Sunday, December 18, 2011

Do you sleep in the tents?

 "Do you sleep in the tents?" This is one of those questions reenactors are asked quite often. This answer differs based on who answers, but I figure folks just want to know more about how reenacting works. Here are some of our answers.

Am I sleeping in a tent tonight? Yes I am. I spent a fair bit of money to buy a period appropriate tent.  I hauled it here in a vehicle that was bought only after knowing it would haul the tent poles.  With some help from other reenactors we put the tent up where the quartermaster indicated it should go. I put all my belongings into it, set up my sleeping area inside, and I will indeed be sleeping in it for the weekend.

Are most the tents occupied at night? Yes, most the tents have one or two people sleeping in them at night. Does every reenactor sleep in a tent at night? No, some reenactors are within 45 minutes of home and go home at night. Some reenactors prefer to sleep at the local hotel. Are we required to sleep in the tents? No we are not required. We're volunteers, and very few places we go have rules that are that strict. Do the tents belong to the site? The tents are private property, same as almost everything else you see. It all belongs to the reenactors participating for the weeknd.

Did the soldiers sleep the same as we did in the tents? Well in the 18th century, the British Army assigned 6 men per tent. 2 would be on duty and 4 off at any given time. They slept crosswise, not the long way as we do today.  The doors were staked shut so the guy sleeping across the front would be responsible for opening and closing the tent. There were two or three blankets for each tent and the only bed would be either some straw or pine boughs. The soldiers had much less space than the reenactors do. Soldiers also carried less stuff than your average reenactor too. However I can tell you there isn't all that much space for two people in a 6 X 6.5 foot regulation tent. I would hate to have to try to sleep in one with 3 other people.

Why do I sleep in a tent instead of in a hotel? Well, for one thing its less expensive. Depending on how many weekends you reenact, hotel expenses could quickly add up over one season. Staying overnight in the tents gives you a bigger appreciation of what it was like in the 18th century. After the evening meal there is socialing by candle-light. Sometimes a soiree or dance or tavern is happening in camp. The sounds of the camp waking in the morning add to the whole experience as well.  After all, we fall asleep to the sounds of period songs being sung, and woken by either a cannon (morning gun) or the drummers and fifers playing throughout the camp. You just don't experience that sleeping in a hotel down the road.