The Hellfire Stew Mess is:
Alan Authement (deceased)
Ben Bernard (recruit)
Ashlee Authement (civilian "pretty lady")
Alex Authement (camp knave)
Edgar (junior mascot)
Friends of the Mess:
We are a small
group of Civil War living historians based in the Houma-Thibodaux area of south Louisiana. Although most of us are direct
descendants of Confederate soldiers, we do what all quality reenactors do - we "galvanize" or portray Union soldiers
as well as Confederate soldiers. We now generally portray artillery soldiers, but occasionally infantry, as Pvt. Authement
has acquired a replica 12-pound Napoleon cannon and limber. We have christened the cannon "Big Al,"in memory of
our late member and Johnny's brother, Alan Authement.
When we portray infantry, we choose not to designate our group
with the name of an original regiment or company in order to allow for variety in our impressions, and to facilitate our group's
consolidation with larger units at reenactment events. We emphasize a campaign-style impression at most events, but we are
willing to adapt our impressions to the requirements of most event scenarios. We also enjoy participating in school and other
educational presentations in our local area - unlike some pseudo-"elitist" reenactment units, we encourage interaction
with the public as an integral part of our hobby.
Although the Hellfire Stew Mess has been in existence as a mess
since 1995, first as a component of another infantry reenactment unit, we are now an independent mess, loosely affiliated
with other quality units. When asked by a member of another large unit if we needed a "home," Pvt. Authement replied,
"Our home is where we throw down our knapsacks." We're just free spirits (some would call us other things), who
choose not to be burdened by pompous bureaucracy and egotism in our hobby.
Although we strive to maintain correct
period campaign impressions, we realize that the average Civil War enlisted soldier wasn't over 50 years old, as some of us
now are. To suggest otherwise to the public would be to convey an inaccurate impression of history, and we are not egotistical
enough to commission ourselves as officers. The main goal of us older guys is to experience a small part of what the Civil
War veterans did, while at the same time enjoying the camaraderie, fresh air, and campfire joie de vivre that are some of
the best aspects of reenacting!
This original tintype depicts an unknown Confederate lieutenant. This image is particularly
interesting given his use of U.S. rank straps and the feathered plume on his slouch hat!
(Denis Gaubert Collection- All
Reproduction Rights Reserved)
Be sure to take a look at our pages featuring Soldiers' Letters (transcripts of previously
unpublished original letters, relating to the Lafourche region) and Soldiers' Images (original period photographs). We also
have other pages with excerpts from period literature on various topics, which we hope may be helpful in improving reenactors'
overall impressions. For example, in our Cooking on Campaign page, we feature recipes and other excerpts from original period
sources on cooking in the field.