Has anyone ever built Winter Quarters/Soldier's Huts?

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
20200602_152526.jpg

(One of the two huts at Fort Donelson 2020)

2020 really screwed up events, and I have a sinking feeling 2021 won't be much different. For a couple months I've been trying to get all the other reenactors here in NE Texas for a weekend camp out and drill, which was gonna happen in December, but I got called away to provide guns for western last minute, I pulled a Stonewall and did all the organizing and planning myself without including anyone else in it, and everyone decided to wait saying "Oh events won't be a problem in 2021!"

Events have already been cancelled, and I don't care what anyone says, till I see it I refuse to believe one will happen in my region at least, and I know WAY too many reenactors still terrified out of their minds with this pandemic mess. But the past couple days clearing property and burning logs, it occurred to me, why not build some semi-permanent winter quarters for weekend camp outs?

A buddy real into Mountain Man/Indian stuff has already decided its an awesome idea, (as long as him and the few others into that can play with it for that stuff), so I got to ask if anyone here has experience with it.
 

EJ Zander

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Location
Gettysburg, PA
View attachment 390234
(One of the two huts at Fort Donelson 2020)

2020 really screwed up events, and I have a sinking feeling 2021 won't be much different. For a couple months I've been trying to get all the other reenactors here in NE Texas for a weekend camp out and drill, which was gonna happen in December, but I got called away to provide guns for western last minute, I pulled a Stonewall and did all the organizing and planning myself without including anyone else in it, and everyone decided to wait saying "Oh events won't be a problem in 2021!"

Events have already been cancelled, and I don't care what anyone says, till I see it I refuse to believe one will happen in my region at least, and I know WAY too many reenactors still terrified out of their minds with this pandemic mess. But the past couple days clearing property and burning logs, it occurred to me, why not build some semi-permanent winter quarters for weekend camp outs?

A buddy real into Mountain Man/Indian stuff has already decided its an awesome idea, (as long as him and the few others into that can play with it for that stuff), so I got to ask if anyone here has experience with it.
Wonder why there is no chinking?
I have dismantled, moved and reassembled post and beam before and its pretty basic.
Sounds like a fun project.
Some stuff to consider.
For your project would you use period tools? What species of log do you access to? Density of wood may effect your decision to go period tools or buzz saw. Would logs be slab sided or round? Chinked or not? Im thinking round and chinked. If chinked need to come up with recipe for chinking which at the time would have been based on what was available locally near the site. A modern one would be 1 part Portland cement, with ½ part masonry lime and 3 parts masonry sand.
Just some thoughts. If you guys proceed please keep us updated.
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
Wonder why there is no chinking?
I have dismantled, moved and reassembled post and beam before and its pretty basic.
Sounds like a fun project.
Some stuff to consider.
For your project would you use period tools? What species of log do you access to? Density of wood may effect your decision to go period tools or buzz saw. Would logs be slab sided or round? Chinked or not? Im thinking round and chinked. If chinked need to come up with recipe for chinking which at the time would have been based on what was available locally near the site. A modern one would be 1 part Portland cement, with ½ part masonry lime and 3 parts masonry sand.
Just some thoughts. If you guys proceed please keep us updated.

Hardwood's ain't the most plentiful, and our main trees are Southern Yellow Pine, which grows everywhere. I imagine we'd go with round and chinked with a mix of period and modern tools if this happens.

I imagine we'd try to replicate the efforts of a nearby SCV Camp at Camp Ford, they had an expert build stuff out there till the Smith County Historical Society got stupid with maintaining the POW Camp, the structures being gone now. (Some New Englanders moved in and run everyone else off and tore most of it down.)

Camp Ford, Texas (civilwaralbum.com)
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
Here's a good article, and I vote period tools or just building a modern mini house.....chainsaws should be taboo


I will not be denied the right to use a chainsaw! After trees are cut down and sectioned I'd be all for no more modern tools, but those chainsaws make it SOOOO much easier. A job that'd take weeks is reduced to a day.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
I will not be denied the right to use a chainsaw! After trees are cut down and sectioned I'd be all for no more modern tools, but those chainsaws make it SOOOO much easier. A job that'd take weeks is reduced to a day.

"If they had chainsaws back then, they would have used 'em!" :wink:
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
From the book, Beyond The Battlefield: The Ordinary Life And Extraordinary Times Of The Civil War Soldier, edited by David Madden, chapter 2, pg. 52:

"Still, log huts were a luxury. In regions where wood was available but not abundant, the soldiers would "stockade" their Sibley or wedge tents, creating a significant improvement to their living conditions. To do so, they would usually dig a hole so that their quarters were actually a foot or two below ground level, which helped keep them warmer by providing the natural insulation of the earth. The stockade itself was a wooden foundation from two to five feet high, made of logs, the space between them sealed with mud. The canvas tent would sit on top of this foundation and sometimes even boasted a real door built onto a frame with hinges. If bricks were available, a fireplace and chimney might be built into a space where the canvas was trimmed away for this purpose..."

