You have probably noticed that that it’s been pretty quiet here lately. Well, for the moment my historical and living history interests have shifted a bit lately and the 2 Chevauleger has unfortunately taken a back seat. Most notably, in terms of living history/reenactment, I am no longer pursuing the recreation of the 2 Chevauleger as a living history organization. The basic reason is that I simply could not attract enough recruits who were willing or able to make the necessary commitment in order to make the unit a viable entity in the Great War Historical Society.
It was a frustrating four-year experience trying to form the unit and while I made great strides in sourcing uniforms and equipment and simplifying everything for the potential recruit, it was simply not enough. The biggest problem I encountered was sticker shock- the cost is easily $2,000 for a complete impression to include carbine. While by no means did I expect people to shell out $2,000 in one fell swoop, it did require some financial commitment starting with the basics. I attempted to make things as in expensive and easy as possible so one could gradually build up their impression. I did have a supply of loaner gear to help out but that was intended as a temporary thing as one slowly built up.
Unfortunately, it was not enough. I suppose the bum economy contributed but when you compare the cost of doing Chevauleger versus standard infantry, they’re not too far off from each other; only the uniform and weapon are more and in each case we are talking maybe $300 (although it could fluctuate with the Kar 98a). I even went was far as to arrange uniform production from a vendor in India who, after much back-and-forth over design spanning some two years, managed to finally develop a fairly accurate Chevauleger Ulanka. I even managed to locate sources for reproducing the distinctive Bavarian “lion buttons”, rear belt ramps, and side hooks (which I would have to send to India in order for the vendor to sew them into the tunic). It was a multi-step process but I had managed to work out all the bugs but in the end, to no avail. Even with the Indian vendor working on a half down, balance before delivery basis, I could not induce people to take that first step.
It’s frustrating, to say the least, and in many ways it was a complete waste of time and money (I sunk over $2000 into the venture). On the other hand, I did learn much more about uniforming, equipment, and the like than I otherwise would have. Plus I was able to locate the actual regimental history of the 2 Chevauleger and was able to make crude translations of some of the parts (it’s probably NEVER been translated into English). And best of all, I met some nice, interesting German folks (at least online) and that’s a plus. 🙂
In other areas, trying to explain the unique role of the cavalry during the First World War was a hard and there were many stereotypes and misinformation to combat. Yes, cavalry existed during the entire war, even on the Western Front, but their role underwent some transformation in response to tactical conditions. We served in the front lines in a dismounted role and functioned exactly like infantry. We also served as Feldgendarmerie (a form of military police), dispatch riders, procured remounts for the cavalry and artillery (mostly), and even tended carrier pigeon stations. Granted that some of this did not translate well into a living history/reenactment format but there it is. I suppose you could say that this was more of an advanced living history impression.
So in the end, it was a noble effect but doomed to failure. So now, I have shifted my living history interests elsewhere and while I will check in here often, I probably will not be writing as much as I was in the past.