Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Home of the Tomato

Reynoldsburg, June 25-26, 2011

I was told that Reynoldsburg has become one of the largest events in Ohio. I think it came as a surprise to some that there were enough Confederate companies to form a battalion. It was two years ago at this event that I decided to join the 1st Tennessee once and for all—up to that time I was primarily Federal (which is why I’ve been nicknamed “Yankee”). Three years ago this event was merely an extension of the Tomato Festival, and I’ve watched this event grow from a single day event two years ago, to a somewhat decent small to mid-range event last year to an event with around ten sutlers and around seventy to a hundred reenactors on each side. Although the sutlers were small (with one exception) and had limited selections (and a little heavy on public-oriented farby selections), they were varied enough to show promise in the years to come. If they can get just one more large sutler—such as Fall Creek or the Regimental Quartermaster—I think Reynoldsburg will definitely rate as one of the best events of the year. The park has plenty of space to grow, so there is plenty of potential.

In addition to the good supply of food and the significant number of sutlers, there were two Saturday battles along with a planned Sunday morning tactical and afternoon battle.

Granted, the event is heavily supported by the 5th Kentucky, a unit we of the 1st Tennessee are very close with. I feel I should mention this so that you are aware of my bias. But the event is a very good one nonetheless. Food was excellent—three meals provided. A Saturday lunch (a hamburger), dinner (pizza), and Sunday breakfast (egg and sausage burrito) weren’t exactly period meals, but who’s to look a gift horse in the mouth? You can always cook your own meal over the campfire if you are a stickler for period-correct eatin’.

Yankees coming for us
Saturday, the 1st Tennessee was made the Color Company, and I was among those put on Color detail. I had not been part of defending the flag before, so I was honored for the experience, but it is not something I would want to do all the time, since all that is involved is marching at shoulder arms beside the flag for the entire battle. It was not until the second Saturday battle in the late afternoon that I realized I could take advantage of the situation and grab my camera out of my haversack and snap a few shots with no one knowing. Even the soldiers on either side of me had no idea I had my camera out shooting the Yankees (okay, so it wasn’t with a musket—but at least I got some satisfaction out of it).

The 1st Tennessee as Color Company
The Saturday battles seemed a bit on the chaotic side—it seemed the Yankees didn’t want to come out and play. They complained we pushed too hard, but hadn’t they head General Jackson’s statement that once you’ve got them on the run—keep pushing? My advice to the Yankees—get aggressive. Push us—we will respond accordingly, and you will find the battle to be more interesting for both us and the public. I know the scenario is worked out during the officer’s meeting, but you know that all goes to pot once the fighting begins.

Sunday’s tactical turned bust. That can squarely be blamed on the Yankees—the skies were spitting a bit during the morning—nothing a poncho couldn’t deal with—and so the Yanks chickened out. I always look forward to a good tactical—it will take a monsoon to scare me away since they are so few are far between—so I was very disappointed that something less than a light sprinkle was all that it took to keep the Yankees away. Yet, they drilled about an hour later in that same light drizzle—what’s with that? I don’t know—others of the 1st Tennessee tell me the unit has quite the reputation for winning tacticals—is that the real reason the Yank didn’t want to play? Perhaps if the Yankee colonels studied up more on some of the winning tactics used during the Civil War, they could present the 1st Tennessee with a significant challenge.

The Sunday afternoon battle did make clear that the Yankees did have a lot of Saturday Day-lilies. The Rebs had them too, but it seemed a bit more dramatic with the Yankees (maybe it was just due to my perspective?) The numbers were still good, at least, and (at least to me) the battle appeared more organized—the Federals seemed to put on a better assault.

Overall I had a terrific weekend. Let’s see how the home of the tomato grows the event for next year.

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