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Thread: What Rank Are You?

  1. #31
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    Feb 2012
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    Near Gettysburg PA
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    At a reenactment in the spring of 2011, I witnessed a young man in an officer uniform punching his horse in the head.

    That sort of thing pretty much represents the humble experiences I have had with people in officer uniforms, and why I only participate in Living History as a civilian.
    David Einhorn, Author of the book titled, "Civil War Blacksmithing" available from Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Civil-War-Blac...+blacksmithing

  2. #32
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    Feb 2006
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    Philadelphia
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    Well sometimes you do have to punch young officers in the head to get their attention...

    Oh! You meant the officer punched the horse! Well that's just cruel!
    Scott Washburn
    Mifflin Guard
    www.paperterrain.com

  3. #33
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    Feb 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by 28thNY View Post
    My personal policy is that rank within the world of reenacting is only as relevant as the willingness of other people to server under your command... Within my unit, I'm elected as Captain; however, during the course of the last year, I've attended events with every rank between private and Major. First and foremost, I try to be a reenactor. Rank is irrelevant.
    That's pretty much my situation.

    As for the original post, a man I greatly admired wished to be buried in his officer's uniform, and I was honored to fire a volley over his grave. Having lived most my life in the DC area, I don't have the same feeling for rank as he did, but that doesn't necessarily make me right.

    On a broader level, I think we as a community face some leadership challenges, which get tied up in the issue of rank.

    On the authenticists' side, only a few organizations have the size, structure, and experience to stage events of any size. I think that's why we see many more adjuncts than stand-alone hard core weekends. But that may just be the price you pay for a certain level of standards. The adjuncts at least provide -- beyond the fun -- an opportunity to work and play well with others and learn more about event logistics.

    The bigger umbrella organizations on the other hand face an age issue. By conflating club rank with military rank, the presidents, VPs, treasurers, secretaries, safety officers, &c &c choke off advancement for younger reenactors, many of whom will end up leaving for the ranks of authenticists. Thus, over the years the umbrella organizations have come to look less and less like the armies of 1861-65 and more and more like the gerontocracy of 1860.

    In a way, this is an easier challenge to meet than that facing the authenticists. Simply split the two chains. The old guys can keep doing the club business while tapping youngsters to take on field duties. The appearance of events like Cedar Creek and Neshaminy would change overnight if the most visible players on the field were suddenly the right age for a soldier in 1863.

    Some might object that youngsters lack experience for field command. They did then, too. Youngsters also lack the baggage of 30 years of doing things the same way.

    Just before I made the decision to retire from my real world job I felt a slight pang of regret, thinking of all my valuable experience. But then I realized that my experience was perhaps more valuable to me than to employees 20 and 30 years younger, and that for others long experience is indistinguishable from complacency.

    The biggest test of leadership isn't how long you can stay on the job, but how effectively you replace yourself.
    M. A. Schaffner
    Midstream Regressive Complainer

  4. #34
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    Feb 2006
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    1,314

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    Last time I checked my kit is pretty rank...wife makes me keep it in the basement...

    Pards,
    S. Chris Anders
    Southern Division
    www.southerndivision.org
    http://www.civilwarhenrico.com/

    There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. - Niccoló Machiavelli, The Prince. 1537.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    36

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    To paraphrase a great quote ... All of reenacting is a stage, and we are merely actors. I am no more an NCO or Officer, or even a Private than Daniel Day Lewis is Abraham Lincoln. We play a part, just a simple role in a larger play and are characters entering and exiting stage right and left. Once one begins to think differently then perhaps it is no longer a hobby to you and professional help should be sought.

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Huntsville
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    My question is this: how are "ranks" handed out in the Civil War reenacting hobby? My impression is that they are self-adopted, or perhaps awarded by small subsets of people in the hobby. That is, there is no official oversight by any kind of national organization. This makes it tricky.

    I am an Eagle Scout. It is an official, recognized rank earned in a national organization, the Boy Scouts of America with a long history. In the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), another national organization with a long history, you can earn the rank of Knight. In both cases these ranks are nationally recognized throughout all sub-groups of the main organization.

    Ultimately, none of these ranks or achievements are any more "real" than any other - they are artificial constructs created in the context of some organization to bestow honor on people who have achieved some kind of recognized notoriety.

    But I think most people assign more worth to them when the weight of an old and large organization is bestowing the ranks and titles rather than when they are simply self-adopted or bestowed by just a few people.

