This account is intended to give the reader an idea of what is like to take part in a living history event. Charles Casada describes what is was like to spend a day in camp with the 9th U. S. Infantry, Company C.
A Typical Day:
Until the day when a "Time Machine" is developed the only way we here of this day and age will be able to experience the past is to participate in what is referred to by many as Living History. So what is it like to be a part of a United States Army Regiment of the period- 1898 to 1902? Here is a 'typical' day for C-Company, 9th Regiment while taking part in weekend drill.
You awaken to an exciting new day. You look through your open tent door and see a smiling blue sky, just as the Bugler sounds "Reville." You jump out of your camp bed a common soldier's blanket, grab your toilet kit and join the other members the company for a morning wash and shave. You return to your Dogtent (shelter half) straighten up your gear, getting blankets out for airing, putting on the uniform of the day. You then hear the Bugler sound Mess Call; you grab your mess kit and cup and head for the chow line. Not a moment too soon! What a breakfast it is too! The cook has done well. Served up are- Real biscuits, scrambled eggs, bacon, grits and the best coffee you have ever had.
The breakfast is hearty, and it has to be to carry you through the morning activities. After breakfast there is work to be done. The camp must be made spic and span in a hurry, which it is, just in time too as here comes the Corporal making the morning inspection.
You and the rest of the company then hear the Bugler sound- Assembly! You fall out with your Krag Rifle, cartridge belt, and bayonet. You fall in near the flagpole where the 45 Star flag-Old Glory, goes aloft. Your eyes follow the flag- red, white and blue go up and you feel a genuine sense of patriotism.
After the flag ceremony you are ready for the days activities. The Corporal announces that there will be Rifle Qualification today. You return to your tent to grab your Haversack and canteen and then fall in for issue of Rations. You are handed 2 large square cracker looking like objects called- Hardtack- this is army bread for the march. Then two cans with old timey looking labels- one of Roast Beef, and the other of Baked Beans. You are given a handful each of sugar, salt and coffee. You fall in, and the order is given to march off to the Rifle Range. This is the annual Rifle Qualification Day. You will be firing live ammunition with the caliber .30 rifle of the Krag-Jorgenson design at period reproduction targets. At the range there is the ammunition issue. You prepare yourself and rifle for the match. You fire in the Prone, Sitting, Kneeling and Offhand positions. After the qualification you watch as your score is added up. THERE! You made it! Qualified as a rifleman with the highest rating of Sharpshooter. You smile and your fellow company members congratulate you. But now is time to turn to and clean your weapon.
As the springtime sun reaches it's zenith in the sky signaling it is time for lunch in the field. A small fire is kindled and water is boiled for coffee. You eat the same issue rations that would have been consumed over 100 years ago. After lunch the company marches back to the camp singing old soldiers songs of the late 1890's as you move along. With the sun on your face, you glide along listening to the footfalls of the others. You feel the heft of your rifle on your shoulder. You move along and feel the blood moving through your veins and feel really alive. Once in camp extra gear is stowed away and you join the company for some basic Spanish lessons. Ladies from the Red Cross distribute small booklets to all and in it are basic phrases you may need to know. Later you look over some captured 'enemy' weaponry- the Mauser rifle-The Spanish Hornet. A fellow living historian who does an impression of a regular Spanish soldier does this. He explains the uniform and equipment that the 'Don's wore and used in Cuba.
After a break, the company falls in for some close order drill. As the afternoon wears on the Company is dismissed to camp. The cook needs some wood, so a detail is formed to replenish his supply. You take rest in camp doing small chores- folding your blanket, bushing off your equipment, placing your rifle in a protective case. You hear the bugler sound Mess Call, and you grab your mess kit and follow the others to the line. Supper is probably the highlight of the day. But it is more than that in a Spanish American War camp- it is an opportunity for good fellowship. Supper consists of real Soldiers Meal- Steak, Potatoes, beans, fresh bread, and for desert- Blueberry cobbler. After clean up the company falls in for the lowering of colors. As darkness falls you are sitting around a campfire with your friends. There is the usual grousing and joking and then silent moments too, as you gaze into the flames and feel the strong sense of comradeship that are building between you and your fellow soldiers. Day is done. You crawl off to your tent and hear the melodic notes of Taps echoing through the camp being sounded. You realize that no amount of reading and studying of the period can replace the experience of living it as you do. Moments later you are fast asleep.