Looking to join a Civil War re-enactment group? Expect to spend at least $1,300 for a uniform, a musket and other items that a new recruit would need.
But that cost rises for higher quality clothing, and it doesn't even include the cost for camping gear.
Though the cost for a basic enlisted man's uniform, a musket with a bayonet and other needed bits of re-created history may seem pricey, compared to the cost to take up other hobbies, it isn't that bad.
"It's not an inexpensive hobby, but if you're comparing it to buying a modern-day camper for a family and all you'd need to go camping, it's not that far off," said Janet Palese, owner of Gettysburg Sutler.
To arms: The majority of that $1,300 is for a musket, the least expensive of which is a reproduction of the Enfield 1853 rifle-musket, used by both the North and South during the Civil War.
According to Gettysburg's The Regimental Quartermaster website, that gun costs $745. A reproduction of a Sharps "Berdan" Rifle, which is at the high end of the scale, would set a would-be re-enactor back $1,325.
Luckily for those thinking about taking up the re-enacting, some units, like the 45th Pennsylvania Regiment Company K, lend out rifles, said Mike Wolgemuth, the company's first lieutenant.
As an officer, Wolgemuth doesn't carry his rifle anymore and lets new recruits in need of a rifle use his during re-enactments.
The company also lends out needed
gear and uniforms to those interested in trying out the hobby before they take the financial leap, he said.
"We try to lend it to people for their first time to see if they like it," said Wolgemuth, a Hellam Township resident who has been re-enacting for nearly 20 years. "It's not everyone's cup of tea."
Keeping it real: Potential re-enactors can save some money by purchasing a starter kit, which includes a hat, pants, shirt and jacket.
"It all depends on what you want," said Erin Ratliff, an associate in the mail-order department for Regimental Quartermaster.
For a basic recruit package, the uniforms start at $239.50, he said.
The uniforms in that package are more authentic and handmade by the company's seamstresses, Ratliff said.
Some customers care very much about authenticity, and others aren't as concerned, he said.
"It all depends how far into it they want to go," Ratliff said.
But sometimes used is best. Zach Bleacher, first sergeant of Company K, said some re-enactors getting out of the hobby sell their gear, which means huge savings.
As in a real military unit, re-enactors start out as grunts when they join a regiment and can be promoted to an officer position, so a private's uniform is all that's needed to start out, he said.
Like most other products, better quality costs more, as do officers' uniforms.
"It all depends in what you're looking for and how authentic you want to be," Bleacher said.
Buyers beware: Buyers should be leery of some uniforms and equipment, especially those made in places like Pakistan and China, Palese said.
While the lower cost may be attractive, buyers have been known to have problems returning products to sellers, she said.
The best bet, Bleacher said, is to purchase items that are handmade with an eye on the details.
The Gettysburg Sutler sells such items, and its employees do research to make sure what they sell is true to the period, Palese said.
Some re-enactors, who are dubbed "stitch counters," count stitches to make sure that the correct number of stitches were used, for example, to sew a button to a jacket, Palese said.
Others keep a keen eye on the weave and dye pattern of clothing to make sure both are correct to the unit they are portraying, Bleacher said.
But, for the most part, re-enactors live by a five-to-six rule, Palese said.
"If at five to six feet it looks correct, we go with it," she said.
The average person won't notice if a re-enactor's uniform isn't truly authentic, Palese said, adding that modern innovations, such as nylon, are woven into some wool clothing. That prolongs the life of an article of clothing.
Under the stars: Re-enactors get into the hobby out of a love of history and a desire to teach others about what it was like to live during and fight in the war between the states.
But some are hardcore, Wolgemuth said. While most re-enactors take comfort in sleeping in a tent during encampments, others opt to sleep under the stars as most soldiers did during the war.
The details of an encampment go even further than not using a tent. Some re-enactors use beeswax candles, like ones used in the 1860s. But that will set a re-enactor back between $3 to $5 per candle.
A cheaper alternative is to use candles that are period correct, minus the beeswax, for about 50 cents each, Palese said.
"It's supposed to be fun. The average person can't tell the difference," Wolgemuth said. "If we were really true to the time, we would all have dysentery. We would all be covered in lice."
-- Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com. Staff reporter Candy Woodall contributed to this report.