    Steve
    Steve Sheldon

  7. #37
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Browns Summit, NC
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    I have only been reenacting for a year now. I portray a private, which is good for me. The outfit I am with seems like everyone earns their positions. I don't need to be an officer, but if they ask, I would think it over, and if I feel I can do a good job, would take it. I witnessed a fellow from another group that was the "leader", pushing his privates around like they were dogs. That is something I would never put with. I guess he thought he was a better person, because he was leading the group. The officers in my group are leaders, they are good at what they do, make it feel realistic, while still remembering that we are just part of this hobby. Do a good job while having fun, and being around people that love history.

  8. #38
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    Feb 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by maillemaker View Post
    My question is this: how are "ranks" handed out in the Civil War reenacting hobby? My impression is that they are self-adopted, or perhaps awarded by small subsets of people in the hobby. That is, there is no official oversight by any kind of national organization. This makes it tricky.

    I am an Eagle Scout. It is an official, recognized rank earned in a national organization, the Boy Scouts of America with a long history. In the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), another national organization with a long history, you can earn the rank of Knight. In both cases these ranks are nationally recognized throughout all sub-groups of the main organization.

    Ultimately, none of these ranks or achievements are any more "real" than any other - they are artificial constructs created in the context of some organization to bestow honor on people who have achieved some kind of recognized notoriety.

    But I think most people assign more worth to them when the weight of an old and large organization is bestowing the ranks and titles rather than when they are simply self-adopted or bestowed by just a few people.

    Steve
    In larger, "umbrella" organizations people are usually elected to ranks. The ranks mean something because people trust the electees to keep the organization working and, generally, to lead troops on the field. Because they derive from other reenactors' belief in the ability of the people they vote for, one might argue that they have more meaning than rank derived from an abstract set of standards set by a board of strangers.

    Still, they're problematical because the rank may have more to do with hobby organizational skills than actual historical knowledge or tactical ability. On a company level, when you assign NCO ranks based on how many events people attend, you can wind up with a company of NCOs, especially on Sunday morning.

    In the authenticists' world, rank is usually assigned on an event by event basis by the organizers of the overall effort, or subordinate officers; in either case it's generally based on an assessment of the person's ability to do the job. There's less chance of a person getting rank based solely on politicking, but unit, mess, and personal politics can play a role.

    And then occasionally some clown just shows up in an officer's uniform. At mainstream events they end up lonely, at more authentic events they end up on the road.

    No system is idiot-proof, but these rough and ready methods have worked fairly well.

    Besides, by the time the National Credentials Board sets standards for reenactor ranks the season for wearing wool will be limited to the third weekend in January.
    M. A. Schaffner
    Midstream Regressive Complainer

  9. #39
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    State of Northern Virginia
    Posts
    253

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    Steve,
    We have a certification process in our unit. Field test and written test at the end of the season. Thus it's earned. The idea originally was to ensure our officers and NCO's actually knew what they were doing and why and not have some rank simply because they've been around a while. The other idea was to give anyone in our group a chance to lead if they so desired it which is difficult in most other units.

    I've moved up through the ranks and am now a LT else I am a private. So while technically we may have 5 certified NCO's or whatever, you will never see all 5 on the field at once. No matter what though, I totally agree with this statement -- "First and foremost, I try to be a reenactor. Rank is irrelevant."
    Sgt Coleman
    138th PVI
    Federal Volunteer Brigade

  10. #40
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    Feb 2006
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    Virginia, USA
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    544

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pvt Schnapps View Post
    In larger, "umbrella" organizations people are usually elected to ranks. The ranks mean something because people trust the electees to keep the organization working and, generally, to lead troops on the field. Because they derive from other reenactors' belief in the ability of the people they vote for, one might argue that they have more meaning than rank derived from an abstract set of standards set by a board of strangers.
    We're not an umbrella organization, but we are incorporated, with an elected board of directors that appoints the military commander with the rank of 1st Lt., which is in keeping with what we know of the history of the company we portray. Every January the officer faces a vote of confidence from the rank and file, and must receive a "yes" vote of 75 percent in order to retain the position. Corporals are elected, and sergeants are appointed by the officer from among the corporals. We solved the issue of "officer for life" both on the board and in the military structure by amending the by-laws with term limits of two years. We had to do that because we encountered the same issue Scott Buffington mentioned -- we had a fine officer, but we kept electing him year after year until he had been the military commander for 10 years. It wasn't that he let the rank go to his head, but a bit of complacency set in ... nobody else was willing to take the job until forced to accept the fact that somebody was going to have to do it -- because, like Scott, he finally said he wouldn't accept it again.
    Darrell Cochran
    Third U.S. Regular Infantry
    http://www.buffsticks.us

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