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Posted By: Chuck Lee on: 06/06/2002 14:48:49 CDT
Subject: RE: How to use signalmen properly

Message Detail:
Numbers come into play here, too, it would seem. When we field an Artillery crew or five (which we often do), we usually still have more than enough fellows to do anything really "functional". In our Artillery group, we all too often ask our fellows to bring their muskets because we're going to need Infantry support - which we do - and because having 60+ fellows in Washington Artillery uniforms and only 5 cannons sort of crowds us; we either take a high number of hits, or some folks don't get to play on the guns. Or a lot of fellows elect to go Infantry for that event.

With a surplus of fellows, we have the luxury of training them on the spot ('cause it's just not THAT difficult for a fellow to learn to be a cannoneer, especially with 9 other fellows watching your every move and correcting each little error as it occurs). Learning aerial telegraphy is a bit more difficult than being coached through an Artillery drill, though.

So if I understand correctly, unlike the Artillery or Infantry drills which can mainly be learned on the field (though they certainly look better if practiced at home a good bit before events), a Signalman's job is really one that needs to be learned at home almost exclusively, and then put into practice on the field. That means to me that there's a compelling need for Camps of Instruction, in having the fellows who live close enough to each other to meet up every few weeks at a neutral spot where the neighbors won't heckle you so they can practice together, and then putting it all together as a cohesive work unit in the field when opportunity (events, that is) permits.

Slow thinker here - but that also seems to be a compelling reason to have as many training aids available as we can - CDs, pamphlets, videos, posters, tattoos on our left thighs so we can review in the latrine, audio tapes where applicable (probably not so much for aerial telegraphy as for Morse or American Code or whatever the Code of choice may - anything that gives us better access and direction in learning all that we need to know. I've not yet tried out the Morse interactive practice page address on the SCARD site, but I expect to once I get a telegraph set and a few other ducks in a row.

Pamphlet? Does it really rather need to be a booklet (maybe printed in 8.5" X 5.5" size and bound with twine like the Beadle's works?) so that it can contain the most common signal combinations in addition to the basic cheat sheet? And what about "helpful hints"? I found the comments on "figure 8-ing" the signal flag to keep from entangling it with the pole to be instructive and beneficial. Practical, and like most really good, sensible ideas, it was sort of obvious once it was pointed out, but a real mystery to those of us less fast to pick up on a clue (but with a lightning grasp of the obvious).

Would there be certain baseline preconcerted codes that could / should be included in such a pamphlet or booklet? A sort of standardized shorthand to the shorthand?

Chuck Lee

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