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THE COLUMBIA RIFLES RESEARCH COMPENDIUM IS A VALUABLE RESOURCE FOR YOUR IMPRESSION
by (Bvt. Sgt.) Pvt. Mike Palada
The Columbia Rifles Research Compendium: A Resource for Living Historians in the Development of a Well-Rounded Civil War Federal Soldier Impression, 1st Edition, April 2001.
The Columbia Rifles Research Compendium, or CRRC for short, is an invaluable resource for anyone wishing to further or advance an accurate, progressive impression of the common Federal soldier. Moreover, for those new to the authentic/hardcore movement or for the numbers that have yet to take the plunge but are presently perilously peering over the ledge, the CRRC is an excellent benchmark to guide on. In short, the CRRC is a must-have addition to the personal libraries of all serious living historians.
The CRRC itself consists of 49 well written, informative, and clearly stated articles by the members of the Columbia Rifles. All articles contained therein are based on copious amounts of painstaking research, including original artifacts and documents in private collections, period references, unpublished manuscripts, letters, and diaries, as well as modern and recent observations and findings by noted academics and historians. Photos as well as sketches, besides diagrams with full dimensions, serve to illustrate the articles' intended points. Endnotes are freely used and they along with references are cited at the end of each piece.
The Rifles have succeeded in their monumental task by arranging their compendium around a philosophy that seeks to attend to the question, "From a historical standpoint, what actions and things are most important to concentrate on?" According to the Rifles, and rightly so, "All things and actions are equally important…Those who are truly dedicated to authenticity will divide their efforts between three facets of equal importance: man [speech, mannerisms, physical condition and appearance], methods [the study and practice of how things were actually performed], and material culture [uniform, equipment, personal items, etc.]."
Appropriately, a separate section of the CRRC is earmarked for each. These three facets forming the core of the compendium are sandwiched between an introduction and general philosophy, and an epilogue of standards and vendor lists. A practical table of contents provides for a quick and easy route to an article of choice.
Although, The Columbia Rifles are easterners, and as such their research reflects on the Eastern Theatre of War and more specifically the federal infantryman, it should be noted that those portraying the western volunteer from any branch will also greatly benefit from the CRRC just as well. Essentially there is something to gain for everyone who obtains a copy of the compendium. While one may not have a need for the complex and complicated offerings on cartridge boxes or the different issuances of cap pouches, the articles on sack coats, pocket knives, how to prepare rations in the field, life on the farm versus that of a village, etc., however, are universal no matter if one is a paper-collar on the Potomac or bummer with Uncle Billy.
The inclusiveness of the CRRC goes even beyond East and West, rather all the way up to the hub with regards to personalities and attitudes. For example, the pious and decent man will assuredly enjoy the seriously profound article on authentically reenacting the devout Protestant Union soldier, while coarse and rough-hewn lads will most unashamedly gain much knowledge and expertise from the professional and academic look at Civil War profanity [which happens to be this author's favorite]. In either case, all will enjoy and learn from the 6-page glossary of period words and expressions included in the volume. Unlike lexicons before it, upon defining the utterance, this example uses the word or phrase in a sentence, effectively helping to show its context in 19th century vernacular.
This is barely a scratch on the surface when it comes to the CRRC. This incredible collection of articles and essays is intended for those that are presently salivating for something more when it comes to portraying an accurate and authentic federal impression. The compendium achieves this well with all the banners and laurels that can be bestowed upon it. By focusing on the three key aspects of a solid authentic impression (man, methods, and material culture) and by treating them as equally important, the Columbia Rifles have gathered research and have presented it in such a way as to make it both entertaining as well as educational for all. Truly, everyone can come away with something useful to add to their impression thanks to the The Columbia Rifles Research Compendium.
A good salesman always never reveals the price until the end of his pitch; so here it is. You too can obtain a copy of the CRRC by sending a check or money order in the amount of $25 payable to Andy Metheny to: Andy Metheny, Production Editor, 367 Burroughs Road, Boxborough, Massachusetts, 01719. Cost includes shipping and five dollars of each sale is donated to Civil War preservation projects! You can also pick up a copy at www.skilletlicker.com and be sure to pick up some other fine wares from Joe while you're there.
Questions, comments, concerns? Fan mail, hate mail, something you want to see in a future article? Bend my ear at an event, or wire me a message at TheBarleycornBoys@military.com Omnia mea mecum porto. Bully!
This article was originally published in the September 2002 issue of The Shrapnel, the newsletter of the Turner Brigade. For information about The Shrapnel, contact Capt. Randy Baehr, Editor.