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Poor Private
10-16-2007, 08:21 PM
IS it true once an officer always an officer?? Our unit votes for it's officers each year. How many of you were officers at one time and are now enlisted men. Shouldn't the old guys step down to give the younger guys a chance to be an officer since they are the future of the hobby?
Since most NCO's and officers don't fire or carry their weapons, do you guys still have your muskets? Do you step down to a private when you go to an event when you only have 3 guys show up?
Who or what determines who is the head OIC (Officer in Charge) of a regional Battalion?

Justin Runyon
10-16-2007, 09:18 PM
I might be an officer, enlisted, and civilian in the same bloody month. Perma-officers are usually a bad idea in the first place.

Regular3
10-16-2007, 09:22 PM
This year for the first time we instituted a system in which the officer and NCOs serve for only two years before returning to the ranks ... Too soon to tell how that's going to work out but we felt we needed to expand the pool of leaders and there really was no other way for aspiring corporals to move up no matter how sharp they were.

ScottWashburn
10-16-2007, 09:27 PM
I usually portray an officer since it's the job my men elected me to do. But if we don't need an officer I'm happy to step down and be a private. I still have a full private's kit and I try to use it at least a couple of times a year. If nothing else it reminds me of how heavy the muskets are and reminds me to change the arms positions frequently when I'm playing officer again :)

Forquer
10-16-2007, 10:15 PM
IS it true once an officer always an officer?? Our unit votes for it's officers each year. How many of you were officers at one time and are now enlisted men. Shouldn't the old guys step down to give the younger guys a chance to be an officer since they are the future of the hobby?
Since most NCO's and officers don't fire or carry their weapons, do you guys still have your muskets? Do you step down to a private when you go to an event when you only have 3 guys show up?
Who or what determines who is the head OIC (Officer in Charge) of a regional Battalion?

Last time I heard, Divine Right hadn't been handed down to us lowliest of mortals, The Reenactor. There may be a couple of battalions, though, that didn't get the circular.

Generally there are but a few reasons why some commanders become as old as Methuselah. One is because the apathy in an organization is such that if Col. John BigBootay didn't step up to do it, then no one would. Ditto, if member units feel bullied to keep someone in a position. (guess they've never heard of voting with their feet.) Then the vicious cycle begins. Another reason is that an organization recognizes that someone is pretty darn good and rewards (?) them for it.

Of course, if you're not training your replacement, then something is wrong. Anyone who thinks that he can do this forever is kidding himself.

As to your question about stepping back into the ranks, I would think that any good officer would jump at the chance. No meetings to attend at events, no decisions to make.....sweet. In our battery, officers and NCO's are required to bring a slick sleeve uniform just in case the numbers don't warrant another officer or NCO. Sometimes leadership is knowing when to follow.

As to your final question, our battalion (Army of the Ohio) nominates and elects our field and staff officers on an annual basis.

YOS,

Jubilo
10-16-2007, 10:21 PM
Dear Sir ,
Was a Lieutenant for two years and a captain for three. Returning to life as a private was quite care-free but drilling a company and directing it in mock combat was more satisfying. The down side of being a private is the same as being a captain : at larger events you are at the mercy of superior officers who are liable to break scenarios or repress history in favor of personal agendas.
Still , it must be said that although opportunities for new officers should be available , many times the officers are the most serious about attendance,drill and the over-all good of the unit. The expense of officer apparell and side arms must also be considered as is the time and effort spent learning their position. Not everyone want responsibility nor the task of learning company and battalion drill. In many ways once the advanced drill is learned it seems a waste to not use it . The officer situation differs from unit to unit and is many times the reason one unit ceases to exist and another is created.
all for the old flag ,
David Corbett

31stWisconsin
10-16-2007, 11:34 PM
All reenactors are the same rank, reenactor.

Doug Cooper
10-16-2007, 11:52 PM
I cannot imagine being one or the other all the time. I have been everything from a rear rank # 2 to Colonel commanding an event and back. The goal is to learn to be a soldier, at whatever rank. Makes the closet a bit bigger though. :-0

There are a number of folks who are natural leaders in this hobby, with excellent officer impressions. Like Scott W. below, they relish being enlisted from time to time when needed - Civil War privates are a pretty special thing to emulate.

