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Thread: Food for thought, nothing more: discourage or abolish "hit taking"?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Red Lion, PA

    Default Food for thought, nothing more: discourage or abolish "hit taking"?

    Just FWIW, I am not taking a stand here or advocating anything more than diologue. It's just something that's crossed my mind at times in the past; I guess, if nothing more, I'm curious if it's ever crossed anyone else's mind.

    Has anyone envisioned firefight scenarios where no one took hits...on purpose, that is.

    It has crossed my mind because since time immemorial, this has been an issue in the hobby; and personally at times I wonder if the "hit taking" practiced across the spectrum of the hobby is respectful or contributory to a significant degree. Some may have good arguments why it is; this thread should be open to that.

    I just got a consult I have to see, so I can't elaborate much more as I intended to (which may be a good thing), but, to be brief, has anyone pictured - at an event anyway, not necessarily hobby wide - where everybody knew (among participants, and public if applicable) going into a firefight that "you will see/experience a demonstration/"reenactment" of XYZ; however, out of (respect, practicality, whatever), you will not see casualties portrayed on the field".

    Tom Scoufalos

    "Will work, for...knapsacks"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    I think the problem I have with hit taking is that those that fall to often use that as an excuse to sit up and start having conversations with all those "fallen" around them. Or they use it as an excuse to start taking pictures. If you take a hit STAY down... or walking wound yourself off the field.

    The DeadButNotGone mess
    Yuma gonna luv it

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011


    A very interesting topic for discussion. Personally, unless it is at the end of an engagement, and our side is supposed to lose, I will not take a hit. It's just confusing, trying to find my unit, or lying there for a great long while (I do NOT lean on my elbow and converse, nor do I have a camera) with nothing to do. More importantly, I do have that sneaking fear that my taking a hit is indeed disrespectful. How can we even begin to honorably portray the devastation of minie ball injuries, to say nothing of grapeshot, cannister, etc? I recall that South Park episode where the guys are laughing, yukking it up, pretending to die, while the audience is like "Whoa, so this is what it was really like!"
    Why even bother doing something that is so far beyond most of our comprehension or ability to portray?

    Also, the casualties are completely inaccurate, given the distances at which a lot of these engagements are done. In my opinion, the field ought to be much more littered with the dead and dying if units are firing into each other at ranges of 50 yards or closer. But, given manpower constraints and the size of the field, that would make the battle last about 20 minutes.

    I think it a very interesting proposal, having events with no casualties. It wouldn't eliminate the happy snap taking, I'm afraid. I've seen people in line of battle pausing their firing routine to pull out the camera.
    I'd be interested in participating in such an event, however.

    Just my 2c.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Default Sannitized Battlefields

    I hear honor and respect bandied about as reasons for our participation in this hobby. I've heard we strive to keep the memories of fallen alive by educating the populace no longer being taught this period in the history of the United States. I listened to members of our hobby belittle those whose standards of authenticity does not measure up to theirs. The horrors of war should never be forgotten. I have no problem with a "demonstration" showing how a company would have been formed for battle, How a "repel boarders" drill is carried out or the proper means of deploying skirmishers. Living History events do a nice job at this type of educating. Why do large actual battles by announcing that there will be no dead or wounding because we wish to respect those who fell on the field or is this just another attempt to remove the violence that actually occurs.

    Geo. Dailey
    USNLP (western waters)
    Battery D 1st Michigan

  5. #5



    A perennial discussion this...

    It can be hard, because a large part of "reenacting" is the Saturday and Sunday battle. And, for many lads, their Mental Picture is one of having the "battles" as the raison d'etre of their Hobby and complain if they do not get enough "Trigger Time."

    And it seems, at first glance, that often times the newer one is to Reenacting, the more the "battles" drive their interest and expectation- especially when sandwiched with a Saturday night ball.

    To an extent, a battle is also the expectation of paying or non-paying spectators. It seems ot me I have been asked when or where is the battle as many times or more than are you hot in that uniform.

