Join the 7th USILHA
A word before falling in……
Dear Potential Cottonbaler,
We hope after reading through this initial packet you will be interested in joining our Company. Once within its ranks you will experience an esprit d' corps you never thought possible in the living history community.
Company A, 7th USI has accomplished many incredible things since its inception in 1989. In that time it has grown from three members in Texas to over 100 around the United States. This organization has continuously pushed the living history envelope doing things many have told us were impossible.
For example in 1995 members of this organization hand sewed the largest garrison flag currently in use in the United States. It measures 13' on the hoist and 21' on the fly. In 1996 as part of the Mexican War Sesquicentennial we were invited by authorities in Mexico to visit Fortress Casa Mata in Matamoros and display our Regimental Colors while in uniform. This was something we had been told would never happen. We raised over $4,000.00 to purchase 12 hand sewn regulation wedge tents. In 1997 we received the greatest honor ever to be accorded a living history organization when we were recognized by the Active duty Regiment and presented with a full compliment of 7th Infantry Battle Streamers to carry on our Colors. The 7th is America's most decorated Regiment.
Authenticity and attention to detail has always been the hallmark of this unit. Thanks to the dedication of our members we have uncovered new research as to the habits and dress of the original Cottonbalers of long ago. Over the years our physical impression has constantly improved thanks to this research.
We strive to be the best but we always remember that people make up our ranks not merely authentic uniforms. You can always count on your Cottonbaler buddies to help and if times get rough to be there when you need them.
If this kind of organization interests you then we hope you will consider joining our ranks. There is a never ending feeling of pride knowing that the individuals who comprise Company A 7th USI Living History Association have made this the outstanding organization it is. Each is a proud inheritor of the sobriquet "Cottonbalers by God!" and firm practitioners of the Regimental motto: "Volens Et Potens"--Willing and Able. We hope you will want to join us!
Y'r Ob't S'v't
Colonel C. Steven Abolt
Some Commonly Asked Questions
Why Portray the Seventh Infantry Regiment?
The Seventh Infantry is America's most decorated Regiment, and one of its oldest. Established on April 12, 1808, the 7th has participated in every American war, commencing with Tippecanoe in 1811 all the way through Operation Iraqi Freedom. Two battalions of this Regiment are stationed today at Ft. Stewart, GA.
By declaring ourselves to be a recreation of this unit we develop a basic group identity and a sense of pride for all members. This sense of pride and accomplishment has not gone unnoticed by the active duty Regiment. In 1997 this unit was accorded the highest honor ever given to a living history organization. On the field of Chalmette, where the Regiment earned its nickname of Cottonbalers for their participation in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, we were presented a full compliment of the 88 streamers which adorn the active duty Colors. These streamers are a visible link to the Regiment's past and our responsibility in keeping alive its memories. On special occasions these streamers are placed on our period Regimental Colors for all to see.
We are also a recognized non-profit corporation under section 501 (c.) 3. We are fully incorporated under the laws of the State of Texas.
What time period do we portray?
We portray the time period of 1810-50. We concentrate primarily on the War of 1812.
How old must I be?
To carry a musket you must be at least 16 years of age. No one under that age may use or carry firearms at our events.
To who is membership open?
Membership is open to all adults regardless of race, creed or nationality. Minors under 18 must have a supervising adult with them.
What physical condition must I be in?
We are a physically active group. You should be in good health and able to exert yourself at events.
How much are dues?
Members pay their dues by attendance at events. We often work in films and are sometimes paid for working certain events. The money raised at these events is placed in the Company Fund. It helps defray operating costs.
Does attending events make me a member?
NO! In the Regular army of the 19th Century recruits were only considered soldiers after they had stood their first guard. In this organization each new member is on a one-year probationary period. During that time they must try to make at least two events and strive to obtain the required equipment. At the end of that year the NCO's of the Company will recommend to Headquarters whether the new member be granted full membership. It will then be the decision of Headquarters to end the probationary period and grant membership. The NCO's will judge recruits on performance in camp and garrison, dedication to unit principles, attention to detail, cooperativeness, esprit d' corps, and public behavior. Members are presented with unit coins to proudly carry at the annual event in Chalmette, LA commemorating the Battle of New Orleans. Receipt of the Unit Coin confirms your membership.
