Park Services Botches History…


PDA






dk-corriveau
October 4, 2006, 08:08 AM
What the hell is this world coming to? :cuss: The battle of Yorktown gave birth to this fine nation of ours and now some Park management ninnies and their policies on guns are curtailing the reenactment of an important battle. I recently attended the reenactment of the Battle of Green Spring and it was impressive, interesting, dynamic, and a hell of a lot of fun to witness. Other than the 100+ degree temperatures it was one of the most enjoyable days of this past summer.

Oh well, I guess our kids will just assume that the Colonists, British, and French (guhhh) got together for tea in Yorktown and settled things without a battle. Let’s hope the re-enactors are able to pass along what really happened on that hallowed ground. :banghead:




Ready, aim, hold it!
By Amanda Kerr
The Virginia Gazette

Published October 4, 2006

YORKTOWN -- In two weeks, Surrender Field will bear witness to the surrender of Gen. Charles Cornwallis to Gen. George Washington. Again.

A vast reenactment is part of the 225th anniversary of the Siege of Yorktown, but it has its limitations. More than 2,600 men and many women will converge on Colonial National Historical Park to replay the beginning of the end of British rule in colonial America.

This time around, the muskets and cannon from the opposing forces won't take aim at each other. Park Service policy forbids reenactment groups from pointing their weapons at others, even if they're fake or unloaded. Nor can they even pretend to fight, since the Park Service does not allow battle reenactments either. Instead, the battles will be held at Endview Plantation in Lee Hall.

Events surrounding Yorktown will therefore reflect how the troops lived instead of died.

The troops are coming to Yorktown from three umbrella organizations. The lead element is the Brigade of the American Revolution, followed by the Continental Line and the British Brigade.

The Brigade of the American Revolution and the Continental Line will represent the allied forces of American and French troops, while the British Brigade will represent British and German soldiers.

According to Todd Post of the Brigade of the American Revolution, his troops will be coming from California, Florida, Canada and even England.

Most of the re-enactors will set up camps at historically precise points, with American and French re-enactors camping outside of Yorktown and British troops living within the town. Camps will also be set up at Endview. The re-enactors will live in these camps for the duration of the weekend as thousands of tourists mill about.

Re-creations of the allied troops' assault on Redoubts 9 and 10, the French defense of Fusiliers' Redoubt, and the Battle of the Hook will be held at Endview on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21, concluding with the reenactment at Surrender Field on Sunday, Oct. 22, of the British capitulation.

While around 1,700 of the more than 2,600 re-enactors will be “under arms,” the rest will portray military musicians, camp followers, surgeons, hospital workers, engineers and other personnel who served history at Yorktown. Demonstrations will be held at the Yorktown Victory Center and the Yorktown Battlefield.

Tactical military demonstrations and weapons demonstrations will also be held at Yorktown Battlefield.

Post, who participated in the reenactment of the Battle of Green Spring in June, said preparing for an event such as the Siege of Yorktown is much easier than preparing for an obscure battle.

“The Battle of Green Spring took more research because there were not a lot of articles written about the battle,” he explained. “There are a lot of source materials available on Yorktown, so it's not as hard to prepare to get the historical precedent fixed in our minds.”

While the re-enactors are coming prepared with uniforms, weaponry and other props, the Park Service is responsible for providing support supplies.

Diane Depew, supervisory park ranger for Colonial National Historical Park, said the Park Service will supply myriad items to the re-enactors, such as straw to line their tents with, hay for horses used in demonstrations, firewood, extra drinking water, black powder for ammunition, and bus transportation to get the re-enactors to and from Endview Plantation.

Depew said Park Service safety regulations are in place that limit the amount of ammunition powder that can be carried, how powder is stored, and when and where a weapon can be fired.

Safety officers who are trained in 18th or 19th century weapons will be on hand to supervise the firing lines.

“As part of what historic weapons safety officers do, we will inspect every weapon and the drill of every unit to ensure the weapon has no defects that would make it unsafe to fire and that everyone knows how to safely handle their weapon in the ranks,” Depew said.

