Faithful readers of this blog are aware of my abiding interest in the American Civil War. Over 25 years ago this interest led me to take up the offbeat pursuit of Civil War re-enacting. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had in the hobby and the fast friends I have made portraying a typical Union infantryman in more re-enactments, living history weekends and school programs than I can number.
My travels have taken me to over a half-dozen states. I’ve camped, marched and fought in weather ranging from near-freezing temperatures to torrential rain to 100-plus degree heat and humidity. (Yeah, occasionally the weather was nice, too.) Then there are all the books I have read and the movies and documentaries I’ve watched, the Civil War round table presentations I have attended . . .
I have decided to put my knowledge and experience to good use by developing a series of hour-long programs on aspects of the typical soldier’s life. I’m calling the talks “Near As I Remember: Reflections of a Civil War Veteran.” What I will enjoy most about this endeavor is delivering the talks in first person, as I take on the identity of an aging veteran of the Civil War. These insightful presentations, which will be delivered with passion and a dash of humor, can be adapted to a variety of audiences. Here’s the initial list of topics I’m working up.
#001 The Soldier’s Life (Part 1): In Camp & On Campaign Become familiar with the material culture and the pace of daily life in military camp and “in the field.” What were soldiers’ duties, entertainments and vices?
#002 The Soldier’s Life (Part 2): “Seeing the Elephant” How did young men adapt to the excitement and terror of battle, where it was common to see their comrades killed and wounded?
#003 What I Recall: Writing It Down In diaries soldiers frankly recorded their hopes, adventures and fears, as well as the mundane aspects of life in uniform. Letters exchanged with home were key to maintaining the morale of the soldier and his family alike.
#004 Making Sense Of It All: Song & Verse Throughout history war has been chronicled in song lyrics and poetry. See how these art forms were employed by people that were affected by the Civil War.
#005 The Years Creep Slowly By: The Home Front As sons, husbands, fathers (even some wives, sweethearts and daughters) went to war, families and friends back home had to deal with what were often harsh new realities brought about by their absence.
#006 Grub’s Up: What Soldiers Ate Learn about soldiers’ rations, how they supplemented their diets and dealt with the specter of going hungry while on campaign.
#007 Ready, Aim Fire: Weaponry Civil War infantry weapons technologically leapfrogged those used in the Revolutionary War. Learn about the new weapons and how battlefield tactics had to catch up to their deadly capabilities.
I hope these descriptions make you want to learn about the availability of my reasonably priced talks. If you or anyone you know know might like them – or would suggest other topics – please shoot me a message via my blog’s “Contact” page or visit the “Near As I Remember” Facebook page. Thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon!