Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we hear.
Q. Is that a real fire?
A. Yes. Yes it is. . .
Q. Are you really firing bullets?
We never fire bullets (or cannon balls) during our demonstrations. We
fire blank charges of ordinary, old-fashioned black powder.
Q. Where do you get your clothes?
A. Some of our clothing is hand made by our members. Other clothing is bought from people who supply historical reenactors. There are links to some of the web sites where we shop on the right hand side of our page. New members should not buy any clothing without talking first to some of our experienced members. Not everything advertised for sale is historically correct for the 1770s in New England. And within the group there are sometimes hand-me-downs that can be shared with other members.
Q. Are you playing the parts of real historical people?
A. Some of us are. Others have used general research of the 1770s to create characters that are
representative of the time. Members are encouraged to develop their
characters, at least in their imaginations, because who people were,
what they did for a living and how much money they had determined how they
dressed and behaved. Some members use their real-life skills or
hobbies—carpentry, embroidery, teaching, cooking, metal working, etc.—as
a jumping off point for creating a believable character who can
demonstrate historical activities.
Q. Do I have to have a knowledge of Fairhaven or history in order to join? Will there be a test to make sure I know?
A. No and no. But we do hope you'll know that we are not the Pilgrims fighting in the Civil War. We do have a handbook that covers a lot of Fort Phoenix history and stories about local events from the past. You should read through that, but you don't have to memorize anything. Over time, you'll hear other members talking about the history and you'll most likely absorb a lot of that yourself. It is important, though, that when a member of the public asks a historical question, you point them in the direction of a member who can answer it correctly. Making things up is not a good practice.
Q. How old do I have to be to join?
A. We have had newborns in the group and people in their 80s. If you are interested in historical reenacting and you think it would be fun to do what we're doing, you can be a member no matter what age you are. We do have a rule, though, that people under the age of sixteen must join as part of a Family Membership with a parent or guardian.
Q. Do you sleep here overnight?
A. Many of the members do sleep overnight in the tents during encampments. (You'll also see people snoozing during the middle of the day, too.) The interiors of most of the tents are off limits to the public and hide some modern conveniences like air mattresses and sleeping bags.
Q. If I join, would I have to sleep there overnight?
A. Members are not required to spend the night. Some go home after hours and return in the morning.
Q. Are you going to eat that?
A. Yes. Yes we are. The food that you see being prepared and cooked over the fire is really our lunch or dinner. Over the years, in addition to the beef stews, hasty pudding, and chicken and dumplings, we also have had roast pig, venison stew, fresh fish and even moose!
the authentic foods seen the the public, we do enjoy donuts, s'mores,
and an occasional pizza, out of sight from the viewing audience.
Q. Do members provide and pay for their own food?
A. The Militia itself buys some of the food for the whole group, particularly the dinner meals. Some members bring food that others can share. For certain meals, members are on their own. Generally you will know in advance the general menu for the weekend so you can plan what you might need to bring yourself. All food that is eaten in public view should look period correct. (You can eat canned baked beans, for example, but the can must stay out of sight and the beans should be heated by the fire in an appropriate pot.
Q. When I join, what equipment will I need to bring to camp?
A. Besides your clothes and personal camping gear, at the minimum you should bring period correct eating utensils—knife, spoon, fork, plate or bowl, and a cup. Beyond that, you can add to your equipment over time. Lanterns, weapons, tools and other items should reflect your historical character's occupation and status. Except for personal items kept inside your tent, everything that "shows" must look period correct.
Q. Is historical reenacting an expensive hobby?
A. Any hobby can become expensive depending on how much you want to put into it. If you join the Fairhaven Village Militia your first expense will be your clothing and the basic mess kit for eating your meals. Everything else is optional. Most men will want to have a musket, which would most likely be your most costly purchase. Having a weapon and drilling with the soldiers is not a requirement, though, if you can bring some other skill to the group. Not everyone carried a gun during the Revolutionary War. Most historical reenactors end up buying and lugging around far more stuff than they really need to have. And far more stuff than the average villager in 1778 would have been able to afford.