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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 07/26/2004 09:41:01 EDT
Subject: Keeping Track of Signal Parties in the Swirls

Message Detail:
Pete,

Your thoughts concerning assignment are correct as to how signal detachments and their individual parties and sub-sets such a as sectins and half-sections were deployed when ordered were isuued to take the field, e.g. army, corps, division.

But once in the field, we have written accounts of elements of detachments being ordered to accompany brigades and even companies of troops on any number of forays. We know of signal parties being ordered to picket lines and even have an account where a scouting party of the Susquehanna signal detachment, (which in itself was considered small by having but a mere 4 officers and 40 mounted men) were the first into Chambersburg after its burning in 1864 (Brown's Sig. Hist. p.678).

In answer to yours that you didn't know of aerial signals being used as a means th have "brigades and regiments to move around on the ground in a battle" I only need to point you to the very first land engagement in the world where E. Porter Alexander signalled the Confederate forces on the plains of Manassas to what their left as it was turned by an unexpected Federal crossing of the stream called Bull Run. This continued, where conditions required (and that's the key) where incursions were though necessary to secure a given goal.

Now back to the re-created field of operations...

By my mentioning the swirls and massing of the minions, I was acknowledging that many of us, re-enactors $$$ and the over charged spectator $$$$$$ alike, know re-enactments come in all sizes and shape, and bring out the best and worst in event planners. Re-creation groups also support some over-all commanders who decree simply by default or a smiley face and agreeable nod because the rest of the would-be commanders can't seem to work to-gether. Some haunchos tend to be mico-managers and because of this, like many an on-the-job signal training encounter, they feel the need to be on-top of every situation until they become comfortable with tehabilities of their co-operating elements. The swirls continue at many of these weekend-a-month campaigns.

As in days of old, signal party chiefs must instantly assess each situation on an individual basis and make the best of less than favourable conditions, i.e. identifying other like-creatures for communicating purposes in the swirling pits of postage sized and occasionally marathonish sand boxes.

Seldom do elements of re-enacting armies traverse the countryside as the originals of the 1860's. It is usually a situation of camp next to your engagement field or fields (like it will be at Franklin).


Hope this helps clear the air a bit Pete ;)
73,
Walt
30

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