Expanded 1st Virginia / 1st Minnesota Policies for Members

Historic Regimental & Company Structure

Our Practice in the 1st Virginia Infantry Regarding Regimental Structure

Our Practice Regarding Company Structure with Responsibilities of Officers & NCOs

Age Requirements for Portraying Soldiers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age Requirements for Portraying Soldiers

 

Dear friends,

 
In the last couple of months we've had several inquiries regarding age limitations, particularly relating to boys, battlefields and the uniforms and weapons we provide to help men get started.
 
We are and shall be a family oriented group with a desire to responsibly include both genders and all ages. This is a big part of why we have invested so much in order to have a depot that enables young men and indeed men of all ages to have the learning experience of an historic soldier. 
 
But one of the things we learn in life is that sometimes we have to wait until the right time for something we desire. For children this waiting is often associated with age, can appear arbitrary and can seem unfair; the good reasons perhaps being hidden from the perspective of the one who is doing the waiting.
 
Boys sometimes have a hard time with this. But a boy must learn to wait, to respect authority and to cheerfully grow, learn and serve in what capacity he may while waiting. A boy who won't wait, can't take "no" for an answer, and has to have everything he wants when he wants it may never really grow up and will likely create difficulties for himself and others.
 
Age policies in the context of what we do with living history are good - for a variety of reasons - and one of those reasons is that they challenge a boy to pitch in and serve with a willing heart until he is old enough and has shown character enough to be "promoted" to the next level of involvement.
 
Our age standards in brief are posted on our Joining Page and an expanded version has been pasted below.
 
Your humble servant,
 
Col. Scott
 
 
AGE POLICIES of the 1st VIRGINIA / 1st MINNESOTA
Boys, Young Men, Men
 
Our age policies regarding being soldiers in the line of battle are not simply arbitrary. There are reasons for them.
1) Generally Respected and Accepted Standards
Respected events and organizations we join with on the East Coast all have an age requirement of either 15 or 16 for soldiers on the battlefield.
2) Authenticity
Historically, 17 year old soldiers were common in both the northern and southern armies even though the official age limit was 18 in the former. Likewise there are plenty of documented instances of 14, 15 and 16 year olds in the line of battle - especially in the southern armies. But below the age of 14 documented cases of regular infantry soldiers become rare.
3) Maturity
While no particular age guarantees the necessary maturity for responsible and safe behaviour and undoubtedly there may be younger persons who are unusually mature, yet points 1 and 2 are strong arguments for specific and objective - rather than subjective - age standards.
 
So much in life comes down to attitude.
This is one of the many lessons boys must learn if they are to become men.
And let us remember that though history, education and public service are all good motives and good causes in themselves, that we who have families are at an even deeper level also hopeful of using living history as a tool for character growth and development.
 
Another lesson a boy must learn in order to be a man is that some things must be waited for until the appropriate time - regardless of one's personal desires, interests or wishes. Waiting for anything - a driver's license or more freedoms or marriage or even for the opportunity to be a reenactor in line of battle - can seem unfair to the young. But part of growing up - and of gaining wisdom - is accepting the wisdom, decisions and rules of elders and making the best, positive use of preparation time until the desire may be properly fulfilled.
 
A boy who won't learn to do this will remain a boy though boyhood may be long gone. Even when he is 18, 38, 58 or 78 years old he will simply be an old boy who can't take "no" for an answer and always demands that his own desires be met regardless of rules, standards or consequences.
 
In our particular case if a boy were to pout, argue, quit or make a scene because he was not yet old enough - well, that would not be a boy we would desire to have involved even if he were old enough.
 
There is a better way. For the 1st VA / 1st MN we desire respectful boys and young men with a desire to serve the group and the public - in whatever capacity they may be assigned  - be that as civilian boys, cadets or (once they are old enough) as soldiers
 
We have some excellent boys and young men in our group - some of whom are not yet old enough to be regular soldiers but who serve and participate in other capacities nonetheless.
 
I would like to give kudos to one of these young men whose attitude has been particularly impressive. 
 
Jake M. is not old enough to be a regular soldier. He would like very much to carry a rifle but is several months too young. Though disappointed, Jake's response was not to pout or complain but to put forward a sincere attitude that suggested "What can I do in the meantime? Where can I serve? How can I help?"
With his positive and impressive attitude - and willingness to cheerfully pitch in where assigned - he earned himself the use of a uniform and the chance to be a courier. From there he was offered the opportunity to act as a standard bearer. He has not only gladly embraced each opportunity but has joyfully, responsibly and respectfully carried them out.
 
