Civil War Cookery

What is the best way to celebrate graduating from college? Some might say having a party, enjoying commencement or celebrating with family. For others, the best way to celebrate is by spending the week after finals preparing for a Civil War reenactment and then heading to the Grand Ledge Victorian Days with friends for the weekend. If I didn’t realize I was a nerd before I graduated, I’m certainly aware of it now.

Could you ask for a more beautiful campsite?

We arrived on Friday and set up camp for a few hours in the afternoon before relaxing around the fire. Dinner was hotdogs cooked over the fire with s’mores for dessert. And before you say anything, marshmallows were definitely invented before the Civil War. We take historical accuracy very seriously around here.

My focus for this event was cooking for the GVSU gang. In the past, we have been kind of lazy when it comes to cooking meals and I really wanted to remedy that. However, I knew I would get overwhelmed if I tried to cook every meal with maximum effort and historical accuracy. Instead, I decided to focus most of my energy on a big, hot meal Saturday evening and keep the rest simple.

Breakfast on Saturday was bacon and eggs on the fire with homemade bread for toast. Kelsey over at Historically Accurate Code made some exceptional loaves of bread before we left on Friday and everyone seemed to appreciate the pure deliciousness that is homemade bread soaked in bacon fat and fried over the fire.

We learned this trick last summer and I think it turned out even better this year.

We had cold chicken “sandwiches” and apples for a late lunch so I could use the fire to start the beef stew I had planned for dinner. The stew required four hours to simmer, which meant I had to start it when I would normally cook lunch in order to have it ready at an appropriate time and not keep the hungry soldiers waiting.

Not to brag, but the stew was probably the best thing I’ve ever cooked. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we were all hungry from a long day bending over a hot fire and shooting muskets but everybody ate their fill with seconds for all who wanted more. Special shoutout to our Lord Commander of the Alumni, Llama, for making a batch of cornbread to share.

Is your stomach growling? It should be.

We spent that evening with some new reenactor friends who let our boys fall in with them for the battles.


Sunday breakfast was cinnamon and apple oatmeal with the rest of the bacon on the side. We wanted everyone to enjoy the day’s activities and not worry about cooking, so we finished off leftovers for lunch and spent our time participating in the events and talking to visitors.

I think Alyssa spent nearly the whole weekend tending the fire and making sure our food was cooked. She is a rockstar.
That’s the face of a happy cook.
Our weapons of choice.
I even had soldiers offering to help me cook. True gentlemen.

This event was bittersweet for me since it was my last event as a member of the GVSU group. I’m so grateful for everyone’s help when it came to setup, cooking and tearing down the camp. The group got along so well and everybody pitched in where they were needed. I’m excited to see where the new members take the club in the future.

This was definitely the best reenactment I’ve attended and the most successful in terms of cooking and camaraderie within the unit.  Although it is the end of my time with the group, I’m glad I was able to spend this last weekend doing what I love with some of my favorite people.


P.S. Special thanks to Alyssa and Kelsey for letting me use their pictures from this weekend!


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