What the Recreated 28th Is and Isn't
recruits often ask us what kind of unit the 28th Massachusetts
Volunteer Infantry is: mainstream, progressive, or campaigner. Although
we don't really care for labels, we are probably best described as a
progressive unit that in many respects has returned to its original
When the recreated 28th Massachusetts first
took the field in
1984, its founders were aiming to portray the regiment as it appeared
on the march during the pivotal Gettysburg campaign in the summer of
1863. They slept by the fire or in dog tents, carried full packs, and
formed small messes.
During its first decade and well into its
second, the 28th
Massachusetts grew into one of the largest Civil War reenactment units
in the Northeast. We routinely fielded two solid companies and
occasionally even three. Men took turns on "gilly duty," cooking large
meals for the entire regiment to share.
Our high water mark came in 1998, when the
fielded 85 muskets at the 135th anniversary reenactment of the Battle
of Gettysburg. We were larger at that time than some of the hobby's
smaller battalion organizations are today.
But with rapid growth came differences of
opinion, even among
close friends. In becoming more "mainstream" and trying to accommodate
everyone, we had created a satisfactory experience for no one.
Ultimately, there were divisions within and departures from our unit.
Although this thinned the ranks of the 28th
a while, it also helped the unit grow in its approach to
history. Today, we operate according to the following principles:
- We believe there is room in the Civil War
hobby for everyone,
and judge individual reenactors not exclusively by their uniform and
equipment, but by the sincerity of their effort to honor the men and
the times they have chosen to portray.
- Although we continually strive for
improvement in the quality
of our impression, we do not try to meet some other living history
organization's definition of the perfect soldier, nor do we belittle or
cajole others into doing so.
- We strive for excellence in military
bearing, drill, and
battlefield tactics. In spite of other changes within our unit over the
years, this has been and will remain a constant in the 28th
- At all times when possible and appropriate,
infantrymen on campaign. This means, to the extent we can, attending
events with only what we can carry in on our backs.
- We enjoy portraying army life in the mid
19th century, but we
all live in the early 21st century and recognize that reenacting is a
hobby. We change everything we reasonably can for a weekend in the
field, but that doesn't mean we can or will change everything.
- Authenticity is important, but safety is
more so. We will
never demand or expect our members to do anything in the name of
historical accuracy that will place their health or safety at risk.
- We respect others in their approach to this
hobby, and expect
the same in return. If you are uncomfortable with us or with how we do
things, please understand that we will not change to suit you. We are
who we are, and make no apologies for it.
- Reenacting is what we do for fun. It is our
temporary escape from the hectic pace and stressful nature of modern
everyday life, and
we want to keep it that way. If you feed on conflict, thirst for power,
or don't work well with others, the 28th Massachusetts is not the unit
If you want to become involved in Civil War
are thinking about joining the 28th Massachusetts, our best advice to
you is this: meet us at an event. You might even want to borrow some
gear from us and live the life of an infantryman for a couple of days.
Get to know us while we get to know you.
By the end of the weekend, one of two things
happened. Either the 28th will be one member larger and you will have a
bunch of new pards, or you will still have new friends in the hobby and
the freedom to choose another unit with goals closer to your own.