Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does it cost to join the group and/or get into the hobby?
2. How many events do I have to attend if I am part of this group?
3. What are the group's standards for authenticity?
4. I've read that the Lincoln Militia wore a different uniform than what you wear. Who's right?
5. What kind of tent can I get?
6. How does someone get a promotion in the group?
7. How are decisions made in the group?
8. How many people are in the group?
9. Does the group do anything over the winter months?
10. Does this group do any other time periods other than 1812?
11. Do I have to be from the Niagara region to join this group?
12. What about health problems or dietary issues?
13. Are kids and/or pets allowed?
14. Are there any special rules?
15. Do I need a firearms license to own or purchase a musket?
16. Is it really hot in all that wool?

If these answers, along with the rest of the information on the web site, do not answer all of your questions, feel free to contact the regiment your question.

1. How much does it cost to join the group and/or get into the hobby?

Insurance/group fees are due once a year. Every member of the group, no matter what role or what age, must be insured for third-party liability. This covers potential accidents that could happen to the public when they witness an event we are involved with. It does not cover first-person liability, i.e. insurance for group members because we are assumed to knowingly and willingly be taking a risk being in the hobby. It is only applicable regarding people not associated with the hobby or historic site who may get injured (i.e., by tripping in our camp, the camp fire burns them etc). We get our insurance through the National Firearms Association, who offer $5 million liability coverage for a low price. Most other reenactment groups in Canada get insurance through them as well. Our fees are one of the lowest in the reenacting community. Most of our fees go toward paying the insurance charged by the NFA. The remainder is kept by the group for use in purchasing things that are beneficial to the group. In the past this has included a group fly for sitting under away from the sun, as well as clothing patterns for our group members to use free of charge. Our fees, which our leader likes to collect before December 31st, are as follows (prices are in CAD): first two members of family $25 each; every other member of the same family $20; kids under six pay only the insurance cost which currently is $15.

The other expense is "slightly" more than this. You will need to get your 'kit' together. The cost involved here depends a lot on whether or not you can sew, or are willing to learn and whether you have items from other time periods that can be used in 1812. You will need a basic kit in order to participate at events. The total expense for ladies, fabric and labour, will cost about $500 CAD if you do not sew any of it yourself. For men this will be roughly $600 CAD. Add in military beltings and a musket and you've just spent another $1500 CAD. Every family/individual needs a tent. We have one extra for the group, but you'll eventually need your own and that will cost roughly $250 CAD. Eventually you will want to get some authentic eating utensils, cooking irons and other sundry items. The price on that depends on what you buy. See our clothing section for a detailed list what what defines a kit.

Don't be discouraged by these quotations! I'd rather be up front with you so that you can make an intelligent decision about joining the hobby. These quotations would be about the same in any group, so we are not any different. But the good thing about all this is, once you've got everything you need, the only on-going expense in the hobby is insurance and fuel getting to the events. Don't feel like you need to get everything right away. The clothing is the important thing. Add things to your kit over time and don't go into debt!

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2. How many events do I have to attend if I am part of this group?

Technically, none. It's a hobby and no one can coerce you into attending any. You get out of the hobby whatever you put into it. But we do try to highlight certain events every season as 'all-up' events where we strongly encourage members to attend. These include the yearly Grand Tactical, and since we are the only group doing local 1812 Niagara militia, all the events in the Niagara region, including Stoney Creek, Fort George, and Fort Erie. On a Saturday in April, there is a brigade-wide training event for all officers and NCO's, followed the next day by training for all ranks. You will be strongly encouraged to attend this Sunday event. We also do a few 'publicity' events over the year at gun shows and history-themed fairs in the area, in order to recruit.

We encourage you to attend as many events as you can; it's where the fun happens. We expect people to attend at least a few events every year, and prior to every event group members are asked if they will attend that particular weekend. Members are asked to indicate their participation at that event so as to help the leader better plan the camp layout. In order to have a vote on the affairs of the group, a member must have attended at least two events from the previous reenacting season. WIthout that base minimum, they can still be members, but have no voting privledges.

