This morning, after puttering around a bit after a few hours of sleep, I ate breakfast, took a shower, and hiked to the BLM land next door to where my friends live in Colton. Once there, after signing in, I hoofed across a field and down a gravel road to the camp area where I could see some Civil War period tents, most of them (save one tent with a woman about my age in it) sans occupants. Not wishing to bother the lady, as I am sensitive to the dangers to my reputation of being alone with women in isolated areas, I found a few chairs set up under some trees to stay in the shade and avoid having problems with the sun. There I waited for a while, hearing some intermittent gunfire and loud orders, but not knowing anything about the locations of the tactical engagements this morning nor wishing to interrupt any skirmish while dressed in my clearly non-period clothing (a bit on the drab side, but definitely not 1860’s approved). After a little while the person organizing the event came over in a buggy and knew who I was, because I told him I would be coming this morning, and we chatted a bit and referred me to the lady for some discussion on period living. With him and an associate in the area, I walked over to her somewhat more elaborate tent and we chatted about the benefit of this kind of non-public event in terms of trying out various solutions to problems of dealing with rain and living comfortable while being in period, as well as the need to keep hydrated and replenish one’s electrolytes, talking about the use of powdered lemonade that at least tries to mimic period living.
After a while, it was clear she wanted to finish packing up her tent, and after bidding her a polite farewell, I went over to the other side of the gravel road where the two other gentlemen were eating some Fred Meyer packaged salads that they had stored in their cooler and they handed me some bottled water, which was quite refreshing, as I tend to suffer fairly severely in the heat of summer sunshine, even in Oregon. We chatted for a bit about what regiment I had joined and who all was here from there, and about different regiments and their activities, and about the short and not-very-illustrious military career of my Civil War-fighting ancestor  in the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry. At some point a genderbent woman with the identity of Jack in period soldier garb came up to the three of us, a woman who was portraying an artillery corporal named Jack who, for this particular engagement, had become a galvanized rebel (like the four men of the 20th Maine present) due to the absence of rebels at the event. In order to provide some level of balance, whenever at an engagement there are too many soldiers of one side and not enough of another, people are asked or volunteer to serve for that engagement on the other side in order to provide for a fair competitive balance. It is, intriguingly enough, the same sort of spirit that took place when I was a teenager in YOU volleyball, where at one competition I ended up playing on three teams–my own, the Lakeland boy’s volleyball team, as well as the MIami boy’s volleyball team in the 3rd place game (which we won) and the Tampa girl’s volleyball team, because they did not have enough girls to compete at the start of the game. So, I have had my own odd experiences with being a galvanized member of another team, so to speak.
Eventually, the four soldiers of the 20th Maine regiment who had shown up to the tactical event were there and the fellow organizing the event introduced me to them and I walked over to their tent setup. We had a great conversation while they took down their tents and packed up their vehicles and drank some pale ale. I asked them about what period reading they enjoyed, and they mentioned a book called The Russian Princess. I immediately suspected this was some sort of inside joke, and so I asked for an explanation, and I was told that the book was a favorite of the regiment  and an example of 19th century highbrow period erotica about a nymphomaniac. Our conversation also went into less awkward territory, dealing with the quirkiness of what people are fascinated by in public engagements and the fact that the site in Colton appears to be a strong contender for a Civil War reenactment next September, a plan which I wholeheartedly assented to. We then spoke about the acquisition of gear, the upcoming event at Fort Stevens, and the unit’s attempts at winning a competition, which involved points from various competitions. Previously, at Willamette Mission , the regiment had won the competition for best turnip dishes after having stolen a few turnips from other units. For the Fort Stevens event, the regiment was looking to win the competition for best marching song. The regiment’s favorite marching song, “One Ball Reilly”  had been banned because it was deemed inappropriate. That happens to a lot of the songs I want to sing, but generally not for the same reasons, alas. The regiment’s quartermaster, one of the four men present, had taken it upon himself to write an original tune in period style which begins “We’re Manly Men Of Maine.” By the time they left, I was ready to go as well, and so I hoofed it out to the gate, finding it locked, and having to wait for some other people to drive through to open the gate so that I could walk on after them, satisfied with an interesting and unusual day.
 See, for example: