Sunday, April 22, 2012

Drill, Drill, Drill

Spring Drill, April 21-22, 2012

Durbin Bean Bake site

I did not really expect much for this weekend, but I was at least hoping the weather would be as nice as Hurricane.  The weekend was a lot of drilling, but the weather could have been better.  Hurricane had a lot better weather.

Most of us arrived Friday evening to set up.  The weather held for most of us until after dark, when it turned cold and wet. The lows for the weekend dropped to around 34.  This is one of the areas I do not care about staying period-correct on.  I was glad to have brought along my army sleeping bag, which kept me plenty warm.  Sgt Mott and his wife hooked up an LP tank to a super-powered gas heater, which must have turned their tent into a sauna.  Capt JR, along with several others all had heaters.  I had left my heater at home, but I’ve learned that as long as you are sufficiently covered to keep warm, a heater is just extra baggage and carbon monoxide.

Quinn and his wife joined us for the weekend.  He is from the 9th Kentucky.  Capt JR invited him along, but I had first met him at Monroe last fall.  Being rather new to the hobby, he was not completely prepared for the cold nights we had, and ending up sleeping most of the first night with his wife in his car.  His wife made a trip Saturday to Walmart to pick up essentials of an air mattress and heater.

I thought Pvt Silvers was going to brave the elements when he set up his dog tent, but then he went home for the night.  I guess I can’t blame him when he only lives ten minutes away.  He did attempt to stay Saturday night, but we had to wake him from his SUV Sunday morning.

There were a number of the 1st Tennessee noticeably missing, and there were some surprise attendees.  Andy Enyart made a return this weekend, having been absent for a year.  Due to his absence, he relinquished his rank, so is now a private, but it is good to see him back.

The rain only lasted for Friday night, concluding by morning—so at least we only had to deal with cold weather in the mornings.  I was the first up Saturday morning and cooked my usual bacon and eggs for breakfast.  For some reason I seemed to be the only one interested in breakfast.

For lunch Saturday the ladies of the 1st Tennessee presented us with standard Confederate random rations.  Each of us was given a bag with meat (a ham shank, smoked turkey wing, jerky, or salt pork), some random vegetables, salt, and an apple or two.  I had two carrots, two potatoes, a smoked turkey wing, and an apple.  Not being overly hungry, I gave Silvers my potatoes and one of my carrots to apply to his stew.  I fried my apple for desert with some of my brown sugar.

Dinner that night was a more of on-your-own thing.  Burritos were prepared for a few—I managed to get some of the left-over ground beef, though I might have gotten more if I had not been pre-occupied with a Euchre game.

During the day Saturday was near constant drill-probably a total of four hours drilling overall, with one hour breaks between each hour-long drill.  The first drill started with basic maneuvers, followed by more advanced maneuvers on the second drill.  The third drill was delayed when a number of the unit did a wood detail to pick up a load of wood from the pile we had chopped two weeks before, but when they finally returned, the NCO’s were all given the opportunity to command the company, guiding us around as if they were captains.  It was a learning experience for all of us, as they would sometimes guide us into strange inverted positions that would then leave us trying to figure out how to undo the mess.

After all the NCOs got their chance, Capt JR gave command to Pvt Silvers.  The captain later told us he looked like a little Napolean as he belted out his orders with his belly sticking out.  Since Pvt Silvers was put in command, I knew my turn would come as well.  Capt Sharp called me up to command the company once Silvers was done.

I order the unit around and tried to guide them into positions to run Capt JR over, but he kept moving out of the way.  It was a good experience—some day I’ll get rank and be able to do that more often.

The last one to take command was Matt Roberts, the only one to volunteer for a try.  He came out with a surprising Boston accent—it sounded as if we were being commanded by JFK.

The final drill began with a discussion of Perryville for the fall and Gettysburg for 2013.  The price of registration for the unit is going to cost $20 per person.  JR said the unit’s funds could squeeze out to afford the cost, but then would not have any extra.  Also, the deadline for the lower registration fee for Gettysburg 2013 would be June 1, and may also stress the company funds.  He gave us options as to how the cost could be taken care of, including paying for it out of the company funds.  We chose by consensus to pay the fees out of our own pockets, due by the Grove City event the weekend of June 1.

We proceeded with stack arms drill.  JR provided a strange platoon break, giving six (with the 1st Sergeant) to 1st platoon, with the rest (around ten) to 2nd platoon. Mercer had pre-set up to forget his bayonet in his truck, so Sgt Mott took 1st platoon with Mercer to retrieve it.  At his truck we changed our uniforms to blue and gave a surprise attack on 2nd platoon.

We had a lot of fun with this seeming impromptu tactical.  Sgt Mott moved us around at the double-quick to positions all around 2nd platoon.  But with greater numbers, 2nd platoon was able to split their forces and surround us, ending with a Confederate victory—well, it would have been a 1st Tennessee victory either way.

The spring drill was a good start for the season for the unit.  We worked out most of the kinks that had built up over the winter, so we are ready to shine with our skill on the battlefield.