How we operate, what we do, who do we get involved with. There are many interesting facets to this hobby and our group.
Our organization in terms of leadership, executive board, our by-laws, and officers roles and responsibilities
Individual questions addressing the scope, depth, and breadth of the living history experience, and how you fit into our activities and operations.
Criteria regarding membership to consider before joining. These are organizational and operational ground rules.
Please fill out this on-line form to contact us so that we can have one of our membership committee follow up with you and answer any and all your questions.
Who can be a reenactor in your organization?
Anyone who is healthy and fit can participate in living history. Our primary mission is to be authentic educators by portraying life during the Civil War. We accept members into our military ranks as soldiers, and accept as associate members people wishing to portray period musicians and civilians.
What events and activities do you offer members?
We have activities all year long. Our most active season runs from about April to October. A normal season includes eight to twelve weekend events, both local and out-of-state. These activities are battle reenactment weekends, living history demonstrations, National Park Service events, company drills, and parade participation. The off-season is occupied by discussion groups, organizational meetings, and research activities..
What investment does it take to get started?
All told, the initial investment can run about $3500. This sounds like a lot of money, but once you have the necessary items, it really can be an inexpensive hobby. A normal reenactment weekend might then cost pocket change for registration, gas and tolls for your trip to the event, and a little food from home. You will spend around $1200 for a period three-band musket. You can figure $1000 for your uniform, including hat, frock, pants, shirts, shoes, and socks. The soldier's accouterments cost about $600, including a waist belt, cartridge box, cap box, bayonet, scabbard, haversack, and canteen. Figure an additional $700 for your camp equipment, including tent, wool blanket, and rubber blanket, cups, plates, etc. Those are the essentials. We will assist you in getting the best quality at the best value. Do not attempt to do it on your own. There are two reasons. The first is that the unit has some requirements, so you do not want to buy things that you cannot use. The second reason is that you might get burned on quality or price. Not all sutlers are your friends.
What should I buy first?
The first thing you should buy is a musket. It should be a period three-band Springfield or Enfield musket. That should be followed by shoes, canteen, rubber blanket, cup, and plate. If you require eyeglasses, you will need a pair of period spectacles. Buy an antique frame, and have lenses installed. Follow that with the accouterments. Then comes the uniform, and the rest of the camp gear. This formula is to get you on the field the fastest, since most of your comrades have extras, and might loan you coats, pants, socks, shirts, but not that many soldiers keep spare muskets. A canteen and rubber blanket or poncho rank high as essentials for hot and wet weather. This is a rain or shine hobby, and you must be prepared for the extremes. Living outside can be uncomfortable otherwise.
How do I learn to be a soldier?
We train everyone in the ranks, and periodically run schools of instruction. You can study the material in books like Casey's Tactics, the Customs of Service, and the Army Regulations. This will help you learn faster. You will be personally instructed in key safety items prior to your falling in the ranks. But be assured that when you are in the ranks you will learn. The NCOs will see to that, and your comrades will help you as well. It is a great education, and you will soon feel comfortable. Education does not stop there. We continually offer training, and have an NCO certification program, where soldiers earn qualification for promotion, then are elected by the membership when openings occur.
How do you live at these events?
We establish an army camp, centered around company streets, where the tents of each company are arranged in two long rows, facing each other, with a space, or the street, separating them. This is the center of the soldier's life, at least when he is allowed to be there... all cooking, playing, and resting takes place.It is part of the soldiers job to also work in the camp, to provide wood and water details, and to do guard and picket duty as assigned by command. If you are a civilian or family participant, a separate civilian camp is established. In general, we do not allow civilians to reside on the military street. Visits between the camps are common.
How authentic do I need to be?
We strive for authenticity. We want to portray, to the best of our knowledge, life in the army. We do not want to be compulsive, but we do want our appearance to be accurate. We keep camp authentic 24 hours a day. This means that all 21th century vestiges must be out of sight at all times. Special attention must be paid to period shoes and eyeglasses. We strive to do as much first person portrayals as possible, especially for the public during the day. It is even more fun to try it for the full 24 hours. It can be a challenge, and an education.
What about eating?
All the food is prepared over the company fire on the company street. All food preparation must be period. Plastic wrappers, coolers, or modern containers are restricted to the tents, out of sight. Hot dogs or Dinty Moore stew are not acceptable. Better yet, many of us learn how to eat as they did then, and you will be authentic to a tee with little effort. Salt pork, coffee, hardtack, beans, rice, and some in-season vegetables will be just the thing. Food is prepared in small three to five man messes, individually, or as a complete company. There is no rules for this, the men are left to their own devices, and no one has starved, or died, yet.
