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Greg Deese
07-22-2006, 10:19 AM
Original post deleted but thread retained because of its discussion of legitimate safety issues.

THP

Footslogger
07-22-2006, 10:46 AM
It would seem some of us are not too different after all even with the great divide, We are having the same discussion/argument in the UK.
Ramming is an integral part of the loading process, Hardee's or Casey's are exactly the same in the wording, cept maybe for lesson numbers before anyone gets pedantic.And at no point during the ramming process does the hand actually leave the ram rod so where is the problem, If returned correctly and a peice has broken off you will notice it when you stab your pinkie with the broken end problems only occur if you start chucking the ram rod in the ground all gung ho like or do not follow correct procedure and if this is the case and you cannot handle your fire arm correctly then perhaps you should be looking for another pastime such as cotton wool collecting.
It all boils down to trust if you can't trust the men under your command to follow the manuals then you should look for another job as you obviously can't do your current one or your men would be trained in correct drill procedures.

SteveB

flattop32355
07-22-2006, 10:54 AM
The Honorable Mr. Greg Deese,

You may interpret the following as you wish, but it is intended as a point of discussion...

Let's see....that's one sentence asking a legitimate question, followed by four paragraphs of slamming the mainstream.

I caught *-*-*-*- from a few folk on the AC for posting a "mainstreamer commander's" email, in response to a "hardcore's" inaccurate assessment of its contents, so all could see the actual text and decide for themselves what it said. Now you come here, on a forum the hardcores routinely ridicule as merely mainstream, in order to speak down to those of us who, in your estimation, don't meet certain standards.

You may not be aware, but there are a number of "hardcores" who are not all that thrilled by the idea of pulling rammers at events. Some expressed their views to me in private messages associated with the present discussion on the AC. So it is not a universally accepted idea among self-discribed campaigners that this is a good thing, even at EBUFU events.

It is a subject that needs to be discussed in rational and logical terms among gentlemen, not by baiting and ridicule among adolescents. The same is true of bayonet charges and hand-to-hand combat, to name just two other issues with serious safety concerns.

I would suggest you re-read your post, taking the position of one who will read it here rather than as the poster. How would you interpret what you said? How would you react to it, initally and after re-reading it a number of times?

It would be very easy to respond in a negative and hostile manner. However, this serves no good purpose. Many of us mainstreamers are actually good and courteous people, who prefer to take the high road of civil debate when discussing issues. You are welcome to join us in doing so.

Your Most Obedient
and Humble Servant,

madisontigers
07-22-2006, 10:56 AM
Greg,

Hope your doing well. I just wanted to tell you that I totally agree with your post. Nothing looks dumber to spectators than shooting muzzeloaders -without utilizing the ram rod. Why spend several minutes at a living history explaining the method of loading, and then during the physical demonstration failing to utilize the rammer. Second, your safety analysis is even better. Which is safer......reenactors who are inebriated around weapons....or a sober reenactor utilizing a ram rod.I can remember being invited to an event just across the border, in up-state SC, and being asked to help demonstrate how a soldier would load his weapon while laying on his back. As I began to draw my rammer men began screaming, and one even began to yell obscenities. I litterally had to threaten this guy to get him to shut his mouth.
Overall I do believe the rammer issue has some valid points. However, I see no reason that rammers could not be safely used at living histories.Larger events I tend to be more apprehensive, as you never know who is on the other side of the firing line. Then again I don't go to mega-events, so I'm not too worried about t hat.

Thanks,

David Long

MStuart
07-22-2006, 11:00 AM
[Quote deleted as original thread deleted - THP]

This isn't a "mainstream" issue, as I think you'll find there's quite a few of your particular persuasion (and I use that term loosely) who have concerns about it, too (see above sentence). You seem to be holding "mainstream mentality" responsible for this unpleasantness. Last I heard, Rich Mountain wasn't a mainstream event.

I'll join Bernard and a few others in adult debate on this particular subject. Perhaps not this particular thread, though.

Mark

cblodg
07-22-2006, 11:03 AM
As much as I am inclined to agree with you, there is still a part of me that remembers that accidents do happen. You throw rammers into the mix and you get all caught up in the moment, suddenly someone does leave one down in the barrel and... Not to mention that you probably would not find an insurance agency to cover any event that includes ramming.

On the other hand...

Now this would make events far more accurate in rate of fire, and just the look alone brings some awe inspiring thoughts of how desperate a situation these men were in.

Plus, what the heck is the point of even carrying a rammer into battle if you are not going to use it! Often times people don't get the true effect because all we do is pour powder down a barrel. These had to be physically loaded, not just snap in a clip and fire away.

Off the box.

Chris

indguard
07-22-2006, 12:20 PM
Here in the midwest we have drawn rammers at specific events. But, I don't think I'd want it done at just any event.

ChrisOwens
07-22-2006, 12:29 PM
There is good and bad involved in this. There are some I would feel comfortable doing it with, and others I wouldn't be on the same field if you paid me. I think this all goes back to knowing what kind of event you are going to. I think the debate got started on the AC more because someone had a problem with not only the drawing of rammers but more so with that person and others not knowing that was going to happen before hand. Is that his fault for not knowing or the organizers fault for not letting folks know before hand? IMHO nobody is a whimp for having safety concerns, and the person(s) on the AC that had those concerns I would hardly consider mainstream. I think this is a good discussion but I think the opening post is very much flambait, this is not about C/P/H or mainstream. It's about what you feel comfortable doing. I would like to hear what others have to say about it, but don't turn this into something it's not.

Just my 2 cents.

Chris Owens

FWL
07-22-2006, 12:33 PM
Greg while I agree with you rammers should be used at certain events I don't agree they should be used at all events. Also you really used this to go after the mainstreamers. That may be fun but why bother? Mainstream Commanders have good reason for not wanting rammers used at their events, but they should keep their noses out of our events. We have good reason for wanting the use of rammers at our events. What's interesting to me is the perception that RM was the first time its been done. Not true.

