THE STORY OF OUR “COMPANY D"

(An Interview with Capt. J. Duda describing how Company D was formed)

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With every unit, there is a story that goes behind it’s creation. Our modern day recreation of “Company D” is no exception.  Founded in 2014, our group started with a vision combined with passion and motivation of one man.  Jake Duda, now the Company’s Capatin, started the group as one man. He was tired of years seeing the living history hobby decline due to vaious issues such as event and organization mismanagement right down to the loss of focus on the orgins of how the hobby first got started to begin with. Jake started in the hobby back in 1985 when he was 15 yrs old. "The world was a different place back then”, stated Jake.  “People embraced history and were eager to learn. The wave of politcial correctness that exists today was non existent then. People accepted history for what it was; simply put, it was the actions and stories of our past that helped shaped us as a people today.” Jake loved going to a local annual Civil War event near his home at a historical house named Balistone Mansion located in Middle River, MD.  Jake wanted to join a Confederate unit, but being 15 yrs old many groups ignored his interest.  Not deterred, Jake visited the Union camp and most of the groups there also ignored him except for one group.  He started talking to a bearded man named Art Buker. Art was the Captain of a group named “Company C” 2nd United States Sharpshooters.  He brought Jake on as a bugler until he was old enough to carry a rifle (16 yrs old). The rest was history and Jake was hooked on a hobby he loved throughout the years. “Back then, we were Campaigning before it was cool like it is today. Actually, everyone was campaigners as that was the only way as it was period correct”, said Jake. “Now, a large percentage of the hobby lost touch with those roots of purism. Most people in the hobby now sleep in big A frame tents and wall tents using cots….COTS! It’s just very sad to see things to have deteriorated like they have over the years”, said Jake.  

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The hobby has taken a wide left off the road in regards to authenticy and research. Unit commanders became concerned with buiding their membership numbers instead of teaching their men or guiding them to build their impressions correctly. Now, inaccurate representations are common and the norm.  The campaigner approach to the hobby is now more of a revelation than a practice.  To be honest, campaigning shouldn’t be a term, but instead should be the simple norm in the hobby.  Approaching the hobby accurately recreate life from the 1860s should be a united effort and the norm by all…not the exception. Jake has seen the hobby over the years rise and then decline. Jake stated that in his opinion, the high mark was about the mid 1990s.  Towards the end of the 90’s is when the hobby started to decline in quality impressions and groups per his observations. During the 1990s, Jake was serving in the United States Marines and woud attend events as much as possible when he was able to come home to do so. After his 10 yr service in the Marines, Jake began to spend more time back in the hobby. He was member to various groups over the years, both Confederate and Union. “I love history”, said Jake, “and I love the Confederate impression, especially the Maryland Confederate impression. I was born and raised in Maryland. The story of the small state during the war was a microcosm of what was taking place across the country on a larger scale.  Maryland is so rich in history, but sadly the Maryland schools do not teach the lineage of the Old Line State”, stated Jake. He belonged to several “Maryland” groups over the years.  “They all suck ass”, said Jake.  “It’s sad that most of the Maryland groups in current existance do not know the damn history of the unit they respesent. They do almost zero research on the unit. The end product is a shitty inaccurate impression. They celebrate mediocrity like it was a holiday.  Then when someone starts to present the ol’ Praeterian Guard (the self proclaimed hobby experts) with research and facts to let them know they can improve their impressions; the old guard gets nervous and fear you are trying to take over their unit”, laughs Jake. “Who wants to take over the boat and paddle through their little shit puddle?” (he smiles) Tired of the clicks, drama, and innacurate approach these units take, Jake went on his own.  “I got tired of the freaks and idiots running around in this hobby thumping their chests thinking they are something special”, Jake said as he shook his head. “That’s part of the problem. It’s not about THEM; It’s about the men we represent and the history we teach. I started thinking; I have been around the hobby a lot longer than most these idiots. I have done extensive research over the years that would make even the veteran history author take a double take. I am also capable of leading. I served in the real military and lead real military men, unlike most the jackasses running around playing General. I figured, what the hell…I could definetly do better. If at the very least, I will just have fun and enjoy the hobby the way it should be,” said Jake. “Company D” 2nd Maryland Infantry (recreated) was born.

