Thursday, March 24, 2011

The War of 1812? Say what?

Last weekend my housemate, Nicole, and I spent a couple hours at Military Through the Ages, an annual timeline event at Jamestown.  Since it was a timeline event, we had the option of dressing in any era we felt like, and ended up wearing 1812 impressions for comfort reasons and simply because we wanted to. 

For me, the 1812 period is kind of a default... after all, I originally started this whole costuming thing because of the Richard Sharpe series and various Jane Austen films.  Granted, I know a lot more about English history of the time than American and could tell you more about Napoleon and Wellington and the Peninsular Campaign than I could about the War of 1812, but the general time period, fashions, and aesthetic are resoundingly familiar.  Perhaps because of this, I was floored by how many people came up to us at the event and asked us what time period we were from.

Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?!

I realize the the War of 1812 is vastly underrepresented in reenacting circles (though things are picking up as the bi-centennial approaches) and that it's almost never talked about in history classes... but one assumes that the general public has at least seen some of the Jane Austen films and could make a connection to that.  In fact, 1812 was barely represented at the event, having only one very small group (one, I may add, with NO ladies) which was wedged tightly between much larger Rev War and Civil War units.  Even the incredibly niche 1920 IRA group had a larger presence!

On the bright side, all of the good reenactors there (and there were some very impressive groups, including a wonderful 14th century camp that was enough to make me want to go temporarily medieval) knew exactly when we were from.  It's really the general public that I was appalled by.  Including the woman who called me a "damn yankee" when I said my 1812 group is mostly Michigan based as that's where I'm from.  She wasn't joking.

Location might have something to do with it too.  1812 doesn't seem to be nearly as significant in reenacting circles in the south as it is further north... though I haven't yet figured out why.

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous outfits! Isn't it terrible that the majority of modern society has absolutely no clue when it comes to historical fashion (or even history for that matter.) I recently helped to costume a Cinderella musical at my highschool, and the director (a seasoned actor, mind you) was the one who had the ultimate say in which costumes he wanted. He went through the racks and picked out outfits ranging from Medieval to 1970's. And what's even worse was the fact that he would point to a dress (say an edwardian one) and call it something totally different (like 20's flapper)...I cringed the entire time, and was embarrassed when he put my name as "Costume Director" on the program! Yikes!