Post remarked on the power of visual presentations of history.

“This is a time period that is really hard to identify with as a modern person,” he said. “Think of 18th century men wearing britches, and officers wearing powdered wigs. This is somewhat foreign with the only visual record being drawings. Reenactments allow people to put things in context and understand them a little better.”

Post noted the significance of this hallowed ground. “So many historic sites have been developed. It is very meaningful to be able to hold a reenactment on the actual ground where it took place.”

Depew said she hopes the reenactments provide a sense of humanity to spectators.

“People sometimes forget that at the Siege of Yorktown, people just like ourselves fought and died on this battlefield to secure the country's independence,” she said. “The re-enactors provide an invaluable opportunity to bring our nation's Revolutionary War soldiers and citizens back to life to remind us of the sacrifices so many made in the war.

“It is hard to envision what the battlefield looked like during the siege when the earthworks were full of soldiers, the bombardment was going on night and day, and soldiers were dying in the camps from disease or cannonballs,” she added.

“Re-enactors help provide that glimpse back into the past and hopefully help us all gain a better appreciation for it.”

If you enjoyed reading about "Park Services Botches History…" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
TX1911fan
October 4, 2006, 09:22 AM
I was watching a show the other day about sugar (i was interesting, ok), and out of nowhere comes a statement like this. "The British abandoned their interests in the American colonies to fight the French for control of the West Indies." It was supposed to convey the importance of sugar, but I was aghast. It's not like this was a show produced in the UK. This was American TV.

Sistema1927
October 4, 2006, 09:51 AM
Reading the article, I don't think that the Park Service is minimizing the battle. Instead, they don't want accidents to happen.

Get 1,700 people together with black powder weapons, and the odds are that somebody is going to actually load a lead ball in one of those muskets. :eek: Maybe they are just reminding us of the importance of the "4 Rules". I know that if I was standing on one side and the other was pointing a couple of hundred muskets at me and then firing, I would be wondering if I was to be "thankful for that which we are about to receive".

Give the Park Service a break, they are actually providing black powder for the weapons demonstrations. That certainly doesn't look "anti-gun" or "anti-history".

dk-corriveau
October 4, 2006, 12:12 PM
OK, so I am over reacting. But I just think that if you are bringing in experienced re-enactors to take part in events, then allow them to do what they do best. :confused:

I am sure that it will all be very educational.

weregunner
October 4, 2006, 04:18 PM
You are not over reacting at all. Here in the Diary State where I live there used to be a Civil War battle re-enacted yearly. Was great for the locals to be schooled on how life,death,and what war was about and the reasons for war. Then the Libs stepped in. The encampment and battle were stopped from taking place. The city is out all the cash it brought in for a week and kids and us older types have a fun activity taken away. So much for the party of tolerance. Education in the "you are there" category gives us all a chance to live it almost firsthand. Taking away actual living history is evil. Sanatizing and revising history for an agenda needs to halt. People need to see what history is about and then able to use their minds for themselves. Not have it spoon fed to them. Taht is IMHO and will kick the soapbox back under the bed.

DRMMR02
October 4, 2006, 04:39 PM
Get 1,700 people together with black powder weapons, and the odds are that somebody is going to actually load a lead ball in one of those muskets.

Doubtful. They don't just put an ad in the paper and have random gun enthusiasts show up and play soldier. The people who do Revolutionary/Civil War reenactments are very professional and spend a lot of time practicing and rehearsing. It's more of a play or theater production than it may seem. Battle reenactments happen all over the country, with very few, if any problems. There are even people who do this as a full time job and tour the country performing at fairs, historic events like the one in the article, and commemorations. The people who do this kind of stuff take it very seriously. There are some, like the annual Gettysburg reenactment, that involve thousands of people playing roles that range from whole regiments of foot soldiers, calvary on horses, even artillery battalions. They aren't just regular gun owners that like blackpower rifles. It's a shame that Yorktown is turning down an opportunity to learn about their history in such a close up and lifelike manner.

