Questions Recruits Ask Most
someone first considers enlisting in a Civil War
reenactment unit, a number of questions naturally come to mind. Not
surprisingly, most potential recruits wonder about many of the same
things. So we have compiled this list of the questions they ask most,
and the answers we give them.
do I join the 28th
A: First, you need to pay a nominal recruit
fee and annual
dues, which help defray the unit's insurance, office supply, printing,
postage, web site and annual meeting costs. Upon enlisting, you'll be
given access to the 28thMass Yahoo! Group, your email address will be
added to our e-newsletter distribution list, and you will be
assigned a veteran "mentor" from the ranks of the 28th to help you
prepare for taking the field as a Union infantryman.
Q: What happens next?
A: Once you have the basic uniform and
equipment needed to portray a
Union soldier, you can attend your
first reenactment or living history event. You will need to undergo
basic training in the manual of arms and evolutions of drill, as well
as receive required safety instruction, before we will allow you to
fire a musket in line.
You will be considered a "recruit" for one
year of fielding with us; a year during which we will observe you to
ensure that you are learning drill, observing military protocols, and
perfoming safely. At the next annual meeting after that year is over,
assuming no other member has an objection, you will become a full,
voting member of the 28th Massachusetts.
have never reenacted before. How do I know that I'll
A: You wouldn't buy a new car without
Likewise, it is never a bad idea to become acquainted with a
reenactment unit, its members and how they do things before making a
commitment to join. If you have never seen us in the flesh, check out
schedule and visit us in the
field to find out what
kind of unit we are.
We might even be able to outfit you with a spare uniform for a day or
Q. Is reenacting
strenuous? What kind of shape do I need to be in?
A. Civil War
reenacting is a challenging hobby, both to the body and to the
mind. Since the whole point is to live for a few days at a
time under the same conditions that soldiers of the period endured
continuously throughout their service, it goes without
saying that it can be a physically demanding and uncomfortable
activity. Being in good condition makes it easier.
Hats and uniforms are
made of wool and 19th century shoes can leave feet sore. A
musket, leather accoutrements, full canteen, haversack, knapsack and
other gear can weigh up to 50 pounds. You may march long
distances, sometimes across rough or hilly terrain. You will eat
than you normally do. You will sleep less, too; on the
ground instead of a mattress. And you will do these things in
all sorts of weather.
Many people can
readily adapt to the conditions described above, but occasionally a new
recruit learns the hard way that he isn’t physically or
mentally cut out for the life of a Civil War soldier, even for only a
Before making the
decision to enlist in the 28th Massachusetts or any other unit, you
should take stock of your own ability to participate as a
soldier. We suggest asking yourself the following questions:
- Would it be difficult
for me to walk a mile or two under a hot sun, carrying 30 to 50 pounds
of gear, after getting only four hours of sleep and having a meager
- Do I have any health
issues or physical conditions that might cause me trouble in a
primitive or wilderness environment, without access to modern amenities
Yes to any
of these questions doesn't necessarily preclude you from
becoming a Civil War reenactor. But you know your body and mindset
better than anyone else does, and need to be honest with yourself about
whether you can handle the physical
and emotional stresses of our hobby.
- Am I overweight by 25 pounds or more?
Q: What if I
want to join, but
can't afford everything I need right away?
A: Not a problem. Visit the sutlers'
Web sites, order their catalogs, and when holidays, birthdays and other
special gift-giving occasions roll around, ask for the items you need
(or better, gift certificates or cash) to begin acquiring your basic
uniform and equipment.
Our quartermaster has a limited supply of
spare items that you can arrange to borrow for your first few events,
can take the field as soon as possible. But it can be difficult to find
brogans (shoes) and trousers that fit from what we have on hand, so we
ask you to try and order at least these items right away.
If you don't
have the rest of your basic "kit" by the end of your first year in the
regiment, you will remain in "recruit" status and more recent new
enlistees will be given preference for borrowing the unit's scarce
Can I join the 28th even if I am not Irish by birth or
A: Yes. While we portray a regiment of the
Brigade, you do not have to claim Irish ancestry to join or field with
our unit. The original 28th Massachusetts was primarily Irish, but a
number of its soldiers were immigrants from other countries, including
Canada, England, Germany, Scotland and Sweden. There were also
volunteers from most other states in the Union and even a handful from
the Confederacy: Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. Our current
membership roster includes people from five of the six New England
states, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and the Canadian province of
Massachusetts have monthly meetings?
A: With some 70 members scattered all
Northeast, regular meetings in a central location simply wouldn't be
practical. We see each other frequently at reenactments and living
histories between March and October, so there are plenty of
opportunities for impromptu meetings.
We do hold an annual meeting,
usually in late January, before the reenacting season begins, to settle
any questions about policy, elect board members and officers, and vote
on a campaign
schedule for the year ahead.
Our board meets throughout the year and can call a special general
meeting if one is necessary.
Are members required to attend a minimum number of
A: No, for two reasons. First, reenacting is
a hobby, and
real-life concerns like family, home, health and work take precedence.
Second, once most members are bitten by the reenacting bug and have
invested in a musket, uniform and accoutrements, we don't need to
cajole them into taking the field. They want to.