The Union Battalion of the Washington Civil War Association takes pride in honoring tradition. Our Battalion is commonly referred to as the Army of the Columbia, which follows the Union tradition of naming its forces for the nearest body of water. Since the forces that comprise the Army of the Columbia represent all theaters of the war and were never historically together, the Army is fictitiously designated as belonging to the 42nd Corps (Washington is the 42nd state).
Currently, the Army of the Columbia is comprised of eight infantry regiments, one artillery battery, the US Medical Department, a fife and drum corps, and the Norwich Cadet Corps. In addition, the USS Tahoma has a navy artillery battery and a detachment of US marines.
The Army of the Columbia strives to present the public with as accurate as possible a representation of a Union Military camp, be that a garrison impression or on the campaign. This impression is governed by Casey's Drill manual. Military customs and courtesies are followed as the daily schedule unfolds, highlighting the activities that comprised a soldier's life. This starts at 6:00 AM with traditional music compliments of the Army of the Columbia Fife and Drum Corps, and ends with a bugler signaling lights out.
Casey's layout for a regimental street serves as the guide for the layout of the Military camp. Regimental support units such as cooks and laundry services are camped around the perimeter of the streets. During public hours, in keeping with the theme and regulations of a military camp, and in order to accurately portray history, no unescorted women are allowed to be present on the military streets. Attached Union civilians representing the Sanitary Commission or other impressions are camped together adjacent to the military camp.
This layout does not mean that families are not welcome; rather it encourages further education on the part of reenactors in portraying historically accurate interactions between soldiers and civilians. Health and Welfare Inspections, visiting dignitaries, local refugees, roaming entertainers, temperance movement members, and protestors from the local community have all been portrayed.
All impressions of a Military nature are welcome and encouraged. Every attempt is made to utilize each unit in a manner consistent with its traditional function within the Union Army.
Regardless what type of event the Army of the Columbia participates in, the esprit de corps and pride that were present in the Union Army as they passed in review in the Nations Capital can be felt and heard echoing through the camps.