    But I also know lads who only do the more "immersion" events of marches or camps with no battles. Or more "living history" dispictions of encampments or site interpretation for the Public. And know a few lads who absolutely hate the battle portion or reenacting whether 18th, 19th, or 20th centuries to the point of dropping out/quitting because their uniots are battle-based/focused to the exclusion of everything else.

    IMHO, it comes down to personal Mental Pictures and one man's meat being another man's poison.

    "Battleless" events are not new. The Park Service went through a phase where they first banned "hits." Then banned opposed firing. And then banned "reenactments" on NPS sites. And then banned flints in muskets (had to be wooden simulations).

    I don't know. I do not think that "reenacting" would be sustainable if battles were eliminated (in any era/period) as too many, if not the vast majority are essentially "in it" for the battles and not the other.

    Others' mileage will vary...

    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Burke, VA


    Early on in the hobby (during some of the 125th events), someone I know was in the spectators and heard some of the spectators commenting about the "Lazaurus effect", i.e., someone would go down and, after the battle had passed on, rise from the dead and rejoin the battle. The soldiers probably didn't think anyone would notice but, guess what, lots of people did. That convinced me, when I took a hit, to stay down/stagger off the field/whatever but NOT to rise from the dead and think I was fooling anyone. This has put me cooking in the sun out in the middle of a field sometimes for 20 minutes or so or one time grasshoppers stirred up by the battle line were jumping all over me but I stayed put anyhow. At Maryland My Maryland, they did encourage walking wounded, etc., and not so many instant corpses. The intent was to show a more realistic portrayal of casualties and convey some of the dangers the original soldiers faced.

    One recognized scholar of the civil war doesn't attend reenactments because he feels they are too much of a spectacle. I know he would be highly critical of soldiers trivializing the experience by yukking it up or sitting up to take pictures after supposedly being wounded.

    Whether the better avenue is to take no hits, put realistic hits in the rules for the event, or to give the soldiers a "pep talk" before going into battle, nothing is probably going to be completely effective. Again mentioning Maryland My Maryland, there were a lot of cameras coming out during the battles even though such actions were if I remember correctly, not allowed so that might be an indicator of how successful it would be to promote taking realistic hits in the proper number.

    Whether portraying hits accurately or no hits best honors the original soldiers could be debated forever with no real resolution. However, I think it can be firmly stated that being casual about the whole things and, after taking a hit, acting very inappropriately for a wounded/dying/dead soldier honors no one.

    Just an opinion.

    Michael Mescher
    Michael Mescher
    visit us at:
    Ragged Soldier Sutlery

  7. #7


    I did one of those "hitless" NPS events at Yorktown in 1981. Hit taking was prohibited. Actually, from a private's standpoint, it was kinda nice. It meant one less thing to concentrate on. I could just pay attention to the commands, firing the musket, seeing the spectacle unfold around me. I'd rather see that than yucking-it-up hit taking.
    I'm on the other side of the fence, tho. We need to encourage people to take hits. Units need to draw straws or cards or tell everyone born in February that it's their time or something. Individuals need to cease fiddling with a non-firing musket and take a hit. Fiddle with it some more in camp. I'm also a big believer in staying hit. If you don't want to lie on the ground, take a walking wound.
    Even after all my years in the hobby, I still think one of the characteristics of a good reenactor is the willingness to not be bulletproof.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Rancho San Rafael, Republic of the Pacific


    Could always use live rounds. Then you could here the buzz of the bullets, and you know when to take a hit. But then good shots might break the scenario.

    Sarcasm off.
    Andrew Grim
    Monte Mounted Rifles, Monte Boys
    Mess of Myself
    Occasional 7%er

    "Los Angeles at the close of the Rebellion was the most vindictive, uncompromising community in the United States" Horace Bell

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Near Hanover, PA


    There's a lot more "crap" that need fixed at events before how and when folks take "hits" and what they do after they've done so. Drill, maneuver, camps, HISTORY; might be a bit further up the list.
    "Grumpy" Dave T.

    "Biggest problem is, at most "reenactments," nobody knows what their "historical" job was. And, in most cases the privates are worse off than the NCO's and Officers." - Deceased

  10. #10


    well, I don't think you fix events one item at a time. I think good hits would improve the battle demonstration slice of the event.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty


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