Jake says that God helps him be his best. And it's true.
 
With such a positive attitude and servant's heart when Jake is 15 we'll gladly graduate him to "soldier" status.
 
Boys to men? It doesn't happen simply by accident. We applaud those we see making the sometimes challenging transition.
 
Col. Scott

April 2009

 

More on Age Policies on our "Joining" Page.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Structure of the Infantry Regiment & Company during the American Civil War

 

The first thing to be noticed when discussing the structure and organization of Regiments and Companies during the American Civil War is that there is often – in fact generally – a great difference between official textbook composition and the reality of the composition of an active veteran organization on campaign.

For instance many Infantry Regiments (including the 1st Virginia) fought part, most or all through the war without the full 10 Companies “official” to Regimental structure. Likewise, it was an unusual Company of Infantry which had the full complement of 100 Privates fresh and green at outset – much less after any degree of encamping, campaigning or combat.

Therefore the focus of this article shall be on the typical example rather than the textbook example.

 

Regimental Structure

The majority of Infantry Regiments did indeed possess ten Companies but there were many regiments with less and a few with more. Typically, each Regiment would have been raised in a particular state and each Company in a particular town, county or region of a state. In addition to the members of its Companies a Regiment would have on its rolls a number of persons as Regimental Staff. The Regimental Staff would typically be:

Officers

Colonel:

The Colonel is the commander of the Regiment. At the outset of the war most had no real military experience though some few were Mexican War Veterans or had spent time in the US Army or in an organized militia. The Colonel was likely a prominent or popular person who had done the most toward raising or recruiting the Regiment, though in the North he may also have been a political appointee with no real direct connection. In the South many Colonels spent considerable personal funds toward uniforming and arming their Regiment, an example of the philosophy and practice of Noblesse Oblige. Casualties were high among Colonels, partly due to the fact that early in the war many led their men into the thick of battle from the front, and often on horseback.

Lt. Colonel:

The purpose of the Lt. Colonel was to be a “support officer” and “right hand man” to the Colonel as well as to oversee the right wing of the regiment in line of battle. As the war progressed this position (and those of most “support” officers) became less common.

Major:

The Major is a jack-of-all-trades support officer who could be assigned anything from the leading of a detachment, to overseeing the left wing of the regiment in line of battle, to carrying important dispatches.

NCOs:

Sergeant Major:

If present, the Sergeant Major is the highest ranking NCO in the regiment and has as his particular responsibilities making certain that the men are properly trained and drilled and that they keep their places in line of battle.

Those with Rank but Limited Authority:

Regimental Surgeon:

Regiments were sometimes attended by a civilian doctor who was a volunteer and held no official military standing. But when the surgeon was an official member of the military he generally held officer’s rank (typically Captain at the regimental level) though his command authority was limited to his direct sphere of responsibilities.

Chaplain:

Chaplains also were often civilian volunteers (especially in The South), a number of whom not only shared camp life with the men but even accompanied them into battle. Civilian preachers also commonly visited the army to perform Sunday services, baptize, pray for the sick and wounded, bring letters and food from home and hold revival meetings. Official Military Chaplains generally held officer’s rank (typically Captain at the regimental level) though their command authority was limited to their direct sphere of responsibilities. There were also many preachers who joined the army as Privates; fighting in the ranks, conducting services and seeing to the welfare of their fellow soldiers - many of whom may have been fellow congregants from their home churches.

Regimental Quartermaster:

The Regimental Quartermaster is responsible for ordering, receiving, protecting and issuing supplies to members of the regiment. At the Regimental level the Quartermaster is typically a Lieutenant but his authority is limited to his direct sphere of responsibility.

Other Personnel:

Some other personnel who may or may not be part of a Regimental Staff would be adjutant or aide, farrier, wagonmaster, cook and surgeon’s assistants. These would generally be Privates who were assigned distinct roles though they might be NCOs and an adjutant could possibly be a Lieutenant.

 

Company Structure

“By the book” a Company was to have 100 men. This figure was not usually met even with green recruits at the very outset of the war and once on campaign the reality was very different indeed. A veteran Company on campaign might typically have 20-30 actually present for duty. 40-50 men present for duty would make for a large Company and small Companies with as few as 10 present for duty were not uncommon. Each of these Companies would have been raised in a particular area (probably a specific town or county) of a given state. Many of the men in a Company (especially in The South or rural areas of the North) would have been friends, acquaintances or at least would have recognized one another from back home. In battle a company was either “in line of battle”, operating as skirmishers or being held in reserve. A large Company could be split into two Platoons which might be divided for differing purposes. Though other ranks may have been present the Captain and 1st Sergeant were considered the indispensable leaders of a Company of Infantry.

