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August 2004

Upcoming Events

August 14

Woodcutting, Dollinger Farm, 9am

August 27-29

Reenactment, Jackson, MI

September 4

Woodcutting, Dollinger Farm, 9am

September 10-12

Reenactment, Lake Villa, IL

September 17-19

Reenactment, Marengo, IL

September 17-19

Reenactment, Atlanta, GA

Next Board Meeting

The next board meeting will be on the evening of Saturday, September 18 at the Marengo event, around 5pm. Please try to make it—we’ll be discussing many important topics in preparation for the Dollinger Farm reenactment!

A Note From Your Captain
By Bob Bierman

Hello Everyone:

The Dollinger Farm Re-enactment is less than a few months away. As always I'm in need of volunteers for the event itself and of course the woodcutting times I set aside on a periodic basis during the year. What I would like to do this year is that those of you who are available and want to help with the event on those days just prior to it (Wed, Thurs, & Fri), please give me a call so I can create a volunteer list that I can work with. Just give me a call and let me know what day and times you'll be available to help out. The Civil War Days board & I would be very happy to have you. Also, don't forget that there is always need for woodcutters, stackers & haulers. Our remaining wood cutting dates are: Aug 14th, Sept 4th & Oct 9th. We always meet at the new barn at 9am. If you are having breakfast with me then meet me at Sister's Restaurant at 8am in Minooka on me.

Our volunteerism has been light recently so please don't forget your Civil War club & that we need you!!! Please come out to events and participate with these activities. Thanks to all our members.

Capt. Bob

Jackson, Michigan Re-enactment

Capt. Bob is in the process of planning the trip to Jackson, MI and needs anyone who intends to go to please contact him ASAP at (815) 725-0148. Remember that the 64th will be going Confederate and falling in with the 26th NC for this event.

He is looking for another volunteer who can drive and take a couple of riders with them. Ken Gough has already graciously volunteered his van.

Bob is hoping that most people can leave on Friday rather early but he needs to know everyone’s plans so he can work out the schedule. He will provide further info as it becomes available.

Volunteers For Presentations

Bob has been in correspondence with the Joliet Public Library. Because the library often receives inquiries of patrons who are interested in the Civil War and in reenacting units in the area, Bob will be giving the library literature and handouts on the 64th which they can in turn give to interested patrons. Additionally, Bob is looking for anyone interested to participate in presentations, i.e. if a school contacts the library needing reenactors for a presentation. This is an ongoing thing, so if you can be available to volunteer for these types of presentations, please let Bob know.

Quilts, Quilts, and More Quilts!

To the sighs of relief of ladies everywhere, Ken Gough has graciously donated to the 64th a treadle-sewn quilt top and bottom, to be raffled off as part of the unit fundraiser at Minooka. It is a reproduction of an original 1835 quilt in the Smithsonian collection and is truly a beautiful piece. It is sure to generate a lot of attention for the fundraiser.

With our work literally cut out for us, the ladies have feverishly (more or less) begun stuffing and quilting. Currently the quilt has the batting in place, is all pinned together and is about ˝ quilted in a period diamond grid pattern. It’s well on its way to completion! So ladies… the quilt will be making appearances at Jackson, Lake Villa and Marengo in order to be complete by Minooka. Come stop by the 64th camp at these events and get those needles quilting.

Thank you, Ken!!

Color Guard Opportunity

On October 4th at 7pm at the DuPage Historical Museum in Wheaton, the original battle flags of the 36th Illinois will be brought up from Springfield. In conjunction with the Salt Creek Civil War Round Table, the Museum is doing fundraising for the conservation and restoration of the flags. For this special event Jerry has mentioned to the Historical Museum that the 64th has a color guard, and requests that the 64th Color Guard present the flags. The ladies are also invited to attend in period attire. Hors d'oeuvres and snacks will be served.  Please contact Bob or Jerry if you can attend.


At the National Encampment for the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in Cedar Rapids, Iowa next Saturday, Jerry Kowalski will be appointed National Chaplain by incoming National Commander Steven Michaels of Wisconsin. He will be the first non-ordained man to hold the position since the Sons were organized in 1889.

Congratulations Jerry on this honor!

Illinois Battle Flags
By Scott Gutzke

During a recent trip to Springfield, Mary and I had the opportunity to visit the Illinois State Military Museum at Camp Lincoln. It is this organization that preserves the history and relics of the Illinois State Militia (now called the National Guard). This is where the original battle flags of Illinois Civil War regiments, including those belonging to the original 64th ILL/Yates’ Sharpshooters, are now housed and conserved.