Aguila Blanca
October 4, 2006, 10:31 PM
I got a laugh out of the bit about the Park Service bringing in "Safety officers who are trained in 18th or 19th century weapons ..." Good grief. Extrapolating wildly from the few I have encountered, enactors are experts in their weapons. They thoroughly research the weapons, the tools, the uniforms, EVERYTHING about the role they play. I'd be weilling to bet a latte that the Park Service "safety officers" won't find a single defective weapon, and that they won't observe a single unsafe action.

I'll also wager a latte that they know a lot LESS about the weapons they are supposed to be checking than the owners thereof.

TexasRifleman
October 5, 2006, 08:03 AM
Get 1,700 people together with black powder weapons, and the odds are that somebody is going to actually load a lead ball in one of those muskets.

Then why hasn't it happened the previous gazillion times this has been done?

These re-enactor groups do this many times every summer.
This is nothing new.

What about the re-enactors that use Thompsons, Garands, BARs, and MG42's firing blanks? Same thing, happens dozens of times each year and no accidents.

Just because someone has a "Federal Government Safety Inspector" ID on their shirt doesn't mean they have any idea what they are doing.

Smurfslayer
October 5, 2006, 03:28 PM
http://bighammer.net/images/080805Yorktownfollies.pdf

You can see that at least SOME concessions had to be made. Nevertheless, it's no excuse.

You can see more reports on it

http://bighammer.net/timeline.html

Search for :
"United States National Park Service surrenders to Lord Cornwallis"


Not to beat this equine further, but <shameless plug> You can see on the timeline how hard this is to get common sense reform out of a government agency. If you are reading this, please contact your Representative and 2 Senators and ask them to support the VCDL petition to amend the Parks weapon regulations, and end their ban on self defense. </shameless plug>

Keith Wheeler
October 5, 2006, 04:56 PM
The worst part about the folks that run parks, no matter which side (or even middle!) of the political fence they sit on, is that they think the parks are "theirs" and not "ours".

Jim K
October 5, 2006, 10:18 PM
The last time I was at Harpers Ferry (not very far away), they scarcely mentioned making guns, and there was only a small display of arms, some of which were Italian repros. A weepy voiced woman (video tape) spent almost an hour talking about slavery and John Brown as though the whole history of the area took place in a couple of days.

In fact, there were few slaves in that area of (then) Virginia; it was mostly small farmers working their own land, but that didn't stop the politically correct pseudo-historians from inventing a bunch of baloney.

Jim

Keith Wheeler
October 5, 2006, 10:25 PM
but that didn't stop the politically correct pseudo-historians from inventing a bunch of baloney.

I toured one of the largest surviving medieval arsenals, in Graz, Austria. We were told that the pike/halibards were used just to intimidate, and that guns and mortars were loaded with blanks just to scare people. Uh-huh.

CajunBass
October 5, 2006, 10:42 PM
I didn't think the park service had ever allowed battle reenactments on park property. Encampments yes, but not battles.

4v50 Gary
October 5, 2006, 11:13 PM
I think the Park Service did allow reenactments to take place very long ago (think 1920s or so) and in those days, they used the US Army to protray sides. The Army of course wore its everyday uniform and didn't present the spectacle that modern reenactors do. Modern rules were promulgated for safety and liability reasons. You never know what buffoon visits your park.

As for safety officers, these are probably park rangers who are versed in the operation of period guns and there are quite a number who are as practiced as reenactors. For instance, at the George Rogers Clark Monument in Vincennes, they had a woman ranger, P. Nolan, who did a frontierswoman. She was quite adept at loading and firing her rifle (no patched ball because they are within city limits). Springfield Armory National Historic Site also does live fire demonstrations as does Manassas (Bull Run to the Yankees). The ranger at Manassas was able to sustain three rounds a minute with his minie gun (and I suspect he could do four).