While there are certainly "Campaigners" that do not feel comfortable with the use of rammers I never heard any objection to it until I came back from RM and saw it on the AC forum. To a man everyone in Company B federal was gun ho when the order was given. I do think it should be advertized in the safety rules before hand so if one has a problem with it, one could choose not to go. I have absolutely no problem with it at an event like RM. For me it greatly enhanced the event. I would never want it at an event like Manassas or Cedar Creek or whatever it's called but then I would'nt attend an event like CC. Also if I'm at a campaigner event or a cross over event I don't have a problem if they don't allow use of rammers.

In the end I think this discussion is a tempest in a tea pot. There are two different hobbies and each person should decide which they feel comfortable in.



PS I also resist the notion that this is purely a mainstream forum. I've always thougth of it as a "cross over forum", I hope I can continue to believe that. I do think there is some validity to discussing this issue here not just on the AC forum. I have attended small local "mainstream events" where use of rammers has been allowed. However, I would guess the mainstream ACW reenacting hobby would be against it. Prove me wrong. Are there mainstreamers that feel comfortable with the use of rammers at their events and would like to see it used more?

Regards

Frank Lilley
formerly 10th Ind. Co. B, Cpl
Battle of Rich Mountain

Eric Tipton
07-22-2006, 01:47 PM
Before this turns into a mud-slinging contest, I want to post the e-mail sent and my reply. Since it has already been posted in public - at the AC, I think it would be proper to post it here. The original message was sent by Jim Ruley - Commander of the Army of Ohio. I respect Mr. Ruley and think that he stated the case eloquently. Obviously, I disagreed, but this doesn't mean that we can't discuss it. I hope we can have a civilized discourse here, but I'm not too hopeful...

Gentlemen:

I received this e-mail, although I was not copied on the original list. To be fair, I have included each person who received the original message.

As the lead organizer for the Rich Mountain event, I wanted to respond to the points made in Mr. Ruley’s message in an effort to create a constructive dialogue. As a fellow Ohioan, I have great respect for Jim Ruley and have met him in the field on several occasions. Jim's comments are in bold with my responses noted.

Gentlemen,

An issue has arisen in the aftermath of last weekend’s Rich Mountain event which I believe affects us all. I’m speaking of the use of ramrods on the field in opposed combat scenarios.

My Response - Yes, we did use ramrods after careful consideration of the site logistics, firing distances, number of attendees and caliber of the commanders and units involved in the scenario. All commanders were told that we would be ramming prior to the event.

The event organizers justify this on the grounds that numbers were small and the participants carefully selected. However, a glance at the event website indicates the only “selection” was the possession of an “acceptable” uniform and an invitation. No practical test in weapon safety knowledge or handling was required.

My Response - Our main justification was that this was what was done at the original battle. Weapons inspections were done prior to the scenario. The units who were invited to the event were carefully screened for their knowledge, experience, and reputation. Each commander was responsible for the conduct of their men. No accidents occurred as a product of ramming cartridges at the event.

Some of the participants would argue that what happens at a so-called “Hardcore National” event like this has nothing to do with the “ordinary” hobby. I disagree. All of us are just “reenactors” in the eyes of the yellow press; and when the first unfortunate individual is transfixed by a ramrod, no one will ask who made his jacket or the condition of his camp. And we will all suffer equally for it.

My Response - We understand that any event that is done reflects on the hobby as a whole. We further recognize that the reputation of the hobby can only be moved forward by attempting to safely do what the men in the Civil War did as accurately as possible. If you disagree with this statement, we respect your opinion to do so.

I believe those of us in leadership positions have a responsibility to stop this before it becomes a “fad”. Many things that start in the “hardcore” end of the hobby end up being “mainstream”, and the younger, more Internet-savvy in our ranks may want to experience what is being touted as “kewl”.

My Response - I have to take minor exception to this statement. This was not done because of any attempt to be “kewl”. The decision to use rammers at the event was made by responsible adults who measured the risks beforehand and weighed the potential outcomes. It is true that using rammers for every event is probably not safe, or feasible based on the numbers, site logistics, scenario, or caliber of reenactor participating. In our case, the determination was made that ramming cartridges was something that would add to the experience of the participants and be done safely. This same decision might not be correct for all reenactments.

As for individual reenactors, they should be free to select the events they would like to attend based on their own personal comfort level, experience and goals in the hobby.

I will make my position on the matter clear: So long as I am in charge of the Army of the Ohio, we will not permit the use of ramrods in opposed combat situations. Neither will we tolerate those who do. This means that if either “foes” or friends are observed drawing rammers deliberately during a “battle”, I will pull my troops from the field. This policy is not negotiable.

My Response - Every event has its own standards and every person attending has the obligation to abide by those standards. We understand and appreciate different perspectives, and I, for one, would never do something at the event of another that violates the established rules for safety at that particular event.

I hope all other safety-conscious reenactors will join me in this stand.

My Response - We do not wish to create dissension in the reenacting community. Our actions were our own. We do not regret our decision. We do respect that people have differing opinions regarding the practice of ramming cartridges at events. We also agree that not every event is the proper venue for this practice.

MStuart
07-22-2006, 01:51 PM
I'll throw in two more cents because this is a good subject that needs discussion. I think drawing and using rammers depends on two things: Training and Trust. I'd venture to guess that no matter which "side" of the hobby you're in, there are those with whom you'd feel comfortable drawing rammers and those you wouldn't. Hardcore's don't have the corner on safety and training, just as mainstreamers aren't all hung-over and poorly trained. Personally, I'd be comfortable with any man in my unit doing it. But, unfamiliarity with others brings me cause for pause. I just don't know how much training the other guy has had and how he acts during the "heat of battle". Do they take training and safety as seriously as I do?

There's no quick and easy answer to this. Can it be done? Absolutely, but I think, in the hobby as a whole, it needs to be done gradually over time if it is going to be the new norm (and I doubt that). Just like military training, you don't send a guy to the firing range without him/her becoming familiar with what they're going to do. Drill, drill, drill - practice, practice, practice. Otherwise, don't do it.

Would I be comfortable with the Manassas organizers saying, all of a sudden, "we're using rammers today boys"? Heck no! But I'd have the same concern if it was a living history with 35 vs 35 and I wasn't familiar with the other personel/units attending. By that same token, if I knew the unit commanders' of each unit, and knew they did their jobs, then the concern reduces proportionate to my familiarity.

