View Full Version : Amid Changing Times, Selma Has Lost a Civil War Battle

04-10-2006, 04:37 AM

Article appeared in the Baltimore Sun and I'm sure around the country about the Battle of Selma that was cancelled.

Jari Villanueva

04-10-2006, 06:34 AM
There certainly are some things to learn in this article, aren't there?

"the Selma battle commander imposed stricter standards on reenactors making the event invitation-only and upping the requirements for authentic garb. Cowboy hats, sunglasses and modern-day combat boots were no longer welcome"

BTW, if agreeing with the above "rules" makes me a stitch-counter, then count me in. And who'd ever a thunk that


04-10-2006, 09:04 AM
So what's wrong with not looking like a freakin' moron?I guess these guys who whine about "stitch-counters" are the same type who wear cowboy hats,combat boots,and modern sunglasses.They make the rest of us who try look like just a bunch of yahoo hicks.

I did find it disconcerting that in the middle they made it about the civil rights movement.I totally agree 100% with civil rights,and the trouble at the Edmund Pettus Bridge is important,but I think they shouldn't forget about the battle that was fought.Both are major parts of Selma history,both played critical roles in the city,and both help turn the tide of the eras they took place in.Thankfully,the article got back on track,and we didn't end up on a article about how "all Confederates were racist because they fought for slavery",or something to the effect.

I do like the fact that it turned my brain on in the morning.Early morning brain test,hurray, :D .
Cullen Smith

04-10-2006, 06:45 PM
Interestingly, the Baltimore Sun's title to the article was:

"Rebel forces come up short again-Lack of re-enactors causes cancellation of Battle of Selma tribute"

I know that when the wire sends an article out it may get a new title by the local paper's editor...


04-10-2006, 07:07 PM
Sorry to hit you with reality, but THIS quote from the article is the one that will sign the end of the super hardcore attempt to take over this hobby and we have to hope not before the hobby itself is eliminated...

"It's fine to be authentic," he said. "But the Battle of Selma is not about buttonholes."

Look, I am all for as much authenticity as you can get, but when it gets to the point that striving for authenticity STOPS reenactors from attending, then the MONEY that DRIVES the hobby WILL dry up!

Your parks, cities, and community organizations don't give a flying CRUD about the best button holes. They care about the event making them money. They want numbers so that the PAYING public comes to see what is going on, enjoys the spectacle, and comes back next year. That is it, the end, game over.

So, we, as reenactors, have only one possible avenue to higher authenticity. A LONG, excruciating amount of time as standards are changed in slow subtle ways. There is just plain NO way to do it all at once for most events.

In FACT standards, even for the lower end of the mainstream, HAVE improved with the more research and pushing of the hardcore reenactors. Things HAVE gotten better for the BULK of reenactors. But it just plain WILL NOT improve all at once.

It has taken at least 15 years, for instance, to see most Confederates in a version of wool/jean cloth uniforms. But, a large portion are there right now, far larger than ever before.

So, you have a few choices:

1. Have events ONLY for yourselves. No cities, states, counties, museums or community groups involved. You fund it, you operate it and you make it happen. Then you can special invite anyone you want to have there. Your standards can be whatever you want them to be. You must reconcile yourself that you will rarely have more than 1,000 participants.(And, please, don't bore me with your call of "I'd rather have quality than quantity", we've heard it 1000 times)But you will have the experience you want and no one will be there who will not play by the same rules. Many events like this have been successful and deservedly so with all the work that went into them. You should also NEVER attend any other event but this kind of event to satisfy your craving for the highest authenticity.


2. You add your voice as strongly as possible, but realizing that there are other voices that will be heard, to an event's planning stages. You reconcile yourself that some compromise will HAVE to occur somewhere or another and you attend in good faith. You attend, do your thing and have a good time. But you do NOT go about launching website wars of character assassination and name calling because the event is NOT "your" event. You are a participant. The event is for the BENEFIT of the city/museum/park/etc. that is running the thing.


3. You stay home and read or watch the history channel instead of either of the above two.

In the past I have been responsible for pushing standards higher at the events that I have been part of the planning committee or operations staff. Some got better, some did not. Most did.

But, it isn't a matter of being "right". It is a matter of doing what CAN be done at the time. It is said about politics that it is rarely a game of principle, but one of the possible. Well, so is running an event (After all, it is usually politics under another name). Rarely can one drag out his soapbox and dictate what is going to happen to one an all. One can merely advocate for the best of what is POSSIBLE and then settle for the inevitable compromises that will crop up.

You hardkewels can be "right" all you want to be, but if event after event dries up and goes away because of your intransigence and trouble making, then you are not making things "better" in the long run. You are merely stopping the hobby in its tracks.

And if you are hard headed enough to say that you'd rather see no events than some events with a certain small amount of farbism, then you should not be surprised that, after a time, there aren't ANY events to attend.

And, when we get to a point where there aren't any events any longer, where is the "memorial to the fallen" going to be, that sentiment that we all claim to be so concerned with? When there is nothing for the public to come see, learn about the war --even if only a little-- and the money stops flowing to other events where we can slowly continue trying to guide everyone to higher authenticity, we will see the entire hobby end.

...of course, if you would rather see the whole hobby end, then what can be said to you? No amount of "logic" will put a dent in that, obviously.

Now, here is the worst part....