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3. What are the group's standards for authenticity?

We are on the side of authenticity on this issue. We have been in the hobby a long time and know who we are, what we like, and what our values are. We are also involved in other time periods where the mainstream standards would be considered "high" in 1812. Sadly, 1812 is far behind on the issue of reenacting authentically. That doesn't change the fact that we value high standards, and we won't let others' disregard for what they know to be right, drag us down. We prefer to be a light on the hill, illuminating the correct path for others. Since we try to pursue historically accurate roles for every group member, obviously a female fielding as a soldier would be as historically inaccurate as a man wearing women's clothes in camp and doing the cooking, cleaning and mending. Therefore we have a ban on females portraying soldiers. Regarding shaving, in keeping with the pursuit of historically accurate roles, soldiers were required to be clean shaven other than sideburns, unless you portray a pioneer in which case a full beard is acceptable. Soldiers did not shave every day, but every few days they did. Therefore a member of our unit may show up to an event with a couple of day's stubble, and this is also acceptable with us, but not full beards (Pioneers exempt). Sewing should be done by hand on all visible seams. Inside seams may be completed on a machine, though you are certainly encouraged to do all your clothing by hand.

A more thorough examination of this topic, written by our unit commander and which is influential on the unit, can be read here. We recognize that these may not be everyone's values when it comes to living history, and if they're not yours, we suggest you don't join our group. There are a plethora of groups in 1812 with low authenticity standards that are willing to take like-minded people and I'm sure it would be no problem to find such a group to fit in with. Good luck!

But if you do value authenticity, then we may be the group for you! There are precious few of us in 1812 that embrace high standards, so unfortunately your options are fairly limited.

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4. I've read that the Lincoln Militia wore a different uniform than what you wear. Who's right?

We have chosen to portray the Lincoln Militia as they may have looked at the start of the war. Since we are doing an early-war impression, we allow soldiers to decide whether they want the full regimental look, or to have a civilian look with military accouterments over top of it. Both are authentic. We are one of the few groups who choose to portray an early impression; most other groups do an 1813 or 1814 impression. We chose the earlier impression mainly for one reason: It is easier to make an argument that a start-of-the-war uniform could have been around at the end of the war, than it is to say that an end-of-the-war uniform was around at the start of the war. In fact, the latter is impossible.

The problem of dress for the Lincolns is that the uniform changed about five times during the war. This was not bad planning, but a necessity due to American shipping blockades at various stages of the war. Prior to the war, militia officers wore a red coat faced blue if they could afford such a coat (not all could afford it). For the Detroit campaign, the 5th Lincolns wore castoff coats of the 41st Reg't, red faced red. They were required to pay for them, and likely wore them until the coats gave out. Just before the outbreak of the war, the Lincoln Militia was sent material to wear a red coat faced yellow. Then it was switched to green faced red. Then green faced yellow. Finally by 1814, all militia in Upper Canada were ordered to wear red faced blue, which are still the colours of the modern-day descendants of the Lincoln Militia, the Lincoln and Welland Regiment. Since we reenact battles from all three years of the war and since most people can only afford one uniform, our uniform is more universally applicable and authentic than an 1814 uniform. To the left is a photo of such a coat on display at Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake under the heading "The Militia: Citizen Soldiers." The display case this particular coat is in also contains a Glengarry L.I. and an 1814 Upper Canada militia coat (photo taken Sept. 3, 2005). Our choice of regimental colours was cleared with the British commander prior to anyone having any coat made. Other groups have chosen different colour combinations, but they are doing an 1813 or 1814 impression.

