I have been trawling through old photos today to have a looksee at some of those gems which I took thinking, ‘I’ll write a blog post on this when I get home’ and never did, and I have found SO MANY.
These ones I didn’t really take just for a blog post, it was for myself to remember it all, but I thought as I looked back through them, ‘Why not post these?!’ They were taken at a re-enactment day which included re-enactors from the Norman period right up until the Vietnam War but the ones I’m showing you are mostly from the periods I’m interested in i.e. 18th and early 19th century!
Is Re-Enacting a useful research tool?
Now, there is an academic debate on whether re-enacting enables or hinders the production of academic research – I settle on the side that it enables. I really do think that if you try to do something the way they did it in the past it can inform your understanding of the past providing you with real insight. In fact, a good friend of mine, M.M. Bennetts, advocated practical research for historical fiction authors. How else was one to know how it felt to be laced into a corset? Or to tie a cravat? To fence? Or to shoot a musket? All things, I hasten to add, which M.M. did.
So, I ended up popping along to this event with her and her lovely daughters quite some years ago now, and you may even see me trying to hold a musket straight (they are bally heavy I tell you!)…
In the first photo I was just double checking which end was the pointy one…the musket was definitely an interesting one. It was as big as me! I’m not that tall, but still, it was honestly almost my height and it weighed a ton – just think of young lads enlisting having to load and hold one of those up to face the French. (You can tell these photos are REALLY OLD because I have reddish hair which was years ago – it’s all blond these days).
Making camp – they had a camp set up in which they were sleeping for the weekend-long event and it was from here that the troops set out for the battle re-enactments:
Then came the fighting – a real sight let me tell you – and this was one of those great learning moments. I had learnt a little of the slowness of loading a musket from watching the Sharpe TV series, however, it wasn’t just the muskets which were slow. The whole pace of battle was totally different to what I thought. It isn’t like movies where everything is going off at once, but neither is it lethargic, it’s just different and I’m thankful I went to this event to find out. If you’re interested you should go to one too and support these great guys who do it all for fun!
Why Re-Enactors are great people
All the re-enactors I met were SO FRIENDLY and willing to SHARE their knowledge which is just wonderful as an author. There’s nothing more pleasing and exciting then having someone explains historical things to you with an avidness that matches your own!
The battles were great – firing muskets and canon and manoeuvring. All fab.
Ready. Aim. Fire
This was a really useful day for me as an author – not to mention so much fun – I highly recommend this as a way to research your books if you’re an author or historical fiction lover!