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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 01/19/2014 15:19:14 EDT
Subject: Exsist'g or Succeed'g? Stagnat'g or Advanc'g?

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What makes a re-enactment succeed? Why do some events work seamlessly while others give the impression that folks really didn't have it to-gether for that particular outing? Where's the unity come from?

Could it be that a certain person or like-minded group have studied command, control and accountability issues involving themselves and other re-enacting staffs and have discarded that which hasn't been successful and kept and improved what did succeed? Is it that simple?

The search features found at the bottom of this forum page can lead our readers to many campaign season summaries.

Sometimes, a little reading-between-the-lines is necessary to understand why certain events went one way or another.

Pre-event orchestration (and amount of signal involvement therewith) comes up every now and then. Another issue that re-occurs with some 'regularity' is the coming together of signal elements who haven't worked together on a 'regular' basis.

Some leaders appreciate having check-lists. This way they can add or delete. In fact, the use of such a method allows for the 'regular' tracking their forward progress. Once specifics have been identified, and adjustments made, advancement is possible.

Let's address scenario sequencing on event-level orchestration - because that seems to be the legitimate work of signal emulators.

Every mid-size to major re-enactment has a chain of command, a pecking order of elements so to speak. Without fail, there is the command staff, the regional organizations who bring with them the assorted regimental commands.

And then there are the fiercely independent group types who lay claim to owing no allegiance to any one regional umbrella organization.

Yet, as has been the case as long as I've known the larger events to be structured, even these independent elements would have been assigned to a command during the registration process.

Some signal detachment leaders, and those wishing to align themselves with such groups might say "let history be our guide", though I suppose we'd probably struggle adhering to such a claim ourselves.

If we were to be true to ourselves, like to-day's re-created general staffs, signal elements have no higher authority to report to.

There are no war departments nor are there adjutant and inspector generals. We choose to align ourselves to a field staff - we are not assigned.

Let's face it.... along the historical timeline of re-enacting, there has been no authority to which period communication emulators were ever held to a standard.

Therefore, in the re-enacting past there could be no accountability. To put it biblical - We joined the staffs and the staffs knew us not. What a fertile ground for an independent lot to move right in, eh? Signal camp followers have been enlisting ever since.

So, for the sake of argument, just where do signal elements fit in at re-enactments? As irregulars?

Surely, many know that if some signal camp followers can’t be cured of event-going, the next best thing is to send them all over the neighbourhood looking for the staff that ‘suits’ 'em until the irregular becomes a taster or connoisseur of staffs, and not focusing on the legitimate work of the service - signal service, your service, our service.

Historically, as in just prior to the 125th anniversary series and forward, some signal emulators have chosen to repeat the very history of the 1860's:

"There were instances of chief signal officers and their assistants whose ambition seemed to be satisfied if they could wear brilliant uniforms around headquarters and be reported as serving on the staff.

"Instances are on record of officers on signal duty who
seemed eager to do any staff duty rather than the legitimate work of the Corps." --- A.J. Myer

Where does that leave the irregulars, who know not the legitimate work of the Corps? I think it leaves us without a corps.

As Dave Gaddy said in his biography of Confederate Chief Signal Officer William Norris, "But there was, as yet no officially organized signal corps. There was no precedent in the "old Army" for such an organization...".

Perhaps, using Dave's comment above, I might add that there must continue to be little or no precedent for the use of functionally qualified period signal operations at re-enactments. Why? Because we who struggle at re-creating the past, have not what those of the 1860's had. The word is organization.

Without organization, without scheduling, without reports and directives, prior to an event, at an event and after the close of an event, do you suppose we can somehow lay claim to representing the irregulars within the re-enacting community?

As such, the 'regulars', the 'other' staffers who are in on the planning long before a scheduled event is to occur, who show up regularly at events, and are using the hand-held telephones for commanders having a 21st century mindset... will always win.

"... as yet no officially organized signal corps [&] no precedent in the "old Army" for such an organization...".


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