Officers

Captain:

The Captain is the commander of the Company. Much of what has already been said regarding Colonels applies to Captains as well. Early in the war most had no real military experience though some few were Mexican War Veterans or had spent time in the US Army or in an organized militia. The Captain was likely a prominent or popular person who had recruited and organized the Company and then was either appointed and/or elected (as a formality) to their position. In the South many Captains spent considerable personal funds toward uniforming and arming their Companies, an example of the idea of Noblesse Oblige. Captains were battlefield commanders and casualties were high.

1st Lieutenant & 2nd Lieutenant:

The purpose of a Lieutenant was as a “support officer” to the Captain. At the formation of the company they were either appointed by the Captain or (sometimes) elected but from that point if any new lieutenants were created they were appointed. Lieutenants could be given command or oversight of a platoon. As the war progressed Lieutenants seem to have become less and less common, many Companies having none at all. As the size of Companies shrunk there was less need for more officers (the Captain being the only indispensable officer position) and an understanding that while leadership was very important, at the tactical level more rifles in line of battle meant more firepower delivered.

NCOs:

NCOs were sometimes elected when a company was first formed but afterwards were generally appointed to their rank by the Captain.

1st Sergeant, 2nd Sergeant, 3rd Sergeant, 4th Sergeant:

A Company might have as many as four (or more) Sergeants who were ranked in a definite hierarchical chain of command. The Sergeants were particularly responsible for drill, the appearance and orderliness of the men, the condition of equipment and for keeping everyone in their place in line of battle. Sergeants might also command a small detachment or be responsible for any particular duty or set of duties as assigned by the Captain. Along with the Captain a solid First Sergeant was considered an indispensable person in a good infantry Company.

1st Corporal, 2nd Corporal, 3rd Corporal, 4th Corporal:

A typical company might have as many as four (or more) Corporals. They assisted the Sergeants, had similar responsibilities and could be assigned oversight of small numbers of men or of particular tasks by the Sergeants. Unlike Sergeants, the Corporals do not outrank one another. They are designated as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. according to height, running from tallest to shortest.

Standard Bearers

Standard Bearer was not a rank though Standard Bearers were often NCOs. Being a Standard Bearer was considered a great honour with a great responsibility. The colours – whether national, state, regimental or company colours - were never to go down. Standard Bearers held the most dangerous position on the entire field as in the smoke of battle the waving standards often became a focal point for enemy fire. Early in the war Confederate Companies often each had their own Standard Bearers. As the war progressed it was far more common for one Company of a Regiment to be designated the “Colour Company” and thus be the only Company carrying standards into the regimental line of battle.

Those with Rank but Limited Authority:

Company Quartermaster:

Company Quartermasters were more common in the cavalry but were sometimes used in the infantry as well. The Company Quartermaster is responsible for receiving, protecting and issuing supplies to members of the Company. At the Company level the Quartermaster was typically a Sergeant but his authority was limited to his direct sphere of responsibility.

 

 

Our Practice in the 1st Virginia Infantry Regarding Regimental Structure

We are currently expanding and transitioning into a Regimental structure accommodating four Companies and Regimental staff. Leaders will gradually be identified/developed and trained sufficient to a minimum of one each of Captain, Sergeant and Corporal per company. A Regimental staff is being developed and could possibly include any, some or all of the following positions: Lt. Colonel, Major, Quartermaster, Surgeon, Chaplain, Sergeant Major, etc.

Letter from the Colonel dated September 30th, 2009

Gentlemen:
 
The Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the Civil War begins in 2011. Thus will commence the most significant series of reenactments and the greatest level of historic interest and discussion that America has seen since the Bicentennial era of the 1970s.
 
We have been invited to step un and participate in some spotlight roles in what will be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Your Colonel will be part of several upcoming meetings in Virginia relating both to huge reenactments of 10,000 plus soldiers and also a couple of very unique possibilities where we could utilize our first-person "Battle of Payson" style to illustrate some very interesting and dramatic historic occurrences.
 
This means some big steps forward for our growing group including organizational changes. Our General is making us a "Regiment" for 150th activities. A Regimental structure is what we have been aiming/growing toward so the timing is very good. Thus we will be mostly leaving our years of experience as a "Company" behind and are already transitioning toward a Regimental structure with independent battalion maneuvers on the field.
 
We have been an excellent Company and have been blessed with some rare compliments and honours. As a Regiment we will learn, grow, excel and in time surpass our fine record as a Company.
 
