FAQ for New Recruits
Q: What is the WCWA?
A: The Washington Civil War Association is a nonprofit educational group dedicated to teaching about the American Civil War and its times by bringing the past alive. We are a group of hobbyists who enjoy studying and talking about the Civil War and we want to share our knowledge with others. We do this mainly through reenactments and living history events.
Q: How do I join?
A: You may download a membership application and waiver from our Membership Information Page. The completed forms and annual dues should be sent to the commander/leader of the unit you wish to join. Do not send the forms and money to the club’s post office box! You will also be required to complete an annual safety test. Contact the unit commander for more information.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Annual dues are $25 for an individual and $40 for a family. In addition, some units may have unit dues. Contact the unit commader for more information.
The cost of outfitting varies depending on the unit, your ability/willingness to sew, availability of loaner equipment, etc. If you bought everything new your estimated costs would be:
- artillery: $300-$400
- CSA infantry: $900-$1000 (includes musket)
- USA infantry - $1100-$1200 (includes musket)
- female civilian - $250-$400
- engineers & other similar units - $300-$400
- cavalry – ask the unit commander (it would help if you had a horse)
These estimates do not include tents, camp gear, mess gear, etc. They do include uniforms, canteen, foot wear, poncho, and belt/cap pouch/cartridge box. Keep in mind many of these costs are one-time or, at least, once in a long while. The specific items needed vary somewhat from unit to unit. Do not purchase any uniform items before contacting your unit commander!
Q: Where can I get the equipment I need?
A: First, ask your unit commander/leader if they have any loaner equipment available. Then, ask what sources they recommend. Period patterns are available, and fabric and department stores carry a supply of shirt and dress material. Vendors (called sutlers) are available online and at events if you wish to purchase items. Again, ask your unit commander/leader and he/she can point you in the right direction.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: WCWA membership dues are $25 a year per individual, or $40 per household. In addition, there will be membership dues in whatever unit you choose.
The cost of your uniform will vary, depending on which unit you join and whether you buy new or used gear. Uniforms and accessories are sold at the sutlers, or you may make your own. Don't be discouraged if you can't acquire everything you need at once. Many units have extra gear to loan to new members.
Q: How do I decide which unit is best for me? Do I need to join a unit near me?
A: The best way to determine which unit is best for you is to go to a reenactment and see what it is all about. Take the time to visit the camps and talk to the troops, both officers and enlisted. Different units have different cultures: some are geared to families, some to mostly younger males, etc. Watch how the unit members interact with each other and see if you feel comfortable in that environment. Choosing a unit you feel comfortable in is more important than the proximity of the unit. Many of the units are compose of members from all over the state.
Q: Are there any age limits?
A: Yes, you must be at least 14 years old to carry a weapon on the battlefield. Youngsters between the ages of 12 and 14 years old may be on the battlefield unarmed as couriers, musicians, medical personnel, flag bearers, and runners of powder for the artillery.
Q: How much time will it take? Do I have to attend all the events?
A: We realize this is a hobby and people have other things going on in their lives so we only ask you participate to the extent you can. We hope you will be so motivated you will want to attend as many events as possible.
Q: Are things for women and children to do?
A: Absolutely! There are many opportunities for women and children. Women can join either the USA or CSA civilian units and follow their interests such as quilting, fashion, cultural, and medical to name a few. At reenactments and living history events there are medical demonstrations, fashion shows, talks on the culture of the times, and cooking demonstrations. Women are even allowed to dress as soldiers and take to the battlefield! You will also get the opportunity to learn and attend period dances. We are always open to new ideas too. Children under the age of 12 may join either the CSA’s VMI or the USA’s Norwich Cadets.
Q: Do you reenact all over the state?
A: Yes, we are a statewide organization. We either have had or are having reenactments in Spokane, Moses Lake, Union Gap, Snohomish, Arlington, Marymoor Park, Port Gamble, Tacoma/Lakewood, Bellingham area, and Lewis & Clark State Park to name a few.
Q: Can I arrange a school visit or other event?
A: Yes, we would be happy to come to your school or event if at all possible. Please keep in mind we do this for a hobby so please schedule well in advance. We cannot promise we can make every event as the weekday events can be especially challenging. We may ask for a small stipend to help alleviate some of the expenses.
Q: How do I know when and where the events are?
Check our Events Page, or ask any of the contacts listed below.
Q: Whom can I contact for more information?
A: If you are at an event, feel free to ask any reenactor. Or you may contact the WCWA Recruiter Tom Peloquin at 360-659-4995 or Publicity Chair Bonnie Starr at 425-743-9851.