Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cold Harbor - review and critique

By going to the past few events, I'm becoming convinced that Federals are becoming an endangered species south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Not to say that Cold Harbor would be a heavy draw for Federal reenactors in the first place, but you would figure that some would come to enjoy the first day victory.

First and foremost, I avoid trashing anyone hosting an event. It's a tough gig, and I'm appreciative of most efforts that go into making an event worthwhile for everyone involved. But, on the other hand, I don't think any event is above some constructive criticism, and that's what I want to devote this post to.

As a backgrounder, this event was a reenactment of that Cold Harbor - the battle that almost broke Grant in 1864. On any scale, this is a formidable and difficult battle to recreate. You've got to have your ducks in a row, and plenty of Feds on hand. Personally, I feel that unless you have a massive committment or resources, it's a better bet is to recreate a smaller lesser-known battle relevant to the local area. The Battle of Suffolk (Norfleet House) would be a good recreation, especially for an event with a low Federal turn out. Fortifications could mask the lack of Federals.

As a matter of ease of writing, most everything I said about the Carolinas Campaign and Wyse Fork applies to Cold Harbor. It's almost an exact repeat of those two events. Painfully, a decent Federal contingent was lacking. Again, caps on the number of Confederate troops and artillery would have been great, as with incentives to draw more Federals, which were more desperately needed than more gray and the big bangs.

The things I did like about the event are actually numerous, if taken individually.

The first good thing was the Web site. Not perfect, but good enough to wet the appetite. A more in-depth page covering expected impressions would have been nice, but the page about the breastworks was a very good feature. I'm very impressed that the event sponsors provided a post-mortem version of the site to collect comments from participants. This is great, and one of things that will get me to consider going to another event.

Breastworks of the event were great, and showed to me that the sponsoring group took pains to at least get a good set-up going for the event. During the battle they were great to fight in, but it would have been nice to see more Feds in front of the works.

Although not anything controllable by the organizers, the weather was right on the money. Even the rain held off until the battle was over on Sunday. ;-) Late March/early April usually lacks good events for the slightly cold but usually good weather.

Event administration was good, and I was able to find my way to camp quickly and efficiently, and the presence of cars wasn't a problem. Also, I really appreciated the number and quality of sutlers that showed up. I was able to do some shopping for items that I was reluctant to order online.

Of the other events I compared this one to so far, Cold Harbor has the most potential to become a great event, if adjustments can be made to encourage the right reenactors and to research a scenario more fitting of the numbers of reenactors and locale. If anyone is curious, this is the benchmark I use.

1 comment:

mntineer said...

To answer a comment made by Spiff in my Carolinas Campaign post - I have considered and actually converted to doing Federal full-time. I think it has many benefits past just providing manpower, a local Federal unit can actually influence some good change in the hobby on at least the local level. My present group actually mixes impressions but is predominately Confederate. BUT I would have no qualms doing Fed full-time.