Company D 2nd Maryland Infantry was chosen as the unit as it was interesting in several ways. One, it was the smallest company in 2nd Maryland Infantry. They numbered 54 officers and men at full strength. “They had the vibe as being the underdogs when compared to the other larger companies. I really liked that! I could identify with that”, said Jake. Secondly, the men of the original Company hailed from all over Maryland and not just one county. “I really like the fact the men came from all corners of Maryland.  I feel that is a great company to recreate as it represents the Maryland men from all points”.  Undettered, Jake started attended events own his own.  He built a webpage and started uploading and sharing his years of research to the public.  This was a novel idea since most of the old guard in the hobby “sat on their research”.  Many thought that holding on to research gave them a sick sort of power over others; more like the illusion of the all knowing master. If they control the information they control the unit. “That really pisses me off that these jackasses horde research and artifacts instead of sharing.  They didn’t make this history; the soldiers who fought the war did. Their story and remaining artifacts are an American treasure not a source of power for some fat old bearded man who lives a mediocre life”, said Jake. “I share every ounce of research I can through our webpage and social media pages. I want others to learn and share. It’s not my history; It’s our history. I’m meerly one of the caretakers of it.” Jake’s approach to his impression, which is a combined delivery of detailed research and passion, quickly started attracting others to the flag of the newly formed group. “I went on my own not expecting to form a group. It was more I wanted to do my own thing and enjoy the hobby I love.  It seemed like one day it was me and then boom I had guys asking me how to join”, said Jake. “I not only had people interested in what I was doing, but they were quality people. I mean quality in the sense that everyone of our members that joins our group have heart, passion, and enthusisasm which are key ingredients to building an impression. Since 2014 to present, we have went from just me to a company that numbers over 30 men.”.  Jake’s vison of a group that mimicked group’s from his first days in the hobby in 1985 has picked up steam. 

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 Company D now stands strong an it’s members all pocess the same passion and tireless efforts as it’s founder. The members come from all over. They span across states, including New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Company D has not only grown, but has become a leader in regards to trying new innovations and integrating modern technology to reach the youth of our Country. “We are competing with Playstations and Cell phones to get the attention of the younger crowd”, says Jake, “the younger generation doesnt want to come and get bored to death by some fat old bearded reenactor snobbingly boring them to death with orations and speaches standing over their table display in front of an A frame tent. You have to reach out and grab their attention with shock and awe.  Once you got their attention, you can bring them to your time period. You know what? Magically, this concept works.”  Company D has also become innovation leaders in regards to their Magazine publication, TRUE MARYLANDER.  The Magazine started out as a periodic newsletter.  The publication evolved in two short years by the efforts and ability of it’s editor, Jordan Schatz. “Every member in Company D brings something to the table. We have memebrs who have skill with the written word, we have men with producing talent and video skill, we have men who even have culinary talent. We have a great mix of experience levels. We have hobby veterans and we have memebrs who are new to the hobby. I a time when units and organizations are losing people; we are gaining and recruiting strong. Every one of our members contribute. Everyone of members have the same passion and dedication to recreating life of a Confederate solider from Maryland accurately.” Company D may have started with one man, but it quickly evolved into so much more. It is far greater than one man now. The Company is fueled by each of it’s members efforts.  It is truly a team effort and they have grown together! Company D stands proudly independent from any group or organization.  “We are here to stay. Maybe just maybe our vision and enthusiasm will be carried to other units and that will help jump start the hobby again to get back to it’s purism roots.  We are not trying to add to the hobby; we are starting a damn revolution to transform it!”, says Jake. “the current way that is the accepted norm is not working. The methods suck. It’s time to re-evaluate and adjust or get the hell out of the way”. Jake closed the interview by saying “I’m honored to be a part of such a elite group. I am blessed to call them each my friend.” Company D is always actively recruiting like minded people. If you are ready, Join the Charge! Join Company D today!

 Co “D” 2nd MD INF C.S.A. 2014