26 October 2008 by Published in: General News 7 comments

In the category of people who are galactically stupid is the moron who fully loaded his weapon at a recent reenactment and shot some poor bastard. Of course, the moron has failed and refused to step forward and accept the consequences for being galactically stupid:

Civil War re-enactor’s injury shakes die-hards

By STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press Writer – Sat Oct 25, 10:56 am ET

RICHMOND, Va. – In the passionate world of Civil War re-enactors, authenticity is everything — from uniforms with historically correct stitching to hardtack made from scratch.

A battle re-enactment last month pushed realism to the limits: a retired New York City police officer portraying a Union soldier for a documentary film was shot in the shoulder, possibly by a Confederate re-enactor.

The shooting sent the 73-year-old to the hospital and left the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office in rural southeastern Virginia with a Civil War-style CSI case. Investigators used film to piece together what happened and have narrowed a suspect to one re-enactor.

The Sept. 27 injury also sent ripples through the tight-knit re-enactment community, which can be understandably sensitive to public perceptions of thousands of enthusiasts toting swords and firearms in roughhewn uniforms, often on horseback.

“We were sort of freaked out because this hits the hobby hard,” said Ed Hooper, editor of Camp Chase Gazette, a monthly magazine aimed at re-enactors. “It is so out of the norm.”

The shooting of Thomas R. Lord Sr. in a Suffolk park violated the cardinal rule of re-enacting — no loaded weapons. Black powder brings the flash and bang to the pageantry, but even that primitive explosive is used gingerly.

Re-enactors said Lord’s shooting may have happened in part because walk-ons were used. These are re-enactors who typically are not affiliated with a unit and unfamiliar with the chain of command or safety rules, akin to a football player showing up on game day to play for a team the athlete has never met.

Lord’s shooter was among several Confederate re-enactors who showed up at the filming, said John C. Jobe, a member of Lord’s unit who witnessed the shooting.

Re-enactors who have worked in filmed battles said the camera itself might have been a factor, saying filmmakers sometimes put realism over safety and ignore the hobby’s strict rules of engagement. The re-enactors who were there when Lord was hurt said they weren’t sure whether the film crew checked for loaded weapons before the battle commenced.

Sheriff C.W. “Charlie” Phelps said he didn’t have evidence that the filmmakers were negligent.
“I can’t say that anybody dropped the ball,” he said.

Lord was shot in the shoulder while portraying a member of the 7th New York Cavalry. The unit answered an Internet casting call from a film company called Alderwerks.

Officials with the Virginia Film Office were not familiar with the company or the director, listed on the casting call as Matthew Burchfield, who was credited as a casting assistant on director Terrence Malick’s 2006 film “The New World,” starring Colin Farrell and Christian Bale.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Burchfield declined to discuss specifics of the filming because of the investigation.

“We are thankful for Mr. Lord’s recovery and continue to keep him in our thoughts,” Burchfield wrote. “We have been in full co-operation with the investigators on this case and await their findings.”

Re-enactors’ attention to detail was on display again this month at Cedar Creek Battlefield in northern Virginia, when thousands participated without any serious injuries, according to Jake Jennette, who commanded the Confederate forces that weekend.

With the cadence of a retired Marine Corps infantry officer, Jennette ran through a laundry list of inspections his troops must undergo, from weapons inspections to repeated drills.

“When we go on the field we are satisfied that the weapon is cleared,” Jennette said. “We’ve trained these guys. We start them out as a private in the ranks.”

Walk-ons would not be allowed to fight under Jennette’s command.

“We don’t let strangers fight,” he said. “We fight together, we trust each other.”

Rookies typically will have faces smudged with powder to signal a new arrival — known as “seeing the elephant,” he said. Bayonets are removed, and weapons are aimed upward during a charge.
According to witnesses, Lord was raising his arm in victory when a musket ball ripped into him. “I felt like I got hit in the shoulder with a baseball bat,” Lord told The Daily Press of Newport News. He declined interviews with The Associated Press, citing the investigation.

The hobby has come a long way from its ragtag origins to the near-fanatical authenticity modern purists demand.

The National Park Service allowed 2,500 re-enactors to stage a battle in 1961 on Manassas National Battlefield Park, in what some view as the birth of Civil War re-enacting. A horse-drawn caisson bolted and had to be chased down and someone was knocked down by a cannon blast. The park service no longer allows battlefield re-enactments.

Hooper, the editor of the re-enactor magazine, believes the hobby has been surprisingly injury-free despite the frenetic battle scenes.

The most serious incident he could recall was a shooting 20 years ago at the re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. A Charlottesville man was wounded when he was accidentally shot by a re-enactor from France, according to news accounts.

Phelps said the shooter could face a misdemeanor charge of reckless handling of a firearm up to a felony, malicious wounding.

For his part, Hooper said the shooting will only amplify safety.

“This will make people, especially the commanders, take a good look at the men in his unit,” he said.

Now, I’m not a reenactor and never have been. Candidly, it’s something I have never really understood. However, I recognize its popularity, and I also recognize the need for safety when it takes place. It has to be about trust, or else nobody would put themselves in harm’s way voluntarily.

This moron violated that trust and desperately needs to be prosecuted. He needs to spend some time in prison. There is simply no excuse for what he did. None.

Scridb filter


  1. PHW
    Sun 26th Oct 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Whoever did it needs to get his rifle busted over his head.

