Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Season Summary

The season is now over.  No more wool until April.  Well, there’s always that occasional winter event—but I would rather stay clear of frostbite.  This season is my personal record for number of events.


With the season begun with the regimental meeting in March and battalion drill in April, I’ve hit 16 events this year, not counting the Memorial Day ceremony in Athens Ohio, and the rescue of the Civil War ambulance.



The first event was in May at Sunbury, Ohio.   Most of the 1st Tennessee went to Sharon Woods, and I wish I had gone with them.  Sunbury was close to work, and Gary Shaw was going due to commitments he had there, so I made a choice.  There’s not much memorable from that event other than sleeping under a streetlight and putting my gum blanket and poncho over my tent to try to dissipate the sunlight.



Then we spent a weekend in June doing a living history for the Cub Scouts in Pickerington, Ohio.  Gary did all the talking, and I think he wore himself out.  The Blackhawk helicopter the National Guard brought in was kind of cool.



At Reynoldsburg, also in June, I was part of the Color Detail, and the Yankees did not like the idea of getting wet for the tactical.  I had a good time, but not much seems to stand out this year—perhaps next.  Years past have had some good memories (after all—this is the event that tipped the scales for me to commit to joining the 1st Tennessee), so I am sure there will be more in the future.



During the Independence Day holiday, we visited Lancaster, Ohio.  I had to bring my 11 year-old nephew to baby-sit, and he was a handful.  I had never been so glad to go to the airport than when I dropped him and his family off.  But it was an experience.  Now we’ve gained a new phrase whenever we win a hand at Euchre—“Sucker!”



July also took us to McConnelsville, Ohio, where Zach got himself into trouble stealing a top hat during the Saturday battle, er raid, er whatever you want to call that.  The Sunday battle at the farm was great, but the heat got the better of Gary Shaw.  I picked up my new shell jacket here from a member of the 5th Kentucky.  Not a perfect fit, but neither was my other shell jacket—the new one looks better on me, though.  Good bounty provided by the event—a half pound of powder.



Nelsonville, Ohio in August was different.  More memorable were the hours upon hours of playing Euchre interrupted by a moment of chaotic battle.  Kind of reminiscent of my father’s description of his job as a pilot.  It was a relaxing weekend, but it was in the sun—hopefully next year will find us some decent shade.  With my new palace, it will be more comfortable, and if the schedule is as relaxed next year as it was this, it will be a great weekend to change the regular pace.  Although having such a relaxed schedule is nice, the event may considering adding several train trips with additional raids to fill the schedule up more.  Only a suggestion, though.  It will not impact me on whether I go or not—I plan on being there next year.



Coshocton, Ohio, had a battlefield that was long and narrow and sloped significantly down a hill (though nothing like the hill at McConnelsville).  The public was located at one end at the top of the hill.  And two Henry’s did a pretty good job of ruining the Sunday battle for everyone.  But the artillery battle between Alabama and Steve and the Federal was spectacular.  I would like to see that return, even though it was rather impromptu.  This event also offered the best bounty of the year with a half-pound of powder, an event t-shirt, and a 3-foot by 5-foot 1st National flag.  The flag was made of polyester, but you never look a gift horse in the mouth.  It is useful for events where authenticity is not critical.



Then there was Jackson, Michigan in August where the miniature and dug-up battlefield made us feel like we were fighting inside a sardine can.  It was kind of a cluster—but that only means we can shine with how we can maneuver.  One Yankee commander needs a little work in the brain, though, as having his men handshake the Rebel forces in the midst of a battle is kind of silly.  Good sutler event, and good peaches that weekend.  I ate nearly a dozen.  Kletzli took home a bushel for some wine-making.



Labor Day weekend put us on the Dark side in Durbin with some beans.  Although the Bean Bake festival is only held on Monday, Andrew Mott turned it into a two-day event for us.  And I think I liked the first day the best, particularly since it was just us—and no public.  I missed Kletzli, though—he always looks funny in blue.  He doesn’t like wearing blue.



Fort Recovery brought the bombs bursting out of the ground.  I never had a battle where it rained dirt.  Bummer that the tactical got cancelled.  Didn’t get any real Euchre in—but that was okay.  It was a good time shooting the breeze. And the Sunday battle was marvelous, with the 1st Tennessee being the center of the show: two charges, one to take the bridge and one to take an artillery piece.



Zoar, Ohio, although a good event, left a bad taste in my mouth having to fall in with the Army of Northern Virginia.  Too much time in inspection.  Tactical was a bit strange.   I at least got to try out my new palace.  And I picked up a few new trinkets, though most were not from the terrific selection of sutlers, but from a local antique store.  It will be two years before the event is held again, and a lot can change in two years.



Caesar’s Creek gave us a sampling of campaigning.  Carrying my packed knapsack over several miles did not seem too bad.  Am I ready for a national?  Maybe.



The only timeline event of the year, Auckerman Creek gave me an opportunity to try out all my old reenacting gear, from Civil War (both sides, and as an officer) to Rev War (civilian and mountain man) to old west cowboy.



Hartford City, Indiana, saw a new captain take over the 1st Tennessee, and Gary Evens went out with a bang. 



Monroe, Ohio was a change with falling in with the 9th Kentucky for the first time.  It was different, but the 1st TN is always preferred.



Guyandotte, West Virginia the 150th year from the skirmish fought here.  It was a nice, warm weekend for so late in the year.  And Cpl Carte had his weiner-dog tent to sleep in.



Nelsonville, Coshocton, and Monroe were all first-year events.  Fort Recovery was its second year.  Coshocton and Fort Recovery both made strong impressions for such young events.  Nelsonville, being focused to and limited by the train, still has great potential for being a different kind of event—a change of pace from the regular type of events. 



2012 promises to be a big year again.  With it representing the 150th of the second year of the Civil War, there a many more nationals honoring their 150th.  We’ve already determined to visit Perryville, KY, but there look like there may be others. I can’t wait to get back into wool.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The End of the Season

Guyandotte, Huntington WV, November 5-6, 2011



The 1st Tennessee had a contingent of five, larger than last year, although Winston went civilian this time, dressing as Jefferson Davis.  We fell in with the 5th Kentucky, rather cramped up into a little corner.



It was a good weekend.  Even though all battles were street fights, it seemed more appropriate since this was the actual location of a skirmish 150 years ago, when the Federal forces burned the village to the ground.



