DISPATCHES FROM THE COLONEL
the early 1800's, England passed a law called "The Riot Act". Whenever
there was an assembly of unruly citizens, the constable would read the
law to them. If they had not dispersed by the third reading of the law,
the authorities would use force to break up the mob. Thus, it would be
perfectly common for the Civil War soldiers to use the term, "Read them
the Riot Act".
Message from Colonel
I’d like to take some time and provide a recap
of the Cumberland Guard meeting, both in terms of some specifics as it
relates to the 2014 season, and some general thoughts I had in regards
to the hobby.
We reviewed the 2013 season, obviously with Gettysburg
being a highlight for many, and reflected on the impact Dave
Shackelford had (and no doubt, will continue to have) on the
hobby. Our thoughts turned to 2014 and we had significant
discussion about the lack of clarity for a unifying national event
where the Guard could come in force. Two thousand fourteen
seems to be a bit of an ‘off year’. We
had a lot of discussion about Atlanta, but a lot of factors (the
continued slow economy, fuel prices, and the commute time for our
Michigan pards) all hampered our ability to make a commitment to the
event. While we will have many individual units attend, we
wish we could provide a more compelling ‘full
Guard’ commitment to our good friend Earl Zeckman.
Having said that, we wanted to focus on some specific
regional events to strengthen the bond of the Michigan and Indiana
units. To that end, we made specific commitments to attend
(as a Guard entity), Conner Prairie, IN (May 16, 17, 18), Hastings, MI
(July 18, 19, 20), and Hartford City, IN (October 10, 11,
12). I’ll be putting these events into the Facebook
page soon, as well as request the CG website (www.cumberlandguard.us/)
be updated. It also will be placed onto the Michigan Civil
War Sesquicentennial Events website
(www.micw150.us/). I have been asked to be overall
commander for Hastings, MI.
We also spent some time talking about bringing the Guard
closer to its original mission (i.e., an umbrella organization for
Midwest Union re-enactors to be able to attend national events in
strength and to have a ‘seat at the table’ that is
representative of our size and skill). I have never viewed
the Guard, nor do I view me now as Colonel, as needing to be involved
in smaller local events. Events in Michigan should be
coordinated by Michigan units and the same for Indiana. In an
ideal world, I would love to see Union re-enactors create their own
‘state based’ organizations where they put personal
politics aside and have (as an example) one organization for Michigan,
one for Illinois, one for Ohio, one for Indiana, etc., such that all
these battalions can come together for a national event each year in
such a manner that our numbers make us a force to be reckoned
with. I pointed to the Army of the Wabash in Indiana as the
most recent example of folks putting their politics and egos aside to
Speaking of politics and egos, I also gave my personal
views on those subjects. I don’t have an ego with
regards to re-enacting, and will be the first person to NOT
command if it is for the best of the hobby. I refuse to carry
grudges and I refuse to carry other people’s
grudges. I have made plenty of mistakes both on and off the
field. I hope the people that have been on the receiving end
of those mistakes move past it, just as I don’t continue to
dwell on mistakes I have been on the receiving end of.
Everyone make mistakes, but people grow from these mistakes.
I am certain that I will make many more. As said at the
meeting, (and to Dave), I am NOT Dave.
For some of that, there is a lot of negative (I don’t have
his skills, his connections, his presence), but I hope to leverage the
positive side of that as well. It is a new day, time to move
past the personal agendas and the political nonsense that have pulled
this hobby down into sewer at times.
Feel free to contact me anytime at Robert_r_van@yahoo.com
Having announced my retirement from reenacting after 39
years of service, I have lots to say. I do not, however, know how to
say most of it.
The hobby, if that is what you call it....for some, it
is a lifestyle...has changed incredibly. From Sears light blue slacks
to an entire industry of folks who make a living supplying the wants of
the hobby. From individual companies on the battlefield with no
coordination with other companies to battalion, brigade and Division
drill and evolutions. From "Ripple fire from the left" to intricate and
complicated commands that are not only correct but the rank and file
know how to follow the commands.
Changes, yes, many. Sadly, what has not changed are the
folks who see reenacting as an opportunity to gain importance and
respect. They learned that by politics, back-stabbing and conspiring,
they could get rank (although it is fake), recognition and an
opportunity to command people.What they do not grasp is the
responsibilities and burdens that befall true commanders. Those types
do not put the privates interests first, only their own personal
agendas. I urge all who read this to stand up against those who seek to
advance at your expense and tell them "No". All it takes is one and all
who are in silent agreement will step forward too.
How do I begin to name those who have influenced,
assisted, helped or aided me in the 39 years? I have seen many good, if
not great, commanders come and go. Some left for greener pastures, some
out of being tired of the politics and some by passing on. All who
helped and influenced me are due a sincere thanks. Keith Harrison must
be singled out for his undying support and assistance.
The Cumberland Guard will be sorely missed by me. The
friendships and bonds developed over the campfire or the clink of cups
will forever be part of who I am. The Guard performed miracles in the
course of their existence under my command. They are known in every
corner of this nation as the best fighters, and disciplined soldiers
anywhere in the country. Sure, I could claim credit for their success
but the credit belongs to the rank and file that gave the sweat,
marched in the mud, heat, rain, snow and darkness to create the magic
of the Guard. All I did was stand out in front....they did the work.
Lastly, know that my heart is heavy with this decision.
My presence will be seen at an event or two in the future and I am
always ready to hear from any of you. To quote Napoleon at his
abdication in 1814, "Although I love you all, I cannot embrace you
Action Review for Jackson, Michigan and information on the 150th
Anniversary Events have been posted to the AAR page.
Action Review for Hastings/Charleton Park, Michigan has been
posted to the AAR page.
Someone caused all of my email
addresses and email messages, both sent and received, to be
destroyed. Thus, please pass on the word to send me a short email so I
can start rebuilding my email address list.
One of the hazards of my
profession, I guess. LOL
The annual meeting of the Cumberland
Guard is at Conner Prairie from 10-1pm on
November 7th. Please plan to attend and bring a pard. Have your 2010
plans in mind so we can discuss next year.
Our beloved Keith Harrison has undergone some medical
issues that will keep him from Hastings but he will be at Jackson and
Atlanta. Stop by and tell him how valuable he is to the Guard. I feel
lost without his services and can't wait for him to be in the field
It is with much sadness that I announce the death of
Suzanne LeBeau, the wife of Confederate Colonal Dave Julian. She
certainly made her mark on the hobby and this world will never be quite
Dave is a good friend of the Guard and is deserving of
your prayers and best wishes. The heart of the Guard is heavy with her
Gentlemen of the Guard and of the other organizations
who generously gave a donation:
I received the contributions that
were gathered at the recent Greenfield Village event. Your actions
rendered me speechles and in tears. Never in the 39 years in this hobby
have I ever been more proud to be a reenactor and to have the honor to
call you my friends.
I will say "Thanks"
but a simple thank you does not seem
A very humbled and thankful Colonel
BTW, I am feeling a little better
each day and can walk up stairs now.