The National Regiment at Antietam, 1997 (Half Plate Ferrotype by John A Coffer)

In late 1984, the "Mudsills" from the Mid-West, "Warren's Brigade" from the East coast, and other authentic Civil War reenacting units were invited to participate in President Ronald Reagan's Second Inaugural Parade on January 20, 1985, in Washington, DC. Approximately 400 reenactors were housed in the Gymnasium at Ft Meyer, VA. As it developed, the actual parade was canceled due to extremely cold weather. Out of the spirit of authenticity exhibited by these reenactors, and the comradery which resulted from their working together in preparing for and during this weekend, the idea was conceived of a national generic infantry regiment, made up of both Eastern and Western contingents. Each contingent would form under common leadership to portray a regiment of infantry, in all of its detail, in camp and field, with historical accuracy. Each member unit agreed that during a selected number of events each year they would relinquish their individual unit identity to form such a generic regiment.

125th Gettysburg, 1988

During the early part of the Civil War's 125th Anniversary (1986 - 1989) the Eastern and Western Battalions worked in concert at most major Civil War events, building on and adding strength to the original concept. Time, logistics, and distance apart took their toll, however, and the two battalions gradually went their separate ways. Although still working together at some major events both East and West, in 1989 the Eastern Battalion incorporated as, "The National Regiment, Inc." During this same time frame, the Western Battalion styled itself as, "The Western Brigade of the National Regiment." Both maintain the original high standards in authenticity and the accurate portrayal of a regiment of infantry, and continue to cooperate closely when together at events.

The National Regiment at the 150th Gettysburg NPS Event, 2013

Currently, the structure of the National Regiment consists of a Board of Directors who are elected by representatives of the 20 - 30 member units at an annual business meeting. The Board then appoints the Colonel of the Regiment, who, in turn, appoints all regimental officers on an as-needed basis. To solidify this process, officers and NCOs are trained annually to fill a variety of roles from Commander to Wing Commander, through Company Commander, to Sergeant Major, 1st Sergeant, other company-level sergeants, and corporals. Events are chosen at the annual meeting by a majority consensus of the member units, usually 5-6 events each year.

At these selected "National Regiment (NR) Events," member units are formed into numbered companies, each company often consisting of several member units. Thus, unit officers and NCOs are called upon to relinquish their unit command structure to aid the regimental organization, as required, to form full companies. At all other times, member units govern and command their own organizations; set their own additional schedule of events; fall in with other umbrella organizations (US Vols, Vincent's Brigade, etc.), as they choose at non-NR events; and participate independently in National Park Service, historical preservation, fund raising and similar events/activities. As a result of the superior training, high standards, strong comradery, and the spirit engendered within the NR, member units frequently choose to combine at non-NR events/activities to form a "battalion" under NR officers present at the event.

Special thanks to: W. Hutchison and D. Valuska for data and information. Text prepared and written by T. Downes and N. Downes.

Gettysburg Rainbow — Jimmy Thomas, vice president of the 3rd Maryland, captured this rainbow over the
National Regiment’s encampment at Gettysburg National Military Park. It appeared on July 2, 2013,
about 8:30 pm, 150 years to the hour that Longstreet’s attack on the Union left ended.