The Watchdog

The Watchdog is a non-profit that specializes in the social and material culture of the Civil War era. After years of publication as a quarterly, The Watchdog went on extended “furlough” and now publishes a column in Civil War News. Proceeds from its publications and annual raffle benefit battlefield preservation.


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Cutting Up Pork Ration
By Craig Barry
April 2015 Civil War News
No country in the world was richer in salt deposits than antebellum America. By 1860 the United States used more salt per capita than anywhere else in the known world.

Lost Painting
By Craig L Barry
December 2014 Civil War News
Title: “Confederate camp during the late American war,” Creator(s): M. & N. Hanhart Chromolithograph, Date Created/Published: London: Louis Zimmer, c1871.

Warm & Cold Slaugh
By Craig L Barry

Septemeber 2014 Civil War News
Lettice Bryan is famous for her 1839 cookbook The Kentucky Housewife, a book with which many with an interest in mid-19th century material culture are well familiar.

A Prisoner’s Sword
By Craig L Barry
June 2014 Civil War New
In 2013, the Sandusky, Ohio, Library Archives Research Center acquired a very important document about the Depot of Prisoners Of War, Johnson’s Island, Sandusky Bay. The document lists the housing arrangements for the Confederate prisoners, most of whom were officers, incarcerated there in the autumn of 1864. 

Arsenal Packs
By Craig L Barry

April 2014 Civil War News
The question “What are arsenal packs?” was posted a while back on a Civil War Internet forum. The first answer, which the Forum Moderator subsequently deleted, read, “…the arsenal pack is what you put between the sleeping bag and cooler in your tent.”

Button Up!
By Craig L Barry
November 2013 Civil War News
The most annoying of the “rules” that began with the Civil War Centennial events of 50 years ago is probably the requirement that all men wear their jackets at all times and that they are (at least) buttoned at the top.

NPS Policy On Originals vs. Repros
By Craig L Barry
April 2013 Civil War News
The ban on the use of “original” Civil War firearms for living history and historic weapons demos at National Park Service (NPS) sites is an interesting rule worth revisiting.

How to Talk the Talk
By Craig L Barry
December 2012 Civil War News
The everyday language in use during the Civil War era was obviously different from popular speech or even slang today.

A Perfect Mint Julep Recipe
By Craig L Barry

August 2012 Civil War News
The mission of The Watchdog is to research relevant aspects of the material culture of the 1860s. To fully appreciate the antebellum heritage of the South, one must develop an appreciation for an authentic Mint Julep.

Mississippi Rifle
By Craig L Barry
May 2012 Civil War News
U.S. and C.S. ordnance records of the Civil War era show who had what, when and where. Much more survives of the Union records. Todd’s American Military Equipage is one source, but it may be occasionally unreliable.

New Pedersoli Enfield
By Craig L Barry
Feb/March 2012 Civil War News
The most popular reproduction rifle-musket among Civil War enthusiasts is the Enfield Pattern of 1853 long rifle, or “3 band rifle-musket” as it is known today.

Pedersoli Update
By Craig L Barry
November 2011 Civil War News
About nine months ago it was announced in this column that Pedersoli had purchased Euroarms, and that they were taking over production of the Euroarms US Civil War rifles and muskets.

Remembering Mike Yeck
By Craig L Barry
September 2011 Civil War News
A few weeks ago I picked up an interesting reproduction US 1861 rifle musket. It easily could have passed for an original Civil War-era weapon. The seller told me it was made in Michigan 35 or 40 years ago by Mike Yeck, a custom gun maker.

The Hymnist
By Craig L Barry

(June 2011 Civil War News)
One of the most fascinating characters of the 19th century was the blind hymnist, Fanny Crosby (1820-1915). Imagine if you will a stack of 18 good-sized church hymnals — that is what the 9,000 hymns Crosby composed, in whole or in part, during a 50-year period would fill.

Corn Pone & Jonnycake
By Craig L Barry
(April 2011 Civil War News)
“The food we get on the road is sufficient, and good enough to sustain life; it consists of pork or bacon and bread made from Indian corn.” Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle, Coldwater Guards

By Craig L Barry

(Feb/March 2011 Civil War News)
WINCHESTER, Va. — Euroarms of America, the distributor for the oldest maker of Civil War reproduction muskets, is closing according to Jan. 14 notice sent to customers.

