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Thread: What Rank Are You?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010



    I've done about 6 years of "higher learning" myself. But I did often find professors to be very cynical about anything they didn't "like". Yes, that's just MY personal experience, I know. Sorry if the term "egghead" offends, but I think it fits this guy. He proclaims himself an "expert" and basically declares "living historians" to be fools. On second thought, Egghead probably was a bad choice.....A more appropriate name would likely be even more offensive though.

    Now, back to the original question...sorry I took us on a detour!!

    D.W. Scalf
    Last edited by D.W. Scalf; 11-24-2012 at 09:59 AM. Reason: addition

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Williamstown, NJ


    I have seen it all, the humble private, which is all he wants to be to the inflated, " I should be a general cause I have reenacted for years" to , "I will never dress down because I am an officer now" types. I know many who do dress down due to numbers they field as well.

    There are those who do not deserve rank cause they can't lead, and there are well qualified men who can lead but prefer a lower rank.

    I don't understand those who lead a 50 man battalion as a colonel. you can go on and on. I'd like to see standards set for battalions at events. We had this years ago when a group called the Civil War Liaison Committee was around and we tried to police ourselves. Minimum size for battalions were 100 men.

    Andy Siganuk

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009


    When taps play and the flag is folded over my remains it really doesn't matter what those whom grieve for me choose to print in my obit nor should it matter to those who never knew me. I am a Vietnam vet, a reenactor portraying a civil war artillery pvt.,Union Navy petty officer and Ship's Gunner (warrant officer). Nothing for anybody to get their skivies in a knot over. Above all else I am a "sailor" one of Uncle Sam's fine upstanding North American bluejackets.

    Geo. Dailey
    Battery D 1st Michigan
    Last edited by navygunner; 11-24-2012 at 12:03 PM. Reason: additional

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Bedford, Virginia


    There have been men in the hobby that are known as "Gen. _____" or "Capt. _______" by their friends and comrades for so long it is pretty much part of their name and what they are called by others in the hobby. I won't go into if this is right or wrong, good or bad, whatever, it is just a statement of fact, you can be judgemental or just accept it as one of the quirks of the hobby. If the family wants it to be part of the obituary then have enough respect to bite your tongue if need be. And if the person is still alive then you can make a point of calling them "Mister _____" or "Bob" rather then the fantasy rank outside of an active living history situation.
    Boyd Miles

    "Let's go, boys! We've got the d**n Yankees on the run again!" ---Gen. Joseph Wheeler Battle of Las Guasimas, June 24, 1898

  5. #15



    IMHO, a complicated discussion.

    Largely due to the way "reenacting" evolved different branches over time.

    The first branch being the concept of founding fathers/benign or not so benign dictators at the unit level also "rising" to amalgamated or combined batalion/brigade/armies levels. So, the is the mix of hereditary officers some actual leads, others socio-emotive figures.
    And the other brand being part and parcel of the Authenticity Movement of 1998-2004 where the hobby-traditional units were eschewed in favor of messes and individuals constantly forming and reforming units-du-jour comng together to recreate specific units with specific command and rank structures on an event-by-event basis. And, with many of the leaders being asked or tapped to assume rank they otherwise avoided like the plague but had their arms twisted to capitalize on their leadership qualities and/or experience.

    The other side of the coin, IMHO, is more "social." There is an appeal of sorts in adding perceived and to some extent hobby-granted recognition, prestige, reputation, etc., for made-up hobby and fraternal association "rank" that exists outside of "real" rank, title, position earned in the Real World..
    But Society can be funny about that. America which is supposed to be classless, still has a class if not caste system giving some people title, position, and actually military or para-military (police) rank to add to one's name. OR, in some professions, the "legal right" to add letters in front of one's name or behind one's name such medical doctors or lawyers.
    America can be odd about it, as compared to some countries. In America a field grade military officer might keep the title of his rank for the rest of his life even though he or she is no longer serving. Much the same with a politician.... "Governor So-and-So" remains Governor even if they served for half a term. Not so much for an NCO or company officer.

    The other comment has a long standing past and tradition. "Academia" NUG criticizes reenactors as fools misrepresenting and getting history wrong. Reenactors, even at so-called Farb levels of Yahooism, criticize academics for beign snooty, snobby, and for failing to recognize their accomplishments or achievements even when truely bogus and outright wrong. And in Society, there is always the argument over who has the "right" to comment on and portray 'history?" Which reenactors usually buck or lose to as that is generally the self-claimed private domain of only academics, writers, and Hollywood.

    And there are a small number of highly educated folks in the Hobby, as well as a few who can be found posting here with no prefixes, no suffixes, and not even the mention of a Hobby rank even if it is Rear Rank Private.

    IMHO still, and for me personally, I was not a Civil War soldier and cannot lay or make claim to their titles even "private." But, portraying and intrerpreting, I do present or pretend to be when the occassion or scenario calls for (functional) rank.
    But being pretend reality, as my old unit-mate Froggy John did, anyone can go to sutler's row or make an on-line purchase of colonel's or general's insignia and make themselves a colonel or general because....

    they can.

    And that is part of the "Hobby."

    Others' mileage will vary...

    Student of History Mess
    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. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    It's frustrating in the field when officers command poorly. It's enjoyable when competent officers, sometimes true leaders, command well. I'm certain that there were both good and bad officers then as now. I confess only that I portray an NCO and private. It would be presuming too much to say that I am either. This is a hobby, and one where many of us are quite passionate. When I see and hear "officers" berating their troops, it saddens me. We all take this hobby as seriously as each sees fit. As with anything, if it ceases to be enjoyable, it's probably time to move on. In camp as on this forum, I enjoy interacting with others and encountering opinions and knowledge that I might not otherwise. Thanks for all who reenact and discuss and debate!
    Ben Leggett
    Potted Possum Mess
    36th GVI, 43rd GVI

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Galion, Ohio


    But, of course, there are a precious few who do deserve to be held above the massed files of privates due to not only their talent, intellect, contribution to the hobby, actual leadership and leadership ability, etc. Such men are revered by their men, and by the greater hobby. Odd how more often than not they are Colonels rather than Generals! And more commonly the guys who think themselves generals are no where near the important men that those colonels are.

    There are NCOs who deserve the stripes they wear as well. And likewise, a six striper will show up thinking himself something more than the long suffering but respected 3 striper who actually does the job.

    But, in keeping with the thread, none of these are actual ranks you can put on your resume'. They exist only for the sake of the impression.

    I was a general once, but I got over it and got better. My crew has recognized my humble talent and put three stripes on my sleeve. I wear these proudly, often taking charge of guys who wear more rank than myself, but nobody calls me "sarge" at home or in the's still just "hey you" or " late to lunch" or " johnson" Ha Ha!

    Member 5th Texas Co. A/1st NC Artillery. Disabled Viet Nam veteran, 1970. I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now!

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    I think it is a mistake to fall into some silly rote feeling that "I'm cooler than you because I just wanna be a private."

    Oh, it's very popular among some to scoff at officers and to assume they are better because they just want to be a private, but it really is no better to fetishize about being a private than it is about an officer. You AREN'T a civil war soldier whether you portray an officer or a private. Face it, gentlemen, we are dudes from 2012 that enjoy history. There isn't much difference between dudes from 2012 that dress up as civil war privates and dudes from 2012 that dress up as civil war officers.

    Additionally, whether we like it or not, officers are NECESSARY for this hobby. In fact, I find the biggest draw back among some of the hard kewel groups out there is that few of them know anything about BEING an officer because none of them want to stay as one. So they have different people doing the job every event and all do a poor job because NONE of them have the experience to do it well.

    Denigrating reenacting officer rank is self-defeating for us, I think.

    The FACT is, most reenactors that have achieved rank in this day and age actually DID earn it somehow and in some legitimate way.

    Before I go into that, I must say this: as a long time officer myself, I agree that anyone that simply MUST portray whatever highest rank they achieved and nothing else, despite anything else going on, should be looked at a bit askance. Officers should have no problem going from one part of the hobby to another.

