Sunday, June 13, 2010

Billie Creek Village Civil War Days 2010

We headed out to Billie Creek Village in Rockville, IN, Friday afternoon. The forecast called for thunderstorms all weekend but we were blessed to arrive after the rain had passed and we had quite good weather to set up in. It was very warm, but nothing too terrible. Our camp was situated in front of the livery barn, where the medical camp was last year. David and one other gentleman, a very pleasant fellow from Indianapolis, portraying a full surgeon, were the only federal medical people present.

Above: Our little "home away from home" :)

I think this event will go down in infamy as the Event That Was Hot.
Above: David eats cold fried chicken on Friday night after set-up.
After having reenacted for many years, I think that heat is a relative thing. If one puts oneself in the mindset that you will be comfortable in 90 degree weather, wearing multiple layers and long sleeves and a bonnet, it really is actually more comfortable than looking forward to the heat with dread. Thinking of heat as an expected, natural part of things helps tremendously.

Above: Judah and Malachi make acquaintance with the adorable donkeys in the back barnyard on Friday night. They were literally our neighbors for the whole event and Malachi especially fell in love with them. Oh, and Malachi is wearing a tunic because we all wore old clothes for set-up and Malachi has no dresses from last year that still fit, so he wore David's tunic from last year. And yes, they have no shoes on. The boys and I wore no shoes for about 75% of the time we were here.
Still. It wasn't 90 degrees on Saturday. I got up to 96 degrees and to top it off it was humid to the point of excessive dampness in the clothing. There was also no breeze. We were down in a hot little valley and our tent bravely faced the blazing sun all of the morning with no trees to offer shade.

Above: Little David eats cold fried chicken, Friday night.

We listlessly walked about on Saturday morning, while the heat was still bearable. For a while we sat in the shade of a high roofed pavilion and listened to a brass band. From time to time we would take refuge in the general store, which had the wonderful modern conveniences of air conditioning, ice cold drinks in a cooler in the back room, jars of candy sticks, peppermints and gum on the front counter and plenty of chairs to sit in. A gentleman who made hand-crafted mountain dulcimers sat in the center of the room and regaled the assembled company with song and music and stories.

Above: Malachi, David and I. Our little camp area is just to behind us, to the left.
The camps were still and quiet til after lunch when the men began to form for battle. Throngs of spectators came through and made their way to the battlefield at the far end of the village. David went off with the surgeon to attend the wounded and the boys and I scurried down the hot roads as fast as we could in the opposite direction, dodging the Confederate army which marched away singing "Get Out the Way, Old Dan Tucker". I have learned - stay away from crowds when you have small, darting children!
Above: Malachi on the porch of the Governors House.
While the guns roared and the smoke curled up in the hot blue sky we explored the dark, cool buildings in the village. The boys took a liking to the little Governors House and seemed quite at home in it. We went into the church and then we walked down by the creek and put our feet into the water.
Above: Judah stares at a statue in the Catholic church building. He was quite fascinated with this little figure of a man.
Once we tired of that we went back to camp and I filled a bucket with cold water from the pump and the boys played and splashed in that. At last I just liberally doused them with cold water from the pump and removed as much of their clothing as possible. By the end of the day, David and Judah were both in tunics and Malachi in an old tunic of Davids from last year. When it is this hot, health comes before proper authenticity! At least they were in period styles, and the tunics light, short, loose and cool.
Above: David says this is a "spooky" picture of me, in the Governors House.
David, soaked with sweat, dragged himself back to camp after the battle was over. He was shaky so I immediately had us go to the refuge of the air conditioned general store where we sat and had cold drinks and visited.

The heat increased and the humidity only became more pressing. Once the majority of the spectators left, the soldiers in the camps stripped down to their drawers and some put on modern clothing. I was exhausted so laid down on the bed in our tent and must have slept a little while. David was wonderful. He watched the boys for me and sat in that hot fenced in barnyard watching them play so I could rest! When I woke up I saw David walking by the door of the tent and he knocked over a chair, and Malachi, who was just behind him, got hit full in the face with the chair. His nose immediately started spurting blood and stayed bloody for quite a few minutes. I rose from the bed, liberally soaked in sweat and with a blinding head-ache. When David carried Malachi in to me and I saw his poor little tear and blood stained face I burst into tears. David was very concerned since I wouldn't stop crying so he wanted us to go to the general store again, but when we got there we discovered it had been closed. I held Malachi in my arms and noticed my new sheer dress was spattered with blood. With the heat and thick air more suffocating than ever, and heat-rash appearing on the boys legs, we decided to strike camp and come home.
It was early evening. It took us about forty minutes to get everything packed and into the car. As we worked quickly, clouds rolled in from the west and the smell of rain rushed into that hot valley. As I pulled stakes from the tent loops, the first drops began to fall. I hurried as fast as I could to get the canvas folded up - oh my, I think I had an unnatural obsession with that canvas at the time! It was all I thought of. The canvas must not get wet. Even though I normally cannot lift the folded wall tent easily, I picked it up as if it were a feather and ran with it to the car, where David put it inside. Just as he did so, cracks of thunder split the sky and it began to rain and a swift cold wind blew. "Where are my children?" I cried in terror. The three little wet figures ran to us through the wall of rain, their hair plastered against their skin and rain running down their faces.

