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tompritchett
08-01-2006, 08:13 AM
Somewhere buried in the Campaigner numbers thread was a post talking about alternate lands that could be used for events, but the lands would not in the same states as the original battles, or if in the same state, not very close. While in theory such an idea sounds good, imagine protraying the Wilderness in the middle of woods such as a state gamelands, I suspect that the idea would be doomed to preconceived notions by many reenactors that a battle reenactment must not only occur on similar terrain, but on terrain that is in close proximity to the original battlesite. Remember the snide comments about First Manassas being held at Cedar Creek this year. However, it is done every year at Neshaminy. Of course, the focal point of Eastern reenactments might end up shifting to PA, NY, or GA where such available lands would be more available.

Just curious what other peoples' thoughts are on this issue.

Ephraim_Zook
08-01-2006, 10:24 AM
Tom,

Is Company H, 3d Arkansas (Reenactment) from Arkansas?

While original ground is wonderful and proximity to it is good, geography is not necessarily a limiting factor. Were this the case, the entire western reenacting community would have to make mighty long trips to do anything. It's important that the terrain used is a more-than-close facsimile of the original ground, however. Reenacting the attack on Fort Wagner on the beach in front of the boardwalk doesn't cut it.

ps -- please e-mail me or PM me right away. I need to discuss something with you ASAP.

thanks
Ron

Bill_Cross
08-01-2006, 11:39 AM
Tom,

Sadly the runaway state of land development in much of the Old South has precluded holding events even near their original ground in many places. A tour last year through the battlefields of the "Seven Days" showed that only Malvern Hill retains an untouched aspect, and I seriously doubt that will last long the way Richmond is birthing new suburbs and malls.

The other problem is that the bureaucrats who manage these sacred lands are in general hostile to opposed force reenactments, so the chance of recreating the fight on the same field is virtually nil for all except a handful of places. There ARE exceptions, of course, including "Pickett's Mill" and McDowell, now that Sittlington's Hill has been opened up for the first time in over 100 years. But I suspect it will be some time before we're doing this at Gettysburg or Antietam. And if the sprawl from DC continues unchecked, we won't even be doing it in Adams County, PA!

Will the reenacting community accept a simulacrum? When we let Brandy Station stand in for the Wilderness at "Into the Wilderness," I don't think most of us trying to fight through dense brush and smoke stopped to think "Oh, ####, this isn't REALLY the Wilderness."

All things being equal, I would prefer to be as close to the original as possible. But if faced with a choice of having a cool event on untouched land in PA or NY or not having it at all, well....

Besides, you'd have more Federals if they didn't have to drive so damned far. ;-)

Regular3
08-01-2006, 01:05 PM
I think some of the snide comments about Manassas being staged at Cedar Creek had their genesis in the attitude toward the annual Cedar Creek reenactment, which unfortunately is moving toward becoming a "Fall Classic" version of Gettysburg. Some would say it's already there and I would not disagree strongly.

But to come back on topic, as Mr. Cross said, the reality of land development and sprawl being what it is in the area of "the seat of war" in the East, the best we can hope for when staging a battle event hereabouts is to find (1) terrain that approximates that of the original, and that (2) is available for use with minimal bureaucratic hassle. Cedar Creek met both of those criteria well enough I think.

We're indeed fortunate when we can use an original field preserved in approximately its original state, such as the small reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Mountain coming this weekend. As we well know, such opportunities are growing scarcer all the time.

BobSullivanPress
08-01-2006, 01:48 PM
We seem to get that question all the time from folks that don't get it, or maybe we just remember the odd ones.

One of the things I like to do is get up early in the morning and go sight-seeing. When the event is close to or on an original battlefield, this is particularly easy. Last year at Cedar Creek, I went to the Fisher's Hill battlefield on Sunday morning and took the walking tour. Naturally, this isn't possible when the event is nowhere near a historic site.

But wait a minute....

There's always something to see when you go to events, and one of the things I have determined to do when I go is to visit the local sites. Sometimes, you find a gem of a museum at a place. It may not have anything to do with Civil War stuff, but, well, history is history.