The weekend did not start so well for Cpl Jeff Carte, who had somehow managed to forget the entire wood frame for his tent.  But being creative rebel soldiers, we managed to scavenge Cpl Kletzli’s fly.  Cutting the wood for his fly down to size, Carte managed to use the canvas for Kletzli’s fly as his tent.  He was fortunate that I had also brought my dog tent, so that the ends of his tent could be covered.  When done, with the odd dimensions of about 12 feet by 5 feet, Kletzli christened the tent Jeff’s Weiner Dog tent.
Jeff's Weiner Dog Tent



It was probably just as well that Kletzli had to give up his fly.  It felt like there was hardly any space to move.  I imagine, though, that if we have any more numbers, we’ll be sure to get sufficient space.



Zack Carte got into some kind of motivated work mode that Friday evening.  He made two trips to the wood pile, loading up a good portion of the bed of his truck each time.  We had more wood than we knew what do to do with.  Winston even had a tough time using up the wood while he attempted to signal the Soyuz capsule down.



They did feed us well, with breakfast (biscuits and sausage gravy) and lunch both days.  Lunch on Saturday included vegetable soup, which everyone thought was good, though I was not fond of, but I am not much for vegetable soup.  Sunday lunch was hot dogs, with chili sauce, which was more to my liking.  No supper was served, so we were on our own.  Fortunately I had my trusty jowl bacon and eggs I had planned for breakfast, and included frying a brick of oatmeal.



Saturday brought us a disappointing battle, although we did have HK Edgerton join us as our flag bearer.  The colonel had the 5th Kentucky wait to one side for the Yankees to pass, then we were to enter the street and join the battle, where they would eventually surrender.  The problem was that the Yankees never pushed far enough to get past us, and so we would have missed out on the battle completely.  I looked around and thought that if we ran down the street we could enter at the far end of town and at least get a fair showing.  I had no sooner finished this thought when Capt. Steiner ordered us at the double-quick down the street, as if he had read my mind.


After I cleaned my gun I did get to listen to HK Edgerton for awhile.  After experiencing him last year as a black Confederate soldier, I was hoping I would see him again this year.  I managed to video quite a bit of his talk, but the batteries for my good camcorder died after about ten minutes.  The rest of the video was from my cell phone, which is of rather questionable quality.  Hopefully, you will find him interesting, and will be able to view the videos.  One thing is for certain, he has a certain dislike for Yankees.   More information on HK Edgerton can be found at http://southernheritage411.com


The Sunday battle did go much better.  We entered the battle at a good point and made a glorious death.



The one turn-off of the day was about an hour before the battle, there was a scenario where a group of Yankee prisoners were to be marched out of town. Since they were short the hundred or so Yankees they needed, they asked us to galvanize as prisoners for the scenario.  I had my navy vest and black slouch hat on, so all I had to do was take my coat off and I passed for a Yankee (go figure).  But most of the rest of us had butternut or gray kepis, so it was a little more difficult to pass them off as Yankees.  Plus it all just felt weird.  It seemed to me that they would have been fine with the smaller numbers.  They did offer us the opportunity to bow out, but I think most of us just went with the flow, not really thinking about it.



Overall it was a great weekend.  The weather could not have been better, even though it was late in the year.  It was a bit nippy during the early morning hours, but during the daylight hours it was warm enough that we did not need our greatcoats.  Kletzli has expressed his dislike for street battles, but at this event he gave an approving nod, since it was in line with the history of the location.



It was an excellent way to end the season.


And with that, there will be a few posts between now and the start of next season, but it will be light.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Successful First-year Event


October 22-23, 2011



I was impressed with the effort Monroe put forward.  Reenactor turnout was rather weak, but Monroe has a lot of potential if they can keep up the community support.  They had plenty of sponsorship, plus they had an impressive five sutlers—which is more than Fort Recovery had for their second year.  One of the sutlers even had a supply of blackpowder and caps for decent prices.



Since the 9th Kentucky had the largest numbers, the four of us (plus one returning from years ago) of the 1st Tennessee fell in under Capt. Mike Hernandez.  The event commander was the captain from the Confederate Marines, so I was glad that we had enough infantry to be on our own.



The numbers were too small to have made the battle memorable, other than from our four, led by Sgt Jack Nyman, leading the Confederate forces with a skirmish line toward the Yankees.  I had neglected to clean Christine after Hartford City, so had just done a quick flushing a couple of hours before the battle, and Christine was not very happy about that, constantly misfiring until we reformed with 9th Kentucky.  Once she got warmed up, she performed admirably.  But it is rather embarrassing when you are in a line of four, and you are the only one not making any noise.



Friday night was the first time over the entire season I had to set up camp in the dark—and I am going to have to avoid doing that again at all costs.  Usually I try to defarb even the inside of my tent so that I can leave the door open, but I had to just dump everything everywhere in the tent, hoping to straight it out later when I could see what I was doing.



On Friday, I usually try to stop at a local grocery store to pick up some sliced bacon or jowl bacon for Saturday and Sunday breakfast.  I had my mind set on jowl bacon, but the local Krogers only had salt pork or the sliced bacon.  I had never really tried salt pork before, and since that is a period-correct meal, I thought I would give it a try with a twelve-ounce package.



My first mistake was thinking it would fry up like bacon.  It came pre-sliced, so I dumped half the package in my skillet.  As it fried, I realized I was not going to get enough grease for my eggs—I had to add some olive oil for those.  But I realized my biggest mistake when I took the first bite.  One time I had some jowl bacon that was rather salty, but it was still very good.  This salt pork was about ten times saltier.  I could feel it pickling my stomach as I finished off the slice.  I finally gave up on it after the fourth slice, letting Jack experience the last slice.  I was tasting that salt for hours afterward.



To correct my mistake, I tried something different for Sunday breakfast.  I soaked the remaining salt pork in my cup with water, heating it over the fire until it steamed, emptied out the water, and repeated.  Then I fried up the salt pork.  This time it was edible, even palatable.  But I am going to stick with bacon from now on.



My first impression of the battlefield when I arrived on Friday was that it seemed small.  However, once we were actually on the field for battle, I would have to say that it is actually a little larger the battlefield at Jackson MI, which held a total of four battalions fighting each other.  There is definitely plenty of room for many more reenactors.



Davis and Lincoln conspire with Sgt Jack Nyman
Dinner, catered by a local restaurant called the Red Onion, was also spectacular with pulled pork and cheese potatoes.  It ranks among the best meals of the year.



