34th North Carolina Civil War Reenactment Group

Frequently Asked Questions

Click the links below to see the answers.

How do I get started?
Start reading, researching, and communicating. This is a hobby about information. The more you have the better. We’re talking about research, heavy research. Start reading about the era, start reading letters, diaries, memoirs, research books. Read up on everything, uniforms, clothing, habits, culture, army movements. Once you start, don't stop. This is so that you will be a well informed reenactor. The Authentic Campaigner provides a wealth of information about reenacting.

Beginners should also start by attending reenactments and observing what goes on. Get a feel for the atmosphere and conditions of a living history event before you rush to buy uniforms & equipment. Once you're sure that the discomfort (sleeping on bedrolls, wearing uncomfortable clothes, and generally avoiding anything "farby") is worth it, then you’ve found the 34th! "Farby" is a Civil War Reenactment term for anything not typical of the period. A plastic mug would be farby as would a polyester uniform since they didn't have polyester in 1861.

How much does it cost to get started in civil war reenacting?
It will cost you roughly 1,000 dollars to outfit yourself nicely. That includes an A-frame tent, the uniform, all the leather accoutrements, the gun, and several other miscellaneous items.

Where do I go to get the stuff I need to be a reenactor?
You can attend civil war reenactments and visit the sutlers. A sutler is like the reenactor’s Wal-Mart. A good one will have everything you need to get started. Or you can visit some places online. Our links page provides some excellent places to go. You can also find a lot of new and used stuff on eBay, if you know where to look. Searching under “Civil War uniforms” or “Civil War reproduction” or “Civil War reenactment” or “Confederate coat” etc. will bring up hundreds of interesting items. There are also several excellent eBay sutler stores. Milk Creek Mercantile is one such store.

How will I know what to do? What will I need to know about how to create an authentic impression on the field?
That’s our job. We are a Civil War teaching group and feed off each other’s knowledge. Don’t be worried about getting started into the hobby. Luckily you have found the 34th and we love to tell you absolutely everything you need to know from how to roll powder rounds to how to dance at the balls, to how to fall realistically in battle!

How do I find out about upcoming events?
The 34th has scheduled events for the whole year. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t attend an event that isn’t on our list. A good place to go online is to the Camp Chase Gazette web site. They have the most accurate list of upcoming local, regional and national events.

Why reenact in the first place?
We’re asked that question a lot. And everyone has a different reason. We find that in general, Civil War reenacting not only reinforces our sense of pride in our heritage, but it's something in which the entire family can participate. It's educational and, finally, it's a great way to escape the worries of today and "pretend" in the great outdoors.

What’s the age requirement for reenactors?
There is no age requirement for being a reenactor, but, of course, minors will need to have their parents' approval and support. On the field, you must be at least 16 years old to carry a firearm. Of course, we will only bend the rules if a soldier looks the age and has proven he can handle a firearm with his parents’ permission.

Why are we a Confederate unit?
That question is starting to pop up more and more in our politically-correct world. In some cases, misinformed elements of our society have implied that references to the Old South, the Confederate battle flag and its symbolism are somehow representative of a society that enslaved and should be abolished. Of course in some corridors of the Union and Confederacy the Civil War was definitely all about the abolition of slavery. But that’s only a part of the story and unfair to the thousands of Confederate soldiers who sacrificed so much. For them, the war was about a lot more than that. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you, for instance, as a subsistence farmer or craftsman or small merchant be willing to risk everything for a Southern cause if the war was just about slavery?

The typical soldier of the 34th North Carolina was an Irish Catholic or Protestant. He came here to escape the persecution of his countrymen by the British crown. He did not trust government! The fathers and grandfathers of those soldiers from the 34th who came from Cleveland County fought bravely in the Revolutionary War; many played a key role in the defeat of the British at Kings Mountain in 1778. By any degree, these were rugged individualists who staked a claim in the backwoods and backwaters of the Broad River valley. They owned no slaves, but were content to work their small tracts of land on their own without interference from anyone. Their modest homesteads were their country. In short, they preferred being left alone!

When the Civil War broke out, they took up arms to defend their right to pursue their own liberty and happiness as they saw it, right in their own homeland, much like their ancestors did before them. Just like in the American Revolution, when they did not want to be ruled by a tyrant from a foreign country, Confederates were rebelling against what they believed was an unjust (to them) government in Washington.

What can my impression be?
Our unit reenacts the 34th North Carolina as it would have appeared in mid-war (1863). There are four reasons for this. First, the unit suffered extensive casualties early in the war, so it was “refitted” with both younger and older soldiers, boys of 16 and men 40 years or older. This matches the description of our present-day unit. In addition, because there were so many young men in the unit, their clothing didn’t always fit properly either. So it’s okay to roll up your pant legs or have coat sleeves that cover part of the hand. Like your mother says; “you’ll grow into them!”

Second, by the middle of the war, no two uniforms in the 34th looked exactly alike. Many soldiers still had parts of the Confederate gray, but many others were wearing butternut and other like colors, in wool, jean wool and cotton. A certain “non-uniformity” of dress is authentic for every Confederate unit so long as the clothing impression is accurate for the period!

Third, like any Confederate unit of the time, re-supply was infrequent all the time, more infrequent as the war dragged on. The 34th likewise rarely got a new supply of shoes, or jackets, or shirts. So the tattered garb they wore looked the part. Now we’re not saying wear rags, or never wash your clothes, because a soldier always took pride in his orderliness, his cleanliness and his appearance. However, while we will never look down at that “fan box fresh” appearance, we don’t reject that “gently worn” look either!

Fourth, because the 34th never really got new equipment or uniforms to replace old worn out ones, they obtained whatever they could to wear. And much of that came from home. The Broad River Valley of Cleveland County, North Carolina, where most of the boys from Company H hailed from, was mostly farmland in the 1860’s. If they got any clothing from home, it most likely would have been reflected what they wore as civilians. Our unit matches that description.