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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 07/09/2010 10:47:02 EDT
Subject: A 2010 Gettysburg Re-enactment Assessment & More

Message Detail:
No military after-action-report has yet been received at these head-quarters. However, we have recv'd another, non-communicator's report which may interest you all.

A Civilian Attendees Partial Assessment of 2010 Gettysburg & My Suggestions For Looking Beyond

--- A Lady wrote:

"... Now, battle organization - extremely poor. The night before the first event, there was still no scenario in place and we were all speculating. All the way though, organization and communication could have been better. There was a lot of frustration throughout the weekend over this issue.

"... Overall, the biggest downside was the poor battle planning and the heat! The planning has always seemed better in past years."

Thank you so much for your assessment of Gettysburg 2010. I have honed in on your remarks relative to event communication, and must say that I am not the least bit surprised that communication was wanting at this event. I assure you that, sadly, it isn't an isolated campaign challenge. Your report does, however, offer a great opportunity for the civilian community to advance and take the reins, in hopes of rectifying such deficiencies in the future, and thereby raise the event organizers esteem for the civilian community - and subsequent event period communication expectations.

Let me begin by saying that most engagements during 1861-1865 did not occur near locations where large civilian populations (refugees or otherwise) occupied tent cities. Even the military seldom entertained their deadly get-togethers near a cantonment.

Let's face it, our canvas cities are, for the most part, are but doubles for our on-site convenience, i.e. something akin to movie set dressing room trailers -
where we sometimes do show-n-tell for spectators.

Now comes the PLAN!!!!!

First. Members of the civilian community make plans to 'assume' charge of all event period-related communications (other than that claimed by those claiming
to be emulating military signallists - on the scenerio'd field or re-creation.

Second. Visit the Signal Corps Association Re-enactors' Division site forum >URL inserted here< and start asking questions about wire telegraphy.

Yes! Civilian telegraph companies operated all around engagements - and in some instances, women were employed as telegraph operators and office clerks too! Children served as foot messengers delivering telegrams. Set up your wires to emanate out from the civilian camp in two directions - one to the Federal and one to the Confederate camps. Set up bulletin boards to post the
latest information at all three camps.

Third. Establish a mail service in the civilian camp with regularly scheduled runs to both the CS & US camps, but do it in a triangular route if event camp layouts permit. Encourage civilians to write to those military participants they know are at the event. Work out addressing with the military over-all adjutants and provost marshal (camp police guard) or at smaller events, the CO.s chief clerk - to make deliveries more efficient. Mails should be delivered to highest military component, i.e. corps, brigade, etc., &c., and have them filter
it down through their ranks.

Fourth. Where possible, establish a cartage service with horse-drawn waggons,drays or even a few hand-carts to move baggage in and out of camps during times when horseless carriages are not permitted to move about freely. The cartage enterprize could also double as an express service.

Fifth. See to it that the above four recommendations (or any committed combination there of) are set into motion as far in advance of a designated event as is possible so as to allow event organizers, as yet unfamiliar with this new civilian community assets, realize what an asset they have been offered.

Once the civilian communities are practised running event communications, the next step would be to select representatives from within these communities to see to the needs of the civilian community similar to what the general staff does for military re-enactors - mirror the activities of an event general staff by creating a mayor and town council. This will ensure that your civil
engineers and wood-yard representatives will be on hand during the walk-throughs to ensure that you aren't placed in a swamp or that you won't be short-changed when it comes to the allocation of shared event amenities.

While I do not personally know of any female mayors during the early 1860's I also don't know of many event organizer sanctioned/tolerated civilian/military canvas camps near the locations where engagements occurred. Use this as a lever. Even at campaigner events (such as McDowell) where off-site CAMPS have been designated for non-foraging civilian participants.

Please do share my posting with anyone you believe would be interested in raising the level of functionality of period attired civilians at future events to be conducted during the Sesquicentennial of the War of 1861.

If the military emulators at this year's Gettysburg would have had your services as functional civilian period-communicators in 'camp', I dare say that that your
assessment would have read somewhat differently.

Walt Mathers
Signal Corps Association (1860-1865)


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