I was also surprised by the numbers of public that passed through our camp.  I am not sure if it is how we normally have our camp set up or where we normally have our camp, but we usually do not see many public pass through.  However, it almost felt like Grand Central Station with the amount of public we saw passing through—some taking a moment to warm up by the campfire before moving on.



I am not bothered by the public--in fact, I welcome them.  If it were not for the public, there would be no event.  And if there were no event, we would not be able to play on the battlefield, shooting blackpowder at each other.  So, whether I like it or not, I will talk with the public and answer their questions—basically do the living history part of it.  I do not have much of a first-person impression down, but I try a little to put on a southern drawl and get recruits to fight the northern aggressors.  If I can make the event coordinators happy by making the public happy, then there will be another event next year that I can come and play at.



I bring this up because Jack had one member of the public talk to him for awhile, and this guy said that the Yankees would barely give him the time of day.  Now I am only going on what I heard from what this one guy said, but those Yankees need to be careful doing that—we as reenactors may be there to have fun, but we cannot have fun without an event—so part of being a reenactor is to entertain and educate the public.  Do not be afraid to drop everything to talk with them—even if you sometimes have to put up with the stupid questions, like “Is that a real fire?”



It certainly caught us by surprise Saturday night when the event was holding a candlelight tour.  As we were shooting the breeze in the dark by the fire, we were unexpectedly surrounded by twenty or thirty public with lanterns.  We quickly put on our game face and tried to put ourselves into the period—but it did catch us by surprise.



At any rate, the event was good.  We had to fight to keep warm Saturday and Sunday mornings, but that is to be expected for this time of year.  The days were actually perfect weather otherwise.  It is one I definitely want to come back to next year.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Change of Command


Hartford City IN, October 8-9, 2011



I think this year makes my seventh at Hartford City—but I may be wrong.  You tend to loose track after a few.

But it is also among my favorites.  I arrived early on Friday to set camp—only to find that I was the first from the unit to arrive, meaning I would be the one to set the line.  Not a problem at small events, but this is one the 1st Tennessee turns out in force.  I set my tent and fly up to what I thought would give everyone enough room, but I’m not used to the size of wall tents—it turned out I had set up about six feet too close to the fence that marked the edge of the battlefield, so I had to move a bit.  The Lewis’s set up next to mine—their fly alone was about the same length as my tent and fly combined.  It will be something I will remember for next time.

During Saturday battalion parade we held the change of command ceremony, with Capt. Evens passing command of the 1st Tennessee to Lt. JR Sharp.

Saturday was a grueling day.   Two battles and a skirmish, along with battalion drill.  Fortunately the skirmish was canceled when we saw the Yankees were not going to play.  Being the 150th for 1st Manassas, this was the battle chosen for both Saturday’s battles.  Both battles were fun.  For once, we took significant casualties rather early in the battle, only to be told that we cannot take many casualties—so for the last three quarters of that first battle we could not take any hits.  Although both battles were fun, there was not much of significances that stood out to write about, other than all of us struggling near the end to have rounds to shoot.  I forgot to reload my capbox for the second battle, but fortunately I had a small stash of Navy Arms caps that I use for capping off in my vest pocket.  Since I was at the end of the line, I felt safe using them.

The only thing that really stood out between the battles and battalion drill was that we had a couple of guys from some other unit fall in with us.  On wheels, one of those guys appeared clueless as to what he needed to do and kept messing up our line.  Pvt Silvers was getting pretty upset with him for not following his instruction. He did eventually do an acceptable job on the wheels, though.

We managed to get some Euchre in that day.  Edd Sharp joined us for the day as he is basically still the head of the unit, although he no longer fights with us on the battlefield.  He and Capt. Evens were partners, while Lt. JR Sharp, Edd’s son, and who normally has Capt. Evens as his partner, decided to choose from the best for his next regular partner—me.  And the combined strength of Sharp and I proved itself worthy as we defeated the Evens-Sharp team two games out of two.

By the way, I suppose it is a running joke, but it is because of the name of the two Sharps in our unit that we do not have any sharpshooters.

The day ended with me donning my Captain’s uniform and heading over to the 4H building offsite for the ball.  There were attempts to locate the ball onsite, but for some reason it fell through.  The weather for the event was perfect, so there really was no reason we could have had it onsite.  I was at least able to enjoy the night artillery barrage due to the later scheduling of the ball.

The ball went very well.  A few times I forgot to tell the band, the Tri-County Revelers, the music I wanted and what dance I was doing, but they did an excellent job of choosing something based on the dance I taught to the dancers.  I think the Tri-County Revelers are among the best bands I have worked with, but they do have solid experience working period balls.  They never need more than about 30 seconds before each dance to work something out.

The ball, however, ended on a rather somber note as we had one serious injury near the end of the evening.  My wife, Carol, who regularly does the area Dr. Mary Walker impression, took a spill and cracked her head pretty good.  I called in the EMTs as it was clear she was seriously hurt.  The good news is that she was able to leave without a trip to the hospital—it was apparently only a mild concussion.  But she will be suffering a pretty nasty headache for the next couple of days.

This prompted discussion with the man who I believe was the primary event coordinator.  He had fought to have the event moved onsite instead of the usual location at the 4H building.  We both agree that the issues with the 4H building are that it is a significant distance offsite—about a mile—and that the dance floor is polished concrete, which has always been about as slick as snot on an icepack.  This was the first time it was not bad for me as the soles of my boots were extraordinarily worn.  But most reenactors have leather-soled brogans and boots, many with heel plates.  Those of the board of the event do not understand how slippery that floor is under those conditions.  The reenactors who dance commonly put stuff like duct tape on their soles to keep from slipping.  It has only been by the grace of God that there has not been a serious injury before in all the years the ball has been held at the 4H building.

The distance is also an issue—I commonly am asked were the ball was afterward, only to be surprised how far away it was.  And we never see very many spectators, even though for the artillery night-fire the number of spectators are quite large.  Many of the reenactors from the 1st Tennessee like to go to watch, but with it offsite do no really see it worth their while.  Plus, many have trailers to haul around—who is going to want to deal with that?

The only issue with having the ball onsite is the weather.  If it is rainy, it will be miserable, and admittedly it is difficult to find a tent large enough to house all the dancers at this event.  But I also have to note that in the five years I have been calling this ball, I have yet to see rain during the ball—although there have been times that if the rain simply shifted by a day or so, we could have ended up with a massive soaking.

And enough about that—Sunday brought a new day.  Weather was again spectacular at upper seventies and sunny, almost too hot for this time of year.