Unionblue
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
In regions where wood was available but not abundant, the soldiers would "stockade" their Sibley or wedge tents, creating a significant improvement to their living conditions.

If I had a Sibley tent or knew anyone who did this would be an interesting and comparatively easy doing.

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I've thought a couple of times of finding an original Sibley stove and seeing if I could convince my blacksmith hobbyist brother into trying to replicate one.

I've got way too many ideas....
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
I will not be denied the right to use a chainsaw! After trees are cut down and sectioned I'd be all for no more modern tools, but those chainsaws make it SOOOO much easier. A job that'd take weeks is reduced to a day.
It takes two men about a day to build one using period tools. And you can start w/ squared wood from your local lumber yard. Wooden fences were often stripped for wood.

This is a portable shebang made that can easily be made into winter quarters. It's roomier than a wall tent and can be heated effectively using an "American stove." It's also quite water and wind proof. Sleeps two full grown men quite well.

All you need is a good saw, shovel or spade and some imagination.

A Sibley style stove is easily made by any local metal shop for under $200 or a period shovel (often found at antique stores) for around $20-25 with some flat rocks will build you an American stove.

IMG_2358.jpg
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
It takes two men about a day to build one using period tools. And you can start w/ squared wood from your local lumber yard. Wooden fences were often stripped for wood.

This is a portable shebang made that can easily be made into winter quarters. It's roomier than a wall tent and can be heated effectively using an "American stove." It's also quite water and wind proof. Sleeps two full grown men quite well.

All you need is a good saw, shovel or spade and some imagination.

A Sibley style stove is easily made by any local metal shop for under $200 or a period shovel (often found at antique stores) for around $20-25 with some flat rocks will build you an American stove.

View attachment 390337

This makes me feel good, especially since I got all those tools. Lumber yard never occurred to me.
 

Claude Bauer

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
View attachment 390234
(One of the two huts at Fort Donelson 2020)

2020 really screwed up events, and I have a sinking feeling 2021 won't be much different. For a couple months I've been trying to get all the other reenactors here in NE Texas for a weekend camp out and drill, which was gonna happen in December, but I got called away to provide guns for western last minute, I pulled a Stonewall and did all the organizing and planning myself without including anyone else in it, and everyone decided to wait saying "Oh events won't be a problem in 2021!"

Events have already been cancelled, and I don't care what anyone says, till I see it I refuse to believe one will happen in my region at least, and I know WAY too many reenactors still terrified out of their minds with this pandemic mess. But the past couple days clearing property and burning logs, it occurred to me, why not build some semi-permanent winter quarters for weekend camp outs?

A buddy real into Mountain Man/Indian stuff has already decided its an awesome idea, (as long as him and the few others into that can play with it for that stuff), so I got to ask if anyone here has experience with it.
About 10-12 years ago my Civil War reenacting unit participated in a military through the ages event at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA where they have several small cabins. One is an "officer's cabin" and another for the troops. We were asked to position our unit in and around these cabins and interpret them as winter quarters for soldiers during the Civil War.

I have no idea how accurate they are and doubt that many troops had access to something like them, but it did give the visitors an idea of how cramped and primitive even the best of winter quarters were in those days.

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Arioch

Sergeant
Annual Winner
Joined
Dec 24, 2010
What exactly defined a 'shebang'?...I guess I'm asking about style of construction....my present understanding is that a 'shebang' merely meant a log construction with a canvas roof.
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
What exactly defined a 'shebang'?...I guess I'm asking about style of construction....my present understanding is that a 'shebang' merely meant a log construction with a canvas roof.
It was more slang, I think, than anything specific. Pretty much anything other than a standard tent from a brush shelter to a log shelter with a canvas roof.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
View attachment 390234
(One of the two huts at Fort Donelson 2020)

2020 really screwed up events, and I have a sinking feeling 2021 won't be much different. For a couple months I've been trying to get all the other reenactors here in NE Texas for a weekend camp out and drill, which was gonna happen in December, but I got called away to provide guns for western last minute, I pulled a Stonewall and did all the organizing and planning myself without including anyone else in it, and everyone decided to wait saying "Oh events won't be a problem in 2021!"

Events have already been cancelled, and I don't care what anyone says, till I see it I refuse to believe one will happen in my region at least, and I know WAY too many reenactors still terrified out of their minds with this pandemic mess. But the past couple days clearing property and burning logs, it occurred to me, why not build some semi-permanent winter quarters for weekend camp outs?

A buddy real into Mountain Man/Indian stuff has already decided its an awesome idea, (as long as him and the few others into that can play with it for that stuff), so I got to ask if anyone here has experience with it.
There were several built here in the Fredericksburg VA area (Stafford County where the AoP camped in the winter of 62-3). They were researched and constructed by a local historian, D.P. Newton of the now defunct White Oak CW Museum. Mr. Newton passed away several years ago but I believe one of his huts still remain.
 
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