THE CAMPAIGNER'S MANIFESTO
by Col. Nicky Hughes
1. I am committed to developing and practicing the most historically accurate portrayal of a soldier of the American Civil War now possible. The only limitations I place upon the accuracy of my impression are due to a prudent concern for maintaining modern standards of health and safety, and those limitations naturally enforced by lack of information resulting from the passage of time since the Civil War.
2. I obtain the most historically accurate clothing, equipment, and other relevant items available to me. I insist upon the use of proper materials and construction techniques in all reproduction items. I handle my finances in a manner that will prevent financial considerations from limiting the accuracy of my impression.
3. I recognize that many vital aspects of Civil War soldier life - terror and wounds in combat, death on the battlefield or in the hospital, camp diseases, and much else - cannot be re-created effectively in a living history context. I do not see this failing as an excuse to be lax about other aspects of my impression, but as a challenge to insure that all I can portray is presented as accurately as possible.
4. My impression is based upon serious research into and careful analysis of reliable sources of information about the experiences of Civil War soldiers. I recognize the need to employ the historian's skills, including the ability to evaluate possible sources of information. I place considerable reliance upon documented research conducted by others, but I do not base my impression upon the claims of those who manufacture goods for the reenacting market, reenacting traditions and customs, superficial or outdated publications, entertainment media, or other suspect sources.
5. I am prepared to change my impression to incorporate improvements dictated by new historical information as it becomes available to me. I recognize that our understanding of the details of history changes over time. I welcome constructive discussion of such matters, and I share information freely.
6. I portray the Civil War soldier as my knowledge of history leads me to believe him to have been while on campaign - unencumbered by impedimenta. I limit the items I use when portraying soldiers to those items that I could reasonably expect to carry upon my person for extended periods of time under the harsh conditions experienced by Civil War soldiers. (Exceptions for cavalry, artillery, medical, some officers, and other specialized impressions are to be expected - within bounds set by historical information.) I use my research into period soldier practice to determine what equipment I should carry.
7. I usually portray the typical common soldiers who made up the great mass of men on the two sides during the Civil War. My impression may reflect regional variations in clothing and equipment and changes over time during the war. I can vary my personal impression to suit differing locations and dates of depicted events. Except in very special circumstances, however, I avoid presenting exotic impressions such as Zouaves, marines, sharpshooters, sailors, highlanders, and such.
8. Although my primary interest is in soldiers on campaign, I am able to portray soldiers in garrison or winter quarters when appropriate to a particular event, scenario, or historic site. I am willing to change my personal impression to fit various situations. I apply the same standards of historical accuracy to such portrayals that I apply to my campaign impression.
9. I maintain myself in a physical condition that allows me to portray Civil War soldiers with realism. I keep my weight at a level that honestly represents men living on period soldier food and performing period soldier duties. I am able to walk distances and perform chores required of me while depicting soldier life. I am willing to accept standards of personal hygiene and grooming consistent with soldier life in the field during the Civil War.
10. I recognize that a successful impression cannot be superficial. My objective is not to conceal modern items but to re-create a historic time and place in detail. Therefore, my impression is as accurate and complete as I can make it on every level - including all of my clothing and the contents of my pockets, knapsack, and haversack. Further, I am familiar with the material culture of the mid-19th United States in general, and not just with objects related directly to the military.
11. While portraying a Civil War soldier I eat food that simulates as closely as possible the rations available to the men in the situation being depicted. However, I do not endanger my health by consuming food known to be dangerous. I dispose of human waste in a safe manner.
12. I handle and maintain weapons in a manner intended to insure my safety and that of others around me, and which reflects period practice in a way consistent with modern safety requirements.
13. In pursuit of the complete Civil War soldier experience, I am willing to take part in accurately staged re-creations of typical military activities including marching, drill practice, army ceremonies, guard and picket duty, simulated combat, food preparation and other aspects of life on the march and in bivouac. I learn as much as I can about the details of these activities so that I can portray them realistically. If called upon to do so, I am willing to continue the living history experience around the clock during events.
14. I recognize that large-scale infantry maneuvering and combat were based upon battalion formations. For the purposes of participation at large events, I associate myself with a battalion run in a manner consistent with The Campaigner's Manifesto. I subject myself to the discipline inherent in such a military organization and participate fully in the battalion's activities during events.
15. I realize that Civil War soldiers had life experiences before the Civil War and that the lives of civilians continued through the war, affected to various degrees by it. I am committed to learning about antebellum and wartime civilian life to better understand the historical context in which soldier experiences took place, and to permit realistic interaction with serious civilian reenactors.
16. I employ first-person living history techniques whenever appropriate. I take great care to avoid behavior, language, and comments that might disrupt accurate living history activities. I strive to attain a mental attitude appropriate to the person I portray when in character.
17. I do not "hide my candle under a bushel." I take advantage of situations that allow me to share my knowledge of the realities of Civil War soldier life with fellow living history enthusiasts and with the public. I participate in living history activities, especially at smaller events, and in educational programs.
18. I see "mainstream" reenactors as potential converts to living history at higher levels of historical accuracy, and I avoid conflict with them. I conduct my relations with them in a manner consistent with the behavior expected from mid-19th century gentlemen. However, I do maintain my own high standards of excellence for portraying Civil War soldier life.
19. I limit my discussion of and participation in politics at events to that appropriate to the event historical scenario. I leave my views on current events and modern-day reenacting politics at home.
20. The greatest pleasure I derive from Civil War living history comes from the knowledge that I am re-creating the experiences of the soldiers who fought it with the greatest fidelity to history I can manage.