Is this "a tempest in a teapot"? You betcha. Would I go to an event where rammers were used? Yep. Would I wish I had 8 eyes instead of two? Yep, at least until I became "comfortable" with who I was playing with. No matter which category of the hobby they claimed to belong to.

This is NOT a mainstream vs. hardcore issue as some would like others to believe, but rather a firearms safety issue.

Mark

Eric Tipton
07-22-2006, 03:08 PM
I should add to my post that Rich Mountain is only the latest event to draw rammers. We most certainly weren't the first. We did it at Picket's Mill in 2004 and LBL this year. I know it has been done at many other "authentic" events, which someone could certainly note in this thread.

RJSamp
07-22-2006, 03:21 PM
The hard cores drill has improved.....but if they think they have a corner on it they need to think again. Same with skirmish drill and manuevering units by the bugle.

Now we find out that they're still bugging out of events early.....
Wasn't too long ago that Charles, Kevin, et al deserted at the Wilson's Leak.

And RM isn't the first hard core or mainstream event to pull rammer's on the battle field (not just at a living history).

Back in 1998 I deliberately fired a rammer in the woods of Wisconsin, just to see what would happen. 60 grains of FFFg, 4 tab cap, safety glasses. It took off (fired at elevation) and did a slow tumble...maybe 50 steps away it banged off the ground.

Eric and the Organizer's assessed the risks....didn't assess or test the firer's, didn't follow modern safety / risk evaluation procedures for military exercises....and got away with it.

I think their assessment was correct: it's more dangerous to drive to / from the event in an automobile than it is to draw rammers...... and at 200+ Yards away their is ZERO chance of being hit by a flying rammer.

but if an accident ever happened.....not matter how remote the possibility.....it would not bode well from a liability standpoint or the future of the hobby.....

What's next.....intermixed 2 and 3 bander rifles in a tight two rank firing line? Pistol's being discharged by Infantry Officers?

Fix Bayonet's! and let the suturing of cut hands begin.

At least I'm smart enough to carry the contact lens case, car keys, and extra bugle mouthpiece in my haversack along with the DEET, sunscreen, lip balm, food, and cooking stuff...don't have to worry about dropping packs.

GrumpyDave
07-22-2006, 04:44 PM
I have only been to three events EVER, where rammers weren't drawn (Cedar Creek "the year of the stolen flags," Antetiam 140 and at Shippensburg this year), during either the sham battles or the LH programs. And, this is the first year I havn't been able to attend at least on event per month from April to October. I didn't know it was done at events any other way. It's not worth fussin' about.

bill watson
07-22-2006, 05:51 PM
Did anyone ever find the rammer fired by the federal campaigners at Averasboro a few years ago? During the unsupervised freelancing by a couple of the guys? I don't know if I can find all the data, but at one point I knew who it was right down to the person who did it, the sergeant who wasn't supervising the pickets like he should have been, the company commander, everything. I remember it was pretty upsetting because the rammer got shot toward Black Dave and Mark Berrier over amongst the Tarheels, and I kinda like them. We never found the rammer that I know of, and I know the site has been used for more events since then.

Having said that, can I just point out that it might make some sense to get an old musket and shoot the rammer out of it to see what happens? My sense of things is that a rammer left in the barrel after a bullet has been rammed home would be a tremendous thing, coming out of the barrel hard and fast and howling downrange with a lot of banshee commotion and capable of doing a lot of damage. But a rammer fired with just powder? What is it actually doing to do? How far can it go? A lot of the power of the powder is blowing right by the loose-fitting rammer. I dunno. Just thought that maybe before we crystallize all thought on the issue, divide up into teams and gibber and shriek at each other like two or more packs of foaming monkeys, maybe somebody might want to run an experiment. Are we running a lethal risk? Or is this something that two groups a hundred yards apart just don't need to worry about?
Come to think about it, my poor old Enfield is about played out. And there's a public range 20 minutes away. Maybe I can find a couple of other guys, maybe even a video camera, and we can get some facts.
Then we will all know what we're maybe gonna spend the winter fighting over?
Who's nearby? Range is 20 miles east of Scranton, Pa., off I 380.

madisontigers
07-22-2006, 06:00 PM
Good idea, *-*-*-*-, let's just get the "Myth Busters" to do a show on it.

David Long

FWL
07-22-2006, 08:06 PM
I have only been to three events EVER, where rammers weren't drawn (Cedar Creek "the year of the stolen flags," Antetiam 140 and at Shippensburg this year), during either the sham battles or the LH programs. And, this is the first year I havn't been able to attend at least on event per month from April to October. I didn't know it was done at events any other way. It's not worth fussin' about.


Dave is this why we have had generally dry events?

FWL
07-22-2006, 08:09 PM
I have a football field down the street generally no body is there. That is going to be an experiment with of course the approval of the local Policia.

Regards

cblodg
07-22-2006, 09:07 PM
[quote deleted as orginal post was deleted - THP]

"Safety Farbs", since when has safety been farby? Granted drawing rammers would most definately get any event to look more authentic, but there are genuine safety concerns. The fact that you don't see that, and can't even have the desency to have a civilized conversation on this, heck I don't even want to stand across from you drawing rammers.

At 200 yards the rammer would not cause much, if any, dammage (we should definately contact the Mythbusters). But you get a yahoo commander out there (and yes there are those who's goal in this hobby is to) who f*ck up a scenerio for h*ll of it well then you have problems. I've seen it happen. No matter what side, officer's and NCO meetings don't mean diddly squat to them. One side is told not to advance on the other, but here they come charging after you with your officer screaming at the top of his lungs to quit screwing around, to no avail.

This isn't a matter of farb, mainstream, hardcore; its an issue for the entire hobby to take up in a civilized manner. Done properly this could certainly be a worthwhile topic and practice. And trust is still a huge issue.

Sorry if I offended anyone.