How is the Company organized?
Company A, 7th USI is best described as "a benevolent dictatorship." There are no elections. Rank is appointed from Headquarters and no where else. All policy in regards to uniform requirements, event schedules, activities while at events, authenticity, etc. comes from Headquarters. This format does not necessarily work with all units, but it does with us.
All members are encouraged to make suggestions or ask questions. But, by setting policy at one level we maintain focus and goals. All new members should be aware of this before they consider joining.
In regards to our non-profit status a three-member board of directors governs the organization. All policy in regards to use of Company money or equipment is dictated by a majority vote of the board.
While at events enlisted members will come under command of the NCO's. Individuals who hold the rank of NCO have demonstrated themselves to be the best of the best. They have the full trust of the commanding officer and are responsible for the appearance of the Company in camp or garrison as well as its drill and discipline. A great deal of the success of this Company rests with your NCO's. Listen to them and learn from them. You will see why they hold the rank they do.
What rank can I obtain?
All members who display the ability have the potential to rise in rank. However, all should consider themselves privates in the Company and appear as such at all unit events unless holding a Warrant from the Commanding Officer.
What is expected of me at events?
Each member should have the proper mindset to portray a Regular Infantryman of the 7th Regiment. One thing your NCO's, and I, expect is your ability to drill and perform the related duties in camp and garrison. Once an event begins military protocol and courtesy is expected of each member. Many watch us and judge the unit by individual member's behavior. All actions of individuals should reflect the good of the entire unit. Members who are detrimental to good order or positive unit identification will no longer be allowed to participate. If you don't like to drill, don't like team work, bridle under discipline then we are not the unit for you!
Am I expected to make every event?
It would be nice, but for most of us impractical. Several events a year are designated as maximum effort. Members should make a point to attend these events and as many others listed on the official event schedule published by Headquarters.
Are there roles for women?
Yes, but they are extremely limited. The Company carries only four women on the rolls as laundresses. Other women portray wives of soldiers, missionaries or servants. There are no fantasy portrayals. Women may not portray soldiers in this organization. If evidence can be found that women did serve in ranks within the 7th Infantry then this policy will be waived, but limited only to the documented case or cases.
Women are subject to the same standards as the men in regards to the probationary period. Authenticity guidelines are set by a group of the longest standing female members of the organization. Headquarters appoints them.
Can I attend one event without joining?
Yes. This organization is not for everyone. We want you to give us a try before you buy. However, while participating with us, even on a trial basis, you are expected to fully follow our guidelines for behavior.
What are those guidelines?
1. Respect the unit and its traditions.
2. Respect your fellow living historians.
3. Remember your actions affect the unit as a whole.
4. No drunkenness, drug use or lewd behavior.
5. Be prompt for all formations and in the required uniform.
6. Obey your Officers and NCO's.
7. Be a team player.
Can I belong to other units?
Yes, but experience has shown spreading yourself too thin among different organizations can lead to hard feelings, divided loyalties and extra expense. Before choosing to join us ask yourself if you are willing to commit to the goals of the organization and the demands that will be placed upon you. If your answer is no it is best to stop now. We expect our members to put Company A, 7th US Infantry 1st in their reenacting/living history calendars. We don't want to limit you but we want to be fair and let you know what your fellow Cottonbalers expect from you.
I've read the material and think this is the unit for me. Now what?
If still interested after getting through this basic packet your next step is to contact Headquarters if you can’t visit with us at an event. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll contact you back and begin to answer your questions. At your first event a company number will be assigned to you by the Sergeant Major. From that moment you should begin acquiring equipment and living up to the Regimental motto: Volens Et Potens---Willing and Able!