Coming up...

  • March 8 - RACW Board Meeting
  • March 22-23 - RACW Tactical
  • April 15 - deadline for submissions for May/June Shoulder Arms (and Federal Taxes)
  • April 25-27 - Dog Island Reenactment
For more information check out
 Christmas Ball  - Dec 28, 2013
-- Tabitha Dubke
Commander Non-combatant Corps

On December 28, 2013, joyful yuletide merriment occurred at the Red Bluff Veterans Hall where whirling taffeta, silk, and cotton dresses and Blue and Gray wool turned out in full finery for the occasion.
This year was the first ever Christmas Ball held by the RACW and it turned out to be a wonderful success. The hall was beautifully decorated with Christmas lights, Evergreen Garland, and Christmas trees.
The Civilian Core provided numerous delicious refreshments for the enjoyment of all and over 55 people came to share in laughter, fellowship, and dancing.
A new experience for many dancers was dancing familiar dances such as the Virginia Reel, Spanish Waltz, and Polka to Christmas Carols such as Deck the Halls, Christmas in Killarney, and We Three Kings. The dances were arranged and instructed by Tabitha Dubke, Civilian Commander.
On a Personal Note as Civilian Commander, I want to thank every person who came for making the occasion very special. Also, heartfelt thanks to my fellow civilians for all the hard work and effort that they put into making the occasion an amazing success. 
 Civilian Tactical  -- January 18, 2014
Tabitha Dubke
Commander, Non-combatant Corps
On Saturday, January 18, 2014, eight ladies and two courageous gentleman met on a cheerful Saturday morning at the Dubke residence to attend a Reenacting 101 seminar specifically suited to reenacting as a female civilian within the RACW.
The Seminar was divided into three sections and includes topics such as What do I wear?, Where do I live?, and What do I do?
In our first session, we learned how important our clothes are to presenting an authentic reenacting experience to the public. Numerous reenacting photos, CDVs, paintings, and fashion plates were shown to demonstrate proper clothing for the 1860s. Also, there was a "Wear this, not That" section where people were taught what to look for when shopping on Etsy or Ebay. It was emphasized that everyone is learning how to dress and that there should be patience and encouragement towards new reenactresses learning how to dress for the 1860s.
In addition, the civilian commander added anecdotes about her numerous and myriad clothing and reenacting mishaps in order that those present would learn from her trials.
Our Where do I Live? section entailed teaching about food and shelter at events, health and safety tips, and promoted discussion that will be continued at the RACW Club Tactical in March where we will have a Reenacting 102 session for the civilians.
Our What do I do? section included tips for living history activities and we had Mr. Seamus O' Cooney the Wise present us with an enlightening and engaging conversation about portraying living history with scenarios and first person activities. This spurned numerous ideas about improving our living history impression with the public and we look forward to continuing those ideas at the Tactical at Hawes.
Many thanks to everyone who came and to Hannah Littier and Jeannette Barron, and Elizabeth Fannin for their support and help.
 The Infantry Soldier's Haversack -- Part 2
QMSgt S. O'Cooney
9th Reg't Invalid Corps

Items usually kept in the haversack included three or four day's marching rations, such as a wax-wrapped pound of salt pork or beef, up to 27 pieces of hard tack or army crackers, poke sack with salt, a lice comb, coffee beans, navy beans, or a twist o' tobacco.
Foraged goober peas, fruits and vegetables (carrots with the green tops still attached, or a handful of apples)- liberated from a garden being passed by while on the march - would be scooped up and dropped into the haversack in a flash, and without the need for a soldier to even break ranks.
When soldiers were expected to see a fight on the march the haversack would be stuffed with extra 40-60 rounds in addition to the 40 rounds carried in the cartridge box. Reenactors often forget that we carry only paper and powder in our cartridges, and that this many extra rounds from the era would actually be very heavy, with each round including an ounce of lead ball at the tip of each cartridge - adding many extra pounds to be carried. [A 560 gr minié ball weighs 1.28 oz x 40 rounds = 3lbs 3.2oz plus the weight of the powder -- Ed.]
Other personal items often carried in the haversack would include a tintype of wife and children, the soldier's house-wife (sewing kit), some six-week-old newspapers, and perhaps a book or well-thumbed Bible. If an NCO, a man might carry a small printed set of regulations such as Hardee's or Casey's Manual.
The haversack would also hold the soldier's tin plate, utensils, a small knife, and perhaps a Temperance flyer for use as cleaning paper after a soldier had to fall out and drop his breeches in a hurry - oft due to the sudden and explosive results of the Old Soldier's Disease - dysentery.
Although already full to overflowing, and already quite heavy on the shoulder, soldiers would also carry in their haversacks any spare rags that could be scrounged to be used on the fly - to ram down the barrel of a smoking rifle that has been fouled in a fight.
Cleaning rags were not issued, and history books reveal that one of the first items to be torn up for rags to use in such an emergency was often the havelock (or sun flap) on the back of early war kepis or the inner cotton lining of the haversack. A man can live without his haversack lining, but a fouled musket can be lethal to its owner!
If a solder still had some room in his haversack, he might also carry a wallet, playing cards, spare twine, a newspaper or two, writing materials and paper, a coin purse, a pipe, his toothbrush and some tooth powder, and perhaps a sliver of lye soap wrapped carefully in wax paper - and if he were very very lucky, a flask of popskull.