    When I was a colonel of the battalion I raised in the late 1990s (I stepped down in 2007), I still attended events as a private, or a sgt. or whatever was needed by the group I was going with at the time. And I went to all sorts of events without my bttn. I didn't HAVE to be a colonel. I also took my bttn to events and informed the general in charge that we'd be happy to lose our staff officers and that I would step down in rank if that was best for the event. I always brought several uniforms for all eventualities.

    But just as I am a bit wary of someone who refuses to step down in rank, I also look askance at any reenactor that refuses to portray a solider from the side other than they usually portray. All of it is our history, both US and CS. This stiff necked business of refusing to portray both a fed and a reb is a bit disgusting to me.

    So, we are reenactors. NOT "privates." If you are fetishizing being a private over being an officer you are just as wrong.

    Now, yes, there was a day when many of the officers walking around at events never earned any position nor the respect that goes with such positions. There was a day when people just bought a neat uniform and claimed they were Capt suchandsuch or even General whoseits.

    But those folks are farther and fewer between than ever. And often the ones that still exist understand their place is not to command anything. These days MOST people walking around with rank got it in some fairly legitimate way.

    As to staff officers and colonels, most have earned that rank by having the capability to raise a battalion. They've had the organizational skills, the moxy, and the earned respect to have gathered 4, 5 or more groups together to start a battalion. Either that or they've run for office in an existing battalion and garnered enough support to win. This is no small thing. This is nothing to simply blow off. This sort of ability is not something to discount.

    As to the generals, often they, too, have only attained their position because of the great amount of respect they engendered among their men. They've been in the hobby for years and they've had a hand in hundreds of events over those decades.

    Some variations to this, of course, but for the most part this is all the way higher officers got where they are today.

    Now, I'd suspect that people that put these RIP notices here add the rank for two reasons.

    1). That is how people knew the deceased. No one is placing the man's rank in an RIP notice as a preeminent thing. No one is disrespecting REAL generals and colonels in the real army by adding that to the notice. No one imagines that the deceased is a "real" officer.

    2). The person putting up the notice adds the rank because they respected the deceased enough to feel his rank was earned and important to his friends.

    To automatically assume that the deceased thought so much of himself and his rank because some friends of his put up an RIP notice containing said rank is not fair to the deceased who is NOT here to protest it all!

    Lastly, let us recall that there are many, many REAL generals in the real army that also don't seem to be a credit to their rank. How many officers have you people known from the real armed forces that were a joke? We can all name several real civil war generals that the world would have been better off without!

    So, let's start acting like thinking adults and dump the anti-reenacting officer bias. Stop fetishizing about being a private. Assess reenacting officers like you do anyone else, based on their merits. Some are worthy, others less so. Let's avoid any rote bias against reenactors that portray officers and be thinkers about this.

    The BothSidesOfIt mess
    Yuma gonna luv it

  9. #19


    Quote Originally Posted by Curt-Heinrich Schmidt View Post
    The other side of the coin, IMHO, is more "social." There is an appeal of sorts in adding perceived and to some extent hobby-granted recognition, prestige, reputation, etc., for made-up hobby and fraternal association "rank" that exists outside of "real" rank, title, position earned in the Real World.
    It just occurred to me that this is an age-old problem, especially among southerners. If they managed to get militia rank, they'd use the title the rest of their life, meaning there were numerous "generals" and "colonels" who had never served outside of parades and militia musters.

    Here's a good article on the topic: From the article:

    When Mrs. Frances Trollope made the trip from New Orleans to Memphis in 1828, she was surprised to find that most of the men on the boat were addressed by the title of general, colonel, or major. She related her findings to an English friend who said that he found the same thing when he made that journey on the Mississippi River. He told Mrs. Trollope that he had asked a fellow traveler why there was not a single captain among them, to which the man replied, "Oh, sir, the captains are all on deck [meaning they paid deck passage, the cheapest ticket]."
    Hank Trent

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Clermont County Ohio


    I am simply want ever rank I am needed to be, to help with the overall impression for the event. Nothing more, nothing less. AKA. Normally a private, but I have served from Lt. to 2nd Sgt. What ever is needed.



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