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Thread: Gettysburg 150th NPS event.

  1. #1
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    Default Gettysburg 150th NPS event.

    A sub-topic began on the 150th Sharpsburg thread that the mods closed because it was getting off-topic, but they also suggeted starting it up elsewhere.

    Under that thread, I suggested that the NPS LH event at G-burg for the 150th was lacking in its concept and I do feel it is not going to be all that it could be. There is no changing the bureaucratic fiddle-faddle at this point, it is what it is. But, IMO, had the NPS put some imagination to it, I think it did not have to be just another LH encampment like every other one on the planet. R.J. Stamp disagreed, or rather misunderstood my point, so I'ld like to answer him, if I may:

    Quote Originally Posted by RJSamp View Post
    Chris: what gave you the idea that the NPS was going to do any kind of reenactment? The AHT event march across the battlefield as the 1st Minnesota took ardous hours of hurdle overcoming.....that's about as 'close' as you'll probably get to a 'reenactment' at a National Park these days.
    Nowhere in my post did I use the word "reenactment". And I don't know what you mean by "AHT", I'm unfamiliar with that acronym. And I have no knowledge of any 1st Minn march other than the historic one of 1863. You are assuming that every person in this hobby automatically knows everything that went on in the hobby's history. Never assume anything. We are subcultures withing subcultures within subcultures.

    It's better than having the Army or Marines run reenactments with tanks and modern uniforms\weaponry on National Park ground.
    I said nothing about any military maneuvers at G-burg from early in the 20th century. Be they right or wrong, the point is moot. I'm talking about the 150th... nothing else.

    ...and possibly better than having veterans march across with suits and canes, shaking hands across the wall (now we know how THEY would have reenacted it\how THEY would have 'honored' those that went before).
    When the vets encamped at GBurg they used formal camps, duckboard walkways, modern tents.....
    If a group of UCV and GAR reenactors, who were portraying the old veterans, wanted to do this, I'd have no issue with it, but again, the subject is 150th and living historians/reenactors portraying Civil War soldiers in the field on the Gettysburg battlefield.

    What are you asking for anyway, a bivouac style encampment?
    If by "bivouac style" you mean not setting up a regulation by-the-book camp, yes. If by "bivouac style" you mean at the end of the day, throwing your ground cloth down and, weather permitting, erecting no tents, sleeping on the battleline, not in an orderly encampment, then yes.

    My question to you is, why wouldn't you want to do something special like that for 150th Gettysburg on the actual battlefield? Why wouldn't you want, just this once, on such a special occassion, bivouac on the field just like they did during the battle? Why does evey LH event have to automatically be the same dull encampment... every... single.... time? The endless reenactments of "Hardtack and Coffee" are getting old, folks. Gettysburg was a battlefield, not a Valley Forge-like encampment. So why are you (the NPS and its VIPs) creating an encampment?

    I'm not talking about doing any kind of gruelling marches in 100 degree weather. A regiment-sized group of reenactors could spend most of the day in the shade, not in the frying pan that the PA monument LH encampment area always turns into in the summer. You could do the occassional firing demo for the powder-burners and public to "wow" over... but then, at the end of the day, lie down under arms, just like they did 150 years ago. It is still sleeping on the ground, just not in a regulation camp. If it rains, then adapt... set up tents.... on the battleline.... just like they would have on July 4, 1863 when it rained. I gurrantee that the armies would not have broken their battleline formation to set up nice camps with perfectly straight streets, all by the book, during the nighttime hours at the battle of Gettysburg. So why do it for the 150th? Oh, well its better than some military manuevers from 1911... or whenever. Whatever.

    You can call my concept for what it should be a "reenactment" if you want, but I don't. Its simply showing the public how the soldiers actually would have bivouaced on the field during the battle. It IS NOT creating some fictious, fantasy encampment with a lot of nonsensical "dress parades". There is a dress parade every November for Remembrance Day. Why in God's name do the same thing again in July?

    It seems to me that the 150th required doing something different to make it really, really special. But that's not going to happen. Its going to be another NPS encampment with reenactors with spotless uniforms giving the public a false impression about how soldiers looked in the field. Yawn. How much better it would be if you could come back from that event and say, "We slept in battleline formation, just like they did during the battle." Instead its, "We had a living history encampment, did the usual firing demos, and had a ceremony or two." To this I say... big deal.
    Last edited by USMRR; 09-23-2012 at 10:22 PM.
    - Chris Franklyn

  2. #2
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    AHT=At High Tide. A higher quality battle reenactment put on several years ago (5?) a few miles from
    the Gettyburg Park.

    As a lead in to AHT, troops of the modern day 'Western Brigade' marched and maneuvered across Park land, to include certain areas where Minnesota troops fought and died. They eventually marched off Park property and slept on arms on private land before going on to fight in the larger reenactment.

    The planning and permitting process for this action took more than two years and Vision on the part of both the Park and the reenacting leadership involved. Park parameters vary from year to year, and deal with environmental, sanitation, and budgetary concerns that are not immediately evident to the outside observer.

    I know of two efforts next year that will involve sleeping on arms on Park property, with proper permits of course, and within the operating parameters of the NMPS.

    Yes, this is a hobby of many subcultures. You'll find many fine units cooperating with the Park to provide a wide variety of depictions next year.
    Mrs. Lawson
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  3. #3
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    Longstreets Corps did a living history on the park for the 125th. Camped overnight on the battlefield behind the center of the Union line. The next day we marched to the Va. Monument and back across the fields to the high water mark. Gettysburg NPS was a kinder bunch then but there were still some bumps in the road. I don't think anyone other than Chuck Hillsman could have pulled that weekend together.
    Jim Mayo
    Member of the old vets mess.

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    The AHT march-on/march-off was a one-time thing and there is no comparison to the in-house LH encampment that GNMP has planned for next year.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spinster View Post
    I know of two efforts next year that will involve sleeping on arms on Park property, with proper permits of course, and within the operating parameters of the NMPS.
    Would you care to enlighten us on what those "two efforts" are next year that involve sleeping under arms on park property? I think, as used here by Chris, that "sleeping on arms" means no fixed camp, i.e., no static encampment. It means a body of reenactors doing it the way the soldiers did it in 1863 on that battleield. When the Union army arrived at Gettysburg in July of 1863, they did not first pitch a huge camp, then march out and do battle, and then march back to a fixed camp after the battle to have a cozy good time around the campfire. It is that very dull and dry formula that is under question and rightful criticism by Mr. Franklyn. And to my knowledge that is exactly what the NPS 150th scenario at Gettysburg entails next year, not "sleeping on arms". My contacts in the NPS say there is no "sleeping on arms" scenario planned for G-burg for the 150th. If there is, I would be surprised.
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  5. #5
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    Mr Loomis, I'm so sorry I am not at liberty to release details --these are not 'mine'. I am simply aware of them in the larger context of my duties in moderating two forums, five Yahoo groups, and in a planning context as Civilian Governor of the Blue Gray Alliance.

    The point I hope to make though, is that this sort of visionary thing requires conditions outside the norm. Folks must start very early, and be in groups who have a long track record of support at a particular site. Often a personal trust level has to exist, outside of normal bureaucratic lines.
    Mrs. Lawson
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinster View Post
    Mr Loomis, I'm so sorry I am not at liberty to release details --these are not 'mine'. I am simply aware of them in the larger context of my duties in moderating two forums, five Yahoo groups, and in a planning context as Civilian Governor of the Blue Gray Alliance.
    No prob. I have deeper points of contact in the NPS I can tap for the real skinny. But if you're privy to information you can't divulge, you've already violated someone's trust by hinting that you know something that few others do. Just sayin'. BTW... if you've got so many extra-curricular duties, maybe you should consider throttling back a little bit and take a breather once in a while. Too much stess can kill.

