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The Turner Brigade in March 2004, October 2000, and September 1997
The Turner Brigade is the largest Union reenacting group in eastern Missouri, having grown to over 150 adult members over the past few years. Our size allows us to maintain our organization at large reenactments and support specialty impressions relating to staff work. As a collection of smaller units that serve together as well as separately, we still offer the close camaraderie characteristic of smaller groups. Because we have units in several branches, we offer the opportunity for cross-training and service. If artillery units are not planning to go to an event the infantry company is attending, artillerymen can fall in with the infantry and still be among friends. Conversely, infantrymen are welcome to fall in on the guns when the artillery is the main unit present. Engineers cross-train in both infantry and artillery, plus learn and practice period engineering disciplines.
The Turner Brigade's roots as a reenacting unit are in the artillery, beginning with Company M, 1st Missouri Light Artillery. Company M mans a battery of a 4-pounder Filley gun, an Ames 3-pounder gun, a Woodruff gun, and a 12-pounder mountain howitzer. Company K, 1st Missouri Light Artillery fields a section of 2 full-scale 10-pounder Parrott rifles. As in all Turner units, our artillery units emphasize safety. Many members of both companies have attended the artillery safety schools offered by the National Civil War Artillery Association.
Many new recruits to the Brigade begin in the artillery, since it requires the least investment in gear. Only minimal uniform requirements are needed to serve as an artilleryman. There is no need to invest in replica period sidearms or longarms and their accoutrements, providing considerable savings in getting started.
For those more inclined to foot soldiering, Company G, 17th Missouri Infantry represents a typical Western unit. Members are armed variously with Model 1853 Enfield rifled muskets, Model 1861 Springfield rifled muskets, or Model 1842 Springfield smoothbore muskets. Company G often practices as a skirmish company, which was the role of its namesake company, while also training in the evolutions of a line company.
For reenactors with a scientific or constructive bent, Company E, 1st Missouri Engineers, offers training and practice in the work of the military engineer, including field cartography and planning and construction of field fortifications.
As a family-oriented unit, we have a large contingent of civilians who participate with the Brigade, both male and female. From our field agent, who speculates in cotton as well as less savory areas of trade, to our active group of Turner Ladies, who support their men with reminders of home and hearth, the civilian impression is well-represented.
The military and civilian units of the Turner Brigade are joined together in the Association of the Turner Brigade. Its purpose is to provide a venue for members to offer a true and informed portrayal of soldiers and civilians of the Civil War period, to enhance the reenacting experience of members by coordinating activities of affiliated units, and to present to the public the unique educational experience of the Civil War period that only living historians can create.
See our Enlistment page for more information and contacts for the association and for each of our units.