Civilian Reenacting

So you want to be a civilian reenactor? Think its all frilly dresses and sipping lemonade? Please think again. Civilian reenacting is just as serious as military reenacting, minus the guns.

The civilians of the 69th NYSV represent the Irish immigrants in New York City during the time of the American Civil War. The majority of these people were from the poor working class - the people who did the hard labor and lived in tenements while the upper classes lounged and lived in houses large enough for more than one family. The men would labor at building the city, or if they were lucky they might be able to work in a trade such as leatherwork or printing. The women were the ones who did the laundry, scrubbed floors and windows, cooked, sewed - anything they could to earn a few pennies. The majority of the Irish were despised as they came flooding into the shores of New York looking for opportunity.

Currently we are exploring the options of a laundry impression (for the ladies) as well as demonstrations of the types of handiwork the women would have done. As the 69th is a family oriented organization, we encourage participation from both sexes as well as the children of families.

If you are interested in more information on civilian activities with the 69th NYSV, or in joining our growing numbers, please email Sally Ryan.


Authenticity is something the 69th NYSV civilians strive for. Authenticity means not only dressing properly, but also researching your persona to develop a "first person" impression. The first person is the desired level of authenticity, but can be difficult to achieve. In a first person impression you are that person and you do not refer to anything in the 21st century. All modern things would be foreign to you. Research is the best way to achieve the first person impression: who they were, what they wore, where they lived, how they earned a living - all necessary for development of the impression. Don't let this scare you, we don't expect you to be 100% ready at your first event. It takes time.


Below is a recommended list of sutlers. Websites, email addresses and phone numbers are provided as available.

Originals By Kay - Kay Gnagey ""

Kay does exceptional custom corsets, underpinnings, dresses and bonnets. She has a wonderful eye for period correct color combinations as well as decorations.

Civil War Lady

Accurate sheer dresses and good calico and homespun dresses with good period detailing.

Gotham Patterns - Alaina Zulli ""

Alaina Zulli of Gotham Patterns does custom work. She has studied period dress extensively and has a good eye for the clothes of the period.

Kara Bartels "" - (717)337-2722

Excellent civilian menswear.

Brian "Speedy" Merrick "" - (717)337-2722

He is partners with Kara Bartels and he does leatherwork, shoes, etc.

Dirty Billy's Hats

The men's hats are quite nice, and they also carry a very nice straw Shaker bonnet.

Blanket Brigade

The place to find Tom Mattimore's handmade ladies' front-lacing oxfords and ankle boots. They are very good and comparably priced to others of their caliber.

The Carpetbagger

Very good reproduction carpetbags. They also sell modern carpetbags (and will let you know the difference between the two).

Abraham's Lady

Recommended for vintage buttons, lace and trims, sewing notions (thread on wooden spools for one), books, Fugawee ladies' boots, and other miscellaneous accessories. The quality of clothing varies, so shop with caution.

Family Heirloom Weavers

Handwoven fabrics, accurate reproduction overshot coverlets and wool blankets.