Established in 2004 at Fort Tejon, Winstontown Company (WTC) was the very first independent company of Civilian Living Historians in Southern California. We participate in, but are not limited to portraying aspects of everyday civilian life during the American Civil War. As a research based unit of men, women and children, we term ourselves “Authentic/Progressive;” meaning we continually strive for improvement in our pursuit of knowledge and authenticity. We highly discourage the use of the all too common how-to-books, secondary resources and other publications of questionable accuracy in favor of enlightenment through individual study of primary resource documentation, images, artifacts and period textiles for our inspiration. Because we place a great deal of emphasis on the use of both accurate and appropriate clothing and authentic gear most especially at immersive type events, we are often refered to as a "hard core" unit by the reenacting community at large.
Winstontown stands far apart from all other civilian living history groups, organizations and associations within our geographic area for several very distinct reasons. First and foremost, we acknowledge and strongly advocate the fact that the Civil War Era civilian population did not exist within a vacuum likewise, neither did the military. We therefore dedicate ourselves to accurately demonstrating how civilians were very much an integral part of the war effort in all facets and on every front in a meaningful and historically accurate way. We are NEVER to be confused with a Civilian Corp, Association of any kind nor an Auxiliary of a Military unit. We are an independent company just like our Military counterparts with the only difference being that our members happen to be civilians.
Secondly, ALL our members (men and women) are field trained and fully qualified with black powder firearms with the exception of our children under the age of fourteen. Most all of our gentlemen in fact split their time between a military unit and doing a civilian impression with WTC. We also encourage all our members to become as well schooled in the military as in the civilian aspects of a given historical event which in turn enables us to more easily establish a documented and historically correct role, carry on first person conversations addressing period current events and in general present more confident, flexible and spontaneous responses to any given situation in an appropriate manner.
Third, we are a non-partisan unit and therefore are not dedicated to strictly one allegiance (North Vs. South) like the majority of civilian living history groups and associations. With very rare exceptions, all battles were fought within the Southern United States. In addition, the South was almost equally divided in its loyalties in some areas (particularly within eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina); a fact that is grossly overlooked within the hobby nationwide. We therefore ALWAYS portray Southern citizens; at times with Northern loyalties and at others folks with strong Southern allegiances. We often mix it up depending upon the setting with some members pro South and others pro North which always leads to interesting first person dialog and interaction.
Lastly, we firmly reject the old-school approach to first person portrayals where a ”one size fits all” impression is developed, as it tends to become too confining and restrictive and far too often historically incorrect. We instead limit our impressions to those of the under-represented working, trade and rural farming classes and thoroughly research the historical event being portrayed in order to tailor them to represent civilians that were actually present at that particular place and moment in time.
Who is WTC and how are we different?
Our Mission and Objectives
WTC's standards are the highest of any organized civilian unit, group or association known to exist in the far west. We strive for authenticity in clothing, appearance, actions, attitude, and personality. We do not actively recruit, but instead look for individuals with very specific character traits, attitude, abilities and the strong desire to continually learn and improve to approach us for membership. We have a kind mentorship philosophy, lead by example and have a zero tolerance policy for anything otherwise. Our core belief is that a truly great Living Historian is 90% sponge and 10% clothing and is never satisfied with where they are at any given time within their persona development. More specifically, our goal is to “LEAP” forward:
earn by studying period diaries, letters, military field reports, newspapers, and original artifacts and textiles. Learn by doing period activities, not limited to, but including, trades and professional crafts such as soap and candle making, weaving, cobblery, farming and homemaking.
ducate both the public and fellow reenactors on the role of the everyday civilian and of the various ways in which they aided the war effort during the mid-nineteenth century and share our research and learning experiences. We see far too many “Scarlet O’Haras” at events which has given both the public and the military reenacting community an unrealistic and inaccurate view of the mid-nineteenth century citizen. We are dedicated to quashing this negative perception.
ppreciate, empathize and illustrate as correctly as possible the impact the War of the Rebellion had on the lives of ordinary citizens including coping with separation or loss of family members, economic hardship, shortages, and substitutes and the impact of both invading and defending armies.
articipate in civilian scenarios at both battle reenactments and living history programs.
If you read through this entire website and find yourself nodding frequently, then you've always belonged with us but just didn't realize it!