View Full Version : Banks Grand Retreat Update 11/21 - the Red River Campaign

Doug Cooper
11-22-2006, 12:16 AM
Banks Grand Retreat Update 11/21

This is the first of several announcements on the 2007 Red River Campaign event "Banks Grand Retreat" set for March 14-18, 2007.

Please see the website at www.banksgrandretreat.com for more info, including registration and chain of command contact info.

1. This will be a full immersion event; meaning first person is to be maintained (outside of medical or other emergency) for the entire event. You won't get tossed if you slip up while doing your best, but if you intentionally avoid it, you get to go work for Ms Lawson, and may God have mercy on your soul . Based on the type event, first person will not need to be forced and you will have no problem staying in the here and now.

2. Schedule – March 14-18, 2007. Plan to arrive no later than Wed evening, March 14, as we will be stepping off at dawn Thursday, so you will need Wed night to get organized. We understand that getting time off work is tough for some, so we have lopped a day off the front of the original schedule and will end the event by noon Sunday (including the preservation donation raffle) to allow folks to rest up and head back.

3. Distance/Route/land - The Kisatchie National Forest rests upon the ancient remains of a massive mountain chain, believed to have stood taller than the Rocky Mountains do presently. Over time, those features were worn down and now are small, rolling foothills. Numerous bayous (creeks/streams) cross the area in which we'll be operating. Though few are deep, they will nonetheless present some added challenges in moving men and wagons. We will rotate companies within each battalion to act as pioneers and to help move the wagons when and if needed.

There are no modern intrusions at all; save for one 2-lane park service road we will cross (that can be used for transport in a medical situation as it bisects the trail). There will be plenty of deadfall for firewood. Water will be carried in the wagons and hidden at various points along the route.

See the photos at http://www.banksgrandretreat.com/updates

The route is 26 miles total (very accurate trail maps). What this means is about 10 miles the first day (Thursday), 6.5 miles each the next two days and finally only 3 miles on Sunday. The route is a long oval through the forest, so we avoid having to shuttle folks back to the jump off point. Should someone get hurt or not be able to finish...or be recalled due to an emergency from home, this oval allows us to get folks out much more easily than having to travel many miles back down the road to the parking area. We want to reiterate though that once you start, plan on making the whole. Several different routes were examined and this is most optimum. Additionally, there is a backup; shorter route that we can take should there be very inclement weather.

4. Location – Kisatchie National forest is in Northeast Louisiana just southwest of Natchitoches (pronounced “Nacktish” today and Nacktosh during the war), with piney woods and some hills. March is closed to ATV traffic and outside hunting season so we do not expect to see anyone save ourselves on the trail. That is why it was moved from early April to mid-March, as well as to avoid conflict with Shiloh (Pittsburgh Landing).
There are excellent lodging and services in and around Natchitoches.

5. Rations - we reiterate that you will need to bring 2 days rations with you. The wagons will carry the ration re-supply for each battalion. This allows us to keep the costs down for a 4-day event.

6. Historical unit details - expect to see background into on the 81st Illinois and 15th Texas (beyond that in the guidelines) this week. The guidelines reflect all that is known about the troops involved and is quite detailed, but are broad as well to ensure folks won’t have to go out and buy a lot of kit to qualify. For instance we know the 81st Illinois had a high preponderance of boot, frocks and mounted trousers issued to them for the campaign, but they also wore shoes, sack coats and infantry trousers, which is equally correct. It’s about you, not your gear

7. The Commanders are Frank Aufmuth CS and John Duffer US, both selected because they are very good, and they have plenty of experience commanding this type of event (marching campaign). Frank commanded the 2004 Mansfield Preservation march and John has commanded several LBL events, etc.

The Troops are coming from as far as the United Kingdom and France (Lazy Jacks and friends), up and down the west coast, New England and everywhere in between. We are planning for 4 companies of 25-30 men each per side, plus a small staff. As of Nov 15 we had over 50 folks registered for the event.

The robust civilian presence will be dead on to the plight of those caught in the path of the armies. This has been well documented. Terre Lawson, Vicki Betts and company will be an important part of the event, and will interact with both battalions, as well as conducting a full program themselves.

Organizers are Fred Baker and Tom Yearby, with help from some friends. Reenactor Geoff Lehmann is the inside guy, an employee of the Nat’l Forest org in Louisiana and intimately familiar with the land and the system. He has been greasing the skids and has been invaluable.

8. Logistics - The land is secured. Wagons are secured, and they will hold water, food, ammo, medical, and baggage. Parking is set, water storage will be set and EMT/medical established. The bivouac areas are marked and trail carefully measured. The civilians will be establishing their camp along the route, and since it is long oval, will be able to reach other points on the route. Company commanders and cadres are selected.

9. Preservation - there will be a raffle held on site at the end of the event similar to Mansfield 2004, Payne's Farm 2005 and Rich Mountain 2006. Many outstanding items have already been donated and tickets will be available at the event. You must be present to win - you will have earned it. Proceeds from the raffle and a portion from each registration will go to preservation of Red River Campaign sites, including Ft DeRussy, Mansfield and CWPT.

10. Why come to Banks' Grand Retreat? – so you can brag for the rest of your hobby life of course.

Seriously, the goal is simple, to duplicate as best we can the experience of Banks’ Red River Campaign retreat for both the military and civilians who were there. The physical and psychological aspects of the campaign are equally important. We will capture the point where the two sides touched - the front of Taylor's Army and the rear of Bank's. This is not a tactical and the commanders will receive daily orders from higher headquarters directing action based on actual events. Fred Baker and Tom Yearby are not part of the military structure, but will act as civilian guides to allow them maximum flexibility to manage the event. There will be skirmishes and a pitched battle (there were several during this period) but the soldier in the ranks will know nothing beyond what he can see and hear and what he is told by the chain of command. Army routine will be strictly maintained. When marching there will be skirmishers and flankers out. When halted there will be pickets out, details, etc.

This will be a strenuous event, for some perhaps the most strenuous they have attended. If you are on the borderline physically you need to be preparing right now. Just walking a mile a day on a treadmill will not condition guys in the way they will need. If you are in reasonably good shape, and enjoy the more physical end of the hobby, this is your event. If LBL type events, preservation marches and the like is your cup of tea, get registered now. The folks in charge, both military and organizers, have all done long march type events before and will always be mindful of safety and the state of the troops.

We promise one thing: you will talk about this one until the next time we do it...which based on the work involved, won't be for years.

Join the folks who have already registered - the time is now. Details on carpooling, directions, places to stay, etc will be added to the website as well. See all the details at www.banksgrandretreat.com

11-25-2006, 05:27 PM
Mr. Cooper,

Is there a need for authentic musicians, on this march?

David Long

Doug Cooper
11-26-2006, 09:41 AM
Mr. Cooper,

Is there a need for authentic musicians, on this march?

David Long

David - please contact Fred Baker at baker@hendrix.edu He will put you in touch with the two commanders. Thanks for asking!