U.S. Lock Plates
By Craig L Barry
(December 2010 Civil War News )
A question Civil War reenactors often ask about U.S. Model rifles and muskets is why the Federal eagles on the lock plates of some models look different and face different directions.

Mythbuster: The Bayonet
By Craig L Barry

(September 2010 Civil War News)
The Watchdog Myth: “On the Civil War battlefield, the bayonet turned out to be a relic, responsible for few battlefield wounds.

Less is More: Hat Insignias
By Craig L Barry
(June 2010 Civil War News)
The image with this column is pretty straightforward and was selected to make one particular point. Ten years before the outbreak of the Civil War, some changes were made to U.S. military insignia.

C.S. Supplies and Logistics
By Craig L Barry
May 2010 Civil War News

“Comrades, you will better grasp the relation Judas (Iscariot) bore to the other Apostles when I tell you he was the Quartermaster of the company.”

The Watchdog - Avoiding Burnout
By Craig L Barry
(February/March 2010 Civil War News)
We are all history lovers here. And for some of us that intense interest in history manifests itself in more concrete terms, such as historical role-play or (re)enacting actual Civil War battles and events.

First-Hand Accounts
By Craig L Barry

(January 2010 Civil War News )
The faintest ink is better than the best memory.” (Chinese Proverb) Most Civil War reenactors and historians as a group enjoy doing research to improve their understanding of the material culture of the 1860s. One of the challenges with historical research, particularly when relying on the memoirs of veterans which were written many years postbellum, is that the reliability of an account is often related to the immediacy of the events. 

“Quoque Plures Fossor, Non Satis Ambitus”
By Craig L Barry

(December 2009 Civil War News )
One of the longest-running challenges faced by the U.S. Civil War community, particularly among the living history and reenactment enthusiasts, is the phoenix-like propensity for imploding after a few years and then out of the ashes reforming with fewer members into self-titled segments such as “progressive,” “authentic,” “hardcore,” “mainstream” or “campaigne

Death by Disease or Battle?
By Bill Christen
(October 2009 Civil War News)
When speaking to the public about the life of the Civil War soldier, reenactors are asked many questions. One of the frequent queries is in regard to the ratio of men dying of disease versus men dying in battl

Children On The Battlefield? Part II
By Meg Galante-DeAngelis
(September 2009 Civil War News )

The image of the virtuous young drummer boy is one that can be found abundantly served in the morality-rich, cautionary literature for children almost from the time of the invention of children’s books.

Children On The Battlefield? Part I
By Bill Christen
August 2009 Civil War News
“If minors present themselves, they are to be treated with great candor.” So states the regulations of both armies during the Civil War

Are You Hot In Those Clothes?
By Bill Christen
July 2009 Civil War News
Among the most frequently asked spectator questions, “Are you hot in those clothes?” ranks in the top five with “Is that a real fire?” “Is that food edible?” “Are those real guns?” and “Do you actually sleep in those tents?”

Attention—To Details
By Bill Christen
June 2009 Civil War News
During my 30 years of involvement in the historical reenacting community, I have come to appreciate and to attempt to obey the above “order” as when it comes to the material and social culture of the 19th century.

Made In Italy
By Phil McBride
May 2009 Civil War News
Have you ever thought it ironic that most, if not virtually all, of the reproduction muskets, rifles and carbines we use in our distinctly American Civil War hobby are made in Italy? Have you ever wondered how that came to be?

Authentic Hardtack
By Craig L Barry
February/March 2009 Civil War News
About a year ago it was widely reported by The Boston Globe that the G.H. Bent Cookie Company of Milton, Mass., suppliers of what is considered an “authentic” hardtack, was being sold with the building rumored to be converted into either an office park or a delicatessen.

What Ever Happened To Safety First?
By Craig L Barry
January 2009 Civil War News
One alarming trend in the US Civil War hobby is the apparent breakdown of time honored safety standards at various mainstream Civil War battle (re)enactments. Accidents hit a new high in frequency, which is a new low for that hobby in general.

The Watchdog, CWN To Join Forces
By Craig L Barry - Watchdog Editor
December 2008 Civil War News
At The Watchdog, a non-profit 501(c)(3) domiciled in Michigan, all monetary proceeds from publications after expenses go to battlefield preservation — not a portion, but 100 percent.