Part of becoming a Regiment will be a dramatic change and expansion in leadership positions. Thus we'll begin with a clean slate, looking to follow the example of a successful athletic team and discover the people best suited for each position.
 
Many NCOs will be created and then from them both company and staff officers. It will take time but we have begun 'tryouts" and practice at Cook Plantation this past Saturday and will continue at the AHF and beyond. The learning curve is steep (as our volunteers for "tryouts" have experienced) and all officers and NCOs are in positions of higher accountability, responsibility and service - but the rewards and satisfaction are great too.
 

If interested in an NCO or Officer position:

In order to be considered for tryouts a gentleman needs to read the information below and send the Colonel a note stating agreement to the Requirements listed. Any interested gentleman, whether veteran or recent recruit, will be considered.
 
At AHF and beyond we will continue practice with some who have already begun at Cook Plantation but will incorporate others as well.
 
Thank you.
 
Col. Scott
 
Requirements to be considered for Leadership Positions 
 
COMMITMENT
We currently hold four reenactment events per year in Arizona - Poland Junction, Payson, Cook Plantation & The American Heritage Festival. Each of these is a one day event except for the AHF which is three days. All dates are posted 9 to 12 months in advance. It will be expected that all Arizona Officers and NCOs will participate in each of these four events as well as begin to prepare for 150th events in Virginia.
 
LEADERSHIP
This is a big category. Not every personality is comfortable with or good at giving commands or direction. But our Officers and NCOs must be. We must also "go the extra mile" in service to our own people and to the public, always being conscious that we are being looked to by young people, new recruits and others as authority figures. Being on time, being respectful, being helpful are all parts of the picture here. Be aware of how words and actions may influence. Officers in particular should conduct themselves as gentlemen.
Perfection? No. An elevated sense of responsibility? Yes.
 
RESPONSIBILITY
This incorporates much of what has been said above regarding Leadership as well as being on time and being properly uniformed and equipped for one's position. Also included is Duty; earnestly practicing at becoming better in one's role, developing your "character" and having an attitude of service toward ladies and the public. Matters of honour matter too. One example is pitching in for caps and powder even though no one but you knows whether you did or you didn't.
There is always more to learn. There is always room to grow. We are responsible to do both.
 
COMMUNICATIONS
Prompt and responsive communications by email will be absolutely required. Some roles and some events will entail registration or other paperwork that must be done quickly and efficiently.

GENEROSITY

Officers in particular were expected to exhibit this trait, a requisite for any gentleman. It was common in The South for Officers to outfit companies and even regiments at their own expense. Our Officers and NCOs can exhibit generosity through pitching in supplies such as gallons of drinking water and ice for the cistern, Gatorade, caps or cartridge tubes or even by buying lunch for a Private who has performed especially well. Giving and growing often go hand in hand.

NOBLESSE OBLIGE

Learn it. Live it.
"To whom much is given much shall be required."
 
REACQUAINT
There is a fair amount of good reading on these pages.

1st Virginia Home Page

1st Virginia Standards
1st Virginia History
Virginia 1861

 

Our Practice in the 1st Virginia / 1st Minnesota Regarding Company Structure

The 1st Virginia Infantry and 1st Minnesota Infantry have gained great experience and been blessed to gain compliments and honours as each has portrayed an Infantry Company.  Now, as we have grown and as we are preparing for events related to the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War we move forward toward a Regimental Structure of four Companies when all are portraying the 1st Virginia together or two smaller Battalions of two Companies each when dividing and portraying both the 1st Virginia and 1st Minnesota at the same event. Nevertheless, much of the information below is still applicable and particularly on any possible occasions where we may revert back to portraying one large company.

 

Rank in the 1st Virginia / 1st Minnesota is about exactly three things: Portrayal, Responsibility & Service. To wear the braid or stripes requires developing the correct portrayal and stepping up to greater responsibilities and a higher level of service toward fellow members and the public. Officers and NCOs have a heightened role and are held to greater expectations in our mission of inspirational, family friendly, historical education in service to others. Noblesse Oblige: Learn it, Live it. "To whom much is given much shall be required."

 

Officers:

At the Company level the only officers we envisage currently are a Captain for the command of each Company. (This was not only common to historic veteran Infantry Companies but we discover it is almost always the case among our reenacting compatriots on the East Coast.) Thus, in Company vs. Company scenarios that means exactly one officer per side.

In terms of reenacting it is more valuable to have men in the line of battle - with a minimum requisite number of good officers as commanders and leaders and several good NCOs capable of handling detachments when necessary - than it is to have a superfluous number of officers. Reenacting groups with too high of an officer to soldier ratio don't look right or function well.