We started the day with a tactical.  It did not quite work out like last year, and at one point the Yankees did almost have us, but there were a few things they did that gave us the advantage.  I do not know if it is a good idea to point out the one significant mistake that made the real difference for us, but when it comes to games—which is what a tactical really is—I am one that I like to help my opponent improve so that he can make the game more challenging and fun for me.  So the one thing that seems apparent to me that the Yankees could have done would be to hide a small contingent to guard the small path we came up.  Because that path was unguarded, we were able to come up behind the Yankee company guarding the hill, and surprise them.  Had a force been away from that hilltop and to the far side of that small path’s opening, they would have put us in a bind as we quickly advanced up that path to outflank that Yankee force.

Now, I might get into trouble from my captain for pointing that out—but like I said, I like a challenge, and if my opponent improves, then I am forced to improve to keep ahead of him.  The Independent Guard now claims four consecutive years of victory on the tactical at Hartford City—and I want to see that continue, but not because the opponent was simply less skilled.  I like to claim victory after I have been given a run for my money.  The victory is far more satisfying that way.

The Sunday battle also gave Capt Evens a chance to leave his mark.  We reenacted Henry Hill, using the event’s entire field for the event, with the rail fence marking the center.  The size of the field was roughly three times the size of the one of Jackson, Michigan.  Plenty of space to maneuver.  We had around ten cannons on our side with comparable numbers on the Yankee side to open the battle.  The Yankee artillery was located at the center of the field only the fence.  We advanced toward the Union artillery, and one of our Confederate units, dressed in the blue used during that time, took possession of one of the guns as part of the scenario.

We then advanced beyond the Yankee artillery, with the artillerymen changing their coats and turning their guns around to give the impression of being captured by Confederate forces.

I need to point out that there were cavalry around and on the battlefield in significant numbers, but I must apologize to them for not saying much about them—being in the infantry they do not really stand out much to me.  I am sure they are doing a great job, and I know the public loves to see them, but I am focused on my task at hand—watching men on horses galloping about, shooting each other and swinging swords at each other is not really part of my focus.

I did note a skirmish line of dismounted Yankee cavalry with Henrys.  Although the battle was an early-war battle and Henrys were unlikely, they fired those things like they should—taking the time to aim each shot so that each shot counted.  No machine-gun fire.  I made a point of watching them a bit for what they were doing.  Their shots came quick, but their shots came sure.  Kudos to them for doing it right.  Keep it up.  I also heard others from the 1st Tennessee happy about what they saw from that unit.  I only wish I knew which unit it was so I could name them here.

Our battalion had formed on the far side of the fence to advance on the Yankees, splitting into two wings.  Capt Evens saw an opportunity, and I think he upset our major by taking an impromptu charge on the Yankee force, pushing them into a retreating run.  He then had us double-time it back to the battalion wing, only to do it again.  I figured out later that the 4th OVI, my old unit, was part of that Yankee force we kept charging.  I would love to hear there opinion—I hope we made it as enjoyable to them as it was to us.  At one point we flanked the Yankee force and followed them down the hill as they did an organized retreat, forcing them to refuse their flank.  It looked like we had them pretty well boxed in against the public.  If that did not get the Yankee’s adrenaline rushing, nothing would.

Capt. Evens succeeded in making his last battle a memorable one.

This event marks the last of the year for most of the 1st Tennessee, so I will not see many of them until next year—though I will see many at next month’s Euchre tournament and a few at Monroe in two weeks and a few at Guyandotte the first weekend in November.  This has been the longest string of events in a row for me—at about seven, attending an event every weekend since Jackson the end of August.  I can tell you that even for someone addicted to wool and blackpowder, it is really too many in a row.  I am glad for a break, even if only for one weekend.  I almost even had a bit of a dredge—almost—of coming to Hartford City due to the long string of events.  I really wish there were more in the early part of the season and less in the late part.  I do not mind the events in the hottest part of the year—I can take the heat (yeah, I know I missed 1st Manassas with its 105 degree temperatures).  If you are an event coordinator looking to schedule your event, please consider earlier in the year—just not opposite some other established event.

And with that, I will be back in two weeks.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Walking Through Time


Auckerman Creek, Eaton Ohio, October 1-2, 2011

When I first arrived at Auckerman Creek, near Eaton, Ohio, I began to wonder if there would be anyone I knew there—or at least if there would be anyone there.  One tent from the Indian River Regulators was set up, but no one was there.  An old Rev War friend—Mike Thompson was there, at least.  I knew Cpl Jeff Carte was on his way, but there was no one to tell me where to set up, so I set up where we were last year.

The weather Saturday reminded me of last year—cold and windy.  At least there was no rain.  And without Pvt Steve Winston to build our fire pit, the job of starting the fire fell to the first one up.  We had dug the pit the night before, but since it was just the two of us, we saw little point in starting the fire, and instead hung out with the Rev War guys until we turned in.  Since I was the first up Saturday morning, I did my best to start the fire.  I have not yet gotten some flint and steel (though I think that will be on my shopping list for Hartford City next week), so I disgraced Winston and soaked some paper with rubbing alcohol and tried to light a match to it.  But that wind was so high it kept blowing out my match before I could get the alcohol lit.  I wish it had occurred to me to steal some hot coals from the Rev War camp.  I finally won the battle with the wind when I switched to using a lighter.

Sgt Shaw had to bail due to illness, so we did not have the wind break like last year.  Capt Evens was there, but as a Regulator, so Carte and I teamed up against Evens and another Regulator for some Euchre.

The other Confederate Unit that we had last year—I think it was the 27th Virginia—did not show up, except for one, so any hope of any kind of Civil War thing was pretty much gone.  Jeff and I did our best—but there was not much in the way of crowds.  Like last year, there was an antique auction.   But unlike last year, there was some very slim pickings.  Nothing at all caught my interest.  It was odd seeing the Virginia reenactor wheel off an old scooter to his car.

Pvt Tim Elifrit was there as well, but since he reenacts about five different eras, he chose the one with the best guns, attending as a WWII British Commando.  There were rumors that Lt. JR Sharp would be there as a Russian paratrooper, but he never made it.  Well, with so few reenactors present, we at least got extra helpings of Elifrit’s wife’s superb cupcakes.

We made an odd attempt at a battle, with Evens using an old pump-action shotgun, Carte and I with our muskets, and I wielding  my 1860 Remmington pistol, Elifrit tried out three different machine guns, and Rob Applegate, a WWII reenactor doing a  German soldier bit.  I am not really sure who was on who’s side, but Carte and I were not much of a match with our three rounds a minute to the WWII guys and their 500 rounds a minute.

