Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Federals and the Copperheads

Durbin Bean Bake

Sept 1-3, 2012

The Durbin Bean Bake is a Labor Day only event, but the 1st Tennessee makes its own fun Saturday and Sunday.

I arrived early Saturday expecting to be pretty much alone most of that first day, so planned on taking advantage of the time by bringing a bunch of extra gear to repair this and that, patch my canteen, sew the ten missing buttons on the ends of my dog tent, do a bit of gunsmithing on my period Colt pistol, roll up my last pound of powder, and fill the 400 tube order for Pvt Zack Carte.

I found Pvt Steve Winston there already when I arrived at 11:30 am-he had arrived at 9 am.

It was a hot and humid day, and with nothing really planned I took my time setting camp.  I usually try to arrive in uniform, but this time I was in modern wear until my tent was up.

Beforehand we had already established that half the unit would galvanize for the 40th Ohio, while the other half would come representing a rabble of Copperheads.  Federal veterans of the Civil War established the Bean Bake over a hundred years ago, so it was only right that we honored the tradition of the Bean Bake with a Federal presence instead of our normal Confederate issue.

As I changed into my Federal gear, I discovered my Federal sky blue trousers were missing-I had left them behind.  I only had my Confederate jean wool trousers.  Since I had established my name as the token Yankee, I very well could not represent a Copperhead.  Fortunately, my humble call to Sgt (and 40th OVI Capt) Mott proved fruitful as he had a spare pair of Federal trousers to loan me.

It started to rain lightly as the time for dinner arrived.  I ran into Celina, only about six miles away, to pick up ice and pizza for the two of us.  I became aware that this weekend was to turn into a comedy of errors for me as I loaded my cooler with ice and somehow pierced a can of Mountain Dew Voltage, spraying a fine blue mist onto the flap of my tent.  Lucky for me, all it took was some water to wash it off.

As we set up the pizza on a table under my fly, the rain picked up and we suddenly realized that the fly seemed to lack purpose.  Water dripped on us at all points as the fly served the exclusive purpose of water purification, as opposed to a shelter from the elements.

The only time I can recall my tent being in the rain since I bought it a year ago was during a rather light drizzle at Hurricane WV this year, where the fly was absent, so my knowledge of this shelter imposter eluded my comprehension until this day.  Steve and I quickly gathered everything into the tent and away from that cheesecloth, where we finished the pizza in crammed quarters as all my stuff, including all my extra crap I brought to work on, was piled around.  Yes, it was embarrassing for me to share the innards of my tent with Steve, where normally I leave a flap open to impress on others a somewhat period look, only to now feel like a refugee of a disaster zone.

The rain did not last long.  With only two of us, Euchre was out of the question, so Steve pulled out the chess set he made from Minie balls.  It had been awhile since I had last played chess, and it was a good, close game.  In the end, Steve won.

Sunday was an easy day, and I managed to get caught up on a lot of the work I brought up.  There were a few more arrivals during the day, and our Federal Captain Andrew Mott started a tactical for us, breaking us into two teams of two-Zack and I on one team, and Jeff and Steve on the other.  The tactical was basically a treasure hunt with no rules, just "guidelines".  In the end, Steve and Jeff won.  There were many was to get points, but the kicker was where we started with ten rounds and were penalized for every round less than ten at the end.  Steve and Jeff figured out there was no rule regarding returning to camp and refilling the cartridge box-a concept that eluded both Zack and I.

Jen Mott and Barb Moore provided dinner of ham and potatoes.

The tactical challenged finished with a drill with specific maneuvers.  With only two, the drill presented an odd challenge, plus I had to remember the specific maneuvers.  One of the main reasons I write this blog is that I would probably forget what happened a week later.

The Motts have a place nearby they stayed at, so the evening left us with just four-Steve, Jeff, Zack, and myself; just enough for Euchre.  Steve is not much of a Euchre player, but he managed to catch on pretty well.  Although a constant drizzle kept the night in a watery mantra, Andrew was kind enough to set his fly up for us so we would not have to play under my cheesecloth.

Monday morning brought my usual bacon and eggs with tar for drink.  Capt Mott brought me his loaner Federal trousers, and the rest of the 1st Tennessee soon arrived, including the surprise arrival of our former captain, Gary Evens.

A mandatory speed shoot competition was held before the skirmish, where we divided into two groups of about five each.  I won first heat, but in final heat I first dropped my ramrod, then several times my ramrod got stuck after being returned.  I had recently had some gunsmithing done to my rifle, and some of the adjustments threw things a bit out of wack.  I may need to go back to that gunsmith for a bit of tweaking.

The scenario was for us, as federal soldiers, to be attacked by the rabble of Copperheads during our drill. The Copperhead gang, led by Capt JR Sharp, wore the same as usual, except for the lack of their coats to look more civilian.  Mott captained 40th Ohio group.

I carried massive flag of 40th OVI, and as instructed by Mott, took an early hit, which Mercer picked up from me.

For the past two years prior we always spent a good amount of time stirring the beans, but somehow got out of it this time, though I think some of the Copperheads filled the duty.

It was a great time.  I got some things done, others undone (and so ended up with a lot more crap on site than I really needed), and now have more guns to clean.

Girth was originally 1st Sgt for the 40th OVI at the start of this weekend, but was given a promotion to Lieutenant.  JR got the idea to be sure to get a picture of Girth in his Lieutenant's uniform (which was easy since Girth is such a ham).

Plans and plots are always afoot in the 1st Tennessee.

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