Just as the storm broke in full earnest, we pulled out. Soon we were on the highway headed towards home. It rained and rained and rained. David and I were too tired to talk much but he relaxed as the air cooled down. We felt oh, so bad, to leave the event early but it was probably the best thing we could have done. When we reached home the boys had a quick bath and were put into bed with fans blowing upon them, and we all slept soundly til late the next morning.
It wasn't really a disappointing event. We did have fun, though it was so hot. Our disappointment lay in our having to leave, but we really did not have another good option. Malachi's little pink dress is hung away, never having had the opportunity to be worn (it was to be saved for Sunday church service) so he did not fall into a mud puddle while wearing it. On the other hand, David did fall flat on his face in a mud puddle literally fifteen minutes after I dressed him, early in the morning, in his brand new tunic! I had to rub the mud stains with homemade soap and rinse it well in the water pump. While it dried (which took a long while, due to the humidity) he had to wear his long sleeve dark blue tunic with the sleeves rolled up. I got to wear my pink plaid sheer for the first time, but honestly, it was just so hot I really did not feel more comfortable in it than I did the previous evening in my heavier weight, fully lined cotton bodice.
I met some wonderful people and visited anew with old friends, in a place dearer to me than almost any spot on earth - for it was here that I first was exposed to a grand thing called Civil War Reenacting. It was here that, year by year, I saved my money and bought patterns, a hoop skirt and then debuted my first Civil War outfit as a young teen, thrilling to all the sights and sounds and smells around me in this beautiful little spot.
Here's to next year! :P


  1. Love your gown!

    By the way the "little statue" in the Catholic church is Joseph if you did not know.

    In Christ


  2. Good grief, I'd have fainted, I don't care for heat. Luckily we don't often get that warm temperatures here. Sounds like you made a good descision going home - a few years ago, at a very hot, sunny event, a friend of mine got heat stroke and had to spend the night in the hospital so they could re-hydrate her.

    Poor Malachi and his nose! Shame on his pink dress, and your sheer, but you all looked nice anyway.

  3. That's St. Joseph, in the Catholic church. He's always in brown and holding lilies. Often he is shown holding Jesus, too.

    How brave of you to stich with it. I think I would have been tempted to visit as a tourist in shorts instead of a reenactor!

  4. Thank you for informing me of the identity of the statue! I asked David who it might be and he said he thought it was St. Joseph but was not sure. I asked if he knew how to tell who different statues were based on their clothing and position but he did not know. I do not know very much about Catholic imagery, though I would like to learn more.

    I think my favorite events are fall ones - June and July and most of August are just too hot for full reenactments, I think!

  5. Oh my, Sarah - I like heat, but I can't take humidity, and the combination is deadly! I'm sorry it was so uncomfortable, but I'm glad you had fun anyway. Your new plaid gown is just beautiful! You look lovely in it :-)

  6. Oh goodness..I would have not done well in the heat...I don't do well once we get beyond 85* ;-)

    Poor little Malachi's nose! I'm sorry the little fella didn't get to wear his new dress, but perhaps next event?!

    Despite the heat you all looked lovely and I hope the next event will be more bearable for you :-)

    Lots of love,

  7. Sorry the event was so hot. I hate the heat and become very cranky in it.

    You all look awesome and you are beautiful as usual :-)

  8. You have the cutest kiddos! :-) And I loooove your dress. The pattern is just lovely!


  9. Seems like every reenactment we've been to this year has just "happened" to have a heat wave that weekend! Whew! I think we've learned just about every trick there is for staying cool, but it doesn't always help. :D Kudos to y'all for hanging in there as long as you did!

  10. The new dress is lovely! Really beautiful. I completely emphathize, as soon as the thunder started we would have been out of there! I hope your little guy is feeling better!

  11. Oh my, that was quite a dramatic way to leave!
    But it seems it really was the best thing you could do and now you're safe and sound back at home, which is the best ending this little story could have.

  12. Oh my, what an experience! I am always so impressed everytime I read of your re-enactment accounts. I agree with you that heat is relative and you must accept it; but in this case, both of you made a wise decision to leave and head home.

    You looked lovely, by the way :)

    Praying that your little one is doing well.


  13. You look beautiful in your sheer! I really like how it turned out.

    I hope your little ones are recovered from the heat and the nose accident.

  14. What an adventure!

    Can you tell me what the extra piece on the top of your tent is? It looks like an extra canvas or a sun screen and I was curious.


  15. The extra piece is a rectangle of canvas, otherwise known as the "fly". :) Most people set the fly up a la front porch so they have shade in front of their tent. David puts his up over the tent, as was done in the period. We don't get shade that way but it does make the tent much cooler inside than if we didn't use it. It also helps shed rain. :)

  16. Sarah,
    I finally got to read this after thinking you hadn't written anything. :-) I'm sorry the weather was cantankerous, I agree that home was the best place for you. Poor little Malachi and poor Mama! I wanted to add that the last photo of you is absolutely stunning, you look *so* beautiful!
    Here's to next weekend!


  17. I love the last photo of you. I hope you got the blood out of your dress.

    What an event! I think I would have chickened out and just not gone. You are a brave mother.

    Cold water is such a wonderful thing when it's hot. Sometimes lately, when Maria is playing with water on the deck, I go out and pour it all over her. She loves it. And I have been keeping my hair wet when it's really bad. It is probably not the greatest thing for my hair, but it makes a world of difference.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!