I had brought all my reenacting gear—and I do mean all—to try the chameleon thing that Elifrit had done last year.  I started the day in my normal Confederate private gear, switching to my Captain’s garb (like I did for last week’s ball), then switching to Yankee.  Even tried on an old coat I had used for the few times I had done some Wild West stuff at the Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville.  It was kind of silly fun, but it wore off before I got to my old Rev War gear—I thought I might switch to that Sunday.

The event did provide an excellent Saturday supper, with pulled pork, barbecue beef, bean soup, pies of various kinds, and cider.  Somehow we had missed out on this last year.  Carte and I had talked of running to Eaton for food, unaware that supper would be provided, so we were very pleasantly surprised.

Sunday’s weather was much more pleasant—a perfect 50 to 60 degree temperature for wool with only a light breeze, and sunshine.  But then the even set up a demonstrator next to our camp that made me decide to put my first thumbs down on an event since I started this blog.  I have always said that it will take a lot for an event to make me disappointed in it.  Sunbury came close this year, but I still enjoyed it.  In fact, the only event I have ever encountered before now that I would call a disaster would be the last time the Granville Ohio event was held (the food there was so bad, it has become legend).  But when Auckerman Creek had an artisan set up next to us who made his art with a chainsaw, and demonstrated his work by running that chainsaw most of the day, I was about as disappointed as possible.  Had it not been for us able to sit with the WWII reenactors some distance from the chainsaw, I would have packed my gear and left by noon.  There would be breaks, but the chainsaw was so noisy, Carte and I were chased out of our own camp.  The only saving grace was that the event coordinator did acknowledge this issue as we were leaving at the end of the day and said she would try to locate him elsewhere next year.

We did try more with a Sunday battle, but Evens only came for Saturday, so the Nazi ganged up with us against the British commando.   Not much of a battle, as the two of us would do company volleys while the machine guns rat-a-tat tatted away.

I never tried on my Rev War gear—instead opting to sell it to the guys at the Rev War camp.  I was never so glad to be rid of it.  It had been hanging around in storage for four years or so, and I was never going to be wearing it.  I am not sure if I sold it for anything close to what I had paid for it, but I did get a good amount of spending cash for Hartford City.

As we packed our gear, the event coordinator asked about the 1st Tennessee, and when she found out we like battles, she said that next year they might try to get something like that going for us—which I took to mean that we might have some Yankees to shoot instead.  I did not have the heart to tell her that our plans for next year are to go to Perryville, which I hope will be on this first weekend in October to avoid conflicting with Hartford City.

To be honest, had the event coordinator not acknowledged the issue with the chainsaw, I had decided I would never return.  But I am an easy guy.  The respect of that simple acknowledgement was enough that I would be willing to give Auckerman Creek another try—so long as an event like Perryville did not conflict.   Since Perryville is a national event, and one that the 1st Tennessee was actually at during the Civil War, and since 2012 is the 150th year since that battle, it is unlikely we would pass that up.

There were other things that worked against Auckerman Creek.  There was the weather and lack of reenactors and crowds. But I have also done a long string of back-to-back events.  I have done every weekend since the last weekend in August, and I still have one next week.  I do not recommend that for anyone.  I may be addicted to wool and blackpowder, but I still need a break from that for the real world once in a while.  It would be much better if there were more events early in the year and less late.  By April and May I am itching to get back into wool, but I have found that with such and long string, and now the weather starting to get cold, I am starting wear.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Home Event

Pioneer Village, Caesar’s Creek OH

September 24-25, 2011


 
Pioneer Village holds special meaning to both me and the 1st Tennessee.  It was here that I first started into Civil War reenacting, though it was with the 4th OVI at the time, some five or six years ago.  The 1st Tennessee has considered this their home event.


A lot has changed with this event over the years.  It takes a team of people with a passion for history to keep an event alive.  One person cannot do it alone.


For us, it is not about the wool and blackpowder alone.  Nor is it about Euchre.  These are merely things we all have in common that brings us together.  We all know our Civil War history—probably far better than most college history professors.  Our discussions sometimes discuss “What if” scenarios on how things could have turned differently, if something different had happened.


We come together for the camaraderie.   I hope we can continue to return to Pioneer Village for many years to come.  It is one of the events that bring in the largest number of our unit.

But it would be even better if it would bring in more Yankees.  If I had thought to bring my Yankee gear, I would have been galvanized over.  For both days several of our numbers wore blue to help the Yankees be more presentable.  James Sturkler, of the 19th Virginia (I think), wore a blue sack coat with sergeant’s stripes on it, and when the Federal commander took a hit early in the battle, Sturkler was left to command the entire Federal force.  Made me wish I had my sack coat and had sewn captain’s bars to it—maybe I won’t hold rank for the 1st Tennessee for awhile, but it might be fun to hold rank with the Yankees for an hour.

Pvt Steve Winston also galvanized, wearing is great coat in the heat to hide his butternut.  He took a hit, and when the battle was over we raided his corpse, nearly stripping him bare, for a show for the public.  He had to walk back to camp in socks.


Saturday morning Capt Evens provided a change to our normal day.  He took us on heavy marching orders through a couple of miles into the woods, to prepare us for a national event.  We set camp near a beach along the lake, setting up campaign-style, eating lunch with whatever food we brought with us.  It gave the officers ideas for next year—we could come out of the woods on heavy marching orders to go straight into battle.  I was accused of sucking up to the captain, however, when I provided a candle in a candleholder for his lunch.  Cpl Kletzli rolled his poncho around him in such a way it looked like he was wearing an inner tube.  It looked like he was afraid of drowning or something.



I believe the event served dinner, but we chose instead to make spaghetti.  I am not sure if spaghetti is period, but it was a good meal.  After the meal JR and Capt Evens held a speed loading training session, going over the load in nine times and providing tips on how to shoot faster.  A few of the 1st did not want to go through this since they were not concerned about entering a competition, but my take was that learning to shoot quicker, though the whole nine steps, improves your impression.  After all, the actual soldier could load and shoot through all nine steps in about twenty seconds.  I see many reenactors taking forty seconds or more, and they are not even using the ramrod.  I think the one person who gained the most from this was Pvt Zach Carte.  I believe during the practice he managed to get close to that 20 second mark.

