When I was three, my father introduced me to the wide world of civil war reenacting. At the time we were part of the second Michigan volunteer infantry company B. (respectively the “Flint union Greys”) After that unit all but dissolved we joined the Twenty Second Michigan/Eighth Arkansas from our home town of Port Huron. After personalities clashed and we left that unit, We were freelance reenactors until his passing in late November 2001. After that I served as battalion staff level hospital steward until late August of 2002. It was then that I found out that the second Michigan still existed but now as an artillery unit. I remained with them for 5 years before deciding to hang up that hat in January of 2008. That season I worked as an independent reenactor flexing my muscles as a hospital steward at brigade staff level once again. At Walcott Mill my last official event of the 2008 season I was invited by (at the time) First Sergeant Norfleet of the Michigan Cavalry brigade to join the following season as the brigades bugler in training. I did that steadily for 3 years until last season when I opted to attend Gettysburg 150 as a hospital steward and the other events as simply a regular dismounted trooper. I’ve been training still as a bugler and in the last year I’ve been training to ride so that some day I would be able to ride with the brigade.
I have made many choices in the hobby, some easy, some not so much. They have formed me as a person from some one who I have been ashamed of, to some one who I am proud to be. I still have rough edges to deal with. I still need to improve me as a reenactor. I will continue to do so. Luckily I have strong people who have my back. Wonderful friends, people I love as an extension of my self. People like my dearest friend in the world Tabetha, who I truly consider to be my other half. You’d know her as Connect Thru Strength who’s blog you can find over on my people I follow list. I recommend you give her a read. Then there’s our first Sergeant Tim, who has been nothing but encouraging of me. There are many others too many to list. I have flirted with the idea of a civilian persona but I’m not sure at this junction how far down that rabbit hole I wish to walk. Only time, and each next decision will tell.
So back in 1861 General William Rosecrans designed a new ambulance for the Army of the Potomac’s fledgling medical core. The wagon designed as an ambulance was in service well into the end of the war. This ambulance was between 7 and 10 foot long 4 foot wide, carried to five gallon water kegs to the rear, and was capable of supporting up to a dozen patients. I have decided to build this wagon. I have a friend (who will remain nameless until I get the ok to name them) who wants to train their horse to pull a carriage. There is a second horse in their home that we would have to teach to drive carriage because the Rosecrans, (also known as the Wheeling) ambulance is a two horse drawn carriage. I will be working with tools that existed in the time. I want the carriage to be as authentic as possible. Because of this and because of the available finances and lumber available to me I am expecting the prep time to take a couple of months, after that actual construction time between two and five years. I will be taking many photos threw out the process and will be making many updates as the project goes on.
So I went to a local car dealer back in February to look into getting a different vehicle. I went because the commercials always showed the cute red head with the catchy fraise ‘prices so low we’ll shock you.’ I wound up there during a promotional sale event and gave the dealer representative some very set criteria as to what I was looking for in a vehicle, should I choose to replace my truck. It had to be a jeep, or a station wagon because they were both 4 door vehicles with more then two seats, which had storage comparable to my truck. Well the first debacle of the whole ordeal was that our ‘service person’ (A term I use only half heartedly) lets call him “R” for the purposes of this blog entry. “R” lost my registration with in the first five minutes of being in possession of it. I should have suspected that would be a sign of things to come. Next he was constantly talking down my truck. You have to understand that while at times my trucks behavior has been ‘problematic.’ It has personality to it, and I wouldn’t ever say what I feel for my truck as any thing other then ‘love’. It’s my baby, and woe be it to any stupid s.o.b. that speaks poorly of my baby. He kept ignoring every thing I was saying, kept trying to push a nearly $35,000 car at me. To be blunt the treatment I received from this dealership, was nothing shy of abysmal. I’m glad that my truck is still my primary vehicle. I may save up a few hundred bucks and buy a basic K-Car to have a secondary vehicle that won’t guzzle as much gas, or will allow me more then one passenger, sparing my truck for when I need to haul a load, but I won’t be buying it threw that place.
I’ve written more then once about my best friend Tab. She’s my Angel, my mounted trooper, my best friend in the world, and some one I love. Now when you think of the word love every one will associate it with their own meaning. some think ‘familial love’ others will automatically draw the conclusion of it being ‘romantic love’ but neither of these really fit. No with Tab it’s just love for the sake of love. She graduates collage soon and with that means the coming of internship some where. This makes me proud beyond words of my very special friend. But it also breaks me great, in some aspects nearly crippling fear. For five years Tab has been there for me, been a shoulder to cry on, a friend to curl up on the couch with and watch movies, a random hug, and in one case a metaphorical slap across the face and demanding I stay with it because I was so very close to achieving my goals and she wasn’t going to let me walk away from that. It’s something that I would do for her in a heart beat. The fear comes from the possibility (and a very real one at that) that her internship and later her career may take her so very far away from me that I may not ever get to spend very much time with her again. Now I grant you such uncertainties are the way of life. I know she may have to do these things and I will love her and support her from where ever I am to where ever she is. But just knowing that this may wind up being our last season getting to reenact together, getting to just randomly show up at one another’s house and hang out for a day. Where I live to the her current area is one thing. If it wound up being here to Knoxville area for example. I’d still find a way to make it work. I have friends who wouldn’t mind me as a room mate if that were the case. I just fear where the world will take us, how far it will take my friend and safe person from me.