We know from primary sources posted on our website (LAC RG8. Vol. 1218 C-3526 p. 250-251) that in May 1812, one month before the outbreak of war, the militia in Upper Canada were shipped many items from Montreal and Quebec, including red and yellow wool in order to make uniforms. Grey was included, and likely used for trousers. Some estimates speculate that enough wool was sent in order to make 1000 coats. This was sent along with many other items that were leftover military wares from the Revolutionary War and the Seven Years' War including 1000 felt caps, 130 leather and wool felt light infantry caps, as well as over 600 'hats' (bicorn or round hats?). It is reasonable then, to presume that some militia got the regimental coats and others did not, and that there was some variety on what was worn for headgear. Since Newark was the first capital and had a significant population, it is reasonable to believe it would have received some of that wool. It is also a fact from primary sources that some wool arrived in the Niagara region. On Sept. 2, 1812 it was recorded that seven tailors and three seamstresses in Newark were working on turning this cloth into coats for the militia, and that 72 of them had already been completed (LAC, RG8, vol. 1701 C-3839, p. 187/198). An order was given to pay out these ten people for their sewing efforts by William Claus who was Colonel of the 1st Regiment Lincoln Militia. At the top of this letter it says very clearly that these coats are for Williams Claus' men, i.e. the Lincoln Militia, and most likely the flank companies. Despite some people's assertions that militia never had uniforms until 1813, it seems reasonable to conclude that a few of them were indeed outfitted at the start of the war. And since Newark was the second most important town in the colony, it also seems reasonable that the Lincolns received some of this wool. We have not heard anyone refute this evidence yet. We have scanned and converted these evidences into PDF form and posted them on our Research page it you're interested in looking.

Although this coat probably existed, the vast majority of militia probably still did not have a regimental coat,transitional coat especially if you were not in a flank company. The reason why there are no surviving coats of this type is unknown, but not worrisome. It could be that militiamen changed the colours on their coats throughout the war. (A possibility since an order was given in 1814 for all militia to switch to blue, from what they were already wearing). Likely, the soldier brought his coat home after the war and he or his family members wore it until it was worn to threads and useless. To the right is an image of a coat worn during the war by Robert Hamilton, an officer in the 2nd Lincoln Militia. The image was graciously sent to us gratis by the Canadian War Museum under the following license: Service Dress Coatee 19870240-001 © Canadian War Museum (CWM). It shows an incomplete sewing job on switching facing colours - proof that this was done by the Lincoln Militia during the war. You can see that the coat was in process of switching the facing from green to blue; even the tails are taken out, possibly to be replaced. This is clear proof that militia were changing their coats during the war, likely based on whatever was available to use, and the plethora of different colours used on militia is likely a big reason why the 1814 order to standardize the colours was given to all militia.

In summary, from what we know from primary sources right now, we believe we are on solid ground for an 1812 impression.

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5. What kind of tent can I get?

We made a decision early on in the group that our tents would be authentic as well because we have seen too many reenactors with incorrect tents. We do not allow wall tents for anyone because quite simply, they were not used by the British army. A desire for comfort has led to a lot of inaccuracy in this hobby. Everyone must use a wedge tent, with the exception of the officer. The standard size that the British army issued was 7x6x6 (LxWxH). They could sleep six men in that, with all their gear. Marrying the hobby to modern necessities requires some compromise for those who have special circimstances. Therefore, we made a decision that for single people and couples, we will encourage them to use 7x6x6 wedge tents, but if they must have some extra room we will allow wedge tents with the dimensions 7x7x7. The ideal tent to own for our group would be this one, British Infantry, from Tentsmiths. For families with small children and who need to stay together overnight, the maximum dimensions we allow are 9x9x7. This is allowed only on the understanding that once the kids are old enough to be in a tent of their own, they will sleep in a regular sized tent by themselves, or the parents can split themselves up half and half in each tent with the kids. The oversized tent can then be sold, and properly sized tents used to replace it. The goal here, though not reached in perfection, is to accommodate the needs of people in modern society with legitimate needs, while striving to be authentic. Check out our links page to connect with tent suppliers. With both Panther Primitives and Tentsmiths, the tent we most strongly recommend for purchase is called the "British Infantry" Wedge tent, with or without a small bell at the back. Of course ideally, the best tent to make would be a hand sewn one made with heavy linen canvas. We do not require that, though it is certainly encouraged.