Usually I do not talk about the ball that the event has—since I generally do not go to them.  But this time I was the dance master, so it was my duty to be there.  I have never led one I was disappointed with.  I decided it better to lead a ball as an officer instead of as a private, so I put together my officer’s outfit I had been working on.  I looked good, but it has gotten me into trouble.  Lt Sharp and Capt Evens told me they are going to put my up on charges of impersonating an officer.

We even had a visit from Jefferson Davis—Pvt Winston donned his planter’s hat with civilian garb and attended the ball as the Confederate president.


The musicians were the Dedication Band, a local dulcimer band, and they played very well.  They had never performed for a ball before, but there were not many kinks to deal with.  I would love to work with them again.


We could not use Sgt Andrew Mott and Cpl. Eric Moore like last year as Moore had a gig with his band somewhere in Celina that night.  Brandi, who was in charge of the event, was worried for the past few months about finding an alternative band, since all my recommendations were booked.  She found the Dedication Band and pointed me to a few of the YouTube videos—and I knew they would work out well.

Sunday morning was an intense drill, mainly to bring a new recruit up to speed, but also to refresh our techniques.

After Sunday battle, the 76th OVI joined us for a memorial for Tom Moore and several reenactors of the 76th that have passed on.


This event is one of the closest to my home.  I want to see it continue, and I hope that passion for the event can grow with the organizers.  I remember the days when several good sutlers could be found and significant numbers on both sides would fight it out on the small field.  There were no sutlers this time, and the number of Yankees was down.  There were only two Confederate companies.  The size of the battlefield does limit the numbers that can be there, but there can be enough for an impressive battle.


Can anyone tell me where all the Yankees have gone?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Largest Event

Zoar Ohio, September 17-18, 2011

Large events have their place.  It is always a thrill to go to an event where Yankee numbers match the Rebel numbers, and there are two full battalions on each side. 

I am told that Zoar is the largest event in Ohio, and it is the largest I had ever been to (although Jackson and Hartford City are pretty close)—I have not yet been to a national event.  But it was not an official 1st Tennessee event, so only a handful from the unit attended.  Since we weren’t enough to form our own unit, we fell in with the 5th Kentucky—a good unit, but not the 1st Tennessee where most of my friends are.

It is good to sometimes fall in with different units and different battalions to be grateful for what we have.  5th Kentucky uses Gilham’s tactics, which takes a little getting used to when we always use Hardee’s.  The key difference is shoulder arms, and I learned to appreciate Hardee’s after this weekend.  Shoulder arms with Hardee’s manual of arms is to hold the rifle on your right, barrel toward your body, holding about the trigger guard, relaxed to your side.  Gilham’s holds the rifle on your left shoulder, holding the rifle butt, barrel out.  This has the unfortunate side effect that during a battle, the barrel gets hot and can tend to burn your face if you are not careful.  You do not have this problem with Hardee’s.  I kept hearing the 5th wonder how would could carry the rifle with Hardee’s tactics without wearing out, but I find it to be a natural position, plus I never worry about burning my face.

Anyway, I also learned to appreciate the Independent Guard, the battalion that both the 1st Tennessee and 5th Kentucky are members of.  The Independent Guard is more west Ohio and east Indiana, so was not part of the Zoar event.  We therefore had to fall in with another battalion.  Since there were two battalions, we could have ended up with either.  I do not know how we end up in one battalion or another, but somehow we ended up with the Army of Northern Virginia.

Since I had heard of issues that exist between the 1st Tennessee and the Army of Northern Virginia (though I do not know the details), I kept quiet about being from the 1st Tennessee outside the 5th Kentucky camp.  Somehow we (the 5th Kentucky) managed to impress the battalion as they invited Capt. Steiner of the 5th Kentucky to join the battalion.  However, the positive impression only went one way, as there was mutual agreement with both 5th Kentucky and 1st Tennessee members that there would be a forecast of frostbite over the Lake of Fire before we would fall in with them again.

I am a reenactor as a hobby.  This is not my job, I am not a real soldier, nor do I have any desire to have the full experience of being a real soldier.  I have never been in the real military.  I know that even our modern soldiers have an experience in the real world that I am grateful I do not have to.  I do not have to march 20 miles on a half-day ration and a bout of dysentery. 

And as my hobby, I expect respect from superior officers.  After all, these guys are not real soldiers, either.  I will obey superior officers as a matter of course of the hobby, but if these superior officers do not show me respect, despite my being a private, then I will simply go find a new hobby.

And that was the problem—point blank—with the Army of Northern Virginia.  Before all battles we always do inspection arms.  I expect this, and this is for everyone’s safety.  With the Independent Guard, the captain of each unit performs the inspection when we are standing in battalion formation.  The inspection goes pretty quick.  But with the Army of Northern Virginia, the battalion staff apparently does not trust their company captains, as we had to stand in formation while a single staff officer inspected each and every rifle.  This probably quadrupled the amount of time we spent standing at attention in battalion formation.  It meant that for a 1:30 battle, we were formed at 12:30 for inspection—basically marching to the battlefield almost as the battle began.

But there were other things—such as referring to each other in derogatory terms as if they were terms of endearment.  Basically, there seemed to be a general lack of respect from the top down.  Perhaps it was something you would expect to see in the real military.  But this is my vacation time.  Yes, I strive to give the best Civil War soldier impression (I am not a farb), but at the same time I have zero desire to live like a real Civil War soldier—and anyone who says they desire differently has no idea what the life of a soldier during the Civil War was really like.  And if you are reenactor that thinks differently, I would recommend you read up on books like Company Aytch, Privations of a Private, Hard Tack and Coffee, and Recollections of a Soldier.  Because if you think you would like have been a real Civil War soldier, then you do not know crap about the Civil War.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soap box and back to the Zoar event.  Overall, it was a good event.  I hope to return when they have it again in two years, only I hope we fall in with a different battalion.

There was a Saturday morning tactical that I had nearly forgotten--it was not memorable.  Most of the time was spent waiting for something to happen, and when it finally did, there were judges who kept interrupting to say, "Captain, two of your men just took hits--take them out of action".  Strange way to perform a tactical.
The battles for both Saturday and Sunday were to be 1st Manassas, with the Yankees winning Saturday (try to explain that one).  Unfortunately, Billy Yank was being Billy Yank and didn’t push like they should have—pretty much leaving the field before the end of the battle before we could pull back closer to where the public would have a good view of us—we had to walk off the battlefield to give the public some kind of idea that we lost (which felt pretty weird).  Sunday battle, however went well as the colonel pretty much had it in his mind that if the Yankees did play like they should, we would simply run over them.  But the Yanks did their job and made us work for every inch of ground.

