm...nope, make that hot. You'll be running around in your drawers in no time, so try to find an extra pair where the worn out cloth in the hindparts don't look like cheesecloth and the legs aren't frazzled up to the black marks on the knees.

                Hint #986: A man with a collection of period pornographic CDVs could find himself making some good money by creating a form of low-tech peep show during times of slowness, boredom, and dim lighting. Could be a job for a sketch artist in all this, if he understands how to make the pages come alive.

                I certainly hope Skinny Anne makes a return....
                [B]Charles Heath[/B]

                [URL=""]12 - 14 Jun 09 Hoosiers at Gettysburg[/URL]

                [EMAIL=""]17-19 Jul 09 Mumford/GCV Carpe Eventum [/EMAIL]

                [EMAIL=""]31 Jul - 2 Aug 09 Texans at Gettysburg [/EMAIL]

                [EMAIL=""] 11-13 Sep 09 Fortress Monroe [/EMAIL]

                [URL=""]2-4 Oct 09 Death March XI - Corduroy[/URL]

                [EMAIL=""] G'burg Memorial March [/EMAIL]


                • #9
                  Re: Stuff to Consider Bringing

                  Originally posted by Charles Heath View Post
                  I certainly hope Skinny Anne makes a return....
                  Skinny Annie has been supplied with some new period mail order fliers. Don't know what will come of it...

                  Hank Trent
                  (who embarrassed his wife by shouting across the parking lot at a recent event, "Wait, here's your dirty catalogs.")
                  Hank Trent


                  • #10
                    Re: Stuff to Consider Bringing

                    Originally posted by Charles Heath View Post
                    the interior of the huts can range [be].... as high as the tropics. .... and the whole house gets to be very, very, warm...nope, make that hot. You'll be running around in your drawers in no time,
                    Charles is certainly correct here, and this is a factoid worth noting. W64 has a reputation as an event of extreme cold (true) but inside the huts it can, and for virtually all the quarters, it DOES get extremely warm when the stove's fired up. (Thankfully, the stove in the officers' quarters is being replaced! Heat is good...)

                    At W64 2004, I went around doing "bed checks" after Taps and, in one hut, the four denizens were not only not in their bunks, but were all sitting up, each wearing little more than only his drawers, and sweting profusely. I figure that the temperature inside that hut was about 95 degrees, and it struck me that it was more like the interior of an Iroquios sweathouse than a winter hut in 1864. :) Being hardly able to breathe inside that hut, I said, "Wow, it's hot in here. I can hardly breathe. Good night!" and left. :)

                    Of course, those who manage the amount of wood stuffed inside their hut's stove at a given time can do something to make sure this doesn't happen to them at W64 2008.

                    Of the quarters at the site, primarily it's the Sibley and Post Office (officer quarters) have have been "cooler" in the recent past. Pretty much all the other huts are darned well heated, with the potential exception of when the wind blows at 60-mph when the outdoor air temperature is only seven degrees F (as at W64 2006); when that happens, a few of the huts are not able to sustain fire in the stove due to the backdraft. Hopefully the issues at W64 2006 with the stoves in the Pine Cottage and Civilian Cabin are fully corrected--meaning, corrective measures have been done, but we haven't had a 60-mph wind day to test it yet.