Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Charlton Park's Civil War Muster

This weekend was the Civil War Muster at Charlton Park. After sewing madly for about a week before hand, I finished re-fitting my dress and making it more historically correct. I originally made it for Halloween two years ago, and believe me, it showed. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about either sewing clothing or 1860's dresses, so it came out way too big on me. With the help of an experienced reenactor, I took my bodice off the skirt and completely re-fitted it to my now-corseted body. I also re-hemmed the entire thing. I still need to do a bit more work on it, but it looks so much better now.

Anyways, as soon as I got off from work, I dressed up and did my hair, then squished my hoops in the car and headed over to Charlton Park.

All pictures are taken courtesy of my mom, except for one. :)

Part of the civilian camp

Various pieces of artillery
 I got there just as the battle was ending. I wandered around most of the afternoon, visiting the old buildings again and meeting up with a few friends. There was a traveling tin-typist there as well, so I posed for my picture.

Those of you familiar with the process of making a tintype will know that they are reversed horizontally. I wear my ring on my left hand in real life, but in the picture it appears to be on my right hand. I just wanted to point that out. The tin-typist said the reason why my dress and hair turned out so dark was because they both have a reddish tint to them.

After my picture developed, I went home for a quick dinner before heading back for the ball in the evening. It was very warm dancing, but there were refreshments and outside of the barn it was cool, so it wasn't too bad. Mom took a lot of pictures during the dance, but every single one of them are blurry, due to lack of light and moving people. :)

After we danced for an hour or so, there were lantern tours of the village. There were different scenarios set up - a church converted into a hospital, a saloon, letters from one cousin to another fighting in the war being read by candlelight, and a family packing because the enemy soldiers were minutes down the road, among other things.

The blurriness was due to the time warp back to 1863. ;) Note the white cartridge papers on the ground from the battle earlier.
After the tour was over, a few of us stayed to see the night artillery firing over the river, which was very interesting. When it's dark out, you can especially see all the sparks that come out of the cannon's barrel. 

Picture taken by Roger Smith, Charlton Park staff member.

The next morning brought a beautiful sunny day. I did some shopping (picking up an 1858 etiquette book!) then explored the village again with a friend until the fashion show.

There were a variety of looks, from the very wealthy... the middle class... the working class.
There was also an adorable little boy modeling his dress and pinafore. Isn't he cute?
Later in the afternoon the cavalry gave a demonstration.

After the cavalry demonstration, they cleared out of the village green. Some lovely southern ladies strolled around under the massive oak tree, enjoying the warm day...

...until the Union cavalry rode into town, causing the poor ladies to flee to their homes!

A Union artillery crew also rolled into town.

The Southern boys on their way to defend their town and families.

The Northern infantry met them in the green.

The Union troops fought valiantly, but were eventually surrounded and forced to surrender.

After the battle, the rest of my family went home while I stayed for the medical demonstration. I even got to help out, by comforting the poor private whose leg was being sawn off.

I was a bit sad to take my dress off at the end of the day. The next day I donned a modest (for the 21st century) blouse and my split skirt. I kept feeling like I was too immodest, with my arms half bare and my skirt only going to mid-calf. Going to reenactments really makes you realize how many people walk around now with exposed skin for no reason that could be covered up.

The old oak tree in the center of the village green. I wonder how old it is and what it has witnessed over the years?

All in all, I had a wonderful time. The next reenactment I am planning on attending will be the Jackson one. I'm already counting down the days! I hope to see some of you there!


  1. Great post, I felt like I had stepped back in time. Wow! The photos are wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
    Gina at Victorian Wanna Be

    1. Thank you very much for reading it and for your lovely comment! :)