Said another way, a number of excellent organizations have fallen apart because eternal Colonels refused to step down for fresh leadership to take over or to refresh their "followership" skills. Change is good. Voting each year or two is mandatory in my opinion.

WestTN_reb
10-17-2007, 12:26 AM
Our larger organization has eliminated the perpetual colonel thing by mandating that we re-elect battalion officers every two years, and that no one can be re-elected colonel consecutive terms.

Now, if only we can get through to the captains who show up with five men and think that is enough to justify their rank.:rolleyes:

3rd Alabama
10-17-2007, 06:54 AM
IS it true once an officer always an officer?? Our unit votes for it's officers each year. How many of you were officers at one time and are now enlisted men. Shouldn't the old guys step down to give the younger guys a chance to be an officer since they are the future of the hobby?
Since most NCO's and officers don't fire or carry their weapons, do you guys still have your muskets? Do you step down to a private when you go to an event when you only have 3 guys show up?
Who or what determines who is the head OIC (Officer in Charge) of a regional Battalion?


It seems that this becomes a popularity contest and then no one wants to hurt feeling so the officer stays in place until he is ready to leave. My old mainstream unit has had the same officers for the last 10 years and no one wants to speak up and change things. I enjoy my new unit that has a rotating officer and NCO pool, everyone gets a chance and that's how you learn.

Picket Post
10-17-2007, 07:12 AM
All reenactors are the same rank, reenactor.


could not have said it better myself.

Micah Trent
10-17-2007, 08:40 AM
Here is my opinion, probably not worth much but:

The sad part about electing officers and who will be doing what is that I have seen way too many good groups literally self destruct and implode because of this. If only the politcs would have been left out. It seems more units split up and start their own group more then churches do over elders and deacons.

As far as "once an officer always an officer"...that depends. In your own group...sure. Elsewhere...that depends. In other cases...most doubtfully.

If you are going to be an officer, read the books. Know that specific officers responsibilites that you are protraying. There are too many "pea-cocks" out there walking around and strutting thinking they look good and saying they are officers, only that they have the slightest clue how to even perform the duties. (pet peeve...yes!)

Stonewall_Greyfox
10-17-2007, 08:52 AM
Our units officers came from the ranks...we vote every year on Officers and NCOs...when we attend larger events where our own command may not be needed, they step down to fill the positions needed. Then their back in their elected positions for the next event needed.

Because they came from the ranks, their standard impression was built on a common enlisted mans...once being elected as an officer, then they start to build their impression with double-breasted frock coats, officer's cap...etc.

Anyone who self-presumes some divine right, really missed out on American History...

I too have seen great groups of guys break up because of unit politics and its a shame.

Paul

Ephraim_Zook
10-17-2007, 09:09 AM
The mainstream group to which I belong has had the same officer for a long time now. He'd probably be glad to step down but no one else wants the job.

Another consideration may be the cost of an officer's kit. We joked with our guy back when we first elected him that we took a look at his W-2 form before nominating him. :-)

Within that group I've never been anything but a private, which is perfectly fine with me. Outside of that group, I've been private (most of the time), a corporal, a commissary sergeant, a lieutenant, a major. Depends on the needs of the event. I created the material aspects of my officer impression on the cheap-- a private purchase sack coat, straps and a hat I already had did it for me.

TheQM
10-17-2007, 11:27 AM
I'm the elected commander of the First Battalion ANV. I am also a high private in Company B, 4th. Texas Infantry. At Battalion events, I'm usually an officer. At Company events, I'm a really bad private and always have been.

The First Battalion has a policy that every officer must bring a private's kit to every event and that includes the Battalion Commander. If numbers or unit consolidation requires fewer officers, we become privates. No harm, no foul.