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6. How does someone get a promotion in the group?

By earning it. I (officer speaking here) have always believed that those who demand a promotion, or who cause dissension when he doesn't get one, is usually the last person who deserves one. In considering promotions, I look for two things. First, does the person know the drill well? Second, has the person and his family demonstrated a commitment to the hobby, to our group, and has he tried to assist others around him? Christ said that 'he who wants to be the greatest of these, must first be the least.' That humble, caring and loyal attitude is what I look for. We have had people join our group and try to ram an agenda through on us; we don't need recruits like that. We need people who just like the hobby, are interested in the Niagara-area militia, and who are are fun to be around. Once someone has a promotion, I generally do not take that away from the person. S/he would have to screw up majorly, damage the group and its reputation in a major way, or cause internal dissension for someone to be stripped of rank. Vanity has, unfortunately, caused that to happen in many groups including this one and continues to divide the 1812 community. We think it's smarter to keep groups in tact and work through issues according to unit constitutions rather than lashing out and forming new groups.

The only other factor influencing promotions is the size of the group. If we are not that big, as the saying goes, we need more Indians and not more Chiefs. At events where our attendance numbers are low, we follow the 'card deck' model whereby the card on top is put to the bottom. What this means is, instead of asking all the NCO's to shuffle down a rank, the highest ranking member will go to the bottom and the officer falls out as a Private. Since we're training our NCO's, we have to show confidence in their ability and the officer can do this by going as a Private and leaving him in a leadership position when we are low in attendance.

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7. How are decisions made in the group?

Currently, the officer makes decisions after he has consulted most or all the members of the group, especially the ones who have been in the group a long time. Most often these decisions are discussed at our yearly AGM held in the off-season. Once we are bigger, a committee will be formed for making decisions which includes the officer, one NCO, one Private, and two camp followers; usually these are women. Anyone can be nominated for the committee and voted in by majority vote provided they have been in the group for at least two years and are at least 19 years old.

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8. How many people are in the group?

Numbers fluctuate in any group. We have gone through our lows, as well as highs just like every other group out there. We are doing OK; we have about four adults in the group currently.

 

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9. Does the group do anything over the winter months?

Winter is when we encourage people to be working on their sewing projects and other things, for the upcoming season. There is always something to do. Furthermore, we always have a yearly pot luck social function with a business meeting after the dinner. We visit, chat, meet new recruits, and go over business from the previous year, and the upcoming season. There's also a Christmas sutler event, a winter reenactment in February, and a scholarly symposium in March that some members have attended in the past. Furthermore, we attend historically-themed festivals in the area and set up a recruiting area to recruit new people to the group. We also attend local gun shows in the winter to recruit.

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10. Does this group do any other time periods other than 1812?

First off, we occasionally get asked to portray American militia in 1812 in order to bolster the numbers of the U.S. army and make the battle seem more real. We prefer being British, but we have occasionally portrayed American, and since we're not really fighting, we're happy to make the battle scenarios more realisitc. There is some musing in the group about researching the Lewiston NY militia, and occasionally turning out as "real" American militia but it is still very much just musing at this stage.

Now to answer the question, yes, about half the group members also reenact the Revolutionary War, as Butler's Rangers, the ancestors of the Lincoln Militia. Butler's Rangers settled the Niagara region after the Revolution and their Lincoln Militia descendants fought in the War of 1812 some thirty five years later. There is no expectation to do both time periods, and the two groups are totally separate from each other. That time period is also fun, but it is your decision if you want to branch out.

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11. Do I have to be from the Niagara region to join this group?

No. We will take recruits from anywhere and hope that s/he shows up to many events. We have members from both the United States and Canada right now. Get used to driving. With this hobby, there can be a lot of it especially if you want to attend the better events. Repeating the same ones, and only the local ones, will become boring very quickly.

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12. What about health problems or dietary issues?

