Napoleonic Military Living-Historian Charter
Aims of the Members of the Military Charter
I am committed to developing and practicing the most historically accurate portrayal of a soldier of the Napoleonic Wars now possible. The only limitations I place upon the accuracy of my impression are due to a prudent concern for maintaining modern standards of health and safety.
I obtain the most historically accurate clothing, equipment, and accessories available to me. I insist upon the use of proper materials and construction techniques in all reproduction items. I banish all modern materials that were not used during the period represented. I remain very prudent when ordering items from "specialised" web sites destined to re-enactors, where items of a non-historic source or fabrication are very often proposed. I handle my finances in a manner that will prevent financial considerations from limiting the accuracy of my impression. It is preferable to make my clothing and equipement surely and gradually rather than quickly and foolishly, which will mean I would have to start all over again in a very short time.
I recognise that perfection does not existe, there are many vital aspects of Napoleonic soldier life - terror and wounds in combat, death on the battlefield or in the hospital, camp diseases, and much else - that cannot be re-created effectively in a living history context. I do not see this failing as an excuse to be lax about other aspects of my impression, but as a challenge to insure that all I can portray is presented as accurately as possible.
My impression is based upon serious research into and careful analysis of reliable sources of information. I recognise the need to employ the historian's skills, including the ability to evaluate possible sources of information. I place considerable reliance upon documented research conducted by others, but I do not base my impression upon the claims of those who manufacture goods for the reenacting market, reenacting traditions and customs, superficial or outdated publications, entertainment media, or other suspect sources...I will also put aside conventional folklore that is often vehiculed on events without verifying their exactitude.
I recognise that our understanding of the details of history changes over time and I am prepared to change my impression to incorporate improvements dictated by new historical information as it becomes available to me. I welcome constructive discussion of such matters, and I share information freely.
I limit the items I use when portraying soldiers to those items that I could reasonably expect to carry upon my person for extended periods of time under the harsh conditions experienced by Napoleonic soldiers. Heavy articles such as chairs, tables, chests, etc. that a soldier can't carry himself are to be avoided. (Exceptions for cavalry, artillery, medical, some officers, and other specialised impressions are to be expected - within bounds set by historical information).
My impression incorporates the different orders of dress to undertake the different duties required of a Napoleonic soldier during the military day in accordance with military regulations of the period and corresponding to the life of soldiers during this period and his environnement.
I am able to modify my personal representation in order to better correspond to different situations (soldier in a bivouac, a camp, a garrison or in society) in order to be in equation with a given scenario or historical site.
I execute the military duties of a soldier of the represented period: chores, military service and marches as is required of me. In order to be able to carry out these duties without being a danger to my health, I maintain myself in a good physical condition. I am willing to accept standards of personal hygiene and grooming consistent with soldier life during the Napoleonic Wars.
I recognise that a successful impression cannot be superficial. My objective is not to conceal modern items but to re-create a historic time and place in detail. Therefore, my impression is as accurate and complete as I can make it on every level - including all of my clothing and the contents of my pockets, haversack, backpack, sabretache, portemanteau, etc. Further, I am familiar with the material culture of the start of the 19th century in Europe in general and not just with objects related directly to the military.
Whilst portraying a Napoleonic soldier I eat food that simulates as closely as possible the rations available to the men in the situation being depicted. However, I do not endanger my health by consuming food known to be dangerous.
I will personally maintain my weapon in a manner intended to insure my safety and that of others around me. I am aware that these are not toys but real weapons that present a danger to me and those around me. I manipule these weapons in a way that reflects period practice whilst being consistent with modern safety requirements.
In pursuit of the complete Napoleonic soldier experience, I am willing to take part in accurately staged re-creations of typical military activities including marching, drill practice, army ceremonies and parades, tent and uniform inspection, picket and guard duties, simulated combat, food preparation and other aspects of military life on a military encampement. I realise that in order to re-create these activities, I learn as much as I can about the details of these activities so that I can portray them realistically.
I recognise that large-scale infantry maneuvering and combat were based upon battalion formations. In consequence, I associate myself with a recreated battalion, composed of different groups and organised and run along the lines of period regulations. I subject myself to the discipline inherent in such a military organisation and participate fully in the battalion's activities during events.
I realise that Napoleonic soldiers had life experiences before they became soldiers and that the lives of civilians continued through the war, affected to various degrees by it. I am committed to learning about the lives of military men before they became soldiers and the lives of civilians during the conflicts to better understand the historical context and permit realistic interaction with civilian reenactors.
My undertaking is based upon serious research, it is important to share my knowledge with other history enthusiasts or with the general public. Living history is an learning tool that can benefit all interested persons of our experiences, our discoveries and our research.
In no way will I emit critisms to "mainstream" reenactors who chose not to use this charter. I will try as much as possible to make them understand our philosophy and encourage them to adopt as high a level of historical accurary as ourselves and avoid conflict with them. However, during and event with them, I do maintain my own high standards of excellence for portraying Napoleonic soldier life in accordance even if my entourage does not share the same standards.
During events, I adapt my mind-set to that of a man of the period and I limit as much as possible discussions on current events and modern-day reenacting politics.