Sutlery was excellent.  I think there were around ten or so sutlers, although most were smaller sutlers.  There were one or two large ones there.  The odd thing was that the place I found that had the best things was a local antique store across the street from the sutlers.  They must have pulled out a few odds-and-ends of reenacting gear just for the event.  They had a $45 civil war cot and a few other items at good prices.  Zach bought a pretty good shelter half with an end for only $25.  I would have bought it myself if he hadn’t of found it first.

And, like I said at the start, this wasn’t the 1st Tennessee. I am not much for sports, so I decided to stay in camp when the rest of the 5th Kentucky left for the local tavern to watch the OSU game.  And without anyone to get a good Euchre game going, I turned in early.

My new palace
But that was okay.  I got to enjoy my new palace.   For the past two years I had been camping out in a small 5 foot by 6 foot by 4 foot A-frame.  I was used to moving around in it on my knees, having all my gear piled around so I could hardly move, anyhow.  But this last week I bought a large A from someone who used to be part of the 1st Tennessee but was getting out of the hobby.  He told me it was made by Big Dave.  It was seven feet tall by nine feet long, and had a fly to boot.  It was a freakin’ palace!  I had so much space in that thing, I did not know what to do with myself.  I think Zach got a good laugh from me as just about every time I would go into that thing I would say, “This is a freakin’ palace!”

Zoar is a town full of historic buildings, which helped a lot for providing a good time-trip.  The battlefield looked like it had been left to grow, but was hit with a bush-hog a week or two before the event.  There was not any grass on the field, but it also was not problematic to perform our formations.

I still missed not having enough of the 1st Tennessee to form our own unit.

Canton Rep news story

Monday, September 12, 2011

Assault at the Fort

Fort Recovery, September 12-11, 2011

I did not get much Euchre in this weekend, but it was an excellent time anyhow.  About the only cards I got in was about half a game before each of the battles.

Much of the time spent was with chatting with each other in camp, which was good since I think I am nearing burn-out.  I still have an event every weekend through the second weekend of October.

Saturday battle went far longer than I expected, and was probably the longest for the season so far.  A bridge occupied the middle of the battlefield, with a creek flowing through, dividing the field and providing a spectacular objective.  The event hired some pyrotechnics for simulating artillery hits to go with the cannon fire, and these guys were serious with their explosives, as dirt was nearly constantly raining down on us.  We advanced down the main hill toward the bridge, held by the Yankee forces.  Numbers were not huge—a little smaller than Reynoldsburg—but this is only the second year for the event.

We advanced on the bridge and were pushed back—the fighting was intense.  I had around 60 rounds stuffed in my cartridge box and completely emptied them out.  The battle finally ended with our surviving forces having to scavenge rounds from the casualties.  Now that is when a battle becomes memorable.

Artillery night-fire is common at the events, and Fort Recovery was no different.  But this was enhanced with a spectacular fireworks display set up to respond to artillery fire.

A Sunday morning tactical was planned, and I was looking forward to it, but the heavy rain Saturday evening made us fear that the Yankees would bail.  Our forces had something special planned for the Yankees for this tactical, but the event coordinators were the ones who canceled it—so I cannot blame the Yankees this time—as they told us that the grounds that were to be used for the tactical had turned into swampland.

Sunday battalion parade began with charges being filed against Cpl Moore for fraternizing with the enemy.  A card had been found in his gear inviting him to a date with Abraham Lincoln.  And his judgment became set when Mr. Lincoln himself approached the battalion to pin an award on Moore’s lapel.  Moore’s reaction was priceless, since he had no warning.  After the battalion drill, a tribunal was held to determine Moore’s guilt to the charges, with Moore, a lawyer in civilian life, defending himself.  In true attorney fashion, Cpl Moore offered an astounding off-the-cuff defense, claiming to have been co-counsel for Mr. Lincoln on a case prior to the war.  With proper argument, this could have saved him—but his sentence had already been determined, and with a raise of hands from a majority of the 1st’s (including Cpl Moore’s) guilt was determined.  He was placed in front of a bail of straw and blindfolded.  And upon a company volley, he fell dead to the ground.

Moore is quite the ham.




Sunday battle was even better than Saturday, since this time the Confederacy would claim victory.  Our battalion boxed the Yankee forces at the bridge, given them only one exit across the other side of the creek.  The 1st Tennessee charged the Yankee force to push them, General Jackson style, over the bridge.  Our four companies advanced across the bridge, with each company (starting with ours) firing a volley, and then wheeling by platoon to allow the next company through.  After all companies passed us, our two platoons wheeled back into company line and about-faced to advance forward through the other companies, only to find ourselves somehow inverted within our platoons.  Capt. Evens quickly corrected the situation with an “Uncluster yourselves” command.  We were supposed to stop at the end of the bridge to fire another volley, but an opportunity presented itself and Capt Evens ordered us into a double-quick and charged an artillery piece.  I have never seen an artillery unit retreat with their weapon like that unit did—it was a smaller gun, and thus lighter, so the men were able to grab the carriage and run with it.  It was a bit tough to catch up to them—it was hard to believe that a cannon could be moved as fast as they moved it—but in the end we succeeded in capturing the gun.  The battle continued with us to the rear of the Yankee force, forcing their further retreat.  At the end, we faced and advanced against my old Yankee unit—the 4th OVI.

I did not visit any of the three sutlers there as my need was limited and the distance from the Confederate camp was long (Yankees had a nice short stroll, though).  The Confederates again outnumbered Yankees, but hopefully with the great efforts the event coordinators put, we can find this growing next year with more reenactors and more sutlers.  Lt. Sharp expressed his satisfaction for the event, and I know we all enjoyed it, so it is likely this will be a strong event for us next year.

Video of Battle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CphfCRP68Bs&feature=channel&list=UL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOII8UE3TeI&feature=channel&list=UL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfRAMC-q8rc&feature=channel&list=UL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQvQdKZL4SI&feature=channel&list=UL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4ApyxfyEXg&feature=channel&list=UL

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Beans in Blue

Durbin Bean Bake, September 4-5, 2011

Having an event on a holiday is always a bit different.  The Durbin Bean Bake was one of those different events.  Started sometime around the 1880s, this annual festival was originally organized by veterans of the 40th OVI.  As such, and since we were the only unit there, most of us dressed in blue.  A few of us stayed in gray to represent Confederate opponents, but since we had the option to go blue or gray, I did not have a choice but to go blue.  It actually only occurred on Labor Day itself.  Sunday, the day before, we spent the day for ourselves.