Chris

MStuart
07-22-2006, 09:44 PM
I'll throw this out for what it's worth. And I expect to be corrected if I'm wrong but this is just food for thought. Once upon a time there was an "organization" called the Civil War Reenactors Liaison Committee. As I remember, it was billed as a committee of sorts of reenactors from many different units who desired to put a little "umph" into various areas of our hobby such as authenticity, safety, etc. This was the late 90's, I believe. It was, as I recall, primarily mainstream but there were "hardcores" (their moniker at the time) involved as well. It may have been primarily an "eastern" theatre organization, also, since I recall they would meet each year in Gettysburg after the Remembrance Day festivities.

Before anyone goes off on a tangent about how the organixation had no teeth and didn't include so and so, at the time, it was supposedly touted as a start in standardizing events, units, and the hobby in general. I did a brief search of our great internet and couldn't find a whole lot available now since they've apparently faded away. But, that being said, for those with a better memory than mine, didn't one of their safety rules address the use of ramrods at events? Specifically that it was a no-no?

My reasons for bringing this up are that if that particular rule was addressed by the CWRLC, many events (the larger one's, at least) may be using that particular safety concern to this day. Also, many units may be continuing that non-practice for the same reason.

Then again, I may be wrong about the whole CWRLC thing and in that case will slink back into my cave and shut the heck up. There's got to be one or two forum members familiar with the CWRLC who can tell me if I'm right or wrong. Maybe not at 10:45 on a Saturday night.....

Mark

JBW
07-22-2006, 10:15 PM
........ It's really a wimp versus grown men decision. You decide.

I have decided that since you simply intend to offend and are not "grown" enough to have a civil discussion about this, I shall ignore you. :rolleyes: ;)

From an Artilleryman's perspective, this is rather funny. Y'all get all in a tizzy over this and ignore a much greater danger. I have seen too many times where the infantry is completely oblivious to what is going on around them in respect to the big guns. Having the responsibilities of Gunner and having a troop of otherwise sane riflemen charge into your safety zone, just as you ram the round, is NOT my idea of safe. If they took the time to learn just a little, they would know instantly what is going on. We send plain signals every step of the drill.
Now, you want to talk about rammers going downrange, I don't even want to think about what "could" happen in this situation.

*Before anyone tries to frame this in terms of us/them, farb/nazi, streamer/hardcore, or whatever silly label you want to use, it applies equally to all.*

(Now that I have PO'ed everyone, ;) )

I am, respectfully,

flattop32355
07-22-2006, 11:02 PM
...can I just point out that it might make some sense to get an old musket and shoot the rammer out of it to see what happens?

I have thought about doing the same, ever since the idea of using rammers was broached two years or so ago on one of the forums.

May I suggest you expand your experiment somewhat to cover other possible "what if's?":

1: Someone using overcharged cartridges. I'm aware that some folk will use up to 80 grain loads in a 61/63 Springfield or 53 Enfield, rather than the suggested 65-70, and up to 120 grain loads in a 42.

2: In the excitement of battle, someone fails to notice his percussion cap misfires, and he reloads. There's now a double charge in the barrel, and it is not detected while ramming. How will this affect distance traveled by the rammer? Doubled? More? Less?

3: Any difference in what happens after the barrel becomes quite hot from extended firing? Is there a possibility of expansion of the metal of the rammer head to the point of engaging the rifling of the barrel, making it a better projectile, or even just trapping more of the force of the powder charge due to the expanded head?

Quite possibly, there are more possibilities that can be look into.

Thank you, Mr. Watson, for contributing to this discussion in a rational and intelligent manner. If such an experiment can be conducted by one of such esteem, as opposed to a mere, accused c/p/h infiltrator as myself, the results will carry much more weight within the hobby regardless of result.

I look forward to the results of your experiment. Just be careful; you'll be wanted without any missing body parts for McDowell '07.

Sgt_Pepper
07-23-2006, 01:19 AM
"Safety Farbs", since when has safety been farby? Granted drawing rammers would most definately get any event to look more authentic, but there are genuine safety concerns. The fact that you don't see that, and can't even have the desency to have a civilized conversation on this, heck I don't even want to stand across from you drawing rammers.

At 200 yards the rammer would not cause much, if any, dammage (we should definately contact the Mythbusters). But you get a yahoo commander out there (and yes there are those who's goal in this hobby is to) who f*ck up a scenerio for h*ll of it well then you have problems. I've seen it happen. No matter what side, officer's and NCO meetings don't mean diddly squat to them. One side is told not to advance on the other, but here they come charging after you with your officer screaming at the top of his lungs to quit screwing around, to no avail.

This isn't a matter of farb, mainstream, hardcore; its an issue for the entire hobby to take up in a civilized manner. Done properly this could certainly be a worthwhile topic and practice. And trust is still a huge issue.

Sorry if I offended anyone.

Chris

Unfortunately, you've now offended me. You wish for a civilized conversation and then say "... who f*ck up a scenerio for h*ll of it..."

Let me be clear here: Knock it off, and that goes for everyone. Civilized conversation doesn't require vulgarity of any kind, nor gratuitous attacks either real or feigned. Euphemism and replacement of vowels with symbols as in the above are not needed in polite conversation. I for one am losing patience. Clean up your acts.

Greg Deese
07-23-2006, 08:05 AM
How can safety equal farby you ask? Easy, it's where safety overrides reenacting to the point that the hobby is no longer authentic. See, no pistols for officers, no bayonets, no campfires, no ramrods and other prohibitions. My favorite, neon "dot" stickers on inspected weapons.

I have also never been to any event, where a "waiver" wasn't required. You sign waivers for extremely dangerous sports right? At the same said events, the organizers wrote up 300 "safety" rules to the degree that no risk actually existed. So why is the waiver needed? Would someone dare to violate the "rules?"

How about embedded safety? Safety via leadership, training and communication. Like who's this new guy in ranks? What sort of training do my inspectors have? Have we drilled lately? Nahh, it's easier to impose more
restrictions.

In regards to wimps (see dangerous hobby) versus grown men. The wimps would bow to the safety despots wiith the mantra of "anything in the name of safety!" They would then write up 500 new rules for safe conduct, all of which make no account for common sense. Then sign the "waiver" for the supposedly highly regulated and safe event. Responsible people don't need the equivalent of a OSHA handbook, to reenact the Civil War.

