Monday, June 7, 2010

Pittsfield, IL Lincoln Days

This weekend I attended my first Civil War reenactment :)

We didn't dress up this time; we went in our regular 2010 clothing to meet up with our friend's unit and hang around with them for the day to get a better understanding of all that goes on. It was a blast!

Pittsfield is a little teeny tiny town located over by the Illinois River just off I-72, 30 mi west of Jacksonville. But from where the event was located (at the lake), it may as well have been untouched frontier. The lake glistened, the prarie rolled, and the camps were thoroughly convincing (and the cars were hidden out of sight). It was such a pleasant location! Erik, our friend and the leader of the Il. 12th Calvary, told us that at night, you can't see a single light outside the camp. Although we couldn't stay that late, I can only imagine how beautiful it would be. Pittsfield is a fairly small event (according to those who know better and told me so), but can't be matched in terms of beauty of location.

We arrived just in time for the Ladies Tea, where the women all sat under the big tent drinking tea and sewing "quiet dolls" or "heritage dolls," which are made out of a bit of lace and a regular handkerchief. They're beautiful in their simplicity. You gather a head along one side and stitch a bit of lace along the opposite side for the bottom of the skirt. With a little bit of ribbon, you tie around the "body" to make the arms distinct. My camera's dead right now or I'd take a picture of mine. THIS is the kind of toy my children will have.

After that was the battle. I'm not going to lie -- this part bored me. I spent the time reading Mrs. Clark's "Skirting the Issue" instead of paying attention. The Union won. :)

It was a lovely day all around. I feel much more confident about my in-process wardrobe after seeing the WIDE range of accuracy at Pittsfield. Some people took it very seriously. Some showed up in a purchased-off-line Scarlet costume because their husbands are involved. Everyone else was scattered along that wide spectrum. Even if I DO end up in tennis shoes in Jacksonville, I'll fit in just fine.

I'm excited to meet more units in J-ville. Although the 12th Calvary guys were really great, their wives mostly do it for the camping and the companionship while their men play war. They aren't interested in researching civilian life or women's fashions the way that I am. While we'll be with them for at least part of J-ville (the men have been kind enough to outfit Shaune with loaner gear) I don't think this is our "home" group. If any of you are in a unit and will be in Jacksonville, I'd love to meet up with you and your group!

I think I'm hooked :)

1 comment:

Sarah Jane said...

Oh Jenny, I got so excited reading your account of Pittsfield. I'm so glad you were able to go and get more confidence about the outfit you are making. You are totally correct, there is a WIDE range of authenticity out there and you will definitely be on the high end of it, so you have nothing at all to worry about. And yes, tennis shoes would fit in just fine, lol. :) Actually I was thinking more about this and depending on what size shoe you wear, you may find it possible to find some plain *mens* modern dress shoes that look similar to the brogans worn then, by both men and women. It wouldn't be completely accurate of course, but shoes are so expensive, many of those who are otherwise very progressive make allowance for plain and unobtrusive modern shoes til funds can be saved for a pair of repros. (I didn't get mine til after many years in the hobby!) Boots are not the only option, you could also wear a bootee type shoe or slippers with a squarish toe, or the black strapped mary jane type shoe as well. Those are often easier and very inexpensive to come by especially if you order online.

Check out Illiana when you are in Jacksonville! Ben owns and operates the sutlery "Ladies and Gentleman's Emporium" and he is a wonderful, funny, delightful gentleman. Illiana is a family friendly goup with a ride range of "sub groups" (we are part of the medical group) with varying degrees of striving towards accuracy within. Cheri Fry is part of this group and she lives in Jacksonville so I'm sure you will see her there, especially at the ladies fashion show. She has a very progressive impression and is a very friendly and lovely lady.

Anyway, I'm glad you had a great time! There is nothing like going to your very first event. I well remember my first one (I was also in modern clothes at my first one) and I was hooked from that day, though it was 2 years after that before I got all my wardrobe together.