I have been reenacting with the Michigan Cavalry Brigade for what will be my fifth season this summer. It has been my great pleasure in that time to serve with and learn under their tutelage. I have how ever over that time been forced to ask my self, what is the duty of a dismounted trooper, with in the brigade. Some would say turn to your corporal and learn from him. Problem with that is if I did learn from my dismounted corporals example I would be more concerned about using the brigades name and image to advance my own personal finances by selling books then I would be about helping the brigade. It’s hard to learn from a man who you’ve seen take field and camp with the brigade about as many times as there are years you’ve belonged to that organization. So I came up with my own rules as to what a dismounts responsibilities should be and they are all things I’m doing currently. I encourage other dismounts or mounted troopers to read them and tell me what they think.
- first and foremost when you are assigned to a mounted trooper, you should do every thing in your power and ability to take care of that trooper and his or her mount.
- familiarize your self with horsemen ship. Even if it’s nothing more then a one hour trail ride a week it will give you the comfort around and enjoyment of horses that you will need to fulfill your duties.
- when you see period tack or something that can be used for it at a price you can afford it buy it, and lots of it and break it in to take with you to events. Many times I’ve seen a lead or link strap break when least expected. It’s one of those things that seems like a nothing part until you don’t have one, then it’s a pretty big something.
These are just the basic responsibilities of a dismounted trooper (in my opinion) and while there are many more really they all fall in within the realm of these 3. The third isn’t a responsibility unless you can afford it to be. That one is also helpful to you as a dismount, because if some one has a spare mount they’re much more likely to loan said horse to a trooper who took the time and effort to get their own tack. I will probably review this list at the end of the summer and rephrase it or re-evaluate the various duties of a dismount.
It has been my great pleasure in my short span of life to have gotten to know some truly great musicians. They are what I would call regional or minor celebrities who are every bit as good (or as I would argue even better then) your modern day mainstream, free of any originality to placate to the masses, celebrities. More important to me then the music, is they actually appreciate their fans. We come up to them to say hello, and we are greeted with hugs, and conversation, by people who genuinely count us as friends and remember our names. I periodically will get birthday or holiday wishes by some of the people that I am going to mention here. Now with some of the people be it because I’m a massive nerd who loves books, or my deeply planted Pagan Roots, (yes the guy who regards to his safe person as his ‘angel’ is Pagan folks.) I find a lot of their songs more relatable to me then a lot of the generic stuff that’s produced now a-days, and that’s just fine with me. I’d rather be floating down the river on a pirate ship of our own making with the other occupants of the jukebox of misfit toys actually having fun then droning away like a good little brainless automaton any day of the week.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not downing on the mass produced music that’s out there. It has a set function. That function is to find the common theme in every ones life, and make lots of money by putting out something that the common average mind set will enjoy. Some of us don’t fit in a box though. Some of us aim to misbehave and need our Firefly Music by fellow Browncoats like Vixy and Tony, or Seanan McGuire. Or maybe our inner Fae, or Pixie, or Lost boy or girl wants to live on the out side for a while, and on those days we need a little assistance by wonderful folks like S.J. Tucker, Heather Dale, Betsy Tinny (aka Stealth Cello) and Alexander James Adams. Perhaps were feeling geeky and needing uplifting songs of zany and whimsy, for those I turn to Tom Smith the worlds fastest Filker. Last but not least perhaps on a day when non of the big name pop bands fill my belly with heap much satisfaction but I still want an anthem that I can relate to the lessons of that day, in a way that every one will understand. I’ll turn to talented Indi artists who make what I like to call Folk Pop like the Lovely and talented Bekah Kelso or Ginger Doss. All of these folks are talented Artists, Seven of them I mention here I consider dear and personal friends.
If you don’t know who any of these wonderful folks are, then I strongly recommend you get your ears out of the confines of mainstream music brands and look into your regional musicians and swing some of that patronage their way. You might just find a more enriching music going experience in your endeavors for doing so.
Have you ever had some one in your life, who was always there for you? who was strong when you needed strength, who was bendy and able to flex and parry to be there for you, when you needed to vent and rage and not take things personally if things seemed directed at them, but they knew you so completely that they knew they were not and didn’t take offence. That one person who you know has your back no matter what even if you’re wrong and you damn well know it. I’ve written in the past about my Angel for you folks. She is a person who to be honest there are times I feel I don’t deserve in my life. The reason for the name of this post. Because the song Safe and sound, by Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars from the hunger games sound track, pretty much describes our relationship. There have been many a cold lonely night where I needed to see her face, with out actually seeing it I just needed to think about her about what she would tell me to do, about how she would comfort me in that moment, or distract me. I turn that song on and it solves my problems, because it’s like she’s there in that moment, her arm draped over my shoulder and just keeping me safe from what ever the world may throw at me.
The relationship is not as one sided as it may sound here. I would drop every thing in the world with in a heart beat to be at her side should she need it. It’s a fact we know. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it all over again, because I really can’t sing her praises enough. She has a stressful life and for the life of me I’ve never seen her do any thing selfish for her self. She may do things that to people who don’t understand her motives come across as selfish, but ultimately the reason she does them s for the benefit of others. In a long winded way all I’m really saying is thank you, for every thing you’ve ever done for me, and I’m sorry for all the ways I’ve ever been inadequate in the ways I could repay you.