Pete K
10-17-2007, 12:13 PM
When I became a Cub Scout leader an old timer in that organization told me your first job is to train your replacement. I had fun, served my term of office,and did not listen to the old timer. I had a dickins of a time finding a replacement when my boys moved on to the next level. Maybe we should heed his words here as well. Train your replacement (Private to Lord High Muckitymuck).

ScottWashburn
10-17-2007, 12:36 PM
In the Mifflin Guard we only have the positions of Colonel, Lt. Colonel, Major, Adjutant, Sgt. Major and Quartermaster Sgt. These positions stand for election every year. We have a basic philosophy which has served us very well over the years: Every position has a job attached to it. Anyone who wants to hold the position has to do the job and do it well. While the Guard doesn't interfere in the internal working of our member units, our philosophy has percolated down to all the units. From captain down to corporal all the men realize they have a job to do. Getting the job done right is more important than wearing the rank. Every officer and NCO knows that he might be asked to step up to fill a vacant post, or step down if necessary. I don't know if we stumbled upon the ideal policy or if we are just lucky, but in the 17 years of our existance we've never had a serious political problem. Our officers and NCOs do a great job and our battalion runs smoothly and efficiently.

bill watson
10-17-2007, 12:51 PM
Like many others, I can't imagine doing just one function and have amassed the interchangeable uniform parts to do anything from hired cook to field grade officer. This year I've been cook, company commander, private and field officer in charge of a demi-brigade. My reality is that the higher the rank I have, the more I'm involved with event logistics and the less I'm involved with the Civil War experience.

It does get a little tedious changing out the straps, and trying to get the correct kepi to round out an impression in a detailed way is a bit expensive, especially when you have one of those big, round, thick Celtic skulls that takes the largest hat size. But the enjoyment of changing roles is really huge.

If you want a bigger role in things, try going to events where what you know and what you can do really matter because you're called upon to function as a soldier did in 186x. Give a holler over the winter and we'll line you up with some folks who may be offering the kinds of experiences you're looking for.

Flat out: If you're "led" by guys who are fulfilling some unmet real-world need to be in charge of something, don't look for them to step aside any time soon. You need to get with the guys who are building a bigger, better hobby and trying to find other guys with scalable skills and competencies to help make that happen. Like Kevin O'B said about drill in another post, the leadership skills you learn to really, really run a company are the competencies needed to step up to higher responsibilities. I think if you talk to folks in III Battalion USV, Potomac Legion, 28th Mass (Washington), Western Brigade, Pridgeon's group, etc., you'll find that a lot of them are getting a chance to do more in leadership than in some other groups. They tend to be more focused on the shared experience and not on the trappings of rank.

Doug Cooper
10-17-2007, 01:11 PM
If you want a bigger role in things, try going to events where what you know and what you can do really matter because you're called upon to function as a soldier did in 186x. Give a holler over the winter and we'll line you up with some folks who may be offering the kinds of experiences you're looking for.

Flat out: If you're "led" by guys who are fulfilling some unmet real-world need to be in charge of something, don't look for them to step aside any time soon. You need to get with the guys who are building a bigger, better hobby and trying to find other guys with scalable skills and competencies to help make that happen. Like Kevin O'B said about drill in another post, the leadership skills you learn to really, really run a company are the competencies needed to step up to higher responsibilities. I think if you talk to folks in III Battalion USV, Potomac Legion, 28th Mass (Washington), Western Brigade, Pridgeon's group, etc., you'll find that a lot of them are getting a chance to do more in leadership than in some other groups. They tend to be more focused on the shared experience and not on the trappings of rank.

Now that is a keeper post!!! Well said Bill.

Parault
10-17-2007, 01:50 PM
In our Battalion we have not needed any elections. The 1st Ark battalion has great leaders who are there because the guys respect them and want them to be in those positions. You can ask anyone of them and they will tell you elections is not needed,reason being, if you want the position here it is.
Like one of the previous posts,we are only protraying soldiers. We are not the real deal,so, it don't matter what your rank is,if you don't have the respect of the guys,it don't matter how many times you run for a officer post.
I know of several staff level personel who love falling back into the ranks when they can. That is what makes them great.
In our unit we used to have elections,but eveybody kept the same positions so it was decided if someone wanted the rank let the person that had it know. I know for a fact that the Captain,or myself,would love to step aside. If our numbers are not sufficient we don't have a problem grabbing a rifle and falling in.
I have seen some units where they look very top heavy. We only have a Captain,sometimes a Lieutenant, & a 1stSgt. Our Captain is a H.S. football Coach so during the first part of the season he is pretty much "out of the game,"till the playoffs are over,we then use the Lt. If the Captain is there then 1stSgt only. The great thing is that our Lt. makes a very good rifle dropping,loud talking,quite amusing private.

flattop32355
10-17-2007, 03:52 PM
As can be seen, various methods work for various groups, and what works for one may not be the best for another.

The key, I believe, is a willingness to change when change is needed; the dynamics of a given unit will change over time, and so may its leadership requirements and methods to insure continued leadership.

Major Duane
10-17-2007, 08:25 PM
The mainstream unit that I've hung out with since 1996 had some really strong leadership from the early 1990s through about 2002. They had a pretty good system in place where you had to go through certification levels to hold various ranks...I think there were four levels. For example, Level I was knowing the manual of arms and Level II was the ability to teach someone else. That qualified you to hold the rank of corporal. Level III was school of the squad and Level IV was school of the company. Level III was what you needed for Sergeant and Level IV to be an officer (we only had one). If you qualified through certification for the rank, then you could run for a one-year term of office. All ranks were re-elected every August. The captain and the 1st Sgt. had to examine anyone who wanted to qualify for the next higher level at each business meeting (once a month). So, we had a lot of privates who were certified to be corporals or sergeants. The only appointed office we had was lieutenant (when the company was large enough to warrant) and it was usually always a former captain.

The unit got fairly large and we ended up with four corporals, two sergeants, a quartermaster sergeant, and a captain. We were in the process of creating Levels V and VI (Skirmish Drill) when I got sidetracked in other pursuits. The unit went through some upheavels when the captain stepped down and another unit split off, but I thought the system of qualifying for rank was a good one. It made sure that someone who was unqualified to instruct school of the squad didn't make captain.

It was good while it lasted. I sometimes wonder how many mainstream officers or sergeants could certify or actually teach someone else. Sometimes I look at guys with stripes on their sleeves at events and wonder just what their purpose is...because they don't seem to know.

John Adams
Huckleberry Mess
(formerly with the 20th SCVI)

White Horse
10-17-2007, 08:37 PM
was spent lugging a carbine at Mill Spring Saturday afternoon. Don't get me wrong, I love it when I get to lead 40-50 troopers, but I still love getting off and fighting on foot.

We try to advance individuals into command positions, but we would rather keep people who are, willing to learn the drill, and put in the extra time it takes at events.
At Mill Springs I had just about one hour te whole weekend I could have went visiting or to the Sutlers. By then I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was sit down on something that wasn't moving for a while.
When someone comes to me with the desire to advance in rank, I give them a trial run, more than once I have them tell me, "This sucks!"

bob 125th nysvi
10-17-2007, 08:43 PM
IS it true once an officer always an officer?? Our unit votes for it's officers each year. How many of you were officers at one time and are now enlisted men. Shouldn't the old guys step down to give the younger guys a chance to be an officer since they are the future of the hobby?
Since most NCO's and officers don't fire or carry their weapons, do you guys still have your muskets? Do you step down to a private when you go to an event when you only have 3 guys show up?
Who or what determines who is the head OIC (Officer in Charge) of a regional Battalion?

The answer to that question is what are the by-laws of your organization?

You mentioned a vote, obviously there is a "democratic" process in which individuals are either nominated or put their names in nomination and are voted on by the membership. If that is the case, then no they don't have to step down or stop being officers as long as the membership wants them to serve in that capacity amd they are willing.

So you need to prove that you are better officer material than the current officers not have it handed to you because you are the "future" of the hobby.

As to our unit (being a NYS chartered Historical organization we have written by-laws); yes our officers still have muskets and the officers and NCOs step up or down as appropriate to the situation.

We are a sub-unit of the Mifflin Guard which has a process for selecting the "battalion" officers in which all member units participate. When we go to an event as a unit, the event organizers allow us to serve under our own officers who serve under officers appointed by the host organization.

We have been melded into other units and served under their officers.

When we host an event we make the decisions as to whom serves in what capacity.

All seems pretty democratic to me but what do I know I'm just a private and my only asperation is to survive the war.

If you're not happy with the way your unit is organized or run, make a case for changing it. If you don't persuade them you can always vote with your feet.

Poor Private
10-17-2007, 09:40 PM
Bob,
I wasn't talking about me or mine. It was a general question, since it hadn't been breached before in the forums I just thought it would make for an interesting discusion.
But I have noticed in all the years that I have been reenacting at events how many have been officers for a long time. Both Union And Confed. My question is how can a younger person be motivated to move up in rank when some people seem to sit there year after year. Would this be one of the causes of depleted ranks?

bill watson
10-17-2007, 10:14 PM
"My question is how can a younger person be motivated to move up in rank when some people seem to sit there year after year. Would this be one of the causes of depleted ranks?"

Yes! There is a fairly common tendency to think the younger guys can't get it done. That tendency exists despite the history lessons that tell us of 24-year-old brigadiers and ship captains under that age, during the war. I know of at least six young men who were so frustrated by their various units' ntrenched hierarchy, in which competency at both historic skills and competency in effectively running living history programs played no part, that they were easy pickings for other groups who were willing to give them a shot at leadership roles, after a period of time in which their competency, enthusiasm and energy were on display.

The other key factor is unit growth. If your unit is growing it is a lot easier to expand the number of leadership roles. If it is not, there's no place to go, or you become one of those teensy units where the straps and stripes outnumber the rank and file, because everybody has a title even if there's no real job involved.

Those two things, opportunities for personal growth and unit growth, are interrelated and mutually supportive. Awareness of that appears to be growing. Other things motivate people to join up, like just wanting to experience the history and capture a moment, like doing it to figure out how it was done, like simply being part of a small group of people successfully accomplishing a worthwhile shared goal, like being able to create an illusion so convincing it become art. But it's clear personal growth is a motivator for some folks even if that's not really how they describe what they're feeling. Another related term for it is "ambition," but that seems to have fallen into disrepute. There's really nothing wrong with it so long as the ambition is deployed within the common ground covered by an individual's personal growth and a unit's reason for existing. It's when ambition is at the expense of the unit that it becomes a negative.

Man, this is all too philosophical. Must be time for me to write editorials again at the paper. :-)

Memphis
10-17-2007, 10:23 PM
Sometimes I look at guys with stripes on their sleeves at events and wonder just what their purpose is...because they don't seem to know.

Can we get an "amen" here? :rolleyes:

Pvt. Richardson
10-17-2007, 10:45 PM
John Locke had the right idea about men that spend to much time at the top. He states in the Two Treatises of Government that a man needs to serve his time. Once his time is up he needs to make way for new leaders and new ideas. Locke states that if the same man remains at the top, he will become set in his ways and may give in corruption.

Greg Richardson

indguard
10-18-2007, 12:02 AM
It is not true that an officer is always an officer. I am a Colonel of my own battalion (until the end of next season). But EVERY year, I also portray a private several times and often a Sgt. or Capt. in other situations. I was even a general at a large scale event once.

So, I am NOT "always an officer," nor would I want to be. And, after I step down next season, I will not be an officer at all!

I'd say that if your officer cannot stand to be anything other than an officer that says more about his own pathology and need for power than it does about the hobby.

Tell him I said to take off the frock coat and grab a musket. If a Colonel like me can do it every season, he can do it once in a while too! It's good for the soul to step back in the ranks. It reminds the officer of what the fellas go through and will make him a better officer in the hobby.

Yours,

Warner Todd Huston

Micah Trent
10-18-2007, 08:49 AM
Taking on an officers role, one must be willing to lead.
There are two things that I have learned which I have took into consideration when been called on to be an officer:

1.) Outstanding officers appeal to the hearts of their followers - not their minds.

2.) A good officer takes people where they want to go. A great officer takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.

More philosophy for you...:rolleyes:

Kevin O'Beirne
10-18-2007, 01:07 PM
IS it true once an officer always an officer?? Our unit votes for it's officers each year. How many of you were officers at one time and are now enlisted men. Shouldn't the old guys step down to give the younger guys a chance to be an officer since they are the future of the hobby?
Since most NCO's and officers don't fire or carry their weapons, do you guys still have your muskets? Do you step down to a private when you go to an event when you only have 3 guys show up?
Who or what determines who is the head OIC (Officer in Charge) of a regional Battalion?

The answers are: It all depends on the home club and the battalion.

In my first reenacting club, annual elections determined who would be the commissioned officer impressionists and these slots were always not seriously contested, for whatever reason. Even when an existing officer stepped down (e.g., burned out), tradition sort of had it that the nexxt-in-rank took over, although it was formalized in an election. The guys who held these positions, and the non-comms as well, seemed to hold the typical reenactor belief that they were "a lieutenant" or "a sergeant" or whatever, no matter where they went or with how many men. I never "got" that part, although I was sometimes guilty of wearing my own corporal stripes to other events that I attended without my group.

My former group's battalion organization (now defunct) had no formal officer positions. The guys who were officers in the member units "took turns" at various field and staff roles. The field officers were typically the "captains" of the member units, and the battalion staff, whether commissioned or non-commissioned, were selected on an event-by-event basis by the battalion-commander-for-the-weekend; usually the staff were the battalion commander's buddies from his home group. While the guys who were the field officers tended to usually be the same, they switched jobs from event to event. After the battalion was formed, I rarely ever saw my own club's "captain" in our ranks anymore, because he seemed to always be a field officer, whether at battalion events or at local/regional events not attended by the battalion.

My current club has never had any elected or appointed field-rank structure. When we formed the club almost eight years ago we took the view that, to "do it right", officers and non-comms had to work an awful lot before, during and even after the event, and so we always approached field-commanad on the basis of taking turns. This has resulted in numerous men in our group having the opportunity to serve as commissioned officers, whether in our company as company commander or subaltern, or as battalion field and staff officers and staff non-comms. Out of about 50 members, our club probably has over a dozen with officer kit who have served as officers of one type or another, and even more who have been staff non-comms. I'd say that probably half of our current and past members have served as a sergeant in the company at one time or another. Our unwritten goal has always been to encourage training and leraning so that every member can serve as a functional sergeant or higher; we have not and probably will never fully realize this goal because not everyone is cut out to be a sergeant or higher, but the opportunity is there, and we try to conduct ourselves in the field (and at our training events) in a manner that's akin to how the period manuals and handbooks and first-person accounts say it was done.

Our club's battalion organization handles field-rank in the same way as our club--different folke take turns in various roles, as selected by the battalion-commander-for-the-weekend. For the times when I've been the battalion commander, I've tended to pick most of the field and staff from men that I know well that know the job, and who I can work closely with. That's not a slap at the many other qualified guys in the battalion who can do the job just as well or better; it's just that I often select field and staff who's strengths complement my own weaknesses, and vice versa, so we have (as I like to view it) the necessary bases covered to get the job done for the men in the best manner possible.

Our club and battalion organization tend to view the job of officers and non-comms as being so demanding that no one wants to do them all the time, or even that often. Everyone in our club who has officer kit also maintains a complete set (or more) of enlisted kit.

In June I went to the Vicksburg 2007 event as the Federal battalion commander. In the next week or so I'll be heading to Tennessee to participate in the Outpost 3 event, where I'll happily be a gun-toting private who will watch the officers and non-comms work their butts off, with a smile on my face. Frankly, the private's job is the best one in the "reenactor army".

For others, personality, ego, and the ability (or lack of it) of apparent successors all help dictate whether field-leaders will "let others take a turn" or whether they turn their "rank" into a dictatorship-for-life.

TNCivilian
10-18-2007, 11:32 PM
When I started with the 1st Mass. Cavalry in 1986, we had 1 Lt., 2 Sgts, and 1 Cpl. These were voted on by the Unit, and were more or less, positions for Life. About a year later the Lt. left, followed shortly after by one Sgt., and the Cpl. Again new people were made ( I mean elected). There soon began a power struggle between the 2 Sgts, one made himself 1st Sgt., very quickly followed by the other Sgt. This led to an extended p*****g contest which ended up with one moving out of state.( for business related reasons) The 1st Sgt that remained resolved to take control of the Unit from a growing number of disgruntled members by making two of his trusted accomplices the new Sgt., and Cpl. (The prior Cpl. had moved out to the central part of the state.) That's how I ended up becoming a Corporal. As Kevin mentioned, my Lt. was one of those commanders that wanted to be "Dictator for Life", and to my regret, I helped him.
Very soon after, about 20 members split off from the Unit and formed the 35th Battalion Virginia Cavalry, (Elijah White's). Oh, the skirmishes and tacticals we used to have with them. Happy days. Too bad politics had to get involved.

Even after I left, I believe the Unit kept the same belief, that Rank was for Life, and not elected yearly. As has been stated by other posters, it depends on your group, and its membership. I think it a very good idea to have elections every year for rank. Some groups have different Sgts. and Cpls. for each event to give everyone an opportunity.


Steve Wermuth

bob 125th nysvi
10-20-2007, 10:37 AM
Bob,
I wasn't talking about me or mine. It was a general question, since it hadn't been breached before in the forums I just thought it would make for an interesting discusion.
But I have noticed in all the years that I have been reenacting at events how many have been officers for a long time. Both Union And Confed. My question is how can a younger person be motivated to move up in rank when some people seem to sit there year after year. Would this be one of the causes of depleted ranks?

demonstrate an interest.

If a non-Officer/NCO (read private) is interested in advancement then they need to do several things:

1) Become an NON-military leader in your unit. Become active in the organization, help plan events, volunteer for committees, get elected to an organization office (BOD whatever)
2) Express an interest to the current officers and NCOs in wanting to get ahead, see if one of them will mentor you.
3) Be willing to go up through the ranks, no one goes from private to Colonel in a year.
4) Develop and demonstrate a knowledge commersurate with the duties of the rank you will move up to next. Know what ALL the sargents do before you think you are ready to be a Lt.

There is a lot more to being an effective officer than waving a sword at a reenactment and yelling "Follow me boys!"

And I don't think our depleted ranks are a direct result of the same leadership. I think I'd drop that one more on parenting and society in general.

Now you go: What?

Today's young people (X/Y generation) are far more pampered than the cornicopia kids were (who were much more pampered than the baby-boomers). For a middleclass kid to not get instant gratification is almost looked on as a hardship. They want it NOW and they generally get it NOW because of over indulgent parents. (And if anybody wants to dispute that think about what you had as a kid and what you kid at the same age has.)

It might surprise you but many of the hero's of X/Y geners aren't REAL people. They are cartoon or movie or comicbook characters. And much of their major entertain falls into the 'couch potato' variety. Camping out in the woods without the modern amenities is just something hard to imagine.

Today's kids again are not used to organizing things and making them work. I'm showing my age here but when I was a kid if you wanted to play baseball you rounded up the neighborhood kids and organized a game. You didn't badger Mom into taking you to your little league game or getting you into a league.

Finally schools (sometimes through no fault of their own sometimes through the prejuidices of the cirriculum makers) really gloss over the military aspect of History. History has also morphed into Social (read fuzzy) Studies leaving most students with a 'I do it because I have to' attitude as opposed to 'Hey this is pretty cool I want to know more' attitude.

And then it is an EXPENSIVE hobby (even more so if you want top shelf items right away) and for young people starting out that can be a problem.

I would agree that disinterested (or disinteresting) unit leaders are a problem but then a young person has to make a personal decision as to if they enjoy the hobby (or at least their vision of it) or not. If they do it is up to them, not other people, to make it work. And sometimes that can be as simple as just switching units.