The haversack is an often overlooked item of a soldier's personal accouterments, that can be effectively used during camp life skits and scenarios. When a visitor approaches you while you are lounging in camp or while on picket duty, you should casually open your haversack, and dig through it for some needed item.
The visitor will immediately wonder what on earth you are looking for - catching his attention and increasing his curiosity! The hook is now set!
You can continue to address the visitor with period comments as you dig absent-mindedly through the haversack. Or better still, dump its contents on the ground.
These techniques support the concept of ongoing living history being displayed casually in camp as a learning tool, and  will always lead to wide eyes - as a child or parent discovers the variety of period artifacts, rations, poke sacks, spare cartridges and other gear a solder bears.
This is an instant display of period artifacts and doo-dads that can be laid out in a heartbeat, while a reenactor is on the march or in camp.
No visitor can resist the urge to gape at the contents of a well-salted haversack at an event ... use this fact to your advantage!
When some regiments develop scenarios centered on the issuing of rations in the company street, each man lines up with his battered haversack in hand, to be given his fair share from the piles of navy beans, coffee or hard tack, all laid out on the oil blanket.

 Union Commander's Report 
-- Lt. Col. Byran Duncan

To the Union Brigade and the RACW in general,
 I can spin a really tall tale about how I was wounded at the Hawes Farms engagement while riding forward on Red.  I was ordering Private Sean Pike and others of the 72nd NYV Infantry's advance guard to fall back from the consolidated confederate infantry companies descending down upon them.  I believe that it was a rifleman from the 8th Alabama that made the shot, although it may have been the exploding shells above us from Hurt's Alabama Battery.  Either way my right shoulder has not healed and I will not be joining you at the Tactical or for Dog Island. 
   To quell the rumor mill, in reality, I was injured several times while working for the state for some 30 years.  My right shoulder and elbow have become bad enough that an operation is needed to alleviate pain and restricted movement.  I asked for this operation to occur between Thanksgiving and early January, as the recovery time is some 6 to 8 weeks under ideal conditions.  My idea was to start the year with the Tactical.  The ducks are finally all in a row and the operation is scheduled for February 26th.
   Nancy and I have pre-positioned the RACW trailer at Rick Barrarm's house in Red Bluff, with the idea that someone with a full size pick-up, 2 5/16 ball and RV 7 electric plug can take it over to both events.  The other option is that it is close enough in Red Bluff to ferry items back and forth.  1st Lieutenant Norm Hewitt offered at the last board meeting and has agreed to be in charge of the trailer and the RACW items.  Also, I asked Major Don LaPorta  to be my proxy at the March Board Meeting and he has agreed, to include a dialogue on my views on some agenda items.   I will complete the proposed Tactical Training Schedule and get it off to the powers to be.  Besides the excellent Union HQ Staff of Captain Dan Baldwin and Sergeant Major Tom Hubbard, Captain Carl Fowler joined brigade staff as my Adjutant.  This trio will be performing my duties as commander until my return.  Please give them the respect and honor due the Brigade Commander's position.
   Finally, I look forward to joining you as soon as I may,
P.S. - To the 1st US Cavalry, I look forward to being on horseback again this year and thank you in advance.
 St. Barbara Dinner 
-- Lt. Col. Byran Duncan
[ A very ancient tradition, the St. Barbara Dinner is held by artillery units the world over on or near the feast day of St. Barbara , the patron saint of of artillerymen, pyro-technicians and other such lunatics. -- Ed ]

