Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Christian Commission at Bermuda Hundred

The past few months have been devoted to sewing. I had a semi-immersion event coming up, and it was my first one in a few years, so I have been having to update my 19th Century "basics"- pettis, chemises, drawers, etc. The event took place in April 1864, we portraying volunteers of the United States Christian Commission (USCC) .

USCC Office, Washington DC- photo M. Brady (LOC) 
 The delegates of the USCC were volunteers who distributed over 6 millions dollars worth of supplies to the soldiers fighting. These supplies included food, clothing, medicines, reading materials, and more. The US Army was grateful for the efforts put forth by the USCC and the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC). Throughout the North there were fundraisers, fairs, and publications advertising and asking for donations for the men at the front fighting.

The rations issued by the military left little in the way of a tasty diet- salt pork, corn meal, hardtack, beans,etc. Soldiers were extremely grateful for any variety they could get their hands one. The USCC asked for foods that were easy to transport and store. Oatmeal, jelly, crackers, butter, onions, apples, lemons, pickles- all of these were easy to ship as well. There were very specific instructions for packing and labeling boxes to be sent to the USCC for distribution.

For this event we portrayed delegates in the field during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign. The event as a whole was very different. The set-up had visitors walk through the lines. Starting behind the Union Lines at the USCC & USSC set-up through the woods, to the Federal line, then to the Confederate works. The fighting was happening in "real  time" meaning that the earthworks were being constructed as the days went on, with fighting happening throughout the day.

DH, myself & Stormi walk from the battle area. 
It was not unusual for gunfire to be heard sporadically, followed by a volley or cannon fire. We did manage to walk down to the Federal lines once, but some fighting began, and we had to make our way back to the safety of our camp. Most of the day was spent interpreting to visitors the different roles of the USCC & the USSC (across the path from us). This did leave some downtime since we were prepared to help soldiers with reading material, food, etc.  We did get to feed some soldiers & give them coffee when they came from their entrenched quarters-they were grateful for the hot meal despite the 80* weather.
Stormi & I distributing food for the Soldiers

Although there was a lot of down time we did get to spend some time with friends who enjoy this crazy hobby with us. It was nice  to sit under the shade of the arbor to get to know the other "delegates".  One of the best moments to come from the weekend, was this awesome image that was struck of all of us. We used two different field images of the original USCC to create ours. 

USCC Delegates, BH 1864- Image by Chris Morgan

After two days of wet, muddy, tick-infested woods I would say the event is one to remember. I met some new people, got to see old friends, and once again learned some lessons along the way. 

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