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Our Standards


Civil War Historical Impressions is a highly regarded living history organization. We are committed to pursuing our goals and going about our activities in a manner becoming of the highest caliber. The eyes of the nation and the world are upon us as there is a heightened awareness of and interest in history. In order to safeguard the esteemed reputation of CWHI, its mission, and that of its members, we request your cooperation by heeding the following participation standards:

  • All members shall participate fully in all activities and timelines deemed necessary to the proper engagement of the public and completion of events.
  • Members portraying military personnel must meet age, weight, and stamina standards in order to safely and properly participate in the rigorous activities of military life.
  • For liability reasons, all participants under the age of 18 must either have a parent or guardian present or an adult participant must be designated as responsible, with the approval of said parent or guardian.
  • Children under 12 must be supervised at all times and must be dressed in age-appropriate period civilian attire. NO modern toys are allowed.
  • Discussion or display of current political and/or social issues are not permitted at events. Members are understandably individuals with rights and, outside of CWHI, may engage in political and/or social discourse as they see fit, but it must never come back to CWHI.

Violations of the below policies will not be tolerated and may result in immediate expulsion from events and/or CWHI:

  • The consumption of alcohol shall be conducted in a legal and responsible manner as permitted by the guidelines of the events CWHI attends and the sites which host us. There shall be no illegal consumption of alcohol by underage persons.
  • The use of illegal drugs and other substances is strictly prohibited.
  • The use of discriminatory slurs are not becoming of CWHI and are prohibited.

Code of Conduct

Members of CWHI are expected to be of good, genuine character and conduct themselves accordingly. Behavior online and at events is expected to bring positive attention and reputation to CWHI. Members who bring negative attention to or otherwise misrepresent the character of CWHI are subject to disciplinary action to include removal from the event and/or organization.


As an educational organization, CWHI is dedicated to teaching and preserving the history of the
American Civil War. To accomplish this, one of the best teaching tools is the use of living history as an immersive and tangible representation of the past. Living history relies on a variety of methods to accomplish this: material culture and food, social customs and cultural traditions, individual roles and responsibilities, unit functions and capabilities, military operations and experiences, and personal mentalities and motivations. These visual aids combine to create an “impression.” Through use of an impression, a living historian can make “history come alive” for an observing public and effectively present a human element of history that other instructive methods cannot display. These living history impressions can have a lasting influence on audiences, so it is imperative that the impression is accurate and presents the most authentic image of the person/group being represented. This documentation will serve as the authenticity standards for CWHI as an organization. Each subdivision of CWHI is responsible for setting its own impression guidelines specific to their individual and group portrayals.

Remember – spectators come to experience history as it comes to life in a way it doesn’t when reading text or looking at an image. It is incumbent upon us all to give them an authentic and immersive experience. More importantly, it is our noble responsibility to acquit ourselves in a manner that honors and respects the people we’re representing and interpreting.

An anachronism is a behavior or object that is not appropriate for the time period represented. CWHI members should be watchful for any anachronistic objects or behaviors associated with a Civil War impression. Members should always remember that an authentic impression within CWHI constitutes all members present at an event. A glaring anachronism from one individual can undermine the overall group impression and cause the representation of the group to be diminished. Once a member is made aware of an anachronism, the member should take reasonable efforts to resolve the anachronism. If a member knowingly continues anachronistic behavior, the member may be banned from interpreting the Civil War with CWHI. Special considerations will be given if the anachronism is due to a medical or safety concern.

  • Modern eyeglasses are not permitted.
  • Modern footwear is not permitted.
  • No visible tattoos unless it is a period tattoo worn in a period manner (i.e. 19th Century sailor).
  • Anachronistic body piercings shall not be visible.
  • No modern makeup, hair styles, or anachronistic hair colors. One’s personal appearance and grooming standards shall be worn in a manner appropriate for the 1860’s.
  • Tobacco use shall be done via period correct packaging in appropriate methods to include pipes of a period correct style, cigars rolled and packaged in a period correct way, snuff, and chew. Modern and anachronistically prepared cigarettes, cigars, pipe styles, and vapes are not permitted.
  • Any furnishings shall be of a period appropriate style, whether reproduction or original, and used in a contextually appropriate manner (i.e. no common soldiers on campaign around a fire in “camp chairs”)
  • Canvas shelters shall be of proper period patterning and construction; its use shall be contextually appropriate (i.e. if time and place dictates use of shelter halves or fly tents over A-frames).
  • All tent flaps shall be kept closed unless your tent is set up for demonstration to spectators. All are responsible for ensuring tent flaps not meant to be kept open are shut for the security of our property and to respect our privacy.
  • Anachronistic medical and hygiene necessities (e.g. medicine, contact lens solution, sunscreen, insect repellent, feminine hygiene items, etc) shall be used discretely and privately as to not detract from the authentic and immersive experience of both spectators and participants.
  • The use of anachronistic clothing items (i.e. modern underclothes or base layers), if worn, must not be visible at any time.
  • If event rules allow the presence of alcohol, please drink moderately and responsibly from period correct vessels, and ensure that nobody under legal drinking age has access to alcohol.
  • CWHI leadership has the final authority regarding authenticity issues. If you have questions, please ask!

