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Command Updates and Communication
January 2, 2013
Several folks have asked how specific portrayals can enhance a battle as I chatted about in a prior commander's message. I think an example might be a good way to explain it.
We'll be doing a Little Round Top scenario as part of our event. Of course, everyone thinks about the 20th Maine when they think of Little Round Top. But what about the others that were there? I can look at a map as an overall commander and see that the 16th MI on the right of the Federal line wavered and was breaking. I can also look and see that the 140th NY came and filled that void. I can also find the well-known story that Warren requested a regiment and the 140th NY is what he was given. But, knowing there is a 140th NY reenacting unit in the Army of the Ohio that is attending our event, what better way to get detail than to ask their Commander, Tim Bills. Tim gave me the explanation below with several elements that can add little details to our fight:
There are many significant actions during the battle of Gettysburg. Some are well known. Some are not, except perhaps to scholars of the battle. One of the latter is the actions of Colonel Patrick O'Rorke and the 140th New York Volunteer Infantry on Little Round Top. G.K. Warren, Chief Engineer of the Army, having realized that Little Round Top was the key to the Union left on the second day and seeing it occupied by only a Signal Station, called for troops to occupy the hill. The first to arrive was Vincent's Brigade led into position by the 20th Maine which would become the left of Vincent's line and trailed by the 44th NY which would have held the right had not its commander, Col. Rice, asked to fight beside the 83rd PA. With that request, the 44th NY filed into line alongside of the 83rd PA and the 16th Michigan took its place on the right of Vincent's position on the south face of Little Round Top.
Next to arrive was Hazlett's Battery who somehow managed to drag their guns to the top of the rocky hill. Passing to the north of the hill, Weed's Brigade of the 5th Corps, led by the 140th NY, was marching to reinforce Sickles men in the Wheatfield. Warren, who had at one time commanded this same brigade, called out to O'Rorke, "Paddy, give me a regiment." O'Rorke answered that General Weed had gone ahead and expected him to follow. Warren however said to O'Rorke that he would take the responsibility and with that convinced O'Rorke to leave the column with his regiment.
By this time, the Confederates had pushed through Devil's Den and the right of Vincent's line was brought under severe pressure by assaults from the 4th and 5th Texas of the famed Texas Brigade. Someone called for the 16th Michigan to fall back and its position began to waiver. Vincent rushed over and was mortally wounded trying to rally his right. The 140th NY then arrived on the scene, rushed up the opposite side of the hill by O'Rorke, without pausing to load their rifles; the 140th NY crested the hill. O'Rorke called out "Down this way boys" and led the first two companies into the position opened by the 16th Michigan. The remaining companies paused to load and then extended Vincent's line. At the cost of 133 casualties, including Col. O’Rorke, the 140th NY reinforced Vincent's right and secured the Union position on Little Round Top.
The Army of the Ohio commander can portray O'Rorke, issue the command "Down this way boys," and the first two companies of the battalion can come in with empty weapons. The others can pause to load and then extend the line. Knowing there are 133 casualties we can also figure out what percentage of these men should take hits, including Col. O'Rorke. Could I find that detail as an event commander? Yes, I probably could. Could I find that detail for dozens of regiments for this year's reenactment on my own? Probably not! Doing this will add to the accuracy of our scenario and give the 140th NY a sense of pride in doing exactly what their original unit did as well as giving them a sense of ownership in the event which is a huge win-win situation. Many folks have submitted the stories of their regiments at the great battle. I'm doing all I can to incorporate as many as possible.
General Bob Minton
I trust that each of you have had a wonderful holiday season. Even with Christmas just passed and New Year's upcoming we have continued to hold weekly conference calls to plan the event. The individual emails and calls are also going non-stop! More and more focus is turning to scenarios, work days and the like. I will encourage folks again, if you have particular units you'd like to portray you need to let me know. I don't want to overlook anyone. I'd also encourage your Provost, Quartermaster, Medical and other support staff to contact us as well. I want to get you in the communication loop with my staff.
