Wednesday, May 15, 2013

SInce I've ignored the blog for too long

This spting has been a busy awesome time. Since March I've gone to Gettysburg for adopt a site and research, presented a two hour program on Gettysburg at the Kenosha Civil War Musem and spent a huge amount of hours on "Seeing the Elephant" a film for the Kenosha CW Musuem. Busy? As an apology to anyone who stops by this blog only to see it ignored, I offer this humble script I wrote as a pun to all those reenactors like myself- big kids at heart. Emjoy. The Picket Post By Steve Acker FADE IN CU of a federal belt buckle fade to black then to shots of STEVE, TERRY, JASON and JAY as they break out of the hedge. The canera is tight on their faces. STEVE Stay here boys. The three men watch Steve leave. There is a nervous energy about the men. Terry, Jason and Jay huddle next to each other. The camera is filled with their bodies. JAY Where’s the Sergeant going? TERRY Don’t worry about it fresh fish JASON He’s looking for the elephant. JAY The elephant? The two men laugh. TERRY Yea the elephant. It’s what the boys call being in combat. Seeing the elephant. JASON Yea seeing a battle, the elephant JAY I don’t want to see the elephant JASON (profoundly) No one does There is a long moment of silence as each man looks beyond his point. Suddenly Steve enters frame. He takes an excited drink from his canteen. JAY Did you see the elephant? STEVE Na, but he’s out there. We need to move across this field. Gotta move quick so the Rebs don’t spot us. We’ll go one at a time. Terry you first, then Jason and then you Jay. Stay low and move fast. Ready? The men all nod nervously. Steve is in the background sending each man on his way. Jason hesitates and receives a good push for his tardiness. Jay comes up and looks nervously at Steve. Steve offers a supportive glance and sends him on his way. Shots of each man sprinting, falling and crouching. Shots of each one as they arrive at the next spot alternate with each start. Each man that arrives stops and then waves the next on. Steve leaves last and after arriving pats each man on the back. The last shot of the men taking off their knapsacks. The camera fades out. EXT. CAMP. DAY Scene opens on a tight shot of the campfire then pans to one man warming his feet by the fire then moves to another writing in his journal and a third chewing on some hardtack. The scene last 20 seconds. Music fills the background. Shelter halves cover the background. Steve enters frame. STEVE You boys look snug. Too bad one of you has to go out on picket. Groans come from the men. STEVE Terry follow me. Terry grabs his rifle and follows Steve off camera. The others go about their business. EXT. PICKET SPOT. DAY Terry and Steve arrive at the picket post. They both look around intensely. TERRY Good spot. Rebs won’t be able to sneak up on us. STEVE Only problem is the cold. TERRY No fires here. Can’t let em know where I’m posted. Hopefully this will be our last winter. Home next Christmas? STEVE Home, so close yet so far away. Off in the distance a sound of wrapping on glass is heard. TERRY What’s that? STEVE Back in an hour with your relief. Stay safe old friend. Steve leaves frame as we watch Terry settle into position. EXT. CAMP. DAY Jay and Jason rest in camp. JAY How long you been in the army Jason JASON Going on three years now. JAY Does it get any easier? JASON Does and it doesn’t. The hardships of campaign get easier. Each day away from home gets harder. The sound of wrapping on glass fills the background. JAY What’s that? JASON A warning, I’m afraid. Jay and Jason continue resting in camp when suddenly Steve enters frame. The camera stays tight on Steve. The camera looks from above. STEVE Got the picket posted. Have to relieve him in an hour. Who wants to go next? JAY Can’t Mom wants me home by three. Jason and Steve laugh. The three sit near the fire warming themselves. After a few moments the sound of glass wrapping comes again. This time more intense. All look up toward a central location. STEVE Trouble boys. Fix bayonets A tight shot of the men fixing bayonets. For three beats the camera holds on the men with their muskets ready for battle. Jay is in the middle of the shot. LINDA Steve CU on Steve’s face as he looks away. The men part exposing the house and LINDA standing in the door. LINDA Jason’s wife called. She wants him home now! The scene closes from the upstairs window we see Terry come from around the shed. All remaining watch Jason leave. Terry returns to his post near the wood pile while Steve and Jay return to the campfire next to the picnic table. The camera goes to the sky and then fades out. FADE OUT

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kenosha Civil War Museum is looking for reenactors