    My dad was nearly speared by a fired ramrod at South Mountain in 1987….and ramrods were supposed to have been removed from rifles for that 125th event.

  2. Valerie Protopapas
    Sun 26th Oct 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Obviously, you folks are forgetting the soap opera actor who knowing his gun was loaded with blanks put the barrel to his head and pulled the trigger; he was killed. I’m not too sure how the death came about – concussion (it can kill) or some wad that was in the gun in place of the bullet (the blank), but it was a stupid stunt that led to a death.

    In the same way, when I raised roses, a very respected and well known rose grower put a new insecticide at the time (Orthene) into an iced tea glass and accidentally drank it! How he could have done this when the stuff stank to high heaven, I don’t know. But immediately the “nanny staters” wanted to outlaw pesticides in general and Orthene in particular – when the episode was the fault of the man who stupidly put a poison in a drinking glass and then more stupidly drank it!

    Unless the fellow who fired the bullet had mental problems, I would assume it was just another example of stupidity. Unfortunately, if we are going to imprison all the stupid people in this country or all the folks who act stupidly, well …. Neither can we legislate safety – we’ve tried it and all that it leads to is greater interference in our lives by the government – certainly not something who has any respect for personal liberty should wish.

  3. Dave Powell
    Sun 26th Oct 2008 at 7:29 pm

    There are several ways in which a live projectile can work it’s way into a re-enactment. The most obvious is if the re-enactor also live fires his weapon, either via the NSSA or on his own. Minies can leave a ring behind the barrel, for example, which can become a live projectile when fired in a re-enactment.

    I reenacted for 10 years. 99.9 percent of the things I saw were safety oriented. that .1 percent can be deadly, however, and I became aware of things I was not comfortable with.

    I no longer reenact, not so much for safety issues as for the simple reason that I was going to events next to battlefields but never actually spending time on the fields. A case of confused priorities, as it were.

    I firmly believe that weapons used for live shooting of any kind should never also be taken to a reenactment. I also believe that the re-enactment community has been lucky, overall, that more injuries have not occurred – it’s too easy to forget you are “playing’ with real weapons.

    That said, I enjoyed my time at events, including some big ones – Gettysburg 83, for example. Sorry to hear about this mistake, but I really do believe it was a mistake.

    Dave Powell

  4. Robert Welch
    Sun 26th Oct 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I reenacted for about fifteen years in the Midwest, and in my experience, there are a number of people in the hobby that are blatant safety violators. The worst are members of the North-South Skirmish Association that occasionally attend reenactments for fun. We had one gentleman fall in with our company at an event after safety inspection, somehow slipping past the First Sergeant and the Captain. Once on the field, someone noticed that he was not using paper cartridges, and a quick inspection of his cartridge box revealed plastic speedloaders used in modern skirmish shooting, complete with minnie balls. He was immediately pulled from the ranks and watched like a hawk until he could be removed from the event. I’ve seen people drinking prior to taking the field, and perhaps the worst that I’ve ever encountered are in the artillery. One unit, when they ran out of friction primers, used a revolver to fire their mountain howitzer. Another group with a quarter-scale artillery tube, were manually compressing larger aluminum foil rounds and double loading their over-rated shotgun barrel, creating the very real potential for an exploding “shell” coming out of their piece. While safety is not the reason that I got out of the hobby, I surely do not miss the idiots.

  5. Phil Muskett
    Mon 27th Oct 2008 at 10:00 am

    Years ago when I reenacted, we had some one leave a tompion in their rifle and fire it down range. The brass tip entered our battalions drum, carried by a nine year old boy. Of course it was a volley fire from the battalion opposing us. The reenactment was stopped but no one found the culprit. I think it was an honest mistake by someone not paying attention. Fortunately no one was hurt.
    Safety wasn’t the reason I got out of it either. It was politics. But that is a whole other story.

  6. Mon 27th Oct 2008 at 1:16 pm

    I left that hobby many years ago based on two disgusting issues. First and foremost was the politics. Not “politics” as in that stuff on the news now days, but the tendency for any group of human beings to devolve into a catty group of cliques. Second was the all too often and flagrant violations of safety. So one day I decided that if I could not change the hobby for the better, I’d better get out.

    I will say that generally those concerned with authenticity and accuracy tend to be the best in regard to smothering the cliques and ensuring safety. The last three events I attended were with a “campaigner” outfit. Good guys but they were being pushed out by the rabble.

  7. Mon 27th Oct 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Here is a little follow up:

    Civil War re-enactor’s shooting shakes die-hards

    Associated Press – October 25, 2008 12:25 PM ET

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The tight-knit community of Civil War re-enactors was shaken by last month’s shooting of 1 of its participants in southeastern Virginia.

    Retired New York City police officer Thomas Lord was portraying a Union soldier for a documentary being filmed in a Suffolk park when he was shot in the shoulder.

    Ed Hooper is editor of Camp Chase Gazette, a monthly magazine for re-enactors. He says re-enactors were “freaked out” because incidents like this are rare, and when they happen they hit the hobby hard.

    Investigators believe they know who fired the shot. Members of Lord’s union say the suspected shooter was among several Confederate re-enactors who showed up at the filming. No charges have been filed.

    Hooper says the shooting will amplify re-enactors’ emphasis on safety.

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