    The point I hope to make though, is that this sort of visionary thing requires conditions outside the norm.
    Yes, but... you're making it sound more complicated that it really is. It is far simpler to show up to an event, NOT pitch a tent, just fall in, drill, whatever, then throw down in an informal bivouac at the end of the day than following the tiresome formula of drive in, pitch a tent, park, muster, march out, drill, march back, crawl into tent, ad nauseum.

    Folks must start very early, and be in groups who have a long track record of support at a particular site. Often a personal trust level has to exist, outside of normal bureaucratic lines.
    I've seen some of the units that do LH at GNMP. They range from superbly progressive hardcores to mainstreamers to absolute farbs who set up enough canvas to sail around the world three times. GNMP never impressed me as being very picky about who comes to their park do LH and fill the public's heads with complete nonsense. Such as....

    Overheard just this past summer in Pitzer's Woods LH:

    Little kid: "Were they forced to fight?"

    Reenactor: "No, nobody was forced to fight."

    Hello!? Ever heard of conscription? Already in full swing by the CS by the time of G-burg. But far be it from me to tell a farb he's a farb.
    Last edited by Headlog; 09-28-2012 at 03:03 PM.
    Henry Loomis

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Headlog View Post
    But if you're privy to information you can't divulge, you've already violated someone's trust by hinting that you know something that few others do.
    Mrs. Lawson is privy to a wealth of information on the planning and implementation of nearly all of the 150th Anniversary events, most especially BGA events. I don't believe she is violating someones trust but rather trying to let you know that with a little digging you may be able to find out more about what she is hinting towards, or that the persons organizing these particular things would catch the hint and make a comment, much like I am at the moment. There are things in the works that certain people are in charge of that are on the outer fringes of the BGA Gettysburg event that we are not in charge of. Mrs. Lawson, is like the rest of us, we know what to speak up on and when to speak up and when not to get over into the neighbor's bean patch so to speak. Nowadays when an anniversary event is planned it amazes me how many subevents swirl around the main event that when all combined together make for a very interesting and fulfilling week for folks.

    As an example. At Wilson's Creek last year. We left the event site, marched onto the NPS property and slept on arms, just as you have suggested, on the actual site where the confederate army slept the night before the original battle. It was an amazing experience, same hard ground they slept on, same sky they may have laid there and stared at the night before the battle, the strange notion that the souls of the slain on that field filled the air around us as we lay there doing our best to look and act like they did and about as near as we could come to the same food they would have ate. Those are the kinds of things wrapped in around these larger (or not larger) scale event as we go through this cycle that I believe adds so much to the event and the experience and there is only more to come I promise. I am working on some "extras" for Chickamuaga next year as we speak and I know Mrs. Lawson would kindly do the same for me....hint at something going on to make me aware "there might not be enough information out there as there needs to be at this point"
    Last edited by PaperPusher; 09-29-2012 at 07:02 AM. Reason: omission of fact!
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    I'm so sorry I am not at liberty to release details --
    The cat must be out of the bag by now. There is no big secret about the NPS Gettysburg Living History event. It will involve, at least on the Federal side, a fixed camp, formally run with guard mounts, etc. There is no "sleeping on arms" activities or anything like that.

    The NPS no longer has deep pockets, so its costing each participant in the NR $60 to have Combat Caterers provide three squares a day. They provide excellent food, BTW. The Nat'l Regiment couldn't find corporate sponsorship because nobody wants to fund mostly middle-aged white guys carrying guns.
    - Ernesto Serna

    "...I'm struck by the contradiction at the core of Civil War reenacting. On the surface it's a hyper-macho hobby, focused on guns and battle. But the longer I hang out with hardcores ... the more they remind me of supermodels, chatting endlessly about their jackets and shoes and hair and how many pounds they've lost since the last event." - Tony Horwitz

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