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"150th Manassas - Hot beyond comprehension" Topic

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967 hits since 25 Jul 2011
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Jul 2011 4:03 a.m. PST

Well, I survived the 150th Manassas reenactment--barely. I've been a reenactor for 27 years and I've been to some very hot events, including the legendary 125th Manassas, but I've never experienced anything to match this. On Friday when people were arriving it was 105 degrees with a heat index of about 120. At nearby Quantico, they cancelled all outdoor activity that day. The Marines stayed in the air conditioning, but we were outside playing soldier :) Trying to unload and set up I could only work for about two minutes and then had to rest for ten. Everyone was in similar straights. There were some serious failures by the event organizers. They had the on-paper good idea of laying pipelines to get water to the camps rather than use tanker trucks, but the pipes were laying on the ground in the direct sunlight, so the water coming out of the spigots was hot! They had misting stations, but they were spraying warm water. And they couldn't seem to get any ice deliveries to the campsites for long intervals (like 24 hours!)

They held the battles in the morning which was sort of a good idea. Definitely better during the battle, but then you get back to camp and are trying to cool down just as the day is reaching its hottest. We lost far more people after the battle than during it. The Sunday battle was the best temperature-wise since there was some cloud cover and good breeze.

The Saturday battle was a total foul-up. The chain of command broke down entirely (if indeed there had ever been one). I received orders from about ten different people telling me to do twelve different things with my battalion. It was just crazy.

The Sunday battle was much better even though about a quarter of the troops had already given up and gone home (I had 175 in my battalion on Saturday and only 75 on Sunday). Some of this was due to the heat and some due to stupid restrictions on packing up and getting out that the organizers had posted (when an event is over the guys want to get OUT of there!). But the reduced numbers actually helped since they had way more men than they could really fit on the small battlefield. The command structure (at least on the Union side) was still totally fouled up, but with the Saturday 'rehearsal' things still went a lot better.

The extreme heat had large numbers of troops in shirtsleeves, but I really have to hand it to the battalion of US Marines and the battalion of US Regulars. Wow, they looked good! They kept on their coats and Hardee hats and all and they looked spectacular.

I'm glad I was there, but me and all the other old-timers have vowed that the 150th Gettysburg will be our last hot weather event--ever!

Personal logo Waco Joe Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2011 5:56 a.m. PST

Break down in logistics, confusing orders, desertions, sounds like a real ACW battle!

SECURITY MINISTER CRITTER Inactive Member25 Jul 2011 7:34 a.m. PST

And people ask why I don't do more reenactments!

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2011 7:40 a.m. PST

I received orders from about ten different people telling me to do twelve different things with my battalion.

So, Congress showed up too?

Personal logo Waco Joe Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2011 8:24 a.m. PST

And before people go pushing the button, John is referring to the tendency of the Congress during the Civil War to micromanage military commanders.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2011 8:49 a.m. PST

Congressional reenactors are SO farby.

Terrement Inactive Member25 Jul 2011 9:13 a.m. PST

"…you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."

Way too hot to be out observing this, let alone doing it in wool uniforms.


jtkimmel25 Jul 2011 9:43 a.m. PST

As a good friend of mine used to say, "why don't I do reenacting? Three words – wool in summer".

OldGrenadier at work25 Jul 2011 10:03 a.m. PST

On the one hand, portraying a Senator or Congressman at a re-enactment might be fun, but on the other hand, I suspect that I'd look seriously silly in a stovepipe hat :)

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2011 10:32 a.m. PST

Glad y'all were able to put it on and hope not too many were laid low.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Jul 2011 11:19 a.m. PST

The real casualties were actually amazingly low. About 150 needed medical aid and only 11 were sent to hospitals. During the 125th reenactment where we only had half as many reeanctors we had about four times that number of heat casualties. The reason for that is that we have actually learned some things over time. Now we have EMTs and people carrying ice and extra water right there with the troops. It's amazing how much help a couple of ice cubes under your hat or a swig of cold water can be. Rather than pick people up after they drop, we can now prevent them from dropping in the first place.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2011 4:46 p.m. PST

I blame the Union and Confederacy for fighting in mid-July in Virginia. What were they thinking?

Dn Jackson26 Jul 2011 10:51 a.m. PST

There were a LOT of issues that can be fixed in the future. My wife dropped her cell phone Saturday morning and we were directed to the info tent to try and find it. After the reenactment we went looking for it and they had shut down the info tent after the spectators had left. So we went by the EMS tent as a county employee we saw running around thought that might be a good place to check. They directed us to the event trailer. After getting there they told us they had no idea where lost and found was so we left a description of the phone and our phone number and they said they'd check up and give us a call if they found it. Fortunatly an honest person found it and is mailing it to us.