Besides, I used to reenact Rev War, and most of those eastern sites are buried under asphalt now anyway. Anyone for the Battle of Brooklyn? Harlem Heights? And if someone would be so kind as to move the George Washington Bridge, we could reenact the debacle at Ft. Washington. I remember visiting the actual site of the Battle of Trenton and later being asked by a local, "You actually got out of your car there???"

bob 125th nysvi
08-01-2006, 07:39 PM
but the reality of the situation is that the battles were fought in those locations because they either were or were near important economic or political locations.

Even those in the Eastern region fought away from the important sites were between the important sites. Primary suburban corridor development type stuff.

So the original town/city expanded to take over the land or the land got caught up in the suburban sprawl. Those lands were economically important in the 1800s there is no reason to assume there economic value would dimish over time.

That being said the original land is just not available or available in its original form.

So if you can't have a tactical in the actual Wilderness what's the objection to using land very close to what the Wilderness probably looked like in the 1860s.

Wouldn't that provide a more realistic experience?

I was the one who dropped the suggestion and the particular site I'm thinking of so reminds me of descriptions I've read of the Wilderness. It would be a great place to conduct a tactical.

The current military can not train where they might actually fight so they get terrain that's as close as possible to give the soldiers the FEEL of what it is like.

Isn't that what we're after?

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

flattop32355
08-01-2006, 08:42 PM
...in our modern, human-sprawled world, sometimes you have to accept compromises to achieve a desired goal.

Obviously, I'd prefer to attend events on original ground, unspoiled by modern intrusions. These are quite rare. Real life has to take priority most of the time, and not everywhere that someone thinks is worth preserving in its "pristine" state is going to get enough support to pull that off.

Limited modern intrusions overlooking original ground comes in second. After that, I suppose closely similar ground as near as possible to the original site comes into play. After that, you're talking a crap shoot as to the ground mattering.

I suppose the real question becomes: Assuming that it will be a "good", well-run event, if an available site in Indiana (for example) that matches almost exactly the overall terrain of Antietam (for example), would I be likely to attend, or to laugh it off as a silliness? For fun, pick a given state and add different battles; does it make a difference?

I believe I'd be willing to suspend disbelief for a weekend for a remote site from the original that gave me more of a feel for what really went on at that ground, than at a site closer, but less realistic, to the original ground (the existing Gettysburg event, for one). After all, isn't what we do in this hobby in general a suspension of disbelief?

I'd also not be too bent out of shape to attend a good event based upon no particular battle or terrain, but concentrating upon a simulation of the activities and tactics of "real" period soldiering in period setting. But that's another thread...

Mint Julep
08-02-2006, 09:53 PM
We had the Battles of Franklin and Nashville on a corporate farm in Spring Hill back in the '90's. Twice. I don't think anyone cared that we weren't in Franklin or Nashville. And folks that attended still talk about the events like they were the shizzzznit.

So, it must be about offering a good event to the participants and less about location.

Next topic.

Mint

BobSullivanPress
08-03-2006, 09:11 AM
I believe that if one can find a "scaled down" version of original ground, that would be the perfect scenario. It makes no sense to hash about not being on original land when the event has nowhere near original numbers. One of the reasons that the Gettysburg battlefield is so large is because 170,000+ people were there for a few days.

This is why I like it best when events try to portray a small piece of the action, and use ground that is realistic for the numbers that are going to show up.

On the other hand, I don't believe that 120 people would actually attack 120 people in the middle of the woods with no other supporting forces nearby. I believe that very small groups would go out of their way to avoid contact in that situation. Life is life, and I don't believe a company commander would go off attacking another company with no other forces around.

tompritchett
08-03-2006, 09:24 AM
On the other hand, I don't believe that 120 people would actually attack 120 people in the middle of the woods with no other supporting forces nearby. I believe that very small groups would go out of their way to avoid contact in that situation. Life is life, and I don't believe a company commander would go off attacking another company with no other forces around.

