What is civilian re-enactment?

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Mark P.
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What is civilian re-enactment?

Post by Mark P. »

Thought I'd try a bit of an open topic.

What is civilian re-enactment?

I know how to re-enact military stuff, its written down in manuals and orderly books and you just have to follow that. Simplistically a soldier only needs his gun and uniform to demonstrate aspects of military life and basically as long as he follows orders he's ok.

What do you have to do for civilian reenactment, what props do you need, can you do it in a field so to speak or do you need a house and all the associated stuff to go with it.

I ask because although I've been to a few events the social divide between upper class civilians and soldiers is such that I've never been able to figure out what it is civilians actually do.

And another thing is upper class civilian re-enactment different to lower class re-enactment. Is one easier than the other?


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Post by jfdiow »


A subject close to my heart....

Civilians be civilians like soldiers be soldiers.

The problem is that they were many, many more different kinds of civilians than soldiers- as a soldier- a re-enactor may only have to make the choice- Which side, & What unit? and then possibly the choice- what rank?

A civilian makes the choice- who am I, where and when for every event they do- sometimes within a very broad range-
for me this can change from poorish soldiers wife (haven't done that for a while), through dairymaid, spinster, housemaid, farmer's wife, housekeeper, companion, governess, poor relation, visiting friend-daughter of a parson, visiting friend-daughter of a bishop, to lady of the (very grand) house.
yes, there might be a generic '18th century lower /upper class civilian' but like a poor soldier re-enactor they aren't very interesting people for the public to meet :D

I did write a very long response to this but ended up qualifying everything I was writing so maybe I'll let others chime in first.

Best wishes,

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Post by Jenn »

oh that's a biggie
- where the event is has a big effect on what you do. A house is nice since even when you're a soldier's "wife" actually you probably wouldn't have been around the camp as much as we are and of course the further up the social scale you go the less hanging round near tents you do.
For mwe where I am also dictates what I do since if I am n military camp albeit as a civilian I try to only do things that would be suitable for a camp - which are mostly cooking, mending, running after children, washing, looking a bit long suffering - you get the picture. Unless I'm really rich in which I case I supervise others doing this and complain a lot
In a more civilian environment then I am either doing my job - see the above - though have done chandling painiting, hat making etc and being richer can do really most things that take my fancy but mostly sewing, dancing and lots of supervising (preferably with a nominal nursemaid in tow)
I see it as trying to give an impression of ordinary life as people are fascinated by the normal stuff of eating, bodily functions (generally try not to go into too much detail here), clothes etc. In general I think it easier for a normal MOP to see themselves as a civilian than a soldier so in some ways it's easier to compare with their lives

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