In regards to on-the-spot concerns, if you see a unsafe act or believe something is really too dangerous for the skill level of the party, confront the leadership right then! Don't wait two days after the event is over and then make it a issue on a internet forum. If you are so concerned, have the courage to confront the leaders and address it immediately! If the leader disagrees with your assessment, then it's on him. You can leave or inform other people. Don't keep it to yourself, then drag it out later just to bring down that leader or event.

If everyone did that and the hobby practiced internal safety and common sense, we could accurately reenact, use rammers, pistols, pikes, whatever and we wouldn't need 1,000 rules. Otherwise in 20 years you could be on the field with no weapons, yelling "bang-bang" with broom sticks while wearing crash helmets. You might still need a waiver, even then.


Greg Deese

GrumpyDave
07-23-2006, 10:34 AM
I personally know someone who fired their rammer accidentally, during a movie shoot for the NPS at Petersburg. He admitted he was thinking more about what he was supposed to do for the camera and, left the rammer in his barrel. 60 grains of FF propelled his rammer over 200 yards. And, being a two piece rammer, the tulip end, breaking off where the two parts fit together, traveled another 100. His comment was what a wierd sound it made fying down range. So, me being the curious type and, having my old 2 piece rammer hanging around the basement, went off to the local fish and game club. 60 rains of FF powder again broke the rammer in two. The rod ended up sticking in the ground, just past the 200 yard targets, bent in a funny squiggle and, the tulip went sort of to my point of aim, which was about two feet over the 300 yard targets. IT WENT THROUGH THE 300 YARD TARGET BOARD ( 1/2 INCH PLYWOOD), about 2 feet from the ground. What a wierd sound the rammer makes when it's flying through the air.

Oh, and I've been to 4 events where rammers weren't drawn. I forgot Mumford.

Anders
07-23-2006, 01:55 PM
Has anyone besides Eric on this discussion ever bought insurance for an event? Or an event on private ground, and went through the ringer trying to get insurance?

I have, and must say, while I agree 100% with practice being "safe" when among high quality guys in a controlled enviroment, I still will not ever permit such at any event I command, nor organize. Period.

It adds just another "percentile point" to the chance of something going wrong. Driving to an event, or getting there in poor health is far more dangerous than ramming. But accidents caused by such will not price event insurance out of our reach.

...

Put on an event of only 1500 participants, and go try to get insurance today. Then imagine what it will be like after some one is stuck by a ramrod.

9-11 caused insurance rates to go up, so God knows what a ramrod through the head would do. they are just looking for excuses to rasie the rates, and I have been putting on events for years, so I know of what I speak.

If you want the hobby to end up being nothing but highly regulated SOYA (sit on yer arse) living histories, keep using rammers and bayonets at battle events.

But not at my events, as I will not be party to the end of the hobby.

And that my friends, is my statement.

MStuart
07-23-2006, 02:01 PM
I'll bet a lot of us didn't think about that particular piece of the big picture.
Good post from a veteran of the "organizer" trenches.

Mark

cblodg
07-23-2006, 02:56 PM
Unfortunately, you've now offended me. You wish for a civilized conversation and then say "... who f*ck up a scenerio for h*ll of it..."

Let me be clear here: Knock it off, and that goes for everyone. Civilized conversation doesn't require vulgarity of any kind, nor gratuitous attacks either real or feigned. Euphemism and replacement of vowels with symbols as in the above are not needed in polite conversation. I for one am losing patience. Clean up your acts.

My sincerest apologies to you Sgt Pepper, and anyone else. The dander was up, will not happen again.

Chris

reddcorp
07-23-2006, 05:56 PM
Very interesting posts.
I have attended many living history events where we used rammers in our demonstrations; however, the downrange was clear of folks. The use of rammers in such situations is, IMHO, fine and truly demonstrates how a soldier loaded and fired his weapon.
From the posts, it would appear that we are talking about the use of rammers in situations where there are folks downrange. The use of rammers in such situations invites disaster, IMHO. While many of the reenactors I know are or have been "real" soldiers, most are not. And while some are deluded into thinking that they are real soldiers, they are not. This is a wonderful hobby, but, having had the experience of have an artillery ramrod whistle over my head during a reenactment, I do not wish to have the experience repeated, with either an artillery implement or the rammer from a musket. Civil war soldiers drilled every day, and still, when excited, loaded 2-3 times, and left rammers in their weapons. Even the most dedicated of us does not drill enough to insure complete safety, we try our best in the time we have.
So, I trust that the "trend" indicated in these posts is short lived. Most of us have to go to work on Monday, and I find that I work best with both eyes and without a rammer stuck in my forehead.

A.W.Redd

Rob Weaver
07-23-2006, 08:09 PM
There is one consideration I haven't seen in any of the posts so far, which have concentrated on the safety of a) the unit opposite on the battlefield and b) whether or not an individual has remembered to remove the rammer from the barrel. There is a 3rd consideration. I hunt with a muzzleloader, which means I ram home the charge. I don't worry about the powder cooking off in a hot barrel because I only load a few shots a day, rather slowly at that. However, an over heated musket will cook the charge off, Sam Watkins experienced this at Kenesaw Mountain, back in the day when they were all campaigners. :) The only time I ever saw a rammer launched was from a round the fired prematurely. Shot between the firer's fingers and only took off the tip of his index finger, because he was holding the rammer correctly and loosely, and it shot up between his fingers. So the question is, gentlemen, are we willing possibly to injure ourselves? This is one variable which cannot be reduced by drilling, experience or the sobriety of the firer. Firing weapons is dangerous inherently. Do we really need to increase that potential level of danger? I've spent several days pondering this question, drawing on all my years of black powder experience, and my conclusion is that I would prefer not to ram charges, as the musket will fire adequately and safely without it.

Rob Weaver
Pine River Boys
Co I 7th Wisconsin Volunteers

bill watson
07-23-2006, 08:33 PM
"a mere, accused c/p/h infiltrator"


It really does get incredibly tiresome, doesn't it? The calls to action, the namecalling, the unpleasantness, in some cases the actual psychological derangement we all enable? Seems like we'll eventually have 300 events a year, each with 3 guys. And quite a few will see this as a good thing.

31stWisconsin
07-23-2006, 10:07 PM
I personally would not feel comfortable knowing the people accross the field shooting at me are drawing rammers. Like others have said, the possiblity of a mistake would be that much higher. There's a balence between safty and portarying how it was. If you laugh at the face of safty, what's next? Hand to hand combat with bayonets fixed? From the sounds of it you seem to find that acceptable. However, me, and the majority of other people see a fine line. Bottom line is this is a hobby and for safty's sake remember that.

Tim Surprenant
31st Wisconsin Co H.

tompritchett
07-24-2006, 12:31 AM
However, an over heated musket will cook the charge off,

Excellent point. Everyone who has worked any type of artillery piece is very aware of cook-off sending a rammer flying as it has indeed happened and people have been hurt as a result. The same could conceivably happen with a rifle, as I have been at an event where a reenactor received flash burns to his face from a cook-off - this time while pouring the powder down the barrel.

As far as the safety versus authencity argument, back then they were fighting a real war and casulties were expected. This seems obvious but that factor is the major difference between reenacting and fighting an actual war between us now and them then. Apparently not all reenactors are willing to make that distinction.

As reenactors, we have not deliberately decided to risk life or serious injury for a cause, as they did then. Yes, accidents can happen, thus the waiver forms, but we expect the event organizers to do their best to minimize those risks. This is a hobby not a war. Even the modern military while training men for actual combat does its best to minimize the risk of accidental injuries to soldiers. Just go to any type of live fire exercise or review the various safety SOPs for units not in actual combat and you will see exactly this safety over authencity prioritization. The real military takes training accidents seriously and very serious injuries typically results in an investigation being launched for each. Commanders careers often times can be on the line during such investigations. And this is while training real soldiers as authentically as possible to prepare them for real combat. We are reenactors, make believe soldiers playing make believe wars for whatever reasons. If the modern military routinely sacrifices authencity for safety, it makes no sense for us to reverse that prioritization.

tompritchett
07-24-2006, 01:15 AM
I have seen too many times where the infantry is completely oblivious to what is going on around them in respect to the big guns. Having the responsibilities of Gunner and having a troop of otherwise sane riflemen charge into your safety zone, just as you ram the round, is NOT my idea of safe. If they took the time to learn just a little, they would know instantly what is going on. We send plain signals every step of the drill.

Very true. My first unit had a mountain howitzer attached to the infantry regiment (the orginal regiment for the first part of the war had one company equipped with these prior to the company being split out as a separate battery). As a result I ended up receiving preliminary training at the division's artillery school and helped crew the piece at several living histories and thus I have some familarity with such signals, especially the misfire signal. Just this past Saturday, I had to put out to our Bn commander that one of the guns that the left wing would have to pass through was signalling a misfire.

I am wondering whether or not a digital video could be made of a gun crew going through the firing procedures with narration as would be seen by an opposing commander at a distance of 50 - 100 yards as well as showing the misfire procedure. If it could then be translated in a .MPG, AVI, WMV, other other such format and posted on the various forums for commanders and NCOs to download and view. It might help deal with the very real problem and be a major asset to the hobby.

Rob Weaver
07-24-2006, 06:03 AM
Interaction with artillery is definitely a pressing safety concern, and hard to teach because it requires someone knowledgable in artillery practice to teach it. One of my guys walked up on a gun while he was carrying a message back from a skirmish line. Has anybody attempted to put together the "Infantry training aid" you've suggested?

Now imagine if the gentleman who had powder burns from a cook-off had a rammer in his hand. It could be implanted in his forehead, or his hand or parts thereof could be up to 40 or 50 paces downrange. That highly authentic accident will pretty much put an end to any other highly authentic activities which had been planned for the day. Do our brothers in the N-SSA have any wisdom they could share with us? They don't shoot at each other, but they do ram cartridges and have a great concern for safety while doing so.

Rob Weaver
Pine River Boys
Co I, 7th Wisconsin Volunteers

tompritchett
07-24-2006, 09:17 AM
Interaction with artillery is definitely a pressing safety concern, and hard to teach because it requires someone knowledgable in artillery practice to teach it. One of my guys walked up on a gun while he was carrying a message back from a skirmish line. Has anybody attempted to put together the "Infantry training aid" you've suggested?

As far as I know, no one has made such a video. As to who would be most qualified to make such a video, I would suggest someone who runs a school for the artillery such as the one that was run this spring at Bedford Village.

ChrisOwens
07-24-2006, 11:03 AM
Chris A. and others have brought up a good point. How would the drawing of rammers or an accident as the result of such, effect insurance at events?

I don't know to much about insurance at events and what it intalls. What can you do and what can't you? Can those of you that know this info in detail explain this to us that don't? Can the use of rammers be waiverd before the event? Maybe Chris, Bill, and Eric or anybody else who has worked on this can shed a little light.

Chris Owens

Wild Rover
07-24-2006, 12:27 PM
Chris and all,


Every insurance carrier I have ever spoken too said "gee that's nice" when I told them of the waiver forms we use.

Waivers do not stand up in court. Period. So no matter what it says, it is just a "feel good" step we all take, mostly as a deterent as we hope folks won't sue because THEY think a waiver is worth something. Waivers aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

Really.

Also helps with landowners, but they all prefer their name on the insurance binder and a copy therof.

Just getting insurance is tough these days, let's not advocate behavior that might might it even more so.

Pards,

Trimmings
07-24-2006, 04:15 PM
How many of the participants on this thread remember the days when musket ramrods were left in the tent prior to marching to the battle?

Ray Prosten

VaTrooper
07-24-2006, 05:15 PM
If Im using my M41 I just leave it in camp as its safer and not 100% necessary to have. But my shotgun being a bigger caliber it doesnt take much at all for the powder and wadding to fly out if it hasnt been rammed down, so I carried the ramrod till I lost it.

ilfed104
07-24-2006, 06:44 PM
I know my men are trained not to draw rammers but most of the time we don't know who is across the field from us or the level or quality of their training. I would rather be safe than sorry. There are a few idiots in this hobby as much as we'd like to think not.

Rammers used in a controlled living history situation I think is fine. But never in opposing lines. In this case, *-*-*-*- authenticity. I'll go for safety any day.

bob 125th nysvi
07-24-2006, 08:34 PM
is how authentic we want to be or even how much we trust everybody to do everything right. Or how much we trust ourselves to never make a mistake (would the only person in the audience to NEVER make a mistake please stand up).

But what are the consequences of the one mistake?

Somone maimed or killed? Heaven forbid a spectator?

Events closed or canceled due to rising insurance rates or one ridicules jury award?

The price of admission for using the ramrod is just too high.

I don't want to accidentally hit anybody with anything. And I sure as "adjective" don't want to be hit by something.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

Rob Weaver
07-24-2006, 08:53 PM
How many of the participants on this thread remember the days when musket ramrods were left in the tent prior to marching to the battle?

Ray Prosten
ME! Me! At Yorktown in '81 (big Rev War event) our rammers were actually tagged and collected and left in the commander's tent for the weekend!

Rob Weaver
Pine River Boys
Co I 7th Wisconsin Volunteers

bob 125th nysvi
07-24-2006, 08:54 PM
Chris A. and others have brought up a good point. How would the drawing of rammers or an accident as the result of such, effect insurance at events?

I don't know to much about insurance at events and what it intalls. What can you do and what can't you? Can those of you that know this info in detail explain this to us that don't? Can the use of rammers be waiverd before the event? Maybe Chris, Bill, and Eric or anybody else who has worked on this can shed a little light.

Chris Owens

Waivers only protect the event if you do something in violation of their regulations AND their regulations were deemed sufficient to prevent an accident.

With documented incidents of a rammer flying out of pieces, regs that allow the use of rammers wound not be deemed suffcient to stand the legal safety test.

Insurance companies only have to pay out once and the rates will go through the roof.

Want an example, the riding stable industry in NY basically died in the 1980s because insurance companies were charging $1000 a horse to insure the stable. Doesn't leave a lot of profit margin for the owners at $20 a ride. The horse is 50 rides into the season before it begins to pay for it upkeep.

Remeber the famous McDonald's case of the hot coffee in the woman's lap. It was later overturned by a higher court but the original jury awarded dummy $10m for putting a hot cup of coffee between her legs and driving away. You really think an event (or insurance company) wants to rely on a jury for protection?

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

tompritchett
07-25-2006, 12:23 AM
Waivers only protect the event if you do something in violation of their regulations AND their regulations were deemed sufficient to prevent an accident.

AND and the event is actually enforcing their regulations. In OSHA law there is considerable precedent that, if regualtions are not enforced but instead routinely ignored without consequences, they legally do not exist. And we all know the history that large Eastern events have of enforcing their regulations.

FWL
07-25-2006, 08:54 AM
1) Rammers have been used at numerous other events besides RM (albeit mostly authentic events and limited mainstream events). This is nothing new. So please lay off the organizers of RM they did nothing new and ran a safe excellent event. To date the use or lack of use of rammers has had no effect on insurance (to my knowledge).

2) They will continue to be used period. If you don't want to go to a rammer event don't (it should be disclosed before hand). I also think events that disallow use of rammers should also be disclosed in the event rules. There are some that may choose not to go to an event if use of rammers are disallowed. I don't care either way.

3) At a large mainstream event (Gettysburg I think) a live round was discharged from a pistol. I think someone was wounded. What effect did that have on insurance? None, I believe. Pistols were not outlawed at future events.

4) Insurance companies’ underwriters are actually pretty smart, I work with some. They are not Chicken Little. They are in the business of evaluating risk. Given the long standing use of rammers I think if they thought there was a problem they would have written an exclusion into their policies (if the event rules were to allow use of rammers).

5) From an underwriter point of view I'm sure they are far more worried about heart attacks, heat stroke or someone being run over by a car in a mainstream camp (it almost happened I saw it once) than rammers.

While this is fun to talk about on the forums use of rammers will continue although I would bet that they will continue not to be allowed at a majority of mainstream events. They will continue to be allowed at some authentic events and there's nothing anyone can do or say about it that will matter other than choosing not to go to the event.

Regards

Regular3
07-25-2006, 01:19 PM
Having said that, can I just point out that it might make some sense to get an old musket and shoot the rammer out of it to see what happens? My sense of things is that a rammer left in the barrel after a bullet has been rammed home would be a tremendous thing, coming out of the barrel hard and fast and howling downrange with a lot of banshee commotion and capable of doing a lot of damage. But a rammer fired with just powder? What is it actually doing to do? How far can it go? A lot of the power of the powder is blowing right by the loose-fitting rammer. I dunno. Just thought that maybe before we crystallize all thought on the issue, divide up into teams and gibber and shriek at each other like two or more packs of foaming monkeys, maybe somebody might want to run an experiment. Are we running a lethal risk? Or is this something that two groups a hundred yards apart just don't need to worry about?
First, you always need to be concerned about anything coming out of the muzzle of the musket - Heck, flying hot grains of powder sting when they contact flesh.

Remember the incident about 15 years ago at Monmouth when the Federal drummer was shot in the drum by a tompion? And more recently at Monmouth (what is it about that place?) where a Confederate was hit by an object - the lead ring from a Minie ball if I remember correctly - Which resulted in the entire USV, plus the county that owns the park, plus sundry others, being sued?

But to answer your question, not long after I started this pursuit, I fired the rammer out of my Zouave rifle on purpose in a pasture on my father-in-law's farm just to see how it would behave. Loaded a standard reenactor blank of 65 grains, rammed it down, left the rammer in and fired. I still remember the distinctive "woop-woop-woop" sound it made going downrange. It ended up about 40-50 yards away, stuck in the ground threads first, with the tulip end bent at a crazy angle about 6 inches from the end.

So, considering that too many opposing lines are firing from unrealistically close ranges in reenactment battles, I would be very concerned about a rammer coming out.

Having said that, I am among the small but slowly expanding minority who believes that it should be done for the sake of realism, but that it must be done safely ... and that it can be ... But I also understand that before we get to that point, it will take a heck of a lot more drill on Loading in 9 / 10 Times than most reenactors have shown they are willing to do, and a heck of a lot more attention than most officers and sergeants currently pay to their men on the firing line.