  • Order #13-09-18  Department of the Army thru Union Brigade Staff to 1st Sergeant Jerry Curtis Walker of the 9th Invalid Corp.  By direction of the President, you are assigned the special task of RACW recruiting for ALL the RACW units at the "Tent of Dreams," effective September 25, 1863.
  • Order 13-12-16 Department of the Army thru Federal Artillery to Corporal Clyde Wallace.  By direction of the President, you are awarded FARA Artilleryman of the (2013) Year, effective December 7, 1863.
  • Order 13-12-20 Department of the Army thru Federal Artillery to Captain Ken Janson of Hurt's Alabama Battery.  By direction of the President, you are recognized with a "Special Award of Service" for your gallantry in artillery training and camaraderie for the Confederate States of America, effective December 7, 1863.
  • Order 13-12-21 Department of the Army thru Federal Artillery to Commissary Sergeant Arlene Niegel.  By direction of the President, you are awarded the "Saint Barbara (2013) Medal" for FARA Artilleryman, effective December 7, 1863.
  • Order 13-12-30 Department of the Army thru Federal Artillery to Sergeant Major Jack Pollen.  By direction of the President and higher authorities, you are transferred from Army of the Potomac, RACW Union Brigade, Federal Artillery, effective December 9, 1863, to Fiddler's Green.  (You will be missed.)
  • Order 13-12-43 Department of the Army thru Union Brigade Staff to Private Carl Fowler of the 72nd New York Volunteer Infantry encamped at Pike's Plantation.  By direction of the President, you are transferred from 72nd New York Volunteer Infantry, effective December 31, 1863, to Army of the Potomac, 2nd Division, III Corps, Excelsior Brigade, RACW Union Brigade Staff.
  • Order 13-12-52 Department of the Army thru Union Brigade Staff to Private Carl Fowler.  By direction of the President, for battlefield valor, you are promoted as a commissioned officer of the Army effective midnight of December 31, 1863, to the rank of Captain.  No acceptance or oath of office is required.
  • Order 14-02-02 Department of the Army thru Army of the Potomac, 2nd Division, III Corps, Excelsior Brigade, RACW Union Brigade Staff to all units.  By direction of the President all units are to draw required rations and proceed to Hawes Farms for RACW Tactical Engagement on March 22nd and 23rd. If flooding occurs, all units will redirect Engagement to March 29th and 30th.
Adding the NRA's name and logo to our list of sponsors.
 Lost & Found 
  • Folding Camp Stool found in Balloting Area at Tuscan Ridge.  Please identify and claim from RACW Trailer.
  • A Wood Table/TV Tray was forgotten near Union HQ/PM Area at Dog Island, if found, it belongs to Private Lee of the Provost Marshal’s Office.
  • Tin Cup with letters "KB" scratched on bottom.  Please identify and claim from RACW Trailer.  (May belong to someone with initials "KB" - what great police work!)
  • Lady’s Fan found in Quilting Area at Dog Island.  Please identify and claim from RACW Trailer. (May belong to Samantha?)
  • Brown "knit" gloves.  Please identify and claim from RACW Trailer.
  • Copper Cup.  Please identify and claim from RACW Trailer.
 What do you think? 

The current edition of The Shoulder Arms is in an experimental format. Please let the editor know whether you prefer this format with the entire newsletter in the email, or the previous format in which the email contains a list of article titles and a link to go to our website to view the newsletter. Please email the editor by clicking the below button:
Email the Editor

Durango RV Resorts, an upscale RV park with full amenities, is located on I-5 at the central Red Bluff Exit, just across the Sacramento River from Dog Island Park.  Durango is a longtime sponsor and supporter of Civil War Days Red Bluff.  They have once again donated several 3-night stays to Civil War Days and the Third Excelsior Association for resale at a discount to RACW members and members of any sister reenacting clubs. 

This year, the donated stays will be valid for any 3-night period for one year from date of issue, beginning with, but not limited to the Dog Island event April 24-27.  Normal value of the stay with standard Durango 10% discount totals $116.10, but the cost to RACW and sister club members,when purchased through (T.E.A.) is only $92.88.  A portion of the reduced price may be tax-deductible and the T.E.A. non-profit Taxpayer ID number, will be provided to purchasers upon request.

We have been allocated several of these three night stays by Durango.  Please contact Mark Richardson at: or 530 527 5458 if you want one.  Checks can be made out to:

Third Excelsior Association, Inc.
14730 McCoy Rd.
Red Bluff, CA 96080

You will receive a certificate for the stay, valid for one year.  Once you have purchased your stay through us, you can call (530) 527 5300 or go to for reservations.

Publication Information

The Shoulder Arms' editor is Ken Janson who will be happy to receive any help/suggestions/submissions you might have to offer.


The Shoulder Arms is the official newsletter of the Reen­actors of the American Civil War, Inc., a 501c3 educational organization. All material © The Shoulder Arms 1995-2014. The copy-right of any credited article/photograph is held by the author thereof and is printed here with the author's permission. Such articles may not be reproduced without the author's expressed written permission. Any unaccredited articles are © The Shoulder Arms 1995-2014 and may not be reprinted without the express written permission of the Editor.

Article Submissions—Articles, photographs, event information and letters to the editor which may be of interest to the general membership are encouraged and actively solicited. The Editor reserves the right to edit and screen any item submitted. To submit an item for The Shoulder Arms, to comment or make a correction, please e-mail

The Shoulder Arms is published six times per annum: January, March, May, July, September, November. Sub-mission deadlines are the 15th of the month prior to publication. Submissions received after those deadlines may be included in the following publication.

Editor – Ken Janson,

R.A.C.W. WebsiteFor up-to-date information about events and contact information for unit officers, go to our website at This is the best source for event and membership information, current rules and regulations, membership documents, past newsletters and event photo-graphs. n

Copyright © 2014 Reenactors of the American Civil War, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences