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Thread: A Private Looks at Wilson's Creek

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Chicago IL
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    424

    Default A Private Looks at Wilson's Creek

    Dear Fellers,
    Just returned from the Wilson's Creek event. Interesting being in Missoura and rough terrain it is to be sure!
    Many of the early war impressions were superb ( shakos, pre-war military uniforms, etc.). and if they did not surpass the sartorial splendor witnessed at Manassas, it was a close run thing. The two to one Confederate versus Federal numbers seemed historic but in a private's opinion, only Saturday afternoon's and Sunday's battle were worthy of particpation. The fire-fights were hot and the artillery rent the welkin, as the Bard might say! Troops fighting it out in the Cornfield looked splendidly historic! There were some outstanding moments.
    Interesting to mix with troops from the Trans-Mississippi and the West and atmosphere was different; somewhat frontier; somewhat mountain influenced. Certainly not the paper-collar Easterner atmosphere! The **** you say!
    The logistics seemed sub-standard and until Sunday there seemed to be a great deal of confusion as to who,what, where and when and few staff to ask. I reckon constant car traffic, fireworks and camp raids were a nuisance to most. Perhaps much can be learned from this event for future ones.
    If Manassas was three out of four stars; Wilsons Creek was probably two stars if a rating is required. The Sesquicentennial goes on.
    all for the old flag,
    David Corbett

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jubilo View Post
    The logistics seemed sub-standard and until Sunday there seemed to be a great deal of confusion as to who,what, where and when and few staff to ask. I reckon constant car traffic, fireworks and camp raids were a nuisance to most. Perhaps much can be learned from this event for future ones.
    If Manassas was three out of four stars; Wilsons Creek was probably two stars if a rating is required. The Sesquicentennial goes on.
    all for the old flag,
    David Corbett
    'Substandard logistics' is being very kind.

    This event definitely illustratrates the pitfalls of an outside sponsor, even one with the lofty goals of the Wilsons Creek Foundation.

    First off, extensive amounts of land promised by the Foundation as available for the event was not placed under legal contract by the Foundation for use--resulting in tactical areas, parking areas, and camping areas being highly compressed. Some of this was not revealed by the Foundation until Blue Gray Alliance command staff were already on site for the event.

    And, on a near to hourly basis, lack of intent to fulfill obligations for basic event amenities unfolded. A great stock of straw existed to build a maze for spectator children---but obtaining adequate horse hay and stock tanks for the large number of reenactor horses on site was problematic. Ice cold bottled water was certainly available at a price down in the carnival like spectator area, while water in the tanks in camps was certainly a secondary consideration. At one point we were told that the hill was 'too steep' to bring water to Federal Camps.

    Lack of crowd control made for a dangerous situation, especially on Friday, as spectators surged into tactical fight areas without restriction or direction. Traffic control was unique, as we eventually realized that these were spectator cars winding through the main road in Federal Camps.

    Portalets should be leveled and stocked--not just thumped into place by a well intentioned hard working young man who had no training in setting them up.

    Scraping large areas of event site of vegetation, setting fire to what little deadfall is available, letting that fire escape to burn off large portions of available camping areas, and then being parsimonious with firewood was pretty strange. Brush was being hauled away, even as we asked for it for firewood.

    Signage was near to non-existent. Oh, it had been planned for, was in the budget, and a detailed listing of signs needed turned over to Foundation staff by the Blue Gray Alliance substantially in advance. My understanding is that the Foundation 'forgot'. Those little magic marker signs here and there?---made by BGA staff and placed. I noted as I left Sunday that the Foundation certainly did not 'forget' signage for the spectator parking lots.


    In short, the Wilson's Creek Foundation has lofty goals. I hope to heaven they made some money on the event and use it to expand and support the Park and the Museum. I hope that the lack of planning and staffing evident in the event process does not indicate similar deficiency in other operations.
    Mrs. Lawson
    Weaver, Spinster, Strong Fast Dyes
    Knitted Goods and yarns available thlawson@bellsouth.net



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  3. #3
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    How nice to have an insightful, calm and useful pair of analyses rather than overwrought whining. I'm sure someone will be along directly to pick up that ball, though.

    It very much sounds like a dysfunctional organization in terms of executing a plan, doesn't it?
    Bill Watson
    I write about history for people who regret not being there when it happened.

    Books
    Brother William's War, Illustrated, about a Southerner's war
    The Ludlam Legacy, Illustrated, about a young Yankee orphan's war.
    Seize the Day! A best-practices guide to wringing more satisfaction from your Civil War weekend
    The Little Book of Civil War Reenacting: An introduction for those who want to try it out

  4. #4
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    Bill,

    The Wilsons Creek Foundation was substantially understaffed to put on this sort of event, both in sheer manpower numbers and in real event expertise---despite being given extensive help by experienced folks with the BGA.


    High Praise is due to the staff with Wilson's Creek National Military Park. Any time they could help us with some task they did, and went the extra mile, providing site access to potable water and refrigeration as we prepared for the Commemorative March on Wednesday, personal phone numbers for after hours needs, and unique access to the Park for those wishing to march after hours.
    Mrs. Lawson
    Weaver, Spinster, Strong Fast Dyes
    Knitted Goods and yarns available thlawson@bellsouth.net



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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    I too, attended WC, and for an event that size (said to be the largest in the state of Missouri), I applaud all who set up and organized the show.
    Granted, there were hiccups (firewood, vehicle access, signage, etc.), but in recalling other events of this size I've attended, these issues were nominal in comparison.
    Firewood was easily scavenged with the timber in close proximity, and water was within short walking distance in any direction, and although the angle of some port-o-lets made access was a bit tricky, it did save one's suspenders from becoming soggy!
    The battles were hot, and due to the lay of the land, visible to all in attendance (which is a plus, as a large percentage of events have battles hidden from view).
    Basically, from an artilleryman's perspective, I thought the event overall was a dandy.
    And I do hope all enjoyed a dip in the creek!
    Now to get the trailer unloaded.
    currently celebrating the 37th Cycle

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Wheaton, IL
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    2,388

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    Quote Originally Posted by moconfed View Post
    I too, attended WC, and for an event that size (said to be the largest in the state of Missouri), I applaud all who set up and organized the show.
    Granted, there were hiccups (firewood, vehicle access, signage, etc.), but in recalling other events of this size I've attended, these issues were nominal in comparison.
    Firewood was easily scavenged with the timber in close proximity, and water was within short walking distance in any direction, and although the angle of some port-o-lets made access was a bit tricky, it did save one's suspenders from becoming soggy!
    The battles were hot, and due to the lay of the land, visible to all in attendance (which is a plus, as a large percentage of events have battles hidden from view).
    Basically, from an artilleryman's perspective, I thought the event overall was a dandy.
    And I do hope all enjoyed a dip in the creek!
    Now to get the trailer unloaded.
    Sitting next to the QM and command staff walkie talkie, and having attended two national events per year for the last 13 years attached to the command staff, let me assure you that the issues were definitely NOT nominal in comparison to other events of this or larger sizes, and this may have been one of THE worst operationally organized events ever. The behind the scenes yeomans work done onsite by reenactors (the Staffs) from Sunday through Saturday's water non existence(that's beyond shortage) deserves high praise indeed.

    glad you cited the poor siting of the portalets....overshadowed by the fact that the portalets weren't even on site on time to be even poorly sited, which was the bigger issue. And no they weren't getting cleaned out daily or twice daily until another couple dozen phone calls were made.

    The scrubby, decaying remnants of the chain gangs bushwhacking efforts in federal camp that you call 'firewood' in Missouri is called junk wood in Wisconsin. No wonder we don't buy Missouri firewood in ILL any longer (actually that has to do with insects). There is a difference in the burning characteristics of species of woods, how dry they are, how old they are etc. and this is in direct correlation to what you want the fire to do (light/flames for roasting hot dogs vs coals for example). The Firewood should have been cut, split, and dumped into position by Monday at the latest. The two college age kids who cut, split, hand loaded, transported, hand unloaded in HOT daylight hours the firewood for all three camps deserve our sincerest thanks and accolades.

    I recall the water issues at Raymond, having been jolted awake by earnest calls from the Frontier Brigade that their two cisterns were DRY on Saturday afternoon and they were in stand down mode. We had gorgeous watering tanks for our Equine friends, and they were all to frequently EMPTY. Bringing the water truck up the hill was a god send, albeit unsightly. Renactor count * 5 gallons per day + spectators who refilled bottles and camel backs + equine count * 20 gallons per day for hot weather work......
    Your comments about water being not an issue also reminds me of Raymond where the CSA camps were on water lines, and the USA camps were served up Dr. Pepper barrels (at Camp Foster) marked "Unfit for Human Consumption"....when these ran dry the confederates all said we've got plenty of water.......

    As noted, signs were bad, worse than WC 2000.... I never did register although I slept at the high school football field Friday Morning EARLY (registration started at 8AM? not good, Reveille was at 6AM).

    The spectator\battlefield situation with the one bridge was not good....in fact, it was downright scary....am sure they got a good view of the battle (unlike Franklin) with the Federals at a distance and up on the hill. but firing cannon's over their heads at 80 yards? columns of cavalry marching by x feet from them with a yellow tape 'barrier'...rebuilding the bridge railings on Friday Morning (and they looked really solid to me.....not).

    the amount of cars\trucks in camp, generators whining 24/7, and RV's/trailer's used for homes still gets too me......

    Anyway, enough of the logistical whining, just wanted to set the record straight.....
    RJ Samp
    Horniste! Blas das Signal zum Angriffe!
    "But in the end, it's the history, stupid. If you can't document it, forget about it. And no amount of 'tomfoolery' can explain away conduct that in the end makes history (and living historians) look stupid and wrong. "

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Olive Branch,MS
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    I am at work now, but later today I will add about the wrong things as well - including Civilian reenactors having to do crowd control, portalets not being cleaned, spectators up at the cannon line friday AM, a family with a Downs child wandering into camp trying to find the Civilian experience with no "staff" people helping, and so forth.
    All I can say, it was a very stormy weekend
    Robert Orrand
    Forrest Camp #215, SCV
    Mayor of Dover, Little York, Purdy, Raymond, LaFayette - and now, Gettysburg
    4th TN CSA - Co A - Shelby Greys

  8. #8
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    Sep 2010
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    The powers that be got their 20 from the reenactors and how much from the crowd? They got their money. They were happy and to $%$$ with everything after that. Command staff did all they could do. A hardy MO cheer for their efforts. If the people in chage don't want to do anything, they are not going to do anything. Hope they do not plan on trying to do another big one there in the future, numbers will be down. I know there will not be 22 Confederates from Mn. going. That being said, thank you to all of the reenactors for a very friendly experience, especially the Arkansas and MO fellers we joined up with.
    Bill Feuchtenberger

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Archie,mo.
    Posts
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    No wood, camping sites terrible with thorns and stobs, had to walk a mile for everthing, the "funny money" you had to get for food, water shortage, BUT, seen my freinds, made new ones, and met alot of very nice people, the girl who kept us in ice , the artillery commanders who where great,and the bounty for artillery was much appreciated. It was far from perfect, but we are glad we went and had fun. I thank everyone involved who did go the extra mile to make it a better event, it was much appreciated by my unit . I thought the crowd enjoyed it but I felt sorry for them when I saw the lines for the shuttle service. The cream will always come to the top and it was no different here. Again , thanks to those who stepped forward , it was noticed and appreciated !!! Bill Thurman Collin's Battery C C.S.A

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    West Tennessee
    Posts
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    THE GOOD:

    * Being with Burbridge's Division (the hardcore battalion), and some of the best impressions in the hobby today.
    * Drilling according to Scott's Abstract.
    * The comeraderie of good friends, and new friends.
    * Watching movies under the Wide Awake tent after dark.
    * Getting free beer (and alot of it, too) at the Beer Garden on Saturday night.

    THE NOT SO GOOD :

    * The sheer number of really bad impressions present. I'm not talking mainstreamers, but farbs in blue jeans and cowboy boots type of impressions.
    * The lack of toilet paper in the porta potty.
    * The reenactor cars that stayed parked right next to our camping area that were not moved until late Saturday evening (one car never got moved).
    * The idiot who cranked up his big diesel truck right next to where we were doing Morning Parade and kept it running so we couldn't hear the Colonel's orders.
    * Having to exchange modern money for period money for the modern food vendors, but then not being able to exchange it back.
    * The horrible Confederate to Federal ratios

    THE UGLY:

    The way that the hardcore battalion seemed to be so unwelcome. We were put in the worst possible brigades and sent to the worst parts of the field (where we couldn't be seen at all). Thankfully, that changed for the Saturday afternoon battle. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. A few got so disgusted by our treatment that they went home.
    John Spain
    4th Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A. / 25th Indiana Infantry, U.S.A.
    Bitter Brothers Mess
    Jeff Davis Independent Guard

    "JWNW"

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