Video Production for Civil War Museum in Kenosha: The Civil War Museum in Kenosha is making a seven minute, 360 degree, film that will focus on the experience of combat from the point of view of enlisted men. The museum has hired Boston Productions (BPI) to produce the video. BPI has worked with re-enactors to produce many historical dramas including Revolutionary War films for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Fort Montgomery in upstate New York and Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, A Civil War Journey for Conner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana. BPI views reenactors as partners in these productions. They appreciate that these stories cannot be told without the support of the re-enactor community and they have a great reputation for treating reenactors with respect and treating them well. BPI offers cash payment at the end of each day, great food (breakfast, lunch, and dinner on shoot days), and an area to camp. WHEN: June 15th and 16th for large combat scene, with the Friday, Monday and/or Tuesday for those who can stay for close-up work LOCATION: Old World Wisconsin at Eagle Wi. RATE: $100/day for labor and $25/day for expenses (travel, cleaning, uniform, kit, etc) IMPRESSIONS: (looking for dual impression or just union or confederate) The museum focuses on the role played by the 6 Midwestern states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan. We encourage reenactors from all of these states, and others, to participate. Union We are looking to portray the common soldier in the war, soldiers that have not seen the elephant, but have seen the daily grind of marching and living in the field. The troops should have a nonspecific federal infantry look- no corps badges or distinctive issue. We are looking for a mixture of forage caps and undressed Hardee hats. Authenticity is of course our desired equipage criteria. Confederate The confederate impression will follow the same concept as the union; commutation period non geographic. We will try to avoid distinctive issue items and regimental impressions. Troops should look like they have seen service. Other Impression Information We will be filming a field camp to go along with the battle scenes so be prepared to dress as if on campaign; blanket rolls or knapsacks and the like. RATE: $100/day for labor and $25/day for expenses (travel, uniform, cleaning, etc.) HOW DO I GET INVOLVED? To get involved, contact me at the email address below. Include your name, what impression(s) you can bring with you and the dates you will be available. Once registered you’ll be on a mailing list where you’ll get updates on directions, and all the information you’ll need to participate in this awesome opportunity. Steve Acker (reenactor since 1987) Reenactor Coordinator: BPI Productions Kenosha Civil War Museum

Monday, January 14, 2013


Artillery is a support weapon, providing more muscle to a defensive front and disruptive fire for an offensive movement. Defensively artillery can slow the impetus of an advance before it gets to the works. On July 3rd, at Gettysburg, Confederate infantry suffered nearly 500 artillery inflicted casualties before they even stepped off for their attack to the Codori Farm. Union batteries had the luxury of converging fire- fire converging on a central point. Their guns spread across over a long front were able to concentrate on one small area thus causing traumatic casualties on the assaulting confederate formations. Meanwhile the confederate artillery fire was forced to diverge, spread out its fire; counter battery fire against union guns on Little Round Top and other locations as well as trying to clear out the union forces at the copse of trees. At Chancellorsville on May 3rd Robert E. Lee, once he occupied Hazel Grove, he was able to have his guns all fire on a small space around the Chancellor House thus forcing Hooker to retire. At Malvern Hill union guns poured such a destructive, converging, fire that the confederate advance failed before it really started. When using artillery the general of the Civil War wanted to use his guns to support his attack or defense. Converging fire helped, diverging fire did not. S.D Lee’s battalion on the rise near the Dunker Church or cannon on Little Round Top, the location of a battery helps explain their role in the battle.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


The ability to support a point in the line is paramount for a commanding general. Either on defense or offense to be able to move troops quickly to a specific point can be the difference between victory or defeat. For the general on the defensive that support can come in the form of interior lines. By having a formation whose ends are close to each other, that general will have an easier time moving troops from one area to a threatened one quickly because his soldiers will have a shorter distance to travel. Gettysburg and the famous fishhook offer an excellent example of a commander using interior lines to support his overall defense. On July 2nd at around 3:30 The Army of Northern Virginia under command of General Robert E. Lee began their assault on Union General George Gordon Meade’s left flank. Lee’s plan was to attack in echelon that is, to attack from right to left. In this case Hood’s division was to threaten Meade far right then as Meade moved troops from other areas of his line to stop Hood; subsequent attack formations would come across the weakened area caused by Meade pulling troops to stop Hood. That brigade would achieve the breakthrough and the battle would be won. At least that was the theory thousands of confederates worked for on that muggy July day. As Longstreet’s troops smashed into federals at the rocky hills and Wheatfield, General Meade found himself having to pull men from his center and far right, areas not at that moment under attack. He was able to blunt the attacks of Hood and later McLaws in the Devil’s Den and Wheatfield. Pulling guns and men from other areas stopped the confederate assault across the Trostle Farm and when A.R. Wright’s Georgians broke through center of federal line, it was reinforcements from the other areas of Meade’s army that eventually stopped them. Interior lines enabled General Meade to move his troops to threatened areas of his defense thus stopping Lee’s army from achieving the victory they fought so hard to achieve. As for General Lee, while Meade enjoyed an interior line, he was spread out over a much longer front thus he was unable to quickly pull troops to support successes like the one achieved by A.R. Wright. Unsupported those Georgians were forced to give up the cannons they had captured and the ground they had secured. The sun set on the Georgians retreating across the Codori Farm, land that would be fought over again on July 3rd. For lack of support Lee was unable to take advantage of the breach on the 2nd which forced him to try again the next day. Another example of interior lines saving an army from destruction occurred on September 17th of 1862. The Army of Northern Virginia, 40,000 plus men, set up in a line very similar to the famous Fishhook of Gettysburg: Lee’s left anchored on Nichodemus Heights/Potomac River and his right on the Antietam Creek. From predawn until around 5:30 pm Lee’s greyclads fended off terrific assaults from an opponent larger, healthier and better armed. As Hooker then Mansfield attacked his left, Lee, thanks to interior lines, was able to bring troops stationed on his center and right into the fight for the cornfield. As McClellan’s assault shifted to the center, Lee again was able to move troops into the threatened area quickly thanks to the shortened distance between right and left. Meade and Lee were able to maintain their front because they had the ability to move troops to threatened areas quickly. The fishhook line used by Meade at Gettysburg can also be found at Antietam, Chickamauga, Franklin, Chancellorsville and other battlefields. Meade, Lee, Schofield survived held their position in part thanks to interior lines. Hooker nearly lost his army because he did not.