Hesse-Kassel Jäger Korps
Re-enactment Information

So, you've been to a couple historical events where you not only saw a battle being fought but also the campsites and people walking around in period clothes. The battle is called re-enacting while the campsite activity is called living history. Together they bring history back to life with the dress, life style and activities of the period. But how does someone get started and join in on the fun?

Reenacting is generally acting out a historical military operation or demonstrating military tactics from a certain period of history. The majority of people in this hobby have a passion for history and enjoy sharing their knowledge with anyone that will listen but many just find it to be a fun way to spend a weekend. Regardless of their reasons all re-enactors are really teachers, allowing the public to experience historical events first hand and learn about how things were when it wasn't history. Throughout the weekend many re-enactors will interact with the public by giving demonstrations and answering questions on more specific subjects but it's not a requirement to get into re-enacting. Those that are not big on public speaking or have a masters in history can enjoy this hobby also, many already are.

As with many other hobbies there are groups for people to get together with others with similar interests. Reenacting groups are either set up for a particular period in history or a certain military unit. These groups provide a great resource for learning about the history you are portraying and can make it much easier in obtaining the equipment you'll need. The first step in selecting a group is to take a look at the groups that are available in the historical area you are interested in. There are re-enactment groups for everything from the Stone age to Gulf War in military and non-military roles.

Our group reenacts a specialized German unit during the American Revolutionary War so the focus of this discussion is on groups of this time period. For those that are interested in this time period we have provided some information to help you narrow down what type of group you would like to join.

Here are some things to consider about joining a unit;

    • Because there were many different types of units from several different countries that fought in the American Revolution, the first consideration is which country are you interested in?

      As part of the American forces you can participate with a Continental Army unit, state militia unit or as a rifleman. The Continentals are a disciplined uniformed unit while the militia and riflemen are non-uniformed and less disciplined units.

      The British forces were the most respected army in the world at the time of the Revolution and one of the most disciplined. The army the British had in America was made up of not only British units but also units from Scotland, Ireland and the numerous lands that make up Germany today. Almost all units are highly disciplined with uniforms specific to that unit. Fighting along side the British regulars were loyalist Americans, similar to the state militia but most often better trained (disciplined) and sometimes uniformed. Some units also employed scouts and guides that ranged from the rough looking back country rifleman to a well-dressed merchant.

      In addition, there were units from France, Spain, Holland and a few others that were involved directly or indirectly in the American Revolution. It may be much more difficult to find a group for some of these units but they are out there, just don't expect them to have many members.

    • What type of unit would you like to join? Although there are all types of units, including Marine and Navy, the majority are Army units with line units, light infantry and artillery units making up the bulk.

      An infantry line unit is the traditional unit we see from the 18th century, lines of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder and firing their muskets while facing the enemy's neat lines. This involves marching in formation and firing your musket on command. Many militia units fall into the line unit category and will involve formation marching but they don't focus as much on looking good doing it. Artillery units can also be included in this category as they are also a well-disciplined unit the functions on commands from their officers.

      A light infantry unit is similar in the formation marching and firing on command but differs in the way they operate on the battlefield. These units tend to move around the battlefield more, reacting to whatever situation presents itself, but still rely on the formation for movement. The American rifleman can be placed in this category in there tactical actions although they tend not to operate nearly as much in formations as the British light infantry did and were much less disciplined.

    • What is required to get started? For specific information on what is required to join a unit, check with the unit you are interested in.

      "Dressing out" is the term used for being in period correct clothing for an event. In a uniformed unit this will include a hat, coat, vest and possibly pants specific to that unit, as well as the other items of clothing that are common to all forms of dress of the time. With all the bells, buttons and buckles required to accurately recreate the regimental dress, joining a uniformed unit can get expensive. A better choice for someone who would like to try the hobby and aren't sure if its for them, or someone on a budget, a militia or non-uniform loyalist unit would be best. The clothing is the common dress of the day meaning you can were about anything you would like. There are several companies (sutlers) were you can purchase items but its cheaper to make it yourself. Take at look at our Loyalist Militia clothing page to get a better idea how to dress.

      The type of equipment needed to get started will depend on the type of unit you wish to join. A uniformed infantry unit will require such items as belts, cartridge box, tornister, weapons and other items, making it a bit expensive. The average Brown Bess musket will be in the $400 to $600 range. Again, a militia or non-uniform loyalist unit may be a better choice to get an idea if it's for you or to meet your budget. Typically all you'll need to get a good start in a militia type unit is a 1770 - 1780 musket or long rifle and a cartridge box. As there are no standard items in these units, the style and price of the items you acquire is pretty open.

    •Are you a lady that would like to mix it up with the guys, make lots of noise, get all sweaty and grunt like Tim Taylor?

      Most, if not all, re-enactor units welcome ladies to come out also. But . . . 18th century armies didn't allow women to come out and fight, so you'll have to dress as a man to enjoy the fun. There are many women that have stuck on a pair of breeches and are enjoying themselves so you won't be alone on the battlefield. Just check with the unit you would like to join to see what rules they have on it.

Continue to next page

Questions on Joining the Jägers? recruiting@jaegerkorps.org

Table of Contents