Because these battle flags are among the last remaining relics that link us to the original 64th Illinois, their condition and future preservation should have special meaning and concern to us. We spoke with one of the employees at the Museum who was very knowledgeable on the history and conservation procedures involved in the care of the flags. Therefore the Board of the 64th has asked us to report on some of the information that we learned and pass it on to the membership.

For many decades in this past century the flags were on display in the Hall of Flags near the present State Capital. Sunlight, cigarette smoke, and the sheer weight of the flags themselves as they hung caused them to deteriorate very rapidly. Early conservation methods proved to be more detrimental than helpful to their condition. Because of this, the flags are no longer on display but have been moved to a storage facility at Camp Lincoln, where they are now available to view only by appointment (which we were not able to get at the time we were visiting).

One of the main things we learned was that the flags are now being conserved in such a way so that their condition does not worsen. They are in hermetically sealed, humidity-controlled cabinets with no access to UV light. They are laying flat in drawers to adequately support the weight of each flag. Basically, the condition of the flags will not get any worse; they have been stabilized.

BUT, their condition is not getting any better at this time either.

The Museum would like to begin to restore these flags to as near original condition as possible. Unfortunately, as with many worthy causes, there are no government funds available to start this project. To date, not one original flag has been restored yet. The Museum is currently accepting funds to put towards the restoration of the flags; if you would like your donation earmarked toward a specific flag, this is also possible. Obviously with individuals donating every so often toward a specific flag, it will take many years to raise the thousands of dollars needed to start the conservation process, and by that time chances are the costs will only increase. A conservator will not even be called in to start the work until the funds are in place. These conservation costs vary depending on the condition of each flag, but estimates are upwards of $10,000 per flag. The Museum would like to work with organizations that are interested in raising funds to help conserve specific flags.

SO—this is the information we were able to learn about our state’s historic treasures, our Civil War battle flags. If we have interest in this cause, both within the 64th and anyone else who might be interested, the Museum can provide us with some more specific information relating to the 64th flags: both the current status of the flags and an estimate of funds needed to preserve them. We have discussed the topic of fundraising for this very worthy cause before. So you can see here some of the facts that show what a challenge this would be. If ever there was a worthy cause, this is it.

Musket Maintenance
By Marc Findlay

After reading the article by Ken Gough in the May newsletter, it made me think about the maintenance of our muskets. First, we all need to realize that proper cleaning and maintenance of our muskets directly relates to safety. Second, a clean, well maintained musket will very, very, very, rarely misfire. I can count the number of misfires that I have had on my musket on one finger. This was due to not “capping off” prior to loading powder. I will detail a suggested cleaning procedure that I use on my musket.

  1. Hot (Boiling) water poured down the barrel, moved around, then poured out. Do this until the water comes out clear. Make sure that prior to doing this that the nipple is occluded to prevent water leaking on to the wood.

  2. Run a brass bore brush down the barrel multiple times. This will remove fowling in the grooves of the rifling. This is rarely done in the muskets used for reenacting.

  3. Run more boiling water down the barrel until it comes out clear.

  4. Use a good black powder solvent with patches down the barrel.

  5. Patch the barrel with a clean, dry patch.

  6. Use a good gun oil to provide a thin layer of oil that will prevent rust.

  7. Pull off the nipple and rinse out.

  8. Use a pipe cleaner to clean nipple area. Push pipe cleaned all the way into the barrel though nipple. Springfield and Enfields are slightly different.

  9. Place a thin coat of oil on and inside nipple.

  10. Replace nipple and DO NOT tighten very tight.

This is the procedure that I use and has proven very successful. Later on I will talk about wood maintenance, and lock maintenance.


Fall Out
By Ken Gough

What did you do before the war?

Most of us have some sort of story about what we do in the army as part of our living history first person. Will you be ready for the before the war question? Give it a little thought. There's not many jobs we hold today that can't be matched up with something from back then. They all grew up with the same basic home life that we did. They just didn't have the advanced technology we do.

The 1860's was an age of advancement with new ideas and gizmos showing up almost monthly. A trip to the store for food was a weekly thing for 'Town Folks'. Not everyone lived on a farm where they had to grow or butcher their own. Kids didn't wait for the next CD to show up, they looked for sheet music instead. Keep in mind that 'Head Banger' music back then was the waltz and the gallop. There were cops, firemen, clerks, and factory workers. Contrary to Hollywood most tools used during this time period were purchased at a hardware store and not hand made by a blacksmith. Wives looked forward to a trip to the Dry Goods store and pressured their husbands (bitched and moaned) to get just a little extra money for that blue print that's on sale. And then told him how much money she saved him (sound familiar?). Even if you have a high tech job just try following it back to its roots. Computer repair and data processing can become a part of the telegraph industry. An airline pilot could become a railroad engineer...

Well maybe that one's a bit of a stretch.

Think about it. Just doing the background for your field could provide you with hours of pleasant work. Who knows, you might find something useful to use in your everyday life.

Background Check
By Mary Gutzke

As a follow-up to Ken’s article, the following is a checklist I received awhile ago from an online correspondent that breaks down some of the details you may want to think about as you consider your persona’s pre-war life. This is especially handy if you do or would like to consider a 1st person impression and can help to sort out your research on your character. The following are some questions you need to ask yourself as if you were the person you plan on portraying.

Q. Am I an actual person? (If you decide to portray an actual person, research that person thoroughly! If diaries are available read all you possibly can!) If I am a "made up" impression, how do I chose what I did and who I am? (Again, read, research know your history, or use a real person to "make up" a historically accurate impression. Perhaps pattern your character after an ancestor or other historical figure. You do not need to be someone famous. Part of being a reenactor is teaching people things they don't already know, and most know who Mary Todd Lincoln was, but how many know what Eugenie Benson did or who your great-great-great grandmother or grandfather was?)

Q. Where am I from (North or South)? Where does my allegiance lie? (Unionist or Separatist - there were those from the North who sympathized with the South, those individuals were labeled "Copperheads." Know your character and know your history!)

Q. Do I (or did I pre-war) belong to a certain politically active group? (Abolitionists, Jayhawker, Bushwacker, Suffragist, etc. - Do your research here!) To what political party do I belong? (Republican or Democrat) Which candidate did I endorse in 1860? (Lincoln, Douglas, etc.)

Q. Where am I from originally? (If from a foreign country, it may be necessary for you to affect an accent of some sort, if unable to do so, do not chose an impression that would have an accent) Where did I grow up? (Know your character’s past! Especially childhood, family history and life experiences.)

Q. To what social class do I belong? (This is an especially important question, and should be based on your family history, as well as to whom you are now married, where you are from, and what job you plan to have.) What is my level of education? (Again, a very important question to determine your social class, etc. If you are a woman, remember where you live, who your father was and to what social class you belonged growing up will affect whether or not you had much of an education!)

Q. What job or position do I (or did I pre-war) hold? (Farmer? Banker? Shopkeeper? Nurse? Doctor? Politician? Undertaker? Clergy? Journalist?) Do I work for the military? (Aid-de-Camp? Cook? Laundress? Undertaker? Nurse? Doctor? Sutler?)

Q. Am I part of a group, or by myself? (Sanitary Commission, Christian Commission, etc.) What is my religion, and is it an important part of who I am? (Are you Amish? Mormon? Catholic? Jewish? etc.)

Q. Do I have a husband (or wife)? (If you are single, and the character your wish to portray is not, then chose a different character, or make sure there is a reason you are not together) Do I have children? (Like the question above...if you have children and your character did not, find ways around it or find a character that is more like you, or develop a character that is more like yourself.) If pregnant, why am I not confined to home? (You must have reasons for everything in your life! If your hair is short, perhaps you sold it for money, etc.)

Q. What is my age? (Do you look your age? Make sure you and your character are of the same years. You wouldn't want a thirty-year-old to be portraying someone like Antonia Ford who was in her late teens, early twenties during the war, or an sixteen year old man portraying Mr. Lincoln during the war. Act your age if you look it!)

For Your Reading Enjoyment…

An excerpt from an 1860s newspaper.


The following is supposed to be the list which the War Department intend to make out, embrailing all the persons that are not subject to draft. If any class of citizens are remitted in this list that ought not to be drafted, they are requested to give notice without delay. Those not subject to draft are:

All infants at the breast.
All females between the ages of 18 and 45.
All females under eighteen. .
All females over 45.
All negroes, mulattoes, and Ministers of the Gospel.
Quadroons and Quakers.
Octoroons and Idiots.
All colored females.
Lunatic and Castone House Officers.
Exempt Fireman.
Men with Wooden Legs.
Blind men.
Seamen and Habitual Drunkards.
Telegraph Operators and marines.
Teachers in the Public Schools.
Old Maids.
Bachelors over 45.
Married men over 45, whose wives won’t let them go.
Newsboys under 18.
Bootblack do.
Organ Grinders who have not been naturalized including their monkeys.
British Subjects and Shakers.
Young Ladies at Boarding School.
Wet Nurses.
Veterans of the War of 1812.
The Oldest Inhabitant.”


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