November 2015


Welcome to the monthly newsletter.  My apologies for the tardiness of this issue.  I have been under the weather for the past couple of weeks.  If you wish to be notified of each new issue, send an email to   ALL Writers are welcomed: Confederate, Union, and Civilian.  If you wish to submit an article, or have any questions, send an email to



Hamilton “Ham” McElroy



For additional event information, please visit the EVENTS page for a complete listing.

* October 31-November 2:  Battle of Chickamauga –
   Chickamauga, GA (


* November 6-8:  The Ocklawaha River Raid – Ocala, FL


* November 13-15: Battle of Nash Farms – Hampton, GA
Please visit our events’ page for full details) – It is back


* November 20-22: Garrison of Ft. Caroline – Jacksonville,









Ocklawaha River Raid Update

November 6-8, 2015

Lt. Col. Keith Kohl


Greetings, fellow re-enactors!  I hope this finds all is well with you and yours.  It is now two weeks until the 31st Annual Ocklawaha River Raid re-enactment.  Attendance responses have been healthy, the pieces are steadily falling into place, and we are looking forward to hopefully another banner event this year. 


Recent developments over the past three days have added a new aspect to this year and stepped up matters a bit in our planning for the 2015 Ocklawaha re-enactment.  Fear not, the reason for the increased "urgency" if you will is a positive one.  It is particularly time sensitive to act on this on given the opportunity presented to us so please share this ASAP. With you units, fellow re-enactors, etc. as we strive to get the word out on this.  With that said I shall proceed.


I was contacted Tuesday October 20 by a producer from CNN regarding a television show called "Somebody's Gotta Do It."  This program focuses on persons and/or groups with interesting and unique jobs, past times, passions, etc.  This is hosted by one Mike Rowe who is now with CNN; some may be familiar with him as the former host of "Dirtiest Jobs".  The producers have been earnestly wanted to do an episode on Civil War Re-enacting and what goes into making a re-enactment work.   The production crew will be in Florida at the same time as the Ocklawaha River Raid, having found out about the event, which led to my getting the phone call, and well here we are. 


So.....details are in the works to bring this together as we speak.  I have been in contact every night since with one of the producers as well as a conference call with two of these gents at the same time.  They are definitely interested and enthusiastic about this endeavor.  What they would like to do is film basically what is involves to be a re-enactor, the planning that goes into choreographing and putting on a battle re-enactment, and then filming the planned battle.  This also involves the host suiting up as a re-enactor, given a quick course by re-enactors in manual of arms, basic marching, etc. and then joining in said battle. Due to existing filming commitments that brought them to Florida in the first place, the only guaranteed filming day is Friday afternoon November 6.


Is there a challenge in this?  Perhaps....Friday is the busiest arrival and set up day etc.  The scale of success also depends on the number that can participate in a Friday afternoon skirmish.  However we have risen to our challenges before so I am confident we can do so again.  Therefore this request is a general call to all interested re-enactors who are able to arrive and be willing to take part in this Friday afternoon battle scenario (the more the merrier).  


So there it is.    A challenge?  Again, perhaps.   But again we have likewise risen to meet challenges in the past in our hobby.  This also presents a great opportunity to showcase our unique hobby in a positive way and on a national television stage.  Therefore, I am asking all interested parties who think they can take part in this to contact me with all possible urgency so I can keep the production crew updated.  I shall be in touch with them throughout the weekend and will send more along as it all comes together.  In the meantime please share this with your fellow re-enactors in hopes of getting as much participation as possible.  Please forward any replies of possible numbers of re-enactors able to participate as we bring all the planning together.


That should do it for now.  By all means feel free to contact me as needed as always.  Best wishes and onward we go! 


Until such time as our paths may cross again I remain,


Lt Col Keith Kohl

4th Florida Infantry Regiment

2nd Battalion Hardy's Brigade CSA





Rifles, Rails & History

Written by Bobby Grenier


On September 25-27, 2015, the War Between the States came alive in downtown Tavares, Florida, at the 3rd annual “Rifles, Rails & History: Steam Back to the North and South” living history encampment.


