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December 2005

Upcoming Events

January 22 Board Meeting

Remember that you can always find more event details and directions at the unit website, http://www.64thill.org/events/. We also have info on several Civil War dances/formal balls held throughout the year in the area.

Dollinger Farm Video

Bob has been contacted by a video production company out of Springfield, IL who taped an episode for a local cable show featuring the Dollinger Farm reenactment in October. The show aired in the Springfield area in November, but VHS ($20) and DVDs ($25) of the episode are available. If you are interested or want more information please contact M.J. Bates at 1-800-232-3605 or producer Brent Barrow 217-483-7887 x226.

Through the Grapevine…

Col. Lavis of the Western Brigade sent an email to Col. Keating, thanking the 45th and 64th for their “fine soldiering” at the Corinth reenactment, and expressed his wishes for our group to be under his command in future events.

2006 Board Nominations

It’s that time again! The Board election form is here (Adobe .pdf file).  Click on the link to open it and type in the boxes.  You can then either print it and mail it to the address below OR save it to your computer, then attach it to an e-mail to sgutzke@lycos.com.

Please either send your selections by December 30 to sgutzke@lycos.com or mail back to

Scott Gutzke
342 Stratford Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016

Election forms will be mailed out in January.

News From Carl

Carl Stahl has contacted the Biermans saying that he will be shipping to Iraq in January, and will be home on leave between December 17 and January 3. The Biermans have graciously invited the 64th over for a party for Carl tentatively planned for Friday, December 23 at 7pm. If this date changes we’ll send out a communication to everyone. Please bring a dish to pass for dinner.

Next Board Meeting

The next board meeting will be on Sunday, January 22 at 4 pm at Bob’s house.

Beforehand we will have an afternoon of round rolling and stitching—come at noon, bring a dish to pass for lunch and stick around for the meeting! Please plan on coming—this will be the most important meeting of the year because we will be voting on the 2006 event schedule. If you have heard of a possible new event, bring your info to share as well.

Dues / Insurance Costs

Just a reminder that 2006 dues/insurance fees are due on April 15, 2006, after which there is a “grace period” of 30 days.

Please remember to get this in on time.

Military Loaner Equipment

At the last meeting the 64th’s loaner equipment was inventoried and a few items were found to be missing. Please check through your gear and if you find something you believe to be the 64th, let Bob or Scott know. We don’t want to have to buy new stuff if we don’t have to!

On the same note, at the last meeting a new policy for loaning out equipment was voted upon: there will be a $5 deposit for anyone using a piece of the 64th’s equipment ($20 for using the rifle) and will be asked to sign out the item with the office in charge that day. The money will be refunded when the equipment is returned in good, clean condition. Please pass this info along to any prospective members that you know may be coming out to events in 2006.

“New Member” Box

Several of the 64th’s military members have suggested creating a “new member” box containing items to be loaned to potential members such as general information books on the Civil War and the 64th, videos, etc. Any ideas for items to go in the box are appreciated. Not a bad idea to carry over to the civilian side as well!

Door’s Open! Thoughts From Our Newest Civilian
By Ken Gough

It’s winter time and if you’re like me you’ve already got a major case of cabin fever. Time for a big history pill.

This is the time to repair, improve, or just plain make a change in your impression. Let’s look at the change thing. We have a lot of new people in the unit and you may not understand this, but if you do the same thing at every event, even reenacting can get stale. Thus the need to make a change from time to time. It need not even be a material thing. You can just plan on placing yourself in a different situation for each event.

For example;

Event #1
You’re in a rural town along the route of armies on their way to the theater of action. This is the impression 95% of reenacting civilians adopt. What will this mean to you? Cheer on those brave boys. Bake them cookies or cakes and hand them out as they march by. Boos and hisses if it is the wrong army.

What will you need for this impression? Probably nothing more than you already have. Prepare to talk to the public on the attitude of the populace in their treatment of the “Boys of 61.” You know, patriotism and all that.

Event #2
You’re in that same setting but now the army has camped in and around your town for the last three days. What’s changed? Well for one thing, your chicken coop has likely been cleaned out. Your winter supply of firewood has mysteriously disappeared. If you’re a farmer any ripe crops are vanishing at an astonishing rate and fences are being eaten up in coffee fires. The assurances of the officers that they will only take the top rail not withstanding. Are you still in the mood to bake cookies and give them away. Don’t think so!

What do you need different for this impression? Not a thing even though it is a whole different event. Less even than event #1 (no cooking). Prepare to talk to the public about your outrage at the currant situation. Explain about how you now don’t know if you’ll have enough supplies to make it through the winter. And this at the hands of your own army!

Example number one, as fun as it can be doesn’t contain the one thing that any playwright will tell you is needed to put butts in seats. Confrontation. And make no mistake about it, that’s what we’re doing. Theater in the round. Yes we’re here to teach about life during the Civil War, but if no one watches or listens, what have we taught to anyone? Believe me, example number two happened more than people would like to admit.

Don’t worry. There are plenty of cheering and weeping ladies waving hankies at any event to satisfy example number one. Think back. Do you ever remember a spectator asking why you’re cheering on the soldiers? I can’t. If they aren’t asking questions they’re not learning anything, just enjoying the show. Is that good enough for you?

Now, let’s have some fun with #2.

Lately there has been a plethora of politicians at events. Get together with one of them to voice your grievances. Grab an officer and demand the return of pigs/a mule/spoons, take your pick. Remember a soldiers rule for foraging: “Steal anything that’s not nailed down and if you can pry it loose it wasn’t really nailed down.” A handful of chicken feathers tossed into the back of a shelter tent can create some great tension just before one of these scenarios. Humm. What if it was the officers tent? Let’s be careful with the pregnant daughter or hooker at payday thing though. It’s been done quite a bit and you need to watch closely for very young spectators whose parents might not see the educational value of such a scenario.

Make sure you get together in advance with the people you wish to ‘ambush’ to make sure they are both willing, and have the time, for something like this. Well, maybe not the guy with the feathers in his tent, but at least his officer. Jumping someone without warning, worse still if he is doing his own living history before spectators, is rude in the least. Also if he isn’t expecting it he may not react in an appropriate manner and the whole scenario is bust. I’ve been on the receiving end of this and it’s no fun.

Last year we had one of the best living history gags when at Logan House a band of
scavengers burst in and ransacked the place! This was done spur of the moment when the house was full of spectators and it turned out great. Must have been good as some spectators offered to help. Don’t know what they were going to do to help but it shows they were getting into it.

There you go. Just something to think on while you’re channel surfing this winter. Oh and if you come up with something really good, share it. We can all use some new ideas.


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