Went down to Elmore City, Oklahoma this past weekend for what was billed as a tactical event for reenactors only. The information that I had received stated that the U.S. and C.S. camps would be separated and that the area for maneuvering would consist of about 160 acres. The action was supposed to kick off at 0600 on Saturday and continue with only one truce until Sunday afternoon. Sounded like a great finish to the season so I decided to go. Only two other guys from my battalion were able to make it but we figured we could fall in with another unit.
When I arrived Friday evening the other two guys were already in camp and set up. I quickly unloaded and got my gear set up and squared away. Then I noticed the blue. Blue uniforms that is, around the campfire. I inquired as to the reason. Only one camp I was told. So much for pickets or any attempted surprise raids. Confident that things would look better by daylight I decided to retire to my tent for the evening.
Before turning in I asked who was in command. Nobody seemed to be sure, there was no clear chain of command or organization. On that doubtful note I turned in.
I woke on Saturday morning to the sound of women conversing by the campfire. I was under the impression that this was a military only event. I rolled over and grabbed my watch. 0730! Reveille hadn't sounded, never would in fact. I jumped up, got dressed, and out of the tent. Two women in sweatshirts and blue jeans were sitting by the fire talking. A Federal sergeant was in a chair by the fire warming his brogans up. He was wearing house slippers and a hooded sweatshirt while he waited. Across from him sat a Folgers' coffee can with the plastic lid on. A plastic jug of water was thawing by the fire and the hiss of propane heaters emanated from several tents in the street. Nobody seemed to be moving in any particular direction. Beginning to doubt the wisdom of my trip I made breakfast and waited to see what would develop.
The event coordinator showed up in his uniform, and tennis shoes. He remarked that the camp did not look very authentic but that since there was no public we would not worry about it. Hmm. Not a good sign.
Finally formed up at 0930 for safety inspection. Moved out for the tactical at about 1000. Had a nice little fight that ended around 1200 when the truce was called. Headed into town for lunch. This was expected from the original information. Talked over things with my battalion mates. We decided that theme camping was not for us. One of the other guys told the event coordinator that we would be heading out. He replied that he hated to see us go since we would miss the adult beverages that would be passed around that evening. That sealed the deal. Alcohol and tactical events cannot co-exist. After lunch we loaded up and headed home.
While the event was disappointing there were a few bright spots. The terrain was awesome and lived up to every expectation. The concept was spot on, if it had been adhered to the event would have been an overwhelming success. Perhaps in future years the tactical will become a reality, authenticity will be enforced a bit more, and the camps will be separated. If that occurs I would look forward to returning.