On Friday, the event’s Education Day, students from Lake County schools experienced a unique look into the lives of the American people of the 1860s. Through interpretations with our reenactors, the children, along with their teachers and parents, learned how the soldiers lived in their camps, answered to drum and bugle calls, and drilled for preparation of battle. The booming sounds of the cannon were very popular, and drew the “oohs and aahs” from the excited students. Mr. Al Stone, as Gen. Robert E. Lee, gave an interactive history lesson, involving the students as part of the presentation that took the children from Colonial America through the Revolutionary War to the Secession and Reuniting of America during the War Between the States.


Throughout the weekend, visitors to Wooton Park, on the shore of Lake Dora, absorbed the atmosphere of life 150 years ago. On Saturday, following the morning colors and the parade through downtown Tavares, the Capt. Haynes Woodlea House became the stage for the reenactment of the Surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. The presentation featured Mr. Al Stone as Gen. Lee, and Mr. Bret Gordon as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.


The Orange Blossom Cannonball, also known as the “Movie Train” transported passengers and reenactors to the “Skirmish at ALS Sandbar.” Following the skirmish, wounded troops were brought back to the train depot where they were met by the medical staff and brought to the field hospital for treatment of their battle wounds. The train also took passengers and reenactors to Aesop’s Park in Tavares, where cavalry raiders robbed the train of its gold.


The “Big Tent” hosted guest speakers throughout the weekend, as well as the Saturday evening Rifles Rails, & History cotillion featuring 7 Lbs of Bacon Mess Band and the Sunday morning church service conducted by preacher Chuck Nunley.  “Fashions and More” presented by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Order of Confederate Rose, was a huge success.  Belles and gentlemen modeled day dresses, ball gowns, mourning attire, and uniforms. Special guests for the show included Mr. Tom Jessee as Gen. Robert E. Lee, Rob Rasnake as Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and many others.


There were many exhibits, displays, and sutlers spread across the entire landscape of Wooton Park. Two of the most prominent exhibits included The Confederate submarine, H. L. Hunley, brought by the Kirby Smith SCV camp from Jacksonville, and the Florida Confederate Memorial Wall brought by the Jubal Early SCV camp from Tampa. 


The Confederate and Union armies were well represented under the commands of Lt. Col. Keith Kohl for the Confederate Army, and Maj. Ken Baum and Col. Chuck Munson for the Federal Army.


“Rifles, Rails & History” 2015 was a huge success and was well received by participants and the several thousand visitors who attended. Hundreds of comments regarding this year’s spectacular production continue to pour in. Everyone is anxiously anticipating the 4th annual “Rifles, Rails & History: Steam Back to the North and South” which will take place on September 23-25, 2016.





Pellicer Creek Raid

By Jeff H. Grzelak Florida Agriculture Museum held its annual  skirmish just south of St. Augustine in Palm Coast this past month.


Approximately 2 dozen Yanks and 3 dozen Rebs skirmished during the weekend. The Rebs had the Cracker House and the Yanks  camped over by the General Store. Weather was warm during the day but very pleasant in the evening. The Union Camp had nothing but dog tents and looked great! Thanks to the 12th N.J., 7th & 17th Conn. men for putting on a  good  show.


If you have never been to this site you should visit the old buildings. And there is a lot more to see as well......St Augustine is only 20 minutes down the road and some of us enjoyed the evening in this historic city. The site also boasts some Rev War era stuff as well. The Kings Hwy runs right through the area, and this is the route taken by Gen. Birney's Raid of the Spring of 1864 on his way back to St. Augustine.




Battle of Sandersville, GA

On Saturday, October 24, 2015 the Washington County Historical Society and the 39th Georgia Volunteer Infantry will be commemorating General Sherman’s entry into Sandersville, GA.  This event indluded a skirmish on the Court House Square, events at the Brown House Museum, and a Blue/Gray Ball and Forest Grove Plantation on Saturday evening, and a re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge at Forest Grove Plantation at 2pm on Sunday.  The HL Hunley Traveling Exhibit was on display downtown Saturday and at Forest Grove on Sunday.