My focus has been in two areas lately. First, scenarios and impressions. I've been updating a spreadsheet with the historic regiments we may portray, adding their original strength along with Corps, Division and Brigade info. The strength number will allow me to have a sense of scale as registrations come in, keeping the force ratios as accurate as possible. When requests come in from various reenacting units to portray a particular unit I then input that as well. This allows me to keep a running track of who would like to portray whom. That is important to me as one of the things I want to do that I think separates us from many other events is to have certain units portrayed specifically in our fights. I noted how in 2012 at Shiloh and Maryland My Maryland a lot of pride and detail went into portrayals like this. That adds a lot to the fight both overall and at the battalion level for the individual units. For example, if your unit portrays the 24th Michigan you know the nuances of what they did better than I do. If you then portray them at this event you can get with me on the little things they did and we can add them to the fight. Each of you knows what your home unit did far better than I can learn in the next several months. It helps you have ownership of the event and the battle is more accurate, a win-win for everyone. A quick internet search of the reenactor forums for pictures and video from the Maryland My Maryland event will show you what we are shooting for in the scenarios. Compare those to pics/videos of other recent events and the difference will be readily apparent I think.
The other piece I'm focusing on is terrain. It ties closely with impressions and scenarios. Think about how very, very important terrain was in the Battle of Gettysburg. What if there hadn't been a series of ridges for the Federals to defend at the start of the fight? What if Little Round Top was a little less steep? What if Pickett's Charge had been made in a field with more cover and less fences? Our event site has a wide variety of terrain. It's important to me that we match that terrain to the fights we want to do. If the terrain just isn't right does it matter who we are portraying? The terrain may not be perfect, no place is. But, if we can make it very close that adds a lot to what we are trying to do.
If we, as hosts of this event can take scenarios, add a good mixture of unit portrayals, with a sprinkling of accurate detail, just the right amount of men per side to keep the scale accurate and ice it with accurate terrain then I think we have a recipe for a huge success! And, on the flip side, if we just put folks out there on an average piece of ground, with minimal detail added and not much in the way of unit portrayals then we've done a dis-service to everyone involved. It becomes just another event.
Ok, references to recipes, icing and the like have got me thinking there must be some left over Christmas cookies around here somewhere!
My staff and I are here to serve you. If there are things on your mind, questions or suggestions please feel free to pass them along. We can't answer what we don't know and I tell my folks often that all of us thinking together come up with a lot more ideas than if I do all the thinking!
Your Obedient Servant,
Posted November 28, 2012
We had an excellent conference call tonite on the
upcoming Gettysburg event. I wanted to get some info out to you on a few topics.
We are nearing what we think will be the end of the
permit process. It's time to move our planning away from permits and on to
things like site preparation and visits, planning and things like that. There
are still final permit issues to be worked out but other things are starting to
require our focus. We will be looking to do workdays in the spring for sure.
Talks are underway and quotes are being obtained for stones for the wall, wooden
fences and the like. There will be other site prep to be done as well such as
road clearing and work in our Fed. camps among other things. If we can get folks
to help in this it will help more reenactors to take ownership of the event
which will benefit us all.
I've been reading and contemplating scenarios for several
weeks now. Some of you have asked for certain portrayals already, others have
not. Please encourage your folks if they have an impression they would like to
do to drop me a note and let me know. Some will seem obvious to you/them but
please let me know anyway! I'll be attempting to process a lot of groups and
scenarios and I'd rather have too much info than not enough. I won't be able to
fit every single request in I am sure, but I will do all I can to make this
memorable for your folks.
Remember we are looking at these fights:
First Day Buford and to perhaps include 1st Corps and
11th Corps, depending on numbers
Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Little Round Top
How far each of these scenarios reach will be dictated by numbers. We'll start small and work our way out. For example the first day we'll certainly have Buford's troopers dismounted, expand to Cutler and the Iron Brigade and then hopefully farther from there if we have enough troops. If your folks have requests please send me a unit and which fight. ( that will likely be obvious, but just to be sure) I hope to get a framework together, get that out to my commanders and then incorporate little vignette's that folks suggest. Each unit knows the ins and outs of what their regiment did better than I can ever hope to learn in a few months time. This too will give folks ownership which encourages them to keep on scenario and adds a degree of realism that will only benefit us all.
If your unit has Provost, Medical, Musicians or other Specialty Departments that are listed as part of my staff please reach out to establish contact so we can help spread the word as information is ready to be sent out
I look forward to beginning to shift gears and move forward in the process of putting on a memorable event.
Have a great Thanksgiving,
Sept. 14, 2012
Much has transpired since my first note regarding the Blue Gray Alliance Gettysburg event. A couple weeks ago, we held the first site visit, spending much of the weekend in Gettysburg with many of the folks involved. I wanted to comment on a number of things that stood out to me.
