Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last post of 2006

I wish everyone the best for 2007, and may it be a great year all the way 'round! I hope to see many of you readers on the field in the upcoming months. Just read the blog, and I'll tell you where I'll most likely be.

Santa heard my pleas

I'll be getting another wargame to add to my growing collection. This time it's Campaign Shiloh by HPS Simulations. I already have Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord and CM: Afrika Korps, and I'm looking at ordering Highway to the Reich fairly soon.

Still plugging along

My experiment, The Southern Loyalists, is going along well, albeit slowly. Haven't been able to spend much time with it lately. Come the first of the year, I do plan on spending a whole lot of time getting things going.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Slight course change

When I set up Seeing the Elephant (Recreated), I intended it to be a journal of my reenacting interests, which tend heavily toward the Civil War, but flowed in other periods, namely WW1 and WW2. Over the year it has been in existence, Seeing the Elephant has become identified as one of the growing list of Civil War blogs. A small amount of national exposure helped that identity along. Admittedly, I've enjoyed those perks.

But as I write this blog, there are more things militaria that interest me that I want to write about; like other periods in reenacting, wargaming and movies. So you'll see more posts on these subjects in the coming year. Be sure though, the Civil War period will predominate, as usual. It's one of my favorite periods, and I'm not going to desert it.

Another reason for the change is the fact that I don't want to exhaust the large amount of information that the ACW part of the hobby offers. I've discovered that if I constrain myself too much to the Civil War period, the online information well dries up or I burn out for awhile. I also have the desire to expose everyone to the different aspects of reenacting - a throwback to the time I subscribed to Living History Magazine years ago. That publication opened many wonderful periods to be explored. Maybe Seeing the Elephant will help spark additional interest in an oft-neglected era.

So, if you're a new reader you'll see some change, but not too much. If you've been reading awhile, then you're already used to the occasional departure from the Civil War, it'll be a little bit more than usual. That's it!

What I'm currently listening to

Here's a modern day compilation worth a listen. "Songs of the Civil War" is a nice set of songs as played by current artists. Don't expect period picking or singing, this qualifies only as an event psych-up CD. It does a great job of being just that, though. There is no slickness to the recordings, which kind of gives this CD a homey and quasi-authentic feel. The only gripe I have is the Ashokan Farewell -I love the song, but I just feel its way over-used.

After giving the once over, I recommend this one for the reenactor who needs a fresh CD for those long road trips.

Wartime Letters of George R. Stancil 1861-1864 Pt2

George R Stancil's letters to Emily Dupree continued...

Blue Sulfur Springs [VA?]
Ma the 27 1861

Dear Miss. I embrace this opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you no that I am yet in the land of the living. I am glad to say to you that my health is improving I am able to get around right well, but I think if I could see you, but we are a great many miles apart but you are present with me in mind. You are the last thing on my mind at night and the first when I wake. But I hope that we will meet again and then I hope that we will [word uncipherable] and hard to part. We moved I am glad to say to you that we are moving toward the Old North State. I expect to start tomorrow to Petersburg. [word uncipherable] and when we get there I hope I can get home.

I want you to write to me as soon as you get this for it affords me a great deal of pleasure to get a letter from you. When you write me again direct your letter to Petersburg. I will close my letter for my candle is dim and it dont give much light. My paper is bad and my ink is pale, My love for you will never fail. So good night my love nothing more at present only I remain your affectionate lover until death.

George R. Stancil

Friday, December 29, 2006

Interesting groups on the reenacting fringe, Pt 14

The Blackhawk Wars seem to be mentioned only in the context of President Abe Lincoln. But there's more to this part of history, and it's covered by reenactors.

A great first site to visit is the Blackhawk War interpretive history page of the Old Lead Region Historical Society's Web site. This particular group seems to concentrate on the Michigan militia from the period. Here's a quick description of the group and it's activities:

The smell of woodsmoke... the taste of a roast perfectly prepared in a "tin kitchen"... the crack of flintlock musketry... all this and so much more awaits you as a member of our militia company! Far from the so-called "popular" impression of "militia," our group carefully reproduces the clothing, equipage, and arms of typical citizen-soldiers circa 1827-1832. We drill in accordance with the actual militia manual in use during this time.

Another Black Hawk War era group is the Black Hawk War Society. They cover Captain William Highsmith's mounted volunteer company and the 5th US Infantry.

These two sites are worth a look if you have an interest in reeacting a period out of the ordinary.

More on wargaming reenactments

As I was cruising some sites today, I found a site that I stumbled across a few months ago. It's pretty interesting to read, even if its author is critical of periods outside of WW2. The reenacting preference aside, one can easily apply the concepts covered on the site to any period.

The only thing I don't like are the rules and leeway for snipers, which I think are useless in any arrangement that cannot effectively tally a "kill". It seems that some of the rules, although well written, were penned by a reenactor who does this impression. Do everyone a favor, return to the ranks and play on the team. Snipers are more problematic than useful.

Camp Chase Gazette forums, RIP

Seems that the best part of the current rendition of the Camp Chase Gazette has slid underneath the waves of the Ocean of Dumb Decisions.