DaveGink
07-25-2006, 02:45 PM
I have just recently started reenacting again after a nearly 30 year hiatus. Before initially leaving the hobby to the join the Army in 1980 I was at a national event (sorry, too many years to remember which one) in which the battle was shut down because a person was impaled by a ram rod. Nothing will bring down the spirits of everyone and ruin an event faster than something like that happening (which was easily preventable). At that point everyone was using rammers at events. So, needless to say I was not surprised or saddened to see that ramming is generally forbidden now. Obviously not all accidents can be prevented, but in my opinion this is an excellent, reasonable, and common sense rule which appropriately outweighs the lack of realism from not ramming.

Bill_Cross
07-25-2006, 03:42 PM
So, considering that too many opposing lines are firing from unrealistically close ranges in reenactment battles, I would be very concerned about a rammer coming out.
Interesting that this issue keeps coming up, but little is done about it.

I believe there is such a strong streak of yahooism at the heart of this hobby that we can't get to a historical approximation because it doesn't scratch our itch to fulfill a fantasy. Many of us don't want to sleep on the ground because it's hard and cold, so we justify cots and wedge tents filled with one snoring man.

We don't want to fire from historically-accurate distances, taking historical casualties, in battles that last historical time because it doesn't fit in with our conception of warfare as portrayed in movies, with close-ups.

At McDowell 2001, the spectator battle was carefully-scripted, with casualty cards given out ahead of time. The battle lasted an hour or more as I recall, yet our company took only a handful of hits, including just one dead. We fired and fired and fired, and like in the war, didn't hit much because the Rebs opposite us had cards telling them who would take a hit. We fired at "long" distances (prohbitively long by most mega-event standards), and the complaints from the rank & file were ear-splitting:

1.) the battle was "boring" (translation: no charges or other "exciting" movements)

2.) it lasted too long (translation: we're all used to firing all our rounds and going back to camp to clean our weapons)

3.) there wasn't enough action (translation: real battles at real time would surprise most reenactors, given how few rounds were expended, casualties taken, etc.).

Despite these "blemishes," it remains my second most-favorite opposed force reenactment (the "best" for me was "Pickett's Mill" later that same year, which probably not coincidentally employed fate cards). Why? Because it conformed more closely to the history. If you read accounts of real Civil War battles, you will be surprised how seldom the units took huge casualties, yet we persist in leaving large numbers of "dead" on the field.

Drawing rammers is more accurate. Firing from the movie close-up distances we have come to love in the hobby is begging for disaster. We can't or won't portray battles according to history, so I'm skeptical that we'll be able to draw rammers safely.

ilfed104
07-25-2006, 07:18 PM
Greg Deese will be advocating loading minie balls and elevating over the opposing lines heads so we can hear the "zip, zip" as they go by.

Pull your rammers and use them at living histories but for battle reenactments use your heads and not your rammers.

You all should worry about using rammers after you get rid of your cots, coolers and women and vehicles in camps. There's much to do to clean up our collective acts as far as authenticity goes but making rammers a regular part of play is not one item I'd put high on the list.

Rick Keating
don't want a rammer in my forehead

FWL
07-25-2006, 07:33 PM
Rick Keating don't want a rammer in my forehead

Rick rammers are a regular part of some reenactments, has been going on for awhile. If you don't like it don't go to those events. Ask for disclosure on the rules. Most of the events that use them have smaller numbers I would guess they could care less if those that did not like using rammers stayed away.

Regards

Frank Lilley

Sgt_Pepper
07-25-2006, 08:46 PM
Greg Deese will be advocating loading minie balls and elevating over the opposing lines heads so we can hear the "zip, zip" as they go by.

Mr. Deese won't be advocating anything on this forum for the next month.

bob 125th nysvi
07-25-2006, 09:48 PM
for rammers is it isn't realistic to not use them. Neither is firing blanks. We fire blanks so we don't hurt anyone.

Another arguement is we don't fight at realistic ranges if we did it wouldn't be an issue. UMMM I seem to remember some REAL battles were the 'realistic' range was the width of the trench parapit. What's a 'realistic range'?

People cite reenactments where they are used all the time and no one "ever" gets hurt. Isn't that sort of similiar to the arguement that the levees in NO didn't need to raised because no modern hurricane had ever gone over them?

Having been in corporate disaster recovery you don't try to prepare for probable but the highly improbable.

If I may let me give two horrific examples, and excuse me if I offend anyone: Empire Blue Cross and Blue Sheild had their entire disaster recovery team in the WTC because it was their corporate HQ and NYC had its main disaster recovery command center in a smaller building in the WTC. When the towers came down both organizations lost most or all of their disaster recovery personnel. I can categorically state they thought such a catastrophy would never happen. They have both learned since then, but how many lives did it cost to learn that lesson?

I can tell you from having conducted exercises a plane accidentally hitting a building was considered a laughably low probablity (we actually had one facility manage stating we'd be back in the building in a week when we staged such a scenario). Having two kamakze wasn't ever brought up.

Safety is not a matter of what is probable, or likely or any of the above and where humans are involved mistakes WILL happen.

To laugh off the possiblity is irresponsible. And when it does happen (it will) I hope it doesn't seriously damage a pasttime we all enjoy.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance NY

ewtaylor
07-25-2006, 10:27 PM
If you want to go to an event where they use rammers, then go. If you don't, then don't go.
I've seen people get overheated, over exhausted, set off their musket because they poured powder down the barrle without a cap on the nipple, catch their long hair on fire when their cav pistol's cylinders go off at the same time, and last but not least (usually every event) some drunken cavalryman fall off his horse. Several of these caused the event to be stopped. I think ramming rounds at a LH is fine, but not at battle events. I wouldn't go to any mainstream event if rammers were being used. The last event I attended some moron was trying to pass out real cartridges to shoot the "yankees" with.
You guys can ramble on about this for weeks. It reminds me of the complaining about event standards. Nobody cares what you think, but they care what you do! If you don't like the event, FOR WHATEVER REASON, don't go!!
ew taylor