The journey to Gettysburg 2013 started with an invite out of the blue to stay with Cathe and Rick Fulton. My excitement knew no bounds as I squared the circle and booked the airline tickets. Next it was time to prepare and resurrect my reenactment kit made for Rebel Spirit and specifically echoing my past life as Alexander Baillie Kell 1828-1912 late of the 5th Georgia Volunteer Regiment of Cavalry, CSA.
Created in 1999 to add a splash of contemporary colour to the books pages and to mirror my past. The uniforms were specifically made. I completely made from scratch my troopers uniform jacket from an old WW2 blanket (a good source of uniform material as can be testified to by many a reenactor!)
It smelt right and felt right. The pilgrimage begins with but a single stitch. To create something unique, personal and memorable you must make the journey every step of the way.
Jackie of Warhorse a local Sutlers in Dover ran up these two jackets. The first was a recreation of Baillie Kell's 1861 portrait jacket to which I added some 3rd Lieutenant's bars. The original had trimmed epaulettes which I removed and added the bars seen in the original portrait.
She also made me a "wishful thinking" Captain's frock coat. Had Baillie made officer he would have ended up like his friend, Alexander Wylly one rung up the ladder as Captain of Company H, 5th Georgia Cavalry. The frock coat was never any good for rising horses in a serious fashion so I recently chopped it down to become a JEB Stuart! Much more practical and functional.
Both of the latter two are what I call Mess kit. Absolutely guaranteed to get you shot in the first 5 minutes of a set to and unpopular with your fellow troopers. They are a bit of "fun" in short.
Give me my muddy troopers jackets, shot with holes any day!
Next comes the cleaning of my prize cavalry boots. Recycled authentic Fireman's boot produce in 1943 for the MOD complete with arrow head bench mark. Any characterisation starts with the footwear. Put the boots on and click your heels like Dorothy and your off to Kansas!!!
Weighing in at 4 kilograms or 8.8 pounds old money they are heavy but soooo right. Worth packing with regard to airline case weight restriction of 23 Kilograms.
Now to "Authenticize" the kit with mud, blood and beer! First some sacred Red Georgia Clay soil is applied. I collected the sample shown in the plastic bag along with some railroad spikes from my visit to Griffin Georgia in 2001. A permanent memory of my last home. Anything in Georgia gets dyed red with the rain and soil as any good Confederate soldier will know from their days of service in the Army of East Tennessee.
Kepi then jacket and pants!
Drying on "What I term a Confederate washing line !!!"
Final touch a forensically testable bullet hole complete with powder burn (please note NO bullets were used or harmed in this recreation) Indicative of a close brush with the Yankees and something to talk about around the campfire.
Next add personalisation to the most important piece of kit the water bottle. One gets mighty thirsty in 100F of heat!
Finally grow a beard!