Monday, October 15, 2012

Gone with the Windy Shiloh of Indiana

Hartford City IN

October 13-14, 2012

Hartford City was always one of my largest events every year, and I had probably attended that last six years there.

But going there just a week after Perryville seemed anti-climatic.  None of the 1st Tennessee joined me to continue recovering from the onslaught experienced at Perryville (or perhaps they are just not quite as addicted to wool as I am).

I took the time to get to know members of the 19th Virginia and 50th Virginia better.  The 33rd Virginia and 44th Tennessee were also there, but camped a bit further off. 

Somehow we were outnumbered by the Yankees, which was unusual for this area, but we were lacking two regular companies, the 1st Tennessee and the 5th Kentucky.

The theme for the weekend was Shiloh, so all battles—two on Saturday, and one on Sunday—were representative of skirmishes from that battle.

The battalion came out at the start of the morning battle overrunning the temporary Yankee camp set up for the scenario.  The camp was a bit odd—one dog tent with one wood chair, and a bunch of blankets and bed rolls. All the blankets and bed rolls were our own—the Yankees only donated the one dog and chair for the scenario.  I guess it made it look better when we confiscated the blankets and returned to camp.

At the afternoon battle we had a bit of a strange addition.  One dandy in a lieutenant’s uniform came up with a mountain man and claimed to be scouts—that the would be there as observers.   I had seen the guy before on rare occasion and did not really have much to think about him.  The colonel approved them as observers thinking they would not cause much trouble, but when the mountain man began pouring powder straight from his powder horn down the Hawken he was carrying, the Lt Colonel stepped up and put an immediate stop to it. 

As a side, a general rule of thumb is that if you don’t drill with a company, you don’t play in the battle with the company.  We are playing with explosives, and people get injured at these things.  Injuries occur even when the best safety practices are followed. 

So a number of safety issues were suddenly thrown at us—a guy we didn’t know was going to fire a weapon amongst us, he was not part of any of the companies, and he was pouring straight from a powder horn (the scariest part of all).

That dandy tried to defend the mountain man.  After the Lt Col had his say and left, the dandy kept talking back to me, since he was on my wing.  The whole issue was brought to the colonel’s attention and he backed the Lt Col, so when the dandy spoke to me and asked in arrogance, “And just who does he think he is?!” I simply responded, “He’s the overall Confederate commander—and his word goes.”  That put a stop to the whole mess.  The dandy left the event in a huff after the battle.  Good riddance.  This hobby does not need that kind.

A solid pattering of rain hit about the time for supper and continued for a few hours.  But the weather warmed significantly from the night before.  I spent most of the rest of my evening trading stories with the colonel and his wife.

Winds whipped up in the morning.  It helped with getting a good roaring fire going for breakfast, but as the day progressed, so did the strength of the winds.

The battle was scheduled for 2 pm, but after flies started demonstrating bird-like behavior, many started packing up.  There was a thread of a storm, and most wanted to get packed up while they could still drop dry canvas.

I lost another corner to my tent.  I had just sewn the second lost corner Friday