Dehydration means your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. For a civil war reenactor, this is an all too common occurrence that can be prevented with minimal measures.

Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe based on how much of the body's fluid is lost or not replenished. When it is severe, dehydration is a life-threatening emergency.


The body's initial responses to dehydration are thirst to increase water intake, and decreased urine output to try to conserve water loss. The urine will become concentrated and more yellow in color.

 As the level of water loss increases, more symptoms can become apparent to include; dry mouth, lack of tears, sweating will cease, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, heart palpitations, lightheadedness, and loss of consciousness. 


Drinking fluids is usually enough for mild dehydration. It is better to drink small amounts of fluid often, instead of trying to force large amounts of fluid at one time. Drinking too much fluid at once can bring on more vomiting.

Electrolyte solutions or freezer pops are very effective. These are available at pharmacies. Sports drinks contain a lot of sugar and can cause diarrhea.

Intravenous fluids and a hospital stay may be needed for moderate to severe dehydration. A health care provider would try to identify and then treat the cause of the dehydration.


The human body is usually on the verge of dehydration as it is.  For a reenactor, the prevention of dehydration during a reenactment can be simple and worthy considering the outcome. 

 The first thing to remember is that alcohol will increase dehydration.  Drinking heavily the evening before a reenactment will make the prevention of dehydration the next day almost impossible. 

 Most of us drink coffee with breakfast.  However, coffee is a diuretic.  This means that even though it is made from water, it will cause the body to push out its reserve water in the form of waste.

 There is no amount of training that can acclimatize a body’s need for water.  If you drink the night before, drink in moderation, and also drink water.  The last drink you should take for the night should be water.  If you have coffee the morning of the reenactment, drink water also.   You should drink at least 1 liter of water the morning all through the morning of the battle.  DO NOT SLAM THE WHOLE LITER 20 MINUTES BEFORE THE EVENT STARTS!  The body must have time to utilize the water.  Small sips frequently all morning is good. 

Always have a full canteen of water for every event, and drink from it often.  Drink before you become thirsty.  If you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

 Simple precautions are all that are needed to prevent dehydration and have a fun and enjoyable reenactment event.