I will be attacked on this board and many others merely for being stand up enough for saying what I believe. I will be called a "farb", I will be called a "trouble maker", and many other things. Despite that I have said dozens of times that we have the "hardcores" to thank for our continuing education in the material culture of the Civil War era and despite that I firmly believe that they have been a great thing for this hobby. Despite that I believe that this hobby has been, in many instances, the BETTER for their striving for authenticity I will be attacked by some nitwits of the extremists bent whom I can name by the dozens. Despite that I SUPPORT their efforts quite often, I will be savaged by many of the small minded, largest mouths in "hardkewldom".

But it will be those very hardkewls that we can all thank for destroying this hobby, despite all the good they really HAVE done. And this article posted shows that so very well!

So, start those tongues wagging, hardkewels. Enjoy yourselves while you can.

(PS- Not EVERY hardcore reenactor is a hardkewel! Many are highly intelligent and didicated people who DO understand everything I just said. Just so's you don't go imagining that I believe every person interested in authenticity is a trouble maker! )

Curt-Heinrich Schmidt
04-10-2006, 07:23 PM
How d' ye!

I thought it might be useful... or fo some small possible value to the discussion, to post the event rules:

All First Confederate Legion Safety Rules will apply and be in force at the event.
All participants are required to register to be issued Ball tickets and Artillery powder reimbursement.
Authentic and modern camping will be set up in designated areas only.
No modern anachronisms will be permitted in the authentic camps.
Authentic camps will be open to public viewing only at designated properly guarded times.
All vehicles must be parked in designated areas. 30 minutes allowed for unloading. After that, the vehicle must be moved or it will be towed away at the owner's expense.
No tents (including sutlers') shall be taken down before the end of Sunday's battle.
No pets allowed in authentic camps or battlefield. Pets are permitted in modern camps
All uniforms shall be of correct western theater depot or commutation pattern in jeancloth or other appropriate wool and cotton cloth material.
All officers and men should wear a minimum of rank distinction, insignia, and uniform trim.
All leather accouterments shall be correct patterns. All buckles, plates, buttons, etc. must be the correct pattern.
Modern eyeglasses are prohibited.
Wristwatches are prohibited.
Modern rings and other jewelry are prohibited.
Cameras, if carried, must be hidden. Any photography must be done out of sight of spectators.
Only percussion military firearms designed before 1865 will be permitted on the field, and shotguns can be carried only by mounted cavalry -- exceptions to these rules will be permitted ONLY if their use is part of an approved scenario.
Horses must be authentically equipped and their owners must assume the responsibility for their care and safety.
Notice to all women portraying male soldiers: "Inasmuch as Victorian women were precluded from serving as soldiers under arms during the War Between the States, a soldier who is discovered to be female, by requested admission, shall be discharged from service and excluded from military duties on and off the field by the respective battalion commander as was the practice during the War."
For photography purposes, do not smile during battles.
Artillery must be full scale (see B.1 under "Artillery Regulations below). Both tube and carriage must meet period specifications. Iron reproductions of bronze tubes (e.g., 12-pdr. Napoleons) must be painted bronze.
Colors will only be carried by adults. Only late-War, western army colors will be allowed in battle.
Ladies must be in period dress at all times in authentic campsites.

Curt-Heinrich Schmidt

04-10-2006, 07:43 PM
So...........If these posted rules were the cause of the event melt-down, just what the heck went on before that attracted the masses in the thousands? That's mostly a rhetorical question, I think.


04-10-2006, 08:00 PM
I doubt VERY much whether it was JUST a posting of these rules that caused all the ruckus.

The article DID state that many had been curtailing their attendance over the last few years, after all.

04-10-2006, 09:56 PM
Dear Colonel Huston ,
Nice to see you jumping back in the forum with both feet . "That's the style , Todd , that's the style !"
RE Selma :
I attended four Battle fo Selma Reenactments and have never been told what to wear or carry and have never observed any one else being so instructed. The quality of the reenactors both Federal and Confederate were almost totally of the highest caliber . Gas prices were not the reason for cancellation , perhaps "Down Home " political " infighting was .
It is amazing that a city like Selma with a civil rights heritage and a predominantly African-American population would even be the site for a Civil War event but it was . Perhaps reenactor folk ought to wake up ( I concur with the Colonel ), and appreciate what we have and realize how easily it can all be taken away . Our hobby uses gunpowder and an assortment of weapons and quite a few folks smoke pipes and cigars. Consider how well smoking is received . Smoking and guns and Confederate flags ; that's just what contemporary society and the media dispises . Perhaps a little humility , gratitude , common sense and cooperation would further our cause before it becomes some thing quaintly remembered .
All for the old flag,
David Corbett , 10th ILL Vol.Inf.

04-12-2006, 12:06 AM
Outstanding comment to what I have been saying for years. I shot Springhill in 04 with trucks moving cannons, mine being one of them, If the hardcores want to keep me out of reenacting the can buy both of my cannons and the ford f-350 that it takes to attend. I wish I could buy just a couple of cans of powder a year and complain about peoples uniform my cost exceeds that. If you do not speak the truth what has happened to the 1st. Confederate Division, now called the Army of Tenn. To many rules by those who think they have the answer.

Always D. Edward Thomas
Capt. Lyons Battery
!st. CS Vols. Ky

04-12-2006, 06:10 AM
IMHO the standards posted are very minimal. Nowhere near " stitch counting". If we are trying to portray our ancestors, then I think we owe it to them to at least try to accurately portray them.
If money is an issue, then sell the wall tent, and beer cooler..............

Modern glasses " Regimental sack coats" outlandish hat brass, etc. etc. has to go. minimum standards are a good thing.