After you acquire your basic uniform and equipment, you will want to pick up some items to make you a little more comfortable in the field, or to improve your soldier impression. You will need to get blankets to sleep under, and we will accept brown or gray wool blankets, or if you have a variation on that let us check it out first. A greatcoat ( left ) was a Civil War soldier’s overcoat. Greatcoats are another item which can be purchased later, after buying the essentials. You may only wear it a couple of events a year, but when it is cold it comes in handy.
You will want to get some kind of rain gear. Infantry soldiers were issued rubberized rain capes that pinned in the front. A poncho is also acceptable. A good rubberized ground cloth can really help keep you comfortable sleeping. A tent is optional, however the 79th generally does a “campaign” style camp, with simple bedrolls or lean to-type shelters, and we don’t generally use tents. However having a “dog tent” ( similar to a modern pup tent ) can be a good idea during rainy weather, and can be improvised into a lean-to shelter as well. Again, ask a member or your sponsor.
At left, the reenactor in the middle of the line is wearing a knapsack. It is a leather backpack that is used to carry personal items, extra clothing, blanket, greatcoat, rain gear, etc. There are a couple of basic types, soft pack and hard pack. The soft pack is more acceptable. It folds together like a file folder, holding the blanket between the two halves. It buckles on the bottom and has loops on top to hold a rolled up greatcoat or blanket. Knapsacks are very handy, and you can sometimes carry all you need for a weekend in your pack.
If you wear glasses, check with us about the frames you have now they MAY be OK. However, to avoid damaging your primary glasses, you can usually find Civil War era ( or close to it ) frames at antique stores and have your prescription put in them. Contacts are acceptable, but remember you will be dealing with smoke, dirt and dirty hands, and you may not be able to clean your hands to handle your lenses. It is personal preference on contacts vs. glasses.
Mess gear ( plates, etc ) can be obtained at a variety of locations. Three tine forks are appropriate for the Civil War era. You will want to buy your cup at an event, but since there is such a large variety and they vary in authenticity, take someone along before you buy one. Plates can be found at antique stores, etc.
Other items, including “haversack stuffers” ( combs, mirror, etc ) can be purchased at events or online. However, there is a lot of junk out there, so before making a purchase, run it past a member to see if it is OK.