There was a wide variety in the material culture seen during the Civil War. Uniforms and equipment on both sides changed throughout the various campaigns and stages of the war. Because of the potential variations, specific guidelines are not necessarily accurate for all units and all times during the war. Therefore, the guiding general standards for military impressions shall be the following:

  • Period, Every day, Common (PEC): Period means the equipment and uniform authentically follows the patterns, construction, and wear appropriate to the Civil War era, and specifically the unit, time, and place represented in the impression. Everyday and Common mean that the equipment and uniform used in an impression would be easily found daily in a common soldier’s life. Equipment that was rare or used within a small context during the war will be avoided unless representing a unit or person where that rare equipment would be appropriate.
  • Documented: Uniforms and equipment used for an impression must have documentation or evidence supporting its usage. Members representing military impressions should be able to provide evidence that supports the specific equipment or uniform used for the impression. Period accounts, historical analysis, and period photography are examples of quality documentation for Impressions.
  • Correct: Uniforms and equipment should be constructed using appropriate material and construction methods.

Any uniform, equipment, or weapon used in a military impression is subject to the approval of CWHI leadership. If a CWHI leader deems a uniform item, piece of equipment, or weapon to be inappropriate, the member shall make reasonable efforts to correct their impression. A CWHI member can appeal the decision by displaying documentation or research that supports the use within the military impression.

  • Weapons: Weapons used for a military impression should be appropriate for the unit/person being portrayed and in good working order. CWHI leadership can reject a weapon at any time for being unsafe or inappropriate.
  • Equipment: Equipment used for a military impression should be appropriate for the unit, time, and place being portrayed. Equipment should be of proper construction, made of accurate materials, and in good working order.
  • Uniform: Uniforms used for a military impression should be appropriate for the unit, time, and place being portrayed. Uniforms should be of proper construction, made of accurate materials, and documentation or research should support the use of a uniform.
  • Rank: There are two forms of rank within the organization: superficial and organizational. Superficial rank is meant to represent a specific historic individual or a general military role. Organizational rank represents authority within the CWHI organization’s structure. Organizational ranks can be designated by purpose (i.e. Event Coordinator, Safety Officer, Board Member) or designated within a military hierarchy. Members with Organizational rankings have authority over any superficial rank.
  • Physical: Military service is dangerous, arduous, and its activities demanding. As a result, interpreting and reenacting as military personnel can be a demanding experience with safety concerns. One’s physical attributes and capability are as important to a military impression as a jacket or weapon. The ability to properly wear all of the required uniform items and equipment then carry it over a distance of multiple miles in an intense campaign setting can be a necessary standard in certain scenarios or events CWHI members participate in.
  • Safety: CWHI requires that all who participate as armed military personnel be at least 16 years old in order to safely handle weapons. CWHI leadership may also use discretion in discerning physical and mental ability to safely participate and meet military standards.
  • NO snoods!! No nylon hair covering. A net can be worn but it should be in the style of the “lunch lady” from schools. This can be found at Sally’s or at most drugstores. These should be in the color of your hair but should be fine netting. It can be attached to your hair or your hair pieces and can be worn with a hair “band”. If you have questions, please speak to the civilian coordinator.
  • Hair should always be “dressed”. Hair should not be worn loose hanging down as this was not the style during the 1860’s unless the lady was sick and was in her own home.
  • Short hair is acceptable but was not common in the 1860’s so anyone wearing short hair should be prepared with a “story” as to why their hair is short. Typically one might have had their hair cut because they had a fever or other illness in which the doctors felt cutting their hair might have helped them get well. Again, the Victorian lady prided herself on her social status so they would “dress” their hair as much as possible. (Image examples will be attached)
  • To corset or not to corset – that isn’t the question…… The bra was not invented until 1889 so ladies (even young girls) wore corsets unless they were a farmer’s wife and then they typically wore their grandmother’s stays (very similar to a corset but didn’t give the
  • hourglass shape) SO – to be correct with your appearance and to have the correct shape – ladies need to corset. A corset doesn’t have to be pulled tight and it doesn’t have to cost a great deal of money. Corsets are necessary foundation garments that if not worn – the historian does not appropriately represent the ladies of the 1860’s.
  • Fingernail polish…… Just DON’T! If you want to wear it in your current life – please remove prior to events or wear dark enough leather gloves to cover the polish so it isn’t seen.
  • All clothing must accurately represent the fashion and style of 1860’s. For example: natural fibers (cotton, silk, linen, wool) in correct period fashion.
  • Dresses – there are very few garibaldi blouses and skirts shown on Southern ladies so this isn’t a good idea. Also – dresses are worn far more frequently than skirts and blouses if you are over the late teens, early twenties. Please wear something age appropriate. Cotton dresses will not cost a lot of money and can be decorated to be worn as a day dress or as a camp dress depending on collar, cuffs, jewelry and decorations. If you only are able to afford 1 outfit, please get a cotton dress and we will be happy to show you have to change it up for a work dress or a day dress.
  • Hoops versus corded petticoats – These will depend on which type of impression you are portraying. If you are portraying a woman working in camp, a corded petticoat or a few highly starched petticoats will work well under your dress. If you are portraying a woman of upper class, a hoop is your best bet.
  • Modern plastic glasses frames are not permitted.
  • No modern shoes, sneakers, flip flops or other type shoes.
  • No visible tattoos.
  • Tobacco use shall be confined to period products such as pipes, cigars, snuff, and chew. Cigarettes are not permitted.
  • Hair styles should be worn as appropriate for the 1860’s.
  • If you have non-period body piercings (e.g. anything other than one set of holes for ladies normal earrings), please leave the body jewelry at home or make sure it isn’t visible.