You are always welcome. We'd have to sit down and figure out how healthy you are and determine what you could do. But don't be discouraged! There are reenactors who are in wheelchairs and come out to events. Within our current group we have a member who had a heart attack - at an event - and that member has had to alter his lifestyle, but he still turns out. We will find a meaningful role for you to do as long as you have the interest. We will also be sensitive to people with special diets and vegetarians. We usually plan and coordinate meals before each event, so we will make sure people with special diets are accomodated.

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13. Are kids and/or pets allowed?

Yes. We are family-friendly, so kids are always welcome. We just ask parents to make sure that kids are in period kit and that everyone keeps a watch out that kids do not go near the fire. Usually everyone pitches in and helps out with babysitting. Small tangent here, but since young children do not understand the concept of 'period correctness,' we relax those rules around young kids, especially with things like sippy cups and ice cream cones, etc. With regard to dogs or cats, yes, bring them, although there are some sites that do not allow animals, so double check first. Our group's only requirement would be that you have a period-correct leash on him/her.

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14. Are there any special rules?

We discourage the consumption of alcohol until the last battle of the day is over. If it's a super hot day, you're having lunch, and you really need a beer, go ahead and have one. What we are trying to discourage is people passing around flasks on the battlefield while waiting for the action to start, being partly drunk, and then an accident happens. Please save your drinking until after the last battle of the day. And even once it is all done, do not get too drunk because then you just become an embarrassment and an annoyance to people and children who are trying to sleep. There are a couple of groups in the hobby who 'party hard' and are not interested in how this impacts other groups. We will not be like that; we want to be considerate of others and maintain a good reputation.

Any persons who are under 18 years and his/her parent/guardian is not in the hobby, or the parent/guardian is in the hobby but not attending the event that weekend, must sign and have his/her parent/guardian sign a release form and acknowledgement of our expectations on that minor.

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15. Do I need a firearms license to own or purchase a musket?

No. We have researched it; everyone has researched it. No, you don't. It is a replica antique firearm, manufactured before 1898, yada yada yada. We have photocopies from current official police documents stating that these are exempt from the stupid firearm law. The government gets nervous when percussion cap muskets are used, but we use flint lock muskets, so no worries. Flint lock pistols are a different story, but very likely you won't ever need those. No problem for a Canadian bringing a musket into the States, and no problem for an American bringing it into Canada. The only thing you must do, is the first time you have it and are crossing the border with it, before you cross, bring it into the Customs office on your side of the border and have Customs officials fill out a form/card, showing that you had the firearm with you before you left your country. That way, when you come back, you show them this card and they know you didn't purchase it on this recent trip and they cannot charge you a customs fee. In Canada that is a green card Y-38, example shown right; in the States I'm not sure, but it will be similar. You don't need both; just the one from whichever country you reside in. Customs officials will need to see a serial number or some kind of number to record on this card. On some firelocks it is on the barrel, near the breech, to the side where the stock meets the barrel. On others it is on the underside of the barrel which means you'll have to pull out the pins and take the barrel right off the stock. In that case, if you live anywhere near a border crossing, I'd do it ahead of time, get it out of the way, and then go back and put your barrel back on the stock. Check out our links page to connect with suppliers of period firearms.

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16. Is it really hot in all that wool?

It's not too bad. Wool, linen, satin - they're all natural products so they breathe easily. There's no doubt that you sweat in this hobby, but that is part of the recreated life we are doing. People sweated in those days, and rarely bathed. Same with most reenactors; we sweat while we are at an event and generally do not shower until we get home. Everyone is like that so you do not need to worry about body odour because you will be no worse than others. Always remember to keep yourself watered up!

We have a group fly (awning, shown here) for people to sit under during the day and stay out of the direct sun, and with a wind, wearing the wool isn't really too bad. The only bad times are from about early July to early August. Before and after that, the temperatures in the day are reasonable enough that you can cool down quickly after a battle. In the early and latter parts of the season you'll be thankful for your wools and will probably be sleeping in them.

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