Actually in the real war such actions would probably been been two sets of skirmishers or skirmishers against pickets. On the CCG, Grump Dave has been doing a day by day listing of CW actions. It is amazing how many skirmishes and "affairs" are listed relative to actual battles. There were numerous actions where small groups were used to probe for the location of the other. Unfortunately, this aspect of the CW is far under-represented in the hobby. IMHO, more and more smaller events should use skirmish drills with the use and deployment of skirmish reserves rather than the battlelines because historically with those numbers, that is more likely how the battle would have been fought. But that means that units have to learn how to fight and deploy as skirmishers. It can be done, but units have to step up to the plate and advance their mastery of CW drill and tactics. I have yet to see a company deploy as skirmishers utilizing any type of reserve sections or even a reserve platoon although the manuals clearly call for them.

Bill_Cross
08-03-2006, 10:47 AM
Actually in the real war such actions would probably been been two sets of skirmishers or skirmishers against pickets.
We had a farbo moment at "Into the Wilderness" where a handful of CS "sharpshooters" attacked the entire Federal column, charging forward and telling us they'd "captured" the entire column. It was so ridiculous, we simply stood up, broke character, and told them to get the **** back in the woods. A handful of men with muzzle-loaders would not openly attack a large force; squeeze off some rounds from cover? Absolutely.

The problem is that some of us have modern tactics in mind, or have seen too many movies. Civil War tactics are very different, and it's surprising how few of us really have read the manuals THEY lived by.

RJSamp
08-03-2006, 12:19 PM
I have yet to see a company deploy as skirmishers utilizing any type of reserve sections or even a reserve platoon although the manuals clearly call for them.

Unfortunately the manuals clearly call for 100 men in a company.....and they need to be 'evened' out (another topic, but has anyone read about this actually being done on a permanent/administrative basis...actually transferring 5 privates from Company E to Company B to even out the companies?).

When you start out with 20 rifles in a company....or 32 on Saturday and you only have 18 onsite/alive on Sunday.....it's pretty difficult to deploy a single reenacting company with reserves by the manual....even if you are trying to cover a 100 rilfe regiments front. We've done it a few times in the Midwest (the Night Battle at the Chick-a-Dusty comes immediately to mind)....but you simply need the numbers.

And there are very few reenactors who know the bugle calls to rally by section or platoon from either Hardee's or Casey's manuals.

bob 125th nysvi
08-03-2006, 08:59 PM
Unfortunately the manuals clearly call for 100 men in a company.....and they need to be 'evened' out (another topic, but has anyone read about this actually being done on a permanent/administrative basis...actually transferring 5 privates from Company E to Company B to even out the companies?).

When you start out with 20 rifles in a company....or 32 on Saturday and you only have 18 onsite/alive on Sunday.....it's pretty difficult to deploy a single reenacting company with reserves by the manual....even if you are trying to cover a 100 rilfe regiments front. We've done it a few times in the Midwest (the Night Battle at the Chick-a-Dusty comes immediately to mind)....but you simply need the numbers.

And there are very few reenactors who know the bugle calls to rally by section or platoon from either Hardee's or Casey's manuals.


Yep they do and also call for 1000 man regiments but I don't remember every reading about anybody ever being up to the TOE. By late war they were amalgamating units and STILL not reaching TOE.

That being said if a company commander is deploying 100 men or 20 the model tactical deployment should still be followed. As many forward as you can but still having a reserve.

Bugle calls were also not appropriate in all situations. For example we had a mission to recon a village and report back. Rallying by bugle would have givem away both what we had done and where we were.

Manuals are designed to instruct but not straitjacket officers and men.

Vary what you do to meet the situation and you will succeed. Folow the book and many times you'll get it right but you can also be tricked. The enemy reads the book too.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

tompritchett
08-04-2006, 11:26 AM
When you start out with 20 rifles in a company....or 32 on Saturday and you only have 18 onsite/alive on Sunday.....it's pretty difficult to deploy a single reenacting company with reserves by the manual....even if you are trying to cover a 100 rilfe regiments front. We've done it a few times in the Midwest (the Night Battle at the Chick-a-Dusty comes immediately to mind)....but you simply need the numbers.

