Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why carry so much?

In the RevWar, we call it "Williamsburg on Wheels." In the F&I it's "Quebec en derouine". ("en deroine" is a French term for a travelling trader, hence carrying a lot of goods.)

They are they people that take so much gear to an event that it takes up their entire vehicle (sometimes a trailer, too) and require a small army to set up camp. Granted, I don't like to be uncomfortable, but it does get downright silly. Dining flys, chairs, tables, stoves, 40lbs of iron fireplace tools, huge tents, trunks...

The worst part? Noone we portray carried all this crap. Not even the officers. I love walking up to a re-enactor as he is speaking about his persona of a simple farmer while standing in front of $4,000 worth of camp gear. This is one of the reasons that people new to the hobby think it's so damned expensive (it isn't exactly cheap, but it's not that bad.)

A good rule of thumb is, "If the soldier/militiaman couldn't carry it on his back, you don't need it."

For most of us portraying militia/irregulars during the AWI, the following is a good start:

Hat: $25 blank, finish to suit yourself.
Trousers: $90. Linen or tow cloth.
Linen shirt: $35
Workmen's jacket/Sleeved weskit: $140-175. Linen, fustian or wool.
Mocassins: $40 worth of deer/moose hide will get you enough to make 3-4 pairs.

Firelock: $600-? Depends on what you get. An India-made Brown Bess is at the low end of the price spectrum and will work well as a starter gun. Custom fowlers (which are generally more appropriate) run in excess of $1000, although you can find a used piece once in a while.

Cartridge box: $50-100

Blanket: $40 for a simple white, surplus British army blanket.

Knapsack or snapsack: $45-100. Just to carry stuff in.

Tumpline: An inexpensive tumpline/blanket sling can be made from $20 worth of hemp webbing.

Wood bowl, folding knife and horn spoon: Around $40 total.

Canteen: Various options, $35-75.

With these basics, you can sleep, eat and fight. Everything after that is just gravy. Most units have loaner tents/shelters, some even have loaner guns and clothing.