So, how does a typical reenactment weekend go?
Reenactors start showing up at the event site Friday afternoon, evening, or early Saturday morning. The camps are set up, all the equipment is organized, and all the modern items are removed from the camp. It is now the 1860's. Camp fires burn, and coffee is brewed. Saturday morning revielle comes at dawn, and you wake up to find that you are in the army, and subject to the hardships and orders of the officers and NCOs. Breakfast, roll call, drill, details, are the business of the day. A skirmish or battle may develop with the enemy, and some hard marching and fighting are involved. The wounded go to hospital, and the survivors back to camp. Dress parade comes at retreat, followed by supper, and some campfire songs, and conversations. It all happens again on Sunday, save for the addition of some church services or some prayer meetings. Late Sunday afternoon, the event winds to a close, the camps are struck, and everyone says goodbye to good friends, and reluctantly head back home to 21th century reality.
What about the safety of the hobby?
Your safety is the most important thing to everyone in this organization. We are conscious of the many dangers associated with the hobby of reenacting. These include the cook fires, axes, black powder in muskets and cannons, its storage in camps, tent fires, sharp bayonets, extreme hot weather, extreme cold weather, extreme wet weather, horses, woodchuck holes, and the list goes on. It is the responsibility of each and every person in the unit to look out for all, and to identify and correct any and all potential problems. We are incorporated, and do carry insurance to protect us from liability. In general, if it is hot, you will be told to drink water. If you lean over the fire, you will be reminded to be careful. This group approach is the first thing on our minds at all times.
Why should I join the Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.?
We are a group of experienced and inexperienced reenactors alike, who love the Civil War, the Union, the history of the original Eighth Conn. Vols. We are a living history organization that has our act together. We function under a set of by-laws, and are run by an executive board who are elected annually. We are incorporated, and are not-for-profit. We belong to the United States Volunteers, a well respected national organization. We have the respect of, and work with the National Park Service. But beyond all that, we enjoy the incredible comaradarie that this hobby creates. We are from all walks of life, and family backgrounds, but when we do living history together, we are like the boys back then, thrust into a situation where we all pull together for family, honor, and country. We look forward to each new face that shares those dreams, and hope to provide the public insight into your portrayal, and to provide you the chance at your Civil War moment.
These items are for consideration when thinking about membership. This is not a comprehensive list of all the issues the membership committee may address. Items may include, but are not limited to, these below:
The Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Company A, Inc. was formally organized in 1996, and has members with many years of experience in Civil War reenacting. The unit is affiliated with the United States Volunteers (USV) organization at the national level. We are organized under a set of by-laws, guiding the operation of the unit, and are governed by an elected Executive Board.
We are a group of people with a deep interest in the Civil War, and we strive to accurately portray the unit, the times, and the soldiers who comprised the Eighth. We conduct on-going research and continuously work to improve our portrayals and impressions.
The unit is and has been involved in a wide spectrum of activities and Civil War events, including:
The unit is active year round, but especially during the "campaign" season from April to October. We travel to many historic locations from New England to Virginia. We have fought on and near original battlefields, at original garrison forts, and many National Parks and Battlefield Monuments. We also participate in a good share of community events in and around Connecticut.
We are always interested in new membership inquiries. We encourage anyone with interests in history, the Civil War, the Union Army, and the shaping of this nation, to contact us for more information. Get involved in a rewarding and unique hobby with us. We also welcome people portraying accurate civilian impressions as associate members. Please contact our membership chairman as listed in the Recruitment Form below
The Company shall be governed by an Executive Board, which shall act in accordance with the By-Laws, and shall consist of the following offices: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Military Member-at-large. The terms of office shall be one year. Elections shall be held at the Annual Meeting for all offices.
The Executive Board is responsible for approving new members, preparing the annual budget, investigating and proposing events and parades, corresponding with other groups and units, directing and overseeing the Company Committees, and performing all usual executive functions.
The President prepares the agenda for and direct all Company meetings, advise and assists other officers and Committees in their tasks, and act as chief executive officer of the Company as necessary.
The Vice-President assists the President and acts as President in his absence. The Vice-President also manages and oversees Committees.
The Secretary records minutes of Executive Board and Company meetings, and keeps and maintains Company records.
The Treasurer keeps Company funds, maintains financial records of the Company, collects dues and makes disbursements as authorized, and files an annual report at the annual meeting.
The Military Member-at-Large acts as liaison to the Military Board, and assists the Executive Board as needed.
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Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.