Now, as to the historical interpretation, that is subject to the whim of PC and the times. Harper's Ferry was the National Armory in the South but its significance was not limited to that. It was the site of John Brown's raid and thus ignited the militia movement in the South. The South always had militia companies, but never in such great numbers as after Brown's raid. Myself? I think it's a pretty place to visit and there was some fighting there. Jackson bagged a lot of Union troops there just before Antietam (Sharpsburg to the Confederates). A lot of the fighting at Harper's Ferry was actually outside of the town on the overlooking heights. What you get at Harper's Ferry is the prize, not the battlefield. As a sidenote, the first person killed at Harper's Ferry by John Brown was a freeman. Opps.

Finally, I have met Diane Depew when I was researching Yorktown for my book. Yorktown was also the site of a brawl in the Civil War when McClellan got locked out by Jeb Magruder who wouldn't let him come in to play. McClellan's army surrounded it and was all ready to break in when Magruder (actually Uncle Joe Johnston by then) slipped away towards Williamsburg. It cost McClellan over one month wasted. While she is a nice person, Ranger Depew really wasn't helpful for purposes of my research. Now I'm happy to say I probably have more info on Yorktown during the Civil War than the National Park Service. Eat cha' heart out NPS (OK, I'll share it with them later).

Harve Curry
October 6, 2006, 10:36 AM
I've been reenacting cavalry for 15 years. I've done 1833 dragoons through to 1942. Everyone is an inspector to each other. Infantry and cavalry have their weapons & charges inspected before a battle. Only pre-prepared paper containing black powder is allowed. No real bayonets. No RAMRODS are allowed, if you forget it can become a projectile. You simply rip open the paper and pour it in, give a slap to the side with your hand to settle the powder, prime, and fire. You always hold over or to the side of the opposition. Artillery has similar rules, some are even propane.
That is how it's done in making movies as well with the addition of a armorer who dispenses the ammo/blanks(I hate that word).

It sounds to me like some higher echelons in the park service are practicing their own politics and forget who pays them.

El Tejon
October 6, 2006, 10:47 AM
Wait, this has to be right, I read this book that said there were no guns during Colonial America.:neener: :D

We gained our Independence with a drum circle with the British while drinking organic tea and eating lentils and wearing sandals.:D

exar
October 6, 2006, 11:03 AM
I re-enacted infantry for the 19 IN Co. A "Iron Brigade". Different parks have different rules. Small events allowed us to fix bayonets and mock fight as well as use ram rods to pack powder. The only time ram rods and blades were disallowed was at the national events like Gettysburg or Chickamagua where 50,000 re-enactors would show up. The worst accident I witnessed was a platoon was still too close to the cannon when it fired and were all knocked off of their feet. Noone was hurt. Normal practice was to aim 6' above their heads.

El Tejon
October 6, 2006, 11:05 AM
exar, I hope you did not re-enact when the 11th Ind. was fired upon by fellow Union soldiers since the 11th had gray uniforms at the beginning of the war!:uhoh: :D

Dr. Dickie
October 6, 2006, 11:09 AM
Quote:
"Events surrounding Yorktown will therefore reflect how the troops lived instead of died."

I guess they can have a disclaimer stating:
"No one was hurt in founding of this great nation of ours.":cuss:
Jeezeeee.

wuchak
October 6, 2006, 11:22 AM
Probably looking to avoid this.

http://www.civilwarnews.com/archive/articles/reenactor_shot.htm

exar
October 6, 2006, 11:55 AM
exar, I hope you did not re-enact when the 11th Ind. was fired upon by fellow Union soldiers since the 11th had gray uniforms at the beginning of the war!

Naw, we didn't look at the uniforms anyways. You can tell if they're Southern by their feet: if they're barefoot, they're Southern:neener:

Mk VII
October 6, 2006, 01:35 PM
Most of the groups here won't allow ramrods to be used on the field. They've had several launched as missiles in the remote past and one man was transfixed by one.

Double Naught Spy
October 7, 2006, 12:10 AM
Then why hasn't it happened the previous gazillion times this has been done?

So much for those gazillion times...

If you enjoyed reading about "Park Services Botches History…" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!