At yesterday’s celebration of Washington’s Birthday at Washington Crossing, I encountered several people who fans of the episode of Moonshiners we shot last year at Fort Mifflin (see it here). Ironically, some of the people who were there to support the filming, who were standing right next to me, weren’t recognized for their contribution. Every filming, every event, every presentation, everything we do as living historians and reenactors is done with the support of dozens if not hundreds of our comrades in arms who donate their time, money, and expertise to make those five minutes of fame.
Now I am, obviously, referring to fellow soldier in the paragraph above but we are not even half the story at most events. Everyone comes out for the battle reenactments but he real gems, the real living history is happening back at camp.
Following that day of filming at Fort Mifflin, I was approached by several of the Camp Followers who had put their heart and souls into making an authentic camp. They came to me because the film producers had overlooked them in favor of “cannon fire.” It’s a year later and I can vent. When you come to reenactments, DON’T BE THAT PERSON.
Its frankly very easy to be a soldier. The uniforms are standardized, most of the equipment readily sold by various sutlers, and you get to enjoy the anonymity of standing in a large crowd while you learn how everything is done. Finally, unlike the cooks and various artisans who follow the army, nothing we do as soldiers survives the day (except for a few photos and videos). Camp followers have a much harder job.
Just to give you a little hint at how much work goes into PREPARING for an event as a camp follower, I found these two documents while cleaning out my basement:
These are here for those of you who are camp followers and need the references or for those of you who wonder why these women all look so busy at events (hint—the ARE very busy).
Next time you go to an event, spend some time in the camp and talk to these fine women who keep the army fed, clothed, and healthy. You definitely will learn more from them than the 10 minutes on the sideline at the battlefield.