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As we seek to honor the fallen heroes from “our war” at each living history event, here are some additional thoughts on character and town building, culled from the fabulous AGSAS website. Their quote says it all “Authenticity isn't a destination, it's a journey,” and I hope we are all on the same journey as we seek to portray our town with increasing authenticity. AGSAS put out some compelling ideas worth perusing, and emulating.

I would challenge each of us to take a photo of our personal camp at our next reenactment or event. Print it and spend some time critically evaluating your OWN campsite in the privacy of your own family! You might be surprised – pleasantly or you might be convicted of a need to “defarb the camp!”


Our goal should be to compare our camps to old photos from the war, which are in abundance on the Internet, Pinterest and any Civil War book. Our goal should not be to merely compare to one another. We don’t want to emulate the incorrect, or start new trends of farbizm. Dozens of camps are shown in photos – it won’t be a huge stress.

And while we do not want to become Camp Nazi’s, sniping one another and ripping one another down, by comparing our OWN campsite to old photos, we can make necessary changes over time. We should be striving for increasing authenticity, like our Union and Confederate soldiers do in their camps, to honor the memory and integrity of the 620,000 dead soldiers who fought so valiantly. They deserve our best efforts, and our best effort begins with honest evaluation of our selves and our surroundings!

I seek only to ENCOURAGE the ACWS Civilian Corps – not to discourage it. We all have our personal journey “through the Civil War” and I trust that we are likeminded in wanting to improve each event, bit by bit.

As we approach the anniversary to our first year of reenacting (Perris), I reflect on the many criticisms leveled at our family, our clothing, undergarments, second attempt at clothing, hair, and our campsite – and while it hasn’t always been done with a silver tongue, it has been heard.

None of us can change EVERYTHING in a day – I daresay most of us ladies have more than enough fabric purchased, with intentions and glorious ideas for its appropriate use in our impressions, to pave a lane straight to the moon! But then life interrupts the Civil War plans and we go through another event without “getting it done.”

I would humbly suggest we begin to draft our OWN set of standards for our Civilian Camp – so we portray the best we can be. One of the people that influenced me the most was a little foreign woman who wandered excitedly through my 1st camp at Prado in April, in a thrill looking at virtually everything, pointing and asking, did they have this? Did they have that?

Then she recounted how many of the things in my camp were similar to what she used as a girl in World War II as they blacked out their windows and endured years of bombing raids. And she tore my heart in two. She used lanterns similar to what I had to read by, while bombs exploded around her, and she said this all in a delighted tone to see what the Civil War people had suffered through 80 years before her war.   She related to them so much, and she was putting to rest her own feelings of terror as a child. And it tears ones heart to think of what so many have suffered through.

As living historirans, it strikes me that we owe the public of today. We owe anyone who has ever suffered through a war fought on their own beloved country. We owe our long sleeping brothers and sisters who fought and lived through the Civil War. We always hear that freedom isn’t free, it was bought with the lives of over 1.2 million Americans to date. Lets honor them in our small way by portraying our period to the BEST of our ever expanding personal abilities.

Thankful for the 1.2 million who put their lives on the line and ultimately sacrificed


Originally written for the American Civil War Society as we set about the task of creating a new Civilian Town, to share a third space, with Union, Confederate and Civilian Camps at events in Southern California.