Monday, November 25, 2013

Galtroops re-visited!

I didn't attend a whole lot of the 150th anniversary events in Gettysburg this year. I have no hard feelings or animosity about it, but living where I do I can go to the battlefield just about any time. With the traffic and the crowds, I thought it better to stay away and to allow those coming to see it from afar to enjoy it. They can have their days, and I'll have mine. None are more significant or special, because I don't see why any one anniversary, or any day for that matter, is more significant than others. Dates and anniversaries are merely numbers that we arbitrarily attach significance to for some reason, but any time we remember the cause, the fighting, the brutality and the sacrifice we are doing the right thing.

But I diverge from my point. Back on track.

I saw photos from the two anniversary Gettysburg battle reenactments, and actually the farb and the "anything goes mentality" wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I see worse every weekend strutting their stuff on Steinwehr with ill-fitting hoopskirts, ankles showing, overly-fancy uniforms and bad hats, or passing the "Ghost-story spiel" as historic fact, and claiming to be properly historically attired while doing so.

Then of course, there's the Remembrance Day parade. It happened this past Saturday, and though it is  a significant effort to honor those of both sides, I ask how much honor are we really doing when people repeatedly do things or wear things they know are historically inaccurate "...just because it's close enough!"?

Case in point: Galtroops. Women who want to be Civil War soldiers. Why? I don't know, because in the CW reenacting hobby there are many appropriate roles for women. If you don't want to be a camp follower or laundress, you can always be a field nurse, a sanitary or Christian commission worker, a refugee or displaced citizen, or just a local wanting to help feed the troops or care for the wounded.

During the Civil War, there are reports of women dressing in uniforms, enlisting and fighting as men. The key words in that last sentence are important, so we'll say them again, "...fighting as men." No one knows how they fooled the doctors to pass the physical, but these women assumed male identities and fought in the ranks.

If discovered and reported, they were drummed out of the armies and sent home. Albert Cashier, who in reality was the woman Jennie Hodgers, served for three years undetected and only revealed her true identity after the war. There also was an unidentified Confederate soldier found near the angle on the third day's assault near Gettysburg who was a woman in uniform.

In the Civil War reenacting community, women who dress as men often take very little effort to hide their genders. It often is blatantly obvious that they are women trying to serve a man's role. Is this acceptable? Perhaps at events, civilians should, after identifying women in the ranks, point them out to the officers or NCOs. Then, they could properly disarm the women, drum them out of the ranks and send them on their way. That would be realism! No one has the nerve to do it, though, because it would be bigotry, hatred, or discrimination, and even though we're passing fake history as the truth we can't risk hurting anyone's feelings.

So, the argument is made that in reality women did this, often serving with distinction. Take away the above facts about what would happen if discovered and let's look at sheer numbers. While no one knows for sure how many women served, the generally agreed upon number is 2,000. As many as 3,000,000 million men total served on both sides of the Civil War, so let's do the math.


Round it up to 0.1%, and you have roughly 1 woman in the ranks for every 1,000 men. Even assuming the numbers are off by a factor of 2, there should be no more than 2 woman out of every 1000 in the ranks. In a 5,000 person parade, there should be no more than 10 galtroops, and even that number is an over-estimate. In reality, to be historically validated, those 10 galtroops should be able to pass by the crowds undetectable as women. 

If you attended the Remembrance Day parade, please comment. How many woman did you see dressed as soldiers? A few? Several? Too many? Do you think there were more than 10? Did they seem to make a serious effort to conceal their gender by shortening their hair, hiding their chests, and walking like men, or did they just put on a uniform and go? 

What are your thoughts?

I didn't attend, but I've seen many photos, and I attended in years past. In some of the photos, and in previous parades, I counted upwards of 4-5 women in some companies of only 20 or 30 total troops, and often this happened repeatedly. Last year, I lost count at 126 women in a parade said to have 3,000 participants. That's shameful, and one of many reasons that history is being perverted in the name of political correctness. Those who do it or tolerate it should feel more than a small degree of shame, because there is no honor in telling lies and saying they're actually showing how it was.

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