Geeking Out in 1812

In some circles (such as this one), there’s a lot of periodic hype about the Civil War’s sesquicentennial, which we’re about halfway through at the moment. But this weekend, I had a chance to immerse myself in the War of 1812, America’s “forgotten” war, which celebrates its bicentennial starting this year.

I admit that I don’t know a whole lot about the War of 1812. *gasp* I have a working knowledge: It was between the British and Americans, the majority of the action was naval in nature and really focused on the Great Lakes area due to the proximity to Canada, which at the time was a British possession. It lasted from 1812 to 1815, but on the world stage it was a bit of a blip, since most of Europe was busy, you know, trying not to be taken over by Napoleon Bonaparte.  Here in America it was a pretty big deal, as American sailors had been getting press-ganged into service aboard British naval vessels for years, among other issues. And then there was the whole burning down of Washington and the White House while Dolley Madison fled with a portrait of George Washington and some other important people and papers.

Around my neck of the woods, since I have a Great Lake in my own backyard, the War of 1812 was a rather big deal. A battle in 1814 marked the third time Fort Ontario was attacked and destroyed (once by the French, once by the British, once by the Americans). I’m looking forward to learning a lot more about this “forgotten” war in the next couple years. But in the meantime – GEEKERY!!

War of 1812 Reenactment

The Genesee Country Village Museum holds an annual War of 1812 reenactment, alongside a Jane Austen Weekend, in which the beautiful historic village transforms to display aspects of civilian life during the War of 1812 and the Regency Era (which we Americans would call the Federal Era, incidentally). The village itself is amazing, if you ever have a chance to visit. All the buildings are either reconstructions based on historical evidence, repurposed buildings that were originally something else, or actual historical structures that were moved to the village from all over New York State. It’s pretty amazing, and I’m planning/hoping to go back in a few weeks for their annual Civil War weekend, which boasts one of the largest reenactments in the Northeast.

Anyway, the reenactors, who had come from all over the country, depicted life in 1812 through military encampments, demonstrations, and just generally “populating” the village to give you a feel for the time period.

Genesee Country Village Museum

Genesee Country Village Museum

War of 1812 Encampment

They even held small arms demonstrations with flintlocks, and, of course, artillery demonstrations.

My visit, however, had a totally ulterior motive. You see, I’ve been friends with Katie Jacobs for about twelve years. We “met” when I was in college and she was in high school, through an online writing group that may or may not have had to do with a particular anime show both of us enjoyed. *ahem* Anyway, since she lives in Michigan and I live in New York, we had never actually been in the same room together.

Until this weekend.

12 years of friendship. First time in a room together. Ever.

(Sorry for the super blurry picture. Sometimes self portrait shots are hard!)

As you can see, Katie was at the Jane Austen Weekend being her amazing reenacting self. She and the group of ladies she was with were doing Regency hair demonstrations. Did I already say amazing? And I was so pleased and lucky to have Katie style my hair!

Basically all she did was pull the top half of my hair into a bun, then made two braids in the bottom half, which she then wrapped around the bun. She finished it off by adding some papillote curls to the front.

Regency Hair Style

Regency Hair Style

Now, the idea of getting into some low-level reenacting has been percolating for a while. But now I’m stoked at the idea. Except for the fact that sewing is, like, the one thing I don’t know how to do at all.

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