First, the site is just outstanding. We were able to look at battlefields and see terrain that closely matches the scenarios we want to do. We don't want to just call any piece of ground Culp's Hill or Pickett's Charge field. We want to see a sloping approach to the stone wall or a real Hill for Culp's Hill. This site provides the opportunity to recreate fights to fit the ground. I've seen a lot of improvement in battle scenarios the last few years at events I've attended. I think we'll be able to continue that upward trend for you next summer. I'm eager to start to work on fleshing out the little details that hopefully will set the battles apart from so many others we've all seen and done.
Also, it was a joy just to be around the various folks who are helping make this event a reality. No matter if they wear gray or blue, hail from east or west, carry muskets, play an instrument, ride a horse, shoot a cannon or wear a dress, the common denominator I saw was passion. Hearing various people talk around the table on Friday night was absolutely inspirational. We as organizers owe it to those who went before us to put together the best event we can possibly do. That charge goes really to each of us as reenactors. Are we there for ourselves to enjoy a good time . . .? Yes, but it's more than that. It's a chance for us to do honor to those 150 years ago who gave all they had for their cause.
It's also been exciting to see the large number of units committing to support the event. I won't even try to name them all, but the support is wide and growing wider. I'm happy to have the framework of an army in place on the Federal side. Some excellent commanders have accepted positions to help lead the Army next summer. I expect we will grow as units have their fall meetings. I'm also happy to see the army have the mix I had hoped for of reenactors from east and west and everywhere in between!
Finally, it was indeed exciting to see the folks around that table and the diversity exhibited. The passion was shared without a doubt. Importantly though it was shared from a wide variety of people, from a wide variety of places with a wide variety of interests. Getting those different perspectives from folks with varied areas of expertise can only benefit us as we embark on putting this great event together. I'm certainly proud and pleased to be a small spoke in the wheel.
Posted July 29, 2012
It is truly an unbelievable honor to have been named Federal Commander of the
Blue Gray Alliance (BGA)150th Anniversary Gettysburg Reenactment. The BGA puts on reenactments by reenactors for reenactors and I am thrilled to be a part of
this wonderful venture.
It is my goal to do every possible thing in my power to provide a truly
satisfying experience for all reenactors and spectators who support this event.
I find myself in the unique position of having a lot of friends in both the Eastern and Western theaters of our hobby. My hope is to use those contacts and
to build new relationships from both theaters to make this an outstanding and
unifying event. Relationships built now will serve us all working towards future
events regardless of who is in command. My staff and commanders will reflect
that diversity with men coming on board from a number of different national
organizations and geographic areas.
We all want this event to be not only the best possible experience for you
the reenactor but to make it a truly powerful and moving tribute to those on
both sides who gave so much 150 years ago. Numerous scenarios are in the works and plans are being made. I hope you'll decide to join us in what promises to be an outstanding experience for us all.
We will do all we can to provide an event that has something for all facets
of our hobby: military, civilian, family, progressive and everything in between.
I hope to see you around a campfire or on the field in Gettysburg in 2013!
I remain, your obedient servant,
General Bob Minton
Federal Command Structure
General Bob Minton (Army of the Ohio) Commanding
Chief of Staff Bill Watson (Independent)
Federal Medical Coordinator Trevor Steinbach (FFD)
Cavalry Commander Mike Church (USV/Army of the Ohio)
Artillery Chief Rick Dennis (Artillery Reserve)
Quartermaster Tom Burke, 3rd USV
(In Memoriam) Provost Art Stone Potomac Legion
1st Division Infantry Commander Gen.Terry Crowder (FFD)
1st Brigade Commander Rob Murray (Progessive Federal Contingent)
2nd Brigade Commander James Crofutt (US Muddy River Battalion)
2nd Division Commander Gen. Darrell Markijohn (USV)
1st Regt. Col. Dave Childs
2nd Regt. Col. Chuck Young
3rd. Regt. Col. Scot Buffington
3rd Division Commander Gen. Scott Washburn (Mifflin Guard)
1st Brigade Mike Lavis (Army of the Ohio, Union Volunteers)
2nd Brigade Bill David (Mifflin Guard)
All other Federal Command positions and structure will be filled in over the next few days...we appreciate your patience
Federal Commander Bob Minton