By Jeff H. Grzelak


Having been active in the hobby for nearly 41 years,  it seems  that within the last decade a host of smaller events have popped up all over the state. I know each event is serving a purpose in its own way; however, many of these events  are on the same weekend.  Just this past September there was no less than 4 events within 90 minutes of each other in Florida.  Some of these events have no historical background other than to serve as a means to burn powder and attempt to present to the public with something somewhat similar to what the Civil War soldier looked like. 


With the number of us Yanks stretched so thin, I would like to strongly suggest that some sort of meeting be held or compromise to keep these event from crowding our schedules.  Maybe move them to a cooler time of year?  Or maybe alternate years of having the event?  Of all of this requires common sense and an open mind and egos to be set aside for the greater good of the hobby. But we do no justice to the public with a dozen rifles trying to depict some grand battle. I hope that this gives some food for thought.  As an event organizer myself I have been in the same boat I know it can be  done !



Oilcloth and Painted Accouterments

Written by Jack Cox“Painting” was a 1800’s method of waterproofing cloth for such items as knapsacks, haversacks, belts, cartridge boxes and ground cloths. Properly done, the fabric does become very waterproof, but retains its flexibility.


There are many different recipes for both "period accurate" oilcloth and for a modern version that looks the same, but without some of the problems of the 1850's recipe. The paint is generally applied over cotton drill or linen canvas.


The instructions below discuss the making of ground cloths, but the same procedure applies to all painted goods.




Modern Recipe:

While this recipe is obviously not authentic, it produces the same look and feel as the original methods. The final product looks, feels and wears as close to the original as most of us can approximate today. However, you need to make a decision as to whether you want to "fake it" with a modern approximation when a good period recipe is available.


Materials:  (All of these materials are available at any good paint store)

·        Wallpaper sizing. Get it pre-mixed and ready to use.

·        Flat black or semi-gloss interior latex paint ***

·        Boiled linseed oil Mineral spirits paint thinner Japan dryer



1.     Using a roller, paint both sides of the cloth with the wallpaper sizing and let it dry. It should take an hour or less. The sizing will prevent the paint from soaking the cloth, and it will give it some "tooth" for paint adhesion.

2.     Using a roller, paint one side of the cloth with the black latex paint. Let it dry overnight.

3.     Mix 2 parts of mineral spirits with 1 part boiled linseed oil. Add Japan dryer. Use 1 oz. (2 tablespoons) per pint of paint.

4.     With a brush, paint the sized side of the cloth with the linseed oil mix. Let it dry. This may take several days, depending on temperature and humidity. It's NOT wise to let it dry in the house.

5.     Paint on two additional coats of the linseed oil mix. Let it dry between coats.


*** There is a variation of this recipe that works very well also. Instead of using plain latex paint, mix 2 parts of latex paint with one part of boiled linseed oil. Stir it thoroughly, then follow the instructions above.



Period Recipe:

This recipe is an approximation, since the original recipe specified "litharge," or lead monoxide (PbO) which is extremely poisonous.


Bright Idea: Leave out the lampblack, and you have a recipe for a nice civilian waterproof cloth.


I strongly recommend this recipe because it is about as authentic as you can get without putting life and limb in danger.



·        Boiled linseed oil

·        Mineral spirits paint thinner (or turpentine)

·        Lampblack (comes in tubes or dry powder)

·        Japan dryer

·        Corn starch



1.     Make a sizing by boiling about a quart of water and adding cornstarch mixed in cold water until the mixture becomes a little syrupy.

2.     Paint the cloth with the cornstarch sizing and let dry.

3.     Mix one part of boiled linseed oil with one part of mineral spirits. Add lamp black until the paint is a very opaque black. Add one oz. (2 tbsp) of Japan dryer per pint.

