A Battle Outside the Box

{An article I found in my archives by Tim Chitwood, published back in 2005, but nowhere to be found online.}

The idea’s so outside the box it’s hard to believe anyone thought of it.

But thinking “outside the box” is what the local civic club “Outside The Box” does, and that’s what members did when they thought about this weekend’s re-enactments of the 1865 Battle of Columbus at the Port Columbus National Civil War Naval Museum, online at www.portcolumbus.org.

“We thought about how meticulous those Civil War re-enactors are about having historically accurate uniforms and equipment,” says OTB President Hugh Lessjo. “Then we thought, ‘Who else
is so obsessive about having the right props and costumes?’ ”

The answer: Star Trek fans.

“We have Star Trek fan clubs in our area, and Sunday’s battle re-enactment already includes a
‘what-if’ scenario featuring a Confederate counterattack,” says Lessjo. “So we started thinking
outside the box, and we thought, ‘Why not have Trekkies join the battle?’ They already have the

OTBs, or “Outside The Boxers,” as they call themselves, are unconventional thinkers who believe
“there are no stupid ideas,” Lessjo says. “We really just wanted to know what would happen if Civil
War soldiers fought the crew from ‘Star Trek.’ You never see that in the movies or TV reruns.”

So the OTBs asked battle organizers: Why not attract a wider audience by staging a second “whatif”
battle sequence in which a starship crew joins the conflict?

Unwilling to openly ridicule the idea, organizers set up a meeting for Lessjo, Confederate reenactors
and a local Star Trek club — the latter two in full regalia.

Then the trouble began.

First the Confederates said they wouldn’t associate with “Trekkies,” and the Star Trek fans said
they preferred “Trekkers.” The Confederates all laughed, and “that right there got things off on the
wrong foot,” Lessjo says.

Other missteps followed.

“One of the Trekkers said Starfleet’s prime directive wouldn’t let the crew introduce superior
technology to a primitive culture,” Lessjo says. “Then a rebel yelled, ‘Don’t call us primitive, geek!’
And the Trekker said Starfleet wouldn’t defend a society based on slavery, either.”

That riled the Confederates, provoking one to shout: “Y’all just go fight for the Yankees then!
You’re all living in a fantasy world anyway!”

“Yeah, like you’re not!” a Trekker retorted.

Both sides abruptly drew their weapons, and Lessjo ducked under a table as the firing commenced,
he says. He did not crawl back out until the smoke cleared, and by then the Trekkers had
withdrawn from the field.

“It turns out replica Civil War guns use real gunpowder, whereas ‘Star Trek’ phasers have only a
battery-powered bulb that lights up,” says Lessjo. “You don’t go up against a guy with a firearm if
all you’ve got is a flashlight.”

So thinking outside the box yielded an unexpected answer to OTB’s hypothetical question: “We
proved Civil War soldiers would win a battle against the crew from ‘Star Trek,’ ” Lessjo says,
chuckling. “You never would have figured that, would you?”