First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry
Become a Reenactor
1st Nebraska is a group that is open to anyone who is interested in
reenacting the American Civil War, no matter their reenacting experience
level. Whether you are a fresh fish who has never even seen a
reenactment or a 10 year veteran who has recently moved into the area,
we invite you to join us! We ask that you join us at one of our monthly
meetings. We meet the second Wednesday of every month at 7:00 pm in
the basement of the VFW
Hall at 33rd and Leavenworth in Omaha, Nebraska. This
will give you an opportunity to meet the members and get a feel of what
our group is about. At the meeting you will receive the Unit Handbook
which contains some general information on reenacting, where to purchase
equipment, how much, etc. It is designed with the new recruit in mind,
but is equally applicable and useful to the veteran.
What follows are questions that many new recruits
have when they are first getting into the hobby.
|What is Civil War Reenacting?
Civil War Reenacting is a hobby in
which people try to bring the Civil War era to life. This is done by
wearing historically accurate clothing, setting up military encampments
and civilian "towns", and adopting the persona of someone living in the
1860's. These are all brought together so that a snapshot or fragment
of the Civil War time period can be seen and understood by the public.
|Where do you do reenactments?
Reenactments happen all over the
country, but for the most part, we attend events in Nebraska, South
Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. Sometimes there are big national
events held out on the East Coast. If there is enough interest in the
unit, we might attend those also. The national events are where
you can really get a feel for what it was like to be a soldier in the
Civil War, when you see thousands of reenactors like yourself stretched
out in long battle lines.
|When do you have reenactments?
Our reenacting season takes place between
mid/late March and October. There are a few exceptions though when we
might attend an event in, say, February or December.
|Why do you do reenacting?
Because it is fun! If it were not fun,
then it would not be a hobby. Everyone who is involved in this
hobby has at least some interest in American History, or more
specifically, the Civil War. We all have a desire to learn more about
it. Civil War Reenacting is also used to educate the public about
various facets of the time period that rarely get mentioned in any
classroom or book. It is one thing to read about it, it is a completely
different matter to see it done first hand and experience it.
|What do you do at reenactments?
Most of the time is spent conversing with
and educating the public. Usually an encampment is laid out and
spectators walk through. This gives them an opportunity to ask
questions and see the daily minutia of soldierly life. Depending on
your commitment level in reenacting, you may wish to answer their
questions in a third person format (i.e. They did this...They had
that...etc) or you may do so in First Person. First Person is where you
assume the personality, dialect, attitude, and beliefs of a character.
You will then act him out as if you were actually living during the
1860's. This is the most intense form of reenacting and requires much
research, dedication, and time into your character and the time period
he represents. Although it can be quite difficult, when done properly
it is very rewarding.
We also relax with friends we have not
seen for awhile and have the chance to make new friends. Many of
us like camping, and usually on the first night of a event we spend long
hours just talking around the camp fire.
There are also battles. These take
place during the afternoon and give the reenactors and spectators an
opportunity to witness the sights and sounds of Civil War combat.
Often times, a small portion of an actual battle will be scripted out
and reenacted. There are times though, when there is no script, and the
battles are determined by the skill of the commanders and their
knowledge of Civil War tactics. These are called tacticals. Once the
battles are over, and the sun has dropped below the horizon, many events
have a Saturday night ball in which Ladies and Gentlemen do period
dances to period music.
|If I start reenacting does that
mean that I am in the real military?
No. During reenactments we will follow
military courtesies that were used during the Civil War. The reason for
doing so is because we are trying to create an atmosphere of a Civil War
encampment, not because we are actually enlisted in the military.
Although we are not in the military, there is a rank structure that is
followed. A vote by the group determines who gets to be what rank.
Even though a reenactor portraying an officer has no real authority to
command troops, he still receives the courtesies that of an officer
during the Civil War would have received.
|Drill? What is that?
Drill is where we practice handling the
rifle and maneuvers that were used during the Civil War. A soldier's
life during the war mainly consisted of drill, drill, and more drill.
They were extremely proficient at it. Unfortunately (or fortunately
depending on how you look at it) we cannot spend every waking moment
practicing drill. Usually we will drill twice at an event: once
Saturday morning and once
Sunday morning. Drill allows use to look and maneuver as a real
Civil War Unit, but it is also important for safety. Even though
we are shooting blanks, a powder burn is nothing to laugh about.
I don't know the
drill, will you teach me?
Of course! You
cannot safely work with the group unless you know how to A) handle the
rifle and B) maneuver with the group. If you join the unit at the
beginning of the reenacting season, you will have the opportunity to
attend Spring Muster. If you join during the middle of the season, a
Corporal will pull you aside and bring you
speed to the point where you can begin learning with the whole group.
|What is Spring Muster?
Spring Muster is an event that is held at
the beginning of every reenacting season. This event gives the
veterans a chance to brush off the rust accumulated over the winter and
allows new recruits a chance to learn the drill. It is a non
spectator event, and there are no battles. The entire weekend is spent
|Do I have to have all of my gear
by my first event?
Actually, we would prefer that you wait to purchase anything until you
have had the opportunity to attend an event. This will give you an
opportunity to see if you enjoy being with our group and if the hobby is
worth getting into before you start laying down money. There is nothing
worse than buying all of your equipment only to discover you don't enjoy
Any equipment that you
do not have, you can borrow from the Unit. First Nebraska has loaner
uniforms, accoutrements, etc. that a new recruit can borrow until he
obtains his own. We do ask that you try to acquire all of your
basic equipment in a reasonable amount of time so that other new
recruits lacking equipment may also participate.
|How much does all
of the equipment cost?
This is the BIG
question! It can cost anywhere from $1,500.00 to $2,000.00. Keep
in mind though, you do not have to purchase everything all at one time.
As stated above, you can borrow any equipment that you do not yet have.
Almost everyone acquires their equipment over time. The single
biggest expense is for a musket, which can run from $350 for a used one
to $700 for a new one.
|What do I need to
suggest that your first purchases be your shoes, canteen, and hat.
Because everyone's feet and head are different, it is really difficult
to borrow these items and have a proper fit. Also, if you have to
wear glasses, we ask that you acquire period frames. You can then
take these frames and have your prescription lenses put in.
|Where do I buy
We have a suggested
vendor/sutler list located on the "Links Page". They have been chosen
because we feel that they provide the best quality and authenticity for
the most practical price. We ask that when you begin purchasing items,
you start by checking out the sutlers from this list. It also helps to
talk to a member of the authenticity committee or experienced member of
the Unit, they can give you a hand when picking out equipment.
|If your question has
not been answered, or if you would like clarification on one of the
questions above, please do not hesitate to contact us!