Sgt Mott put on Lieutenant blues and was the primary coordinator for the weekend.  Cpl Moore (Girth) assisted more on Monday, since he was pretty much the hometown hero—being on the Bean Bake Committee and all.  Sunday started pretty normal—I fried up my usual bacon and eggs, then went into some Euchre as the day proceeded, with no other expectations.  Around 11 am, however, Sgt (er, Lt) Mott started up a couple of simple games to pass the day.

The first game broke us into two groups of four, with both Mott and Pvt Winston abstaining.  They set up small ropes about two feet above two separate fire pit and gave each group a small and equal amount of wood, along with some char cloth, some kind of fungus useful for starting fires, a small piece of twine, and a flint and steel.  The object was to be the first team to burn through the rope.

My team consisted of Sgt Gary Shaw, Kevin Feeman, and Zach Carte.  We quickly decided that I would start and manage the fire, while Shaw would chop the single half-log into small pieces.  We also had a single nine inch 1x6 board he would work on.  Feeman and Carte would use knives to produce shavings from the few sticks we were also provided.

Winston and Mott were excluded because they both had extensive experience with building fires from flint and steel.  Other than that, any of us that had started a fire always cheated with fuel and a match.  My only experience with flint and steel was firing a flintlock. As we gathered the materials to start, I made sure to note where the sharpest part of the flint was.  At the start, I shredded up the twine, put a couple of shavings on top along with a little piece of the char cloth, then struck the steel with the flint.  I got a spark right away, but it took about three strikes to hit the char cloth.  I was surprised how quickly it produced a hot coal.  Within a minute I had some good flames coming from the tinder.  I glanced at the other team and realized we were well ahead of them.  But then I realized I had a problem—Feeman and Carte did not have enough shavings ready for me.  I had jumped the gun getting things started, and now I was rushing to assist in getting shavings added—but it was too late.  All the twine was now burned up and the fire was out.

Fortunately, I still had a good amount of char cloth and that fungus.  I couldn’t break up the fungus, so I just threw it in and got a hot coal on it.  A couple of times I looked up to see someone stopping to watch me and I had to push them to get more shavings.  We just kept throwing more shavings on the pile and I kept blowing on that one small hot coal, certain I would lose it altogether.  At one point Mott gave each team a splinter soaked in pine sap, but that seemed more trouble that it was worth.  With perseverance, we finally got a flame.  At that point it was simply a matter of getting all the shavings on the pile ablaze, then adding the kindling that Gary made of all the remaining wood.  I piled it up in a simple teepee fashion, stacking it as high and heavy as I could.

I again glanced at the other team, and it looked like they also had a fire, but I noticed they were stacking the wood strangely.  Instead of forming a teepee at the start and stacking on top of that with as small pieces of wood as possible, the and placed nearly all their wood flat.  Although they had chopped the wood smaller, they only produced about ten or so pieces. We probably had thirty or more.  And with the three last sticks, they formed a small pyramid.  I was confident.

Zach and I got into a rhythm blowing the flames until they reached well into the rope, then simply stepped back and watched it finish.  The other team accused us of stealing extra wood—and I guess the stack we had did look like a lot more wood than theirs, but it was the same amount—we had simply chopped up a lot more and smaller pieces.

It was a fun game, and the women had arranged some prizes for the winners.  Gary got some candy.  I got a harmonica.  I guess I am going to have to learn to play.

The second game brought Steve Winston on my side while Gary Shaw was excluded.  Gary was to be the judge.  We were given various food items, and the idea was we were to cook up a meal for Gary to eat.  It took about an hour to cook everything up. We made some Gumbo, with a vegetable side and fried apples for a desert.  I did not pay too close attention to what the other team made, other than the main course was a soup, but I did hear something about them caramelizing everything.

We finished up the day—except for more Euchre—with a three team tactical with three to a team.  Zach Carte and James Sturkler were on my team.  We all enjoyed it, but I think there were some kinks that need worked out for next year.  Each team was given five challenges, with the order than we had to respond whenever engaged in battle.  We got confused somehow in that the order of the challenges were to be first from Jen Mott, then Andrew Mott, then Jen Mott, then Andrew Mott, and finally Jen Mott—or at least that seemed to be the explanation to me.  Jen gave a Civil War trivial question whenever approached, while Andrew gave some kind of physical challenge.  The trouble was that after the first challenge—given by Jen—we started getting confused as to the order of things by first trying to return to Jen for the second challenge, who redirected us to Andrew, but then we somehow thought all remaining challenges were to come from Andrew.  Shaw’s team also experienced some kind of confusion—he told me they had a difficult time cornering Andrew since he kept moving around.  In that confusion somehow we skipped a step.

I know the Mott’s will probably read this, so I want to make sure they understand that we all had a blast, in spite of the issues encountered.  I am sure if time is taken to examine what did not work and what did, then these issues can be resolved for next year.

Monday was the actual Bean Bake.  We were a part of it since Mercer, Mott, and Girth are all from the area.  For most of the time we pretty much did a living history—although surprisingly with the weather dropping from 97 on Saturday to 60 on Monday, we had more public hanging around us to keep warm by our fire (the only one on the grounds) than anything.  Lt. Sharp showed up to participate as well-this time as a private in blue. 

In the early afternoon we set up a silly skirmish with three of us dressing gray to attack the rest of us in blue.  We seemed to have way to small an area to work with and somehow ended up doing more fighting among cars in the parking lot than in an open area, but it was fun.  A good opportunity to work out some more kinks for next year.

The last piece of participation for us was to stir the beans.  Most of us thought it was to be little more than a photo op to have us all up there stirring all the pots of beans, and then we would be done with it.  But time seemed to pass with little concern.  I do not know how long we were stirring, but my arms are still hurting—three days later.

We finished up the day with a challenge from JR for a speed shoot competition.  I blew any chance of winning early on when I forgot to ram paper and had to pick my first tube off the ground to shove it down the barrel.

The Durbin Bean Bake is a laid-back event that we look forward to, even though it really is not much of a Civil War event, and we have to go Federal.  It is only one day of living history, with the rest of the time entirely for us as we see fit to spend, far out in the country away from anything that could interfere (or interrupt).  I look forward to next year, and hope that perhaps the Bean Bake Committee seriously considers allowing us to invite a Yankee unit to expand the Civil War representation to the festival.