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Posted By: Walter F. Mathers on: 06/06/2002 13:38:52 CDT
Subject: RE: How to use signalmen properly

Message Detail:
Chuck,

Your question:
"'What are other folks doing by way of training their new recruits? How do you get them over that initial learning curve and make them useful right away?" is a good one.

Some folks seek and they find (signal documentation that is) while others see a signal title as justification to set up a wall tent or two and then put an "Out to Lunch" sign on their tent flap. Instead of honing their signal skills in order to serve the urgent needs of field commanders such groups often religate themselves to sending flag messages (sometimes at less than 30 yard distances) which call for ice and water. While they think this is noble service (and I agree when thirsty) it is not historical signal service in the true sense of the word.

All in all, some well intentioned souls literally show up on the re-enactment field without a clew but are willing to learn. As many have pointed out, this is not the time to learn, its the time for a know-your-lines for the impending stage performance. When the re-enacting curtain rises, field commanders, who have heard stories of functional signal and telegraph communicators, don't want to see how pretty you look in a uniform, they want to know that you possess acting ability, they want you to be able to anticipate their next move and be ready to implement it and they want you to have acted on their behalf in double quick fashion. If you don't produce results they'll shelve you in an instance, and the signallist who gets shelved sets the stage for his unwitting successor.

Signal re-enactors can be a feircely independant lot (and like guard dogs when it comes to their perceived play-turf), but if they really want to consistantly succeed, if they have the interests of the field commander, the army, the event, the spectator ahead of their own, they may well find that instead of protecting their small piece of turf, the'll want to go the collective route for the benefit of all. That's where SCARD comes in. SCARD is truely an umbrella groups with stations all across the country and in Europe and the British Isles. SCARD is there to act on behalf of signal and telegraph operatives wherever their detachment flags may wave. We're here to serve, to exchange ideas, to offer advice. The success of this forum by signal re-enactors shows that it is working. When you meet other signallists on the re-enacting field, let them know about www.civilwarsignals.org. Tell them about our forum. Tell them what they are missing by not reading the great posts at your forum. And then hope that they will take your advice.

Now to answer your question of how to "get them over that initial learning curve and make them useful right away." Most people ask other people about the best ways to signal. Some get it right and some never do. Some ask questions while others have the opinion to leave well enough alone. Like someone else said up at the forum... Brown's signal history book is a must have for serious signal re-enactors. Some get it, while sadly some never do. SCARD can fill in many of the gaps with the finer points but without a general outline and understanding as to why the signal corps was so important (The And Now) and why students of signal re-enacting ought to take such an assignment seriously, unfortunately the many offers of training aids will fall on deaf ears in some circles.

Hey! Let's talk to us about producing some knock Your Socks Off training aides. Let us collectively begin to arc a few curves.

Walt
3.3.3.

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Signal Corps Association Re-enactors' Division (SCARD)
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