The role of the skirmishers is rarely to have any significant impact on the deployment of the main body of the enemy. Therefore, slight dilutions of troops from the main line to a reserve should not matter. The skirmishers function is to find and locate the enemy in time for the commander of the main force to deploy his troops accordingly. While the standard deployment for skirmishers is 5 paces apart, there are commands for extending and contracting that distance. In fact, the manual clearly states the skirmish line should extend, at the minimum, from one end of the covered unit to the other. Kinda hard to do, if the distance between you skirmishers is always 5 paces.

Therefore, if the justification for not having a reserve is "you simply need the numbers", then either an insufficient number of troops were assigned as skirmishers in the first palce or the commander of the skirmishers does not know how to adjust the intervals of his troops. In both cases, this a command failure that results in a further failure to implement one of the most fundamental concepts in military tactics - maintain a reserve with which to respond to unexpected challenges by your opponent. Consistently ignoring this principle, throws away your flexibility and, in a real war, would ultimately result in your getting your head handed to you by either the enemy or your superior commander, especially if he has had to pull your fanny perpendicular out of the fire one to many times.

The idea of the use and deployment of reserves is a glaring deffiency at most modern reenactments - not just with skirmishers. But then again, battalion and company commanders would have to learn more battalion, in some cases brigade, drill in order to implement such tactics on the field. Part of being progressive is that you never sit back and allow your knowledge of tactics and drill to stagmate, but rather you always seek to expand your expertise and the expertise of your men. Indeed adding such elements to the larger mainstream event would definitely challenge the experienced reenactors and give us something new to look forward to beyond the same-o, same-o. In fact, I would not be surprised if campaigner battalions might start appearing at such events if they knew that the event would require historical battalion manuevering that, to this time, has rarely been used at reenactments because it required troop numbers that typically can only be found at the more mainstream events.

RJSamp
08-04-2006, 01:10 PM
Actually you lost me on all of this.

If you deploy a reenacting company as skirmishers....how do you expect us to have a reserve PLATOON or reserve SECTION behind the skirmish line.

(I know the purpose and uses of reserves, that's not my discussion point...it's your observation that you haven't seen skirmish reserve platoons or sections in reserve and I'm trying to provide an explanation for your observation).

50 men in a platoon.....call it 30 + rifles due to attrition.

25 men in a section.....call it 14+ rifles due to attrition.

in a 4 company 100 rifle reenacting Battalion....how are you going to have a reserve platoon.....deploy your right WING as 1 platoon of 50 rifles?

In this day of 44 man brigades, 70 rifle Regiment's, and 250 rifle Division's......
no wonder you haven't seen a reserve Platoon of 30 - 50 rifles deployed behind a skirmish company.

We don't have the Numbers. If you have a 20 many company.....and put 15 on the line at 5 pace intervals....I'm sure you can cover the remaining 60 rilfe (30+ files) 3 company regimental firing line front. but that leaves you with a 4 man reserve under the command of a corporal..... not what I would call a reserve Section or reserve Platoon.

We need more 400 rifle Regiment's at reenacting events...... What we're not conveying to spectators or each other is how the Civil War was a 'Big Thing' (to borrow a period expression).

Agree we need to use reserves.....

Just pointing out that the reason you've never seen a reserve platoon or section....or heard the bugle call to rally by platoon or section .....is that we simply do not have the numbers to accurately portray that.

We rarely (couple of times a year at most) can portray divisions, squadrons properly.

At G135 am sure that the Federal Skirmish line had large reserve platoons at the Pickett's Charge scenario.....I went gray so was observing this from over yonder....but thought they had a reserve behind each deploying 'group'.

bob 125th nysvi
08-08-2006, 09:29 PM
Because your assuming the manual and TOE are some sacred bible that can't be deviated from.

It isn't, it is a guide given the OPTIMAL situation. The reality is the optimal situation exists only on paper and it is up an officer to adjust the manual for reality.

If he is told to cover a 100 yard front and he has 100 men well everything is fine.

If he is told to cover the same front with 20 men then he adjusts what the manual says while still following sound military tactics.

So he throws his men out there, adjusts the intervals and holds some back as a reserve.

If he stands on a stump and says 'but the manual says this' his superior will find a replacement who can get the job done.

Took the armies several years to find generals who could get the job done with what they had instead of saying 'but the manual syas this'. Unfortunately a lot of men paid the price in blood to weed out the incompetents.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY