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USCC Chaplain
04-28-2008, 08:15 PM
Hello all,

First time poster here. I have been reenacting for now going into my fourth year as a general field agent of the United States Christian Commission. I find it to be a highly rewarding impression. Yet as it is only typically me in my camp and at an event, I also find it to be a somewhat lonesome impression as well. (To take care of that I recently became the fighting Chaplain of the 38th NC---missed the camp camaraderie and shooting a musket too). Anyway....

At an event at Latta Plantation, here in Huntersville, NC, I had the opportunity to serve with the Carolina Legion/26th NC Field Hospital, pulling wounded off the field and working in a field dressing station. It was the best hospital impression on the field of battle that I have seen or been a part of. That got me to thinking of starting a Relief Corp Unit consisting of the United States Christian Commission, a Field Hospital complete with surgeons and stewards and the United States Sanitary Commission, etc. In other words a combined unit of relief agencies that go to events together, camp together and coordinate on the field of battle very much like an infantry unit or a military battalion.

So here is the request---if you are an un-affiliated relief organization or medical impression in the NC/VA/SC area looking to become part of a greater whole, hit me back or post here and let's see what we can pull together. Personally I feel this is one part of many reenactments (maybe not the big or major ones) that is underrepresented and misportrayed. If you want to change that, hit me up.

Mike
United States Christian Commission
Huntersville, NC

NoahBriggs
04-29-2008, 10:42 AM
Welcome to the board. Our section's one of the few places that bothers to make sense and support it with some sort of documentation.

What you describe (large organization with medical and relief orgs all rolled into one) has been done - www.thefieldhospital.org. I've worked with them, and they are one of many reasons I tend to be an independent "blue mass cat". I use them as a model of what not to do. The larger the organization, the more chaotic it becomes. Good people, lots of good ideas, but they lean towards theater and drama, and that's not what a lot of us aim for on the board. Also, USSC and USCC stations are not as likely to be that close to field hospitals, unless you are simulating several days to weeks after the engagement.

Take the time to peruse the threads on the board to get an idea of what we discuss. I'm always open to discussing USCC and USSC matters - we find our midichlorians attracting us to each other when I set up a doctor's office at Harpers Ferry in December. Or maybe it's the warm indoors. Yeah, that's it. Anyway, we swap research and tips and coordinate our visitor chats as though we were a professional historic tag-team for years. So I guess you could say we do what you are suggesting, just on an ad-hoc basis.

We will be happy to send to you some of the events we are attending if you wish to hang out.

USCC Chaplain
04-29-2008, 07:07 PM
Thanks for the quick response.

During the war, the USCC typically was not on the field of battle pulling soldiers off the field. At a reenactment though I do just this, so I guess you could say during a battle I portray more of a Chaplain impression than a USCC field delegate. It is either that or become a camp sitter as the "wounded" resurrect quickly after a battle, leaving a clear field. I do though explain this to as many spectators as possible prior to and after the battle so that I can accurately explain the USCC to them.

Around here at smaller events, the medical corps in attendance tend to be either camp sitters and not attend the battle at all or stand behind the lines the whole time watching and don't do much at all. A typical Chaplain impression is similar too. Something more realistic is what I am hoping for as during a battle there would be the troops moving forward while deserters tried to run and the wounded tried, at times with help, move off the field as well. Organized chaos may be the best way to describe it. Unfortunately events I usually attend don't seem too chaotic at all.

In my humble view, the closer you can get to approximate the reality, the better, even if it means some liberties need to be taken (i.e., USCC campsites close to hospitals, etc.). Even if you get to do that ad-hoc, that is much better than not doing it at all.

Mike

hanktrent
04-29-2008, 08:23 PM
It is either that or become a camp sitter as the "wounded" resurrect quickly after a battle, leaving a clear field.

Preach on, brother! That's an on-going problem I've found with medical impressions or any impressions having to do with post-battle wounded. There are no wounded, for more than a short while. So then what do you do?

There are various ways of working around the problem, and Noah and I and others have discussed this before, continue to discuss it, have tried various things and are planning various things, but I'd be interested in hearing about any new ideas to approach to the problem.

And by the way, if you can, I'd highly suggest taking up Noah's suggestion. I'm planning to work with him again next at After the Battle. There's also plans at At High Tide for coordinated post-battle medical work on the CS side, which I'll be attending as an orderly, though I'm still not sure exactly what the duties will be after the wounded recover.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Pvt Schnapps
05-01-2008, 01:07 PM
Just a thought -- there might be (especially at a quality event like AHT) a certain number of soldiers who would rather attend a LH medical demo and after-the-battle scenario than clean their weapons. So you rustle up a number of volunteers beforehand and pre-clear them with their COs so they know they won't be firing or capping off.

It would also help if the fighting ended off-camera, so-to-speak, out of sight of the spectators. They'd hear the firing end, the cheers, the bugles, etc. A certain number of walking wounded would limp past en route back to camp, maintaining character until they get there.

Then, the clean-up crew arrives. The ambulance corps fans out over the field picking up wounded and bringing them to the field medical depot, which is just inside (maybe just outside?) the spectator line. Soldiers detailed for ordnance duties collect leathers and weapons. The surgeons and stewards perform triage.

A thought, anyway. I bet Chris and Kevin would be up for working it in if someone stepped up to organize it.

Marc
05-01-2008, 02:37 PM
Just a thought -- there might be (especially at a quality event like AHT) a certain number of soldiers who would rather attend a LH medical demo and after-the-battle scenario than clean their weapons. So you rustle up a number of volunteers beforehand and pre-clear them with their COs so they know they won't be firing or capping off.

It would also help if the fighting ended off-camera, so-to-speak, out of sight of the spectators. They'd hear the firing end, the cheers, the bugles, etc. A certain number of walking wounded would limp past en route back to camp, maintaining character until they get there.

.

The very first Burkittsville had all the above including civilian interaction. We used the original church....had the wounded both sides brought in by wagon. 24 hour scernio overnight at the hospital...ladies working at the hospital with the AGSAS group heavily involved. Hank Trent was a civilian doctor who presuaded me to save a soldiers limb versus amputation...torch light tours for spectators of the hospital....tiring but a very good memory for me. I rmember about 2:00 AM Mike Murley as a Confederate officer and myself as the surgeon in charge were in period talking politics of the time when the civilian doctor (Hank Trent and His wife Linda) decided to go back to the battlefield and look for wounded. Overall it took a lot of work by many people over a period of time, but it can be done.

As a follow up the very next Tuesday was 9/11/01 and one of the reenactors helping as a surgeon was a real Army surgeon a Major if I remember correctly and he was back doing the real thing all to quickly.

hanktrent
05-01-2008, 03:43 PM
Overall it took a lot of work by many people over a period of time, but it can be done.

Before the event, I was asked to portray the local civilian doctor. Researching him, I found that historically he worked in the church hospital till after midnight. Assuming we were applying the old principal of opening a history book and doing what it says, I had no clue that I wasn't actually expected to work in the church hospital till after midnight, until I contacted the organizers with some further questions. Actually, my role was originally supposed to be all about brief post-battle demonstrations and candlelight tours and a lot of just hanging out.

When I realized that I wouldn't be doing what the history books said, even though I theoretically could be, I tried to contact soldiers and medical people and civilians to see if they wanted to do more with the hospital, and was surprised at the negativity and objections, mixed with the positive responses.

Yes, enough people cooperated to do it, thanks I think to a lot of behind-the-scenes string-pulling by a few key military people, and it all went well. But personally, I'd never fight that uphill battle again. Portraying wounded for the long term doesn't seem to be what enough reenactors want to do, and there's a point at which I'll just say, if reenactors don't want to do something, my purpose of being in the hobby is not to force people to do what they don't want to, and I'll start looking for a different role for myself that already fits better.

If things have changed, or if somebody wants to try that at an event like At High Tide, I'd love to be part of it. But it was like pulling teeth for John Novicki just to get enough medical people at September Storm, and I'd be surprised if finding long-term wounded would be possible--meaning wounded who would continue their portrayal until the next battle, so the medical personnel would be constantly busy, if that's what happened historically.

What are other current examples of busy medical scenarios that continue with enough wounded for more than, say, two hours? Is there a model for recruiting and organizing that works?

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Marc
05-01-2008, 04:56 PM
When I realized that I wouldn't be doing what the history books said, even though I theoretically could be, I tried to contact soldiers and medical people and civilians to see if they wanted to do more with the hospital, and was surprised at the negativity and objections, mixed with the positive responses.

Yes, enough people cooperated to do it, thanks I think to a lot of behind-the-scenes string-pulling by a few key military people, and it all went well. But personally, I'd never fight that uphill battle again.

I was originally going as artillery but less than 2 weeks before the event, James Owens asked me if I could do medical since the orginal surgeon had something come up and could not be there so any of the prior probelms were not known by me. I need to also thank the Civil War Medcial Museum in Frederick MD for the use of their repo capital operating kit etc.

I can understand the propblems of finding people etc who want to do this type of event. I used to help at GNMP with a group that showed what the USSC Lodges did after the battle etc and it was tough to find enough local area fellows who wanted to be wounded/sick whatever for a day. The spectators at this type of living history have a real interest, but you do need the volunteers.

USCC Chaplain
05-01-2008, 07:28 PM
Pvt. Schnapps,

What you describe is what I would love to see at EVERY event, hence the reason for my first post. I can see how it would be difficult to drudge up volunteers and orchestrate such a scenario if the individuals involved could not parade out with their own units. It would add so much to the overall effect, be it at a large or small event.

I also thought that maybe, as has been described here also, that the after the battle scenarios take place at the beginning of the typical candlight tour....USCC and ambulance corps scour a field of "dead and wounded" soldiers and carry them off to a field dressing hospital and so on and so forth.

All great ideas. I will suggest them to the event organizer of an event I plan to attend later this year with whom I am friends with. Again, though, it would seem so much easier to do if there was an organized Soldier Relief Unit present and practiced and ready to go.

Thanks for the thoughts and comments. Keep em coming,

Mike