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   "Civilians in the Civil War"

   The Trans-Allegheny Soldiers Aid Society is the civilian unit of the West Virginia Reenactors Association. All members who wish to do a non-military historical impression are considered members of the Soldiers Aid Society for purposes of the Association. The unit has the same status in the organization as the military units. Family of members are welcome to participate with us, but we urge everyone to consider paying their own dues to become a full, voting member of the WVRA.
   Civil War Soldiers' Aid Societies, under a variety of names North and South, were relief organizations formed to help send needed supplies and welcome delicacies to the soldiers in the field. In the North, many of these local groups banded together and supported the U.S. Sanitary Commission; in the South they were more likely to stay local, and to raise supplies for their own State's troops. In addition to making and collecting supplies, they raised money for relief through a variety of efforts and Sanitary Fairs, and helped the families, widows and orphans of soldiers, as well as injured veterans. Since our organization includes both northern and southern sympathizers, we chose the "generic" name of the Trans-Allegheny Soldiers' Aid Society, which has reference only to our region. There were indeed specific Aid Societies in Western Virginia, such as the Union Ladies' Aid Society of Clarksburg, but to choose one such impression might be too limiting for some of those we wish to include.
   Our Activities include joining together at events for "teas" or "socials", working together on projects for the benefit of our soldiers, occasionally cooking for our troops at events, sometimes host special association events, or any other activities which seem appropriate to our impressions. Individuals are welcome to develop any civilian impression they wish to pursue in addition to that of an Aid Society volunteer. A few examples might be a nurse, laundress, seamstress, refugee, prostitute, or camp visitor. Men are also welcome as Aid Society members, as they were often active in the societies. Male roles include sutler, photographer or correspondent, visiting politician, or preacher.
   Whatever roles interests you, try to read and research as much as you can, for a good impression goes far beyond just wearing the right clothes. Attempting to think and live, for a brief time, as a 19th Century person will teach you, and those you come into contact with, much about how the lives of our forbearers differed from our own. If you are a beginning reenactor, feel free to get to know us and observe our activities and our period clothing until you feel comfortable with it all and are ready to take a more active part in reenacting. You may wish to start with a simple camp outfit you can wear to events near home, then expand as your interest leads you into a wider wardrobe, authentic camping, or a more involved historical impression.
   We welcome beginners and realize it may take a while before you feel "at home" in the 19th century--this is part of our learning! We also welcome more experienced reenactors, and value the knowledge they bring to our group. We hope we can all work together to continually improve in our knowledge, authenticity, and in the completeness of our impressions.
For more information regarding the Trans-Allegheny Soldiers' Aid Society, you may contact:

Tonya Daft (rebeld4h@yahoo.com)
479 Plum Run RD.
Mannington, WV 26582

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