The fine folks at Soldiers and Sailors asked me to help out this weekend with interpretation at their Gettysburg 150 display at the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, so I brought down my gear and set up a table depicting what the typical Federal infantryman would be carrying in 1863. I got a lot of great questions, and plenty of enthusiastic and interested people stopping by my table.
A typical 1863 camp was erected. These are "dog" tents. Each soldier would carry half the tent, and when the column stopped for the night, he'd get together with a buddy and erect their shelter with the help of a few sticks.
A fellow reenactor educating. As usual, the youth is bored.
More reenacting and interpretation! Sidewisestyle!
I was telling people that we were going to do a camp cooking demonstration, but once we got the fire started, the Convention Center made us put it out. Some actually believed that!
All in all, it was a great weekend. While I love reenacting and living history, my favorite part of the hobby is interacting with people, and telling my stories. The payoff are the stories I get in return. For example, one elderly man told me the story of the rusty bayonet he found in the woods near his home, which now hangs in his house. I live for that sort of stuff. We had a number of teenagers, male and female come up and ask about the gear, and they had excellent questions and great enthusiasm. Veterans would stop by and tell us their stories.
I got to interpret with some other wonderful reenactors, we swapped tales, engaged the public, and educated. A highlight was working with a man portraying one of Berdan's U.S. Sharpshooters, and we demonstrated the rate of fire difference between my muzzle loading Springfield, and his breech loading Sharps.
I got to talk about the items on my uniform, many people asked about the red "shamrock" on my kepi, and I got to talk about the Army of the Potomac's corps badge system....that led into the spring of green in the leather band of my kepi, and I spoke of the sacrifice of the Irish Brigade before Marye's Heights in Fredericksburg. I then segued into the 150th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Fredericksburg, and how the National Park Service allowed the Federal Irish units to march under arms down the Sunken Road, where we left our sprigs of boxwood upon the Stone Wall.