I thought that the CCG's best hope for a comeback was to foster a sense of community on their forums. Get people talking. When I first jumped back into the hobby, that's what they did. I got to talking to great people who cared about the hobby, and in turn, they got me to take my first steps back into history.

Mr Gun, please shoot Mr Foot.

Now it's gone. Even the decent-looking Web site is now been changed by what looks to be an amateur effort. The hobby deserves better.

Selma, the final word

I know I've kicked this subject around in lively rants, but I think it's only fitting to give those closest to the topic the last word. This is in reference to the history of the upcoming 2007 Battle of Selma.

Captain AW Redd of the 33rd Alabama has kindly added a bit more to the Selma issue that deserves to be posted for all to see. I appreciate his feedback:

In prior years, the local Selma Kiwanis Club had taken a major role in putting on this event...many of the Kiwanians were reenactors. After many years, the Kiwanians interest in putting on the event with many a Civic club project. Another difficulty was that the host unit, the 33rd Alabama, is scattered about the state with few members actually living in the Selma area. Mr. Yeargin provides the "boots on the ground" to handle the many, many details that must be dealt with in putting on a good event. The civilian side of the event has pretty well left the military side to the reenactors, save the logistics necessary to get things done. So, we are looking forward to Selma 2007 and having a fine, quality event. Selma has so very much to offer.

A.W. Redd
Capt. 33rd. Ala.Infantry

They came for the flags...

... now it looks like it's hunting season on the "Silent Sams" in select areas of the south, particularly on college campuses.

To be honest, I probably have a more "progressive" attitude about the appropriateness of flying the Confederate flag over present-day governmental buildings or blatantly incorporating it into the design of a state flag than most reenactors. BUT I still draw the line when it comes to completely erasing history because it "offends" certain people.

There's a lot of things historically-connected I personally find hard to swallow, like naming at least one street in every city in the country for Martin Luther King, Jr, but that's the beauty of these United States. It's history folks, for good or for bad, and we all look differently on it. But it doesn't mean we discard an old version for a new version of our shared history because it doesn't suit some current-day viewpoints.

Back to the statues.

They represent and honor historical figures or the common man. Take Robert E. Lee, for instance. Yes, he is the general most associated with the Confederacy in current times, but unfortunately, historical memory seems to grow very dim of what he stood for after the war. I feel that Lee was a good post war leader, even if some of what he advocated in the terms of race relationships seems to be an affront to people who look at history so superficially these days.

He wished the best for the then freed slaves, and only wanted good race relations. But he had very realistic views about how to to arrive at that point. A long hard look at history after the war only vindicates Lee's opinions.

So, why would we want to tear down the statue of an influential post-war leader who advocated peace and reconciliation for a divided nation?

It seems that the University of Texas needs to bone up on its history and find an answer to that question before kowtowing to the golden idol of political correctness.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Wartime Letters of George R. Stancil 1861-1864 Pt1

Rather than trying to recreate the wheel, I'm writing this serial verbatim from a well-cared for notebook passed on to my dearest from a relative she met while doing research on her family lines. Obviously, this isn't from a published work, and the relative recently passed.

These letters don't carry much information about troop movements, or what the soldiers wore or what they ate. Its a window to a soldier and his beloved in a time of war. So, without too much adieu, the wartime letters of George R. Stancil.

"Enclosed in this notebook is compilation of letters personally written by George Russell Stancil (Stancel, Stancill, Stancell) during the Civil Wars years of 1861 to 1864 to Miss Winiford Emily Dupree. The letters are arranged in chronological sequence (as can best be determined). Typewritten transcriptions of each letter have been placed behind each letter. These transcripts are subject to further verification.

"Though undated, I feel that the two notes shown below, and transcribed as follows, initiated the entire sequence of these priceless letters:
Miss Emily Dupree. I would be very glad to see you but as I cant I would be glad to hear from you. I expect to write soon and I hope to get an answer back. The Rose is red the viletes blue the Pinks are prety and so are you.

G.R. Stancill

I simply write you this to let you know that I am A going to write to you and that I want you to write me. You can find out how to back your letters from Sister.

I hope you will write soon.

Miss Emily Dupree

Sunday, December 03, 2006

An interesting photo

My great-grandfather served in the US Army at the turn of the 20th century. From what I could tell from the photo to the left, he was in the cavalry as judging from a crossed sabre collar pin that can't be clearly seen on the photo as posted here.

I've always been fascinated with the photo, and if anyone can add in any more details about the uniform or the service at this time, I'd be appreciative.

Turkey of a blogging month

Due to work demands, personal stuff, a holiday, and simple writer's block, I've been AWOL for the last couple of weeks. Not too much to say, and a temporary need to stand away from the computer kinda put my posting at nil for the month of November. But I'm back and rested.

An interesting note:

My dearest has more than generously lent me some of her genealogy research, which includes the wartime letters of George Russell Stancil of the 14th NCST, and later of the 24th NC Infantry regiment, which spent most its operational time in NC. I'll serialize these letters and provide scans where I can.