On a side note, by the time we got to the EMT tent the heat was really getting to my wife so I asked if they could take a look at her and let her sit in the A/C for a few minutes, since that was what the tent was for. They said they couldn't and directed us to another tent a few hundred yards away so they could look at her first and decide if she needed to be seen by the EMTs. Having fought one real war in the desert and spent 25 years in this hobby, I knew she needed to be seen, but by the time we got to the second tent, which was near our camp she was so disgusted we just went to the trailer and back to camp.

As a side note, there was a wall clock size themometer on the side of the event trailer. Now remember, it was in direct sun and mounted on a metal staircase, but it still read 118 degrees!

The cooling and misting tents needed to be bigger and be more numerous. By the time I got my wife to one it was packed and peoiplemwere actually sleeping on the floor which left no room for us.

We were lucky in that we were doing a unique unit, Marines, and were attached directly to US HQ. We worked out the scenario in advance with the general and the artillery we were supposed to support. Every time someone tried to give us conflicting orders the battalion commander told them to talk to the commanding general or the Secretary of the Navy. While things were a bit fouled up Saturday, they ran great Sunday.

Thanks for the compliment concerning being in uniform both days. The battalion commander told us shirts had been authorized and asked the opinion of the company commanders. I told him not to bother even asking the troops, there was no way they'd vote to go out in anything less than a frock coat. We referred it to the troops and, as expected, they refused. We dropped from about 80 on Saturday to 70 on Sunday.

The ice thing ticked me off as well. Especially one guy who kept driving by and refused to stop when we yelled for him. I'm also not too happy they charged us full retail for the ice. I'm out about $60 USD just in ice.

At least the county organized a lot better than ten years ago to deal wiyth the heat. EMTs, plenty of ambulances, and emergency personel on hand whenever there was a heat casualty.

I had a great time and plan on doing it again in 10 years….maybe.

Forager26 Jul 2011 3:35 p.m. PST

Was there as well – doing 1st Minnesota. Whatever the temp was it was brutal! Got so hot a couple of times I had to go sit beside the campfire to cool off!

As for the battles, they weren't any more silly than other reenactments I've been to. Sunday was better though, weather-wise and had a better feel from my view in the ranks. The main point of silliness for us being when a Reb battalion pretty much advanced (prematurely, I believe) right into us and we just stood there looking awkwardly at each other a few feet apart until they finally backed up.

As noted before, the marines and regulars looked splendid and the battle overall was quite the spectacle with the great variety of uniforms and the large numbers present. The battlefield, on the other hand, was something of a let down – being two large, mostly flat, fields separated by a single line of trees and barren except for a small wood fence barricade.

I thought the logistics of the event were pretty well organized but lacking a bit in execution, as others have noted. Got to give them props for providing water and ice to reenactors during the battles though. Both were ample and readily available from my point of view. The early battles were a big plus too, I think.

Overall, I enjoyed the event, but wouldn't want to do it again if I could help it. Just too damn hot!


Old Slow Trot Inactive Member27 Jul 2011 6:30 a.m. PST

Was just about as hot when it actually happened back in 1861,or so I read.

Personal logo capncarp Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2012 4:42 p.m. PST

My wife and I stopped reenacting big events after Gettysburg 135th, because we determined that the average reenactor's life wasn't worth a plugged nickel to many event organizers, and that 99.9999% of the big event organizers would kill you for a dollar. No ice/block ice with nothing to break it up, and numerous other failures, refusals, and outright falsehoods that made the reenactments a dangerous place to be. One of the events at Balls Bluff had a virtual mutiny when someone didn't make sure one of the water tankers got refilled. Both commanding generals told the organizer that there would be no one on the field for the audience to watch if we didn't get adequate water and ice. I guess things don't change.

Old Slow Trot Inactive Member02 Mar 2012 7:46 a.m. PST

I'm hoping to get to the 150th of Shiloh near the end of March. Keeping an eye on weather conditions beforehand.

number4 Inactive Member03 Mar 2012 10:36 a.m. PST

"99.9999% of the big event organizers would kill you for a dollar."

Our experience too. Which is why we switched to Revolutionary War/AWI and never looked back.

Many events actually pay us to be there; this money is used by my unit to provide food, powder, and tentage as well as covering registration fees at the bigger, non-paying battles.

Even those often provide a free dinner and sometimes even free bar for participants – oh, and the low numbers involved mean that while there are enough people to fill the battlefield, there are never 10 – 15,000 people in front of you when you try to get out of the parking lot on Sunday ;)

Old Slow Trot Inactive Member27 Mar 2012 6:59 a.m. PST

Update for Shiloh 150th,warm with scattered T-showers for Saturday,partly cloudy for Sunday.

Old Slow Trot Inactive Member04 Apr 2012 6:53 a.m. PST

Shiloh 150th weather-Friday,it was rainy,Saturday had off/on T-showers,Sunday it had cleared up and warmed some. The roads were muddy(drying some by Sunday,with tractors de-rutting the roads,when not pulling cars & trucks out of the mud),I wound up sick,but still was an interesting weekend. Plus,after the battles,checking for ticks(and there was plenty of them there too.)

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