A walk through history
June 6, 2010
VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, (June, 2, 2010) -- When Col. Kent Goff isn't sporting his Army Combat Uniform during weekend battle assemblies, he is likely decked out in a military uniform from another era. The 412th Theater Engineer Command's intelligence and security officer is also a military history buff who participates in civil war re-enactments.
Goff shared his Civil War knowledge with nearly 30 Army engineers during a tour of the Vicksburg Miss., National Military Park on June 2, 2010. The tour was a prelude to the 412th's annual Warfighter Seminar.
Before the group entered the site of the Civil War's most epic battle, Lt. Col. Bernard McIntosh, 926th Engineer Brigade, modeled a uniform from Goff's collection of military memorabilia. Wearing a blue Union jacket with cap and canteen, McIntosh resembled a Civil War Soldier, except for his shorts and tennis shoes, as he grasped an Enfield rifle musket.
Touring engineers looked on as they crunched down on hardtack biscuits which were a Civil War-era staple. Goff called the biscuits the MRE of that era.
Aca,!A"They used the technology of the day to make this hardtack, which is really dried bread with salt,Aca,!A? Goff said.
The hardtackAca,!a,,cs lack of variety and nutrition became one of the Civil WarAca,!a,,cs biggest discipline problems, according to Goff.
Aca,!A"Hardtack was not the soldiersAca,!a,,c favorite food, so they would Aca,!EoeappropriateAca,!a,,c chickens or whatever they could find,Aca,!A? Goff said. Aca,!A"Civilians were pretty well cleaned out by hungry soldiers.Aca,!A?
As the tour traced Confederate lines and Union emplacements, Goff used his 20 years of re-enactment experience to explain the intricate details of the scenes that once played out in Vicksburg. He also drew attention to the role of engineers during the Civil War. He said, the U.S. and Confederate armies had highly professional engineer officers, but few non-commissioned officers.
During the last years of the war the need for professional combat engineers increased, so engineer units, like the 1st Michigan and 57th Indiana, were formed from infantry ranks.
Goff then drew parallels between the Civil War and modern day operations, particularly as it pertained to logistics.
"People don't realize that contractors were instrumental in every big war except World War II," Goff said. "We even had armed contractors in the Battle of Nashville, something that would cause crisis of conscience today."
Self-described history lover Chief Warrant Officer Trevor Cameron, 479th Chemical Battalion, said he was impressed by Goff's knowledge and perspective.
"It's good to hear this information from somebody who has studied it for most of his life," Cameron said. "This is someone who has acted it out...lived it out. You don't get that from a normal tour guide."
In his civilian capacity, Goff works as an adjunct professor at Eastern Arkansas Community College, and he's also president of the Mississippi Valley Educational Program. As a result, his audience usually consists of young college students as well as fifth graders.
"This is different," Goff said of his military spectators. "They know what you're talking about and they're ready with good questions."