These guidelines do not effect specialty portrayals such as General Robert E. Lee.

 

Officer Responsibilities:

At an event officers are responsible for leading their commands into battle and must be proficient at drilling and marching the troops, in giving orders and in carrying out orders. Officers are also responsible for encouraging morale and esprit de corps, for reminding and inspiring all by both word and deed of our mission of inspirational, family friendly, historical education in service to others and for overseeing both soldiers and civilians, looking out for their comfort, safety, welfare and enjoyment and ensuring that all duties, obligations and responsibilities are safely fulfilled.

 

NCOs:

We would like to expand the number of Sergeants and Corporals to at least two of each for both the 1st Virginia and 1st Minnesota.

Gentlemen who are desirous of and able to uphold the responsibilities entailed below should contact Col. Scott with their interest.

 

NCO Qualifications:

1)     Must be an involved and regular participant in 1st VA / 1st MN activities.

2)     Must have a proven record of safety, responsibility and the keeping of commitments.

3)     Must have an obvious desire and willingness to serve both fellow members and the public at large.

4)     Must have a demonstrated pattern of being on time.

5)     Must be quick and responsive in communications – including email.

6)     Must become personally proficient at drill and be willing and able to teach drill if necessary.

7)     Must be willing to receive and give orders, to lead and to follow.

8)     Must be able to responsibly and safely take command of a picket post or detachment if called upon to do so.

9)     Must exhibit the qualities of a gentleman such as loyalty, generosity and helpfulness and be able to encourage and inspire both veterans and green recruits.

 

NCO Responsibilities:

1st Sergeants

The 1st Sergeant is a particularly important position requiring an even greater level of proficiency and commitment. The 1st Sgt. is typically the acting second in command. Therefore he must be comfortable and confident in giving orders and must be able when called upon to lead and command on the march and on the battlefield. Even more so than other NCOs the 1st Sgt. must be personally proficient in drill and able to teach the same. The 1st Sgt. is also responsible for seeing that all are properly uniformed and equipped for battle  as well as dressed appropriately while in camp. (Unless heat dictates otherwise, the men should have their jackets fully buttoned for battle but may go "top button only" in camp. Men should never be without jackets ("in their shirtsleeves") if  ladies are or expected to be present.)

In addition the 1st Sgt. must be willing to take on any and all other responsibilities as needed and will embrace the duties of the 2nd and 3rd Sergeants if no 2nd or 3rd Sergeant is present.

 

2nd Sergeants

2nd Sergeants will be held particularly accountable for the health and safety of the men. Seeing that all have remained fed and hydrated during the course of the day, that canteens are full and sunscreen worn, and that first aid supplies are on hand will be among the responsibilities of 2nd Sergeants.

In addition the 2nd Sgt. must be willing to take on any and all other responsibilities as needed and will embrace the duties of the 3rd Sergeant if no 3rd Sergeant is present.

 

3rd Sergeants

3rd Sergeants will be responsible for overseeing the physical condition and cleanliness of the camp, setting up and tearing down, first aid supplies, stocks of water and stocks of firewood. The 3rd Sgt. will also be acting provost; responsible for security, posting camp guards and assigning tasks to cadets.

In addition the 3rd Sgt. must be willing to take on any and all other responsibilities as needed.

 

Quartermaster Sergeants

One of the above Sergeants will also – in addition to other duties – be the Quartermaster Sgt., responsible for overseeing the issuing and receiving of uniforms and equipment, keeping written records, creating awareness of damage or discrepancies and making certain that all is cleaned and safely and securely packed away at the end of the day or event.

 

Corporals

Each Corporal will be assigned either (A) to be an assistant to the Captain or a particular Sergeant in his duties or (B) independent duties of his own.

In addition a Corporal must be willing to take on any and all other responsibilities as needed.

 

All NCOs have command authority to enlist Privates to assist them in their duties as necessary.

 

Thank you.

Col. Scott

June 2009, Updated July 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to join the action?

Email the Colonel for details as to how you too can portray history as a Civilian with the 1st Virginia / 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry.

 

Pages of the 1st Virginia / 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry

The 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry

The 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry

The 1st Virginia: History

Joining the 1st Virginia: Information, Standards & Philosophy

Virginia 1861

The Winchester Rifles of The 2nd Virginia Infantry

 

Related Pages

We Make History

We Make History Virginia

Family Friendly Reenacting

The American Heritage Festival

The Battle of Payson

Our Annual Victorian Christmas Ball

 

 

 

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