4.     With a brush, paint the cloth with the blackened linseed oil and let dry. This can take several days.

5.     Mix one part of boiled linseed oil with two parts of mineral spirits. Add one oz. of Japan dryer per pint.

6.     With a brush, paint the cloth with the clear linseed oil mixture and let it dry. This can also take several days. Two coats of this mixture should give the results you want.


(You can omit the cornstarch sizing if you want, but the oil-based paint will pretty much soak the cloth.)



Confederate Ordnance Manual Recipe:

There is a recipe from the 1863 Confederate Ordinance manual which I have not tried. Use at your own risk.



·        28 Parts lampblack

·        1 Part Japan varnish

·        73 Parts boiled Linseed oil

·        1 Part spirits of turpentine

·        1 Part litharge (Substitute Japan Dryer for this. Litharge is lead monoxide, and is very poisonous.)



1.     Mix the ingredients, using 1 oz. (2 tbsp) of Japan dryer per quart of paint.

2.     If you don't want the paint to totally soak the cloth, size it with cornstarch as in the period recipe above.

3.     Apply 2-3 coats until the desired sheen is obtained.



Turpentine-base Recipe:

This recipe comes from "Young's Demonstrative Translation of Scientific Secrets - 1861." This recipe will sound familiar in materials and proportion, but uses turpentine instead of mineral spirits for a thinner.  Hazard Warning: The recipe uses litharge*** (poison hazard) and the mixture is boiled (fire hazard).





·        1 pint of spirits of turpentine

·        1 to 1 1/2 pints of linseed oil

·        1 lb litharge



1.     Combine all materials in a large metal bucket. Litharge reacts strongly to aluminum and zinc. Do not use an aluminum or zinc coated vessel.

2.     Boil and stir until thoroughly mixed and dissolved.

3.     Paint on the cloth.

4.     Let dry in the sun.


This recipe will give a clear to reddish or yellowish color, depending upon the base color of the litharge. The first coats could be tinted with lamp black to make a glossy painted oilcloth.  *** Safety data (MSDS) for litharge.





Filling Out a Morning Report

Sgt. Mjr. Hamilton McElroy


With the beginning of another reenacting season, many people are turning their attention to the care of their gear, planning of events, and seeking of the funds to participate this year.  As the Sergeant Major for the 4th Brigade, US, my attention is also turning to the paperwork that is needed to  help make my organization run smoothly.  Many people do not give this a second thought, but many 1st Sergeants out there are also beginning to think of this very thing.  Of course, I am talking about the dreaded Morning Reports.  The shrill call of the bugle, rousing us from our warm slumber, staggering into the frigid morning air only to make our presence known, all for a tiny scrap of paper.  This series of events is not looked upon lightly or with joy by many people.


In this brief article, I’d like to talk about two points of the Morning Report:  why they are necessary, and how to complete them.


Many people don’t understand the importance of the Morning Report.  Prior to the battle, the powers-that-be get together and talk numbers.  There is supposed to be an open and honest discussion about who has what, including the numbers for Artillery, Cavalry, Infantry, Medical, and Marines/Navy.  Generally, the main numbers that are of concern will be the number of rifles that will be on the field, however, it is still important to have a complete overview of the troops.  These reports, when completed properly, allow commanding officers to decide if anyone is needed to galvanize.  Reporting that you have 5 rifles, and failing to report the 5 additional walk-ons you are expecting later in the day, really throws those numbers off and make the CO’s look bad.  When a Brigade reports 35 rifles, and 15 more show up unreported, those numbers make the units look like they are trying to be sneaky.  This gives play to the allusion of dishonesty, something no true gentleman would endourse.   So, when filling out your Morning Reports, be sure to include in your numbers those who are expected to be there as well. 


The second issue I wish to address is HOW to complete a form.  It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who have been in this hobby for a number of years, yet they have never learned how to properly fill this form out.  Remember:  it is the unit’s HIGHEST RANKING NCO’s responsibility to make sure this form is completed.  It doesn’t matter if you are a 1st Sergeant or Corporal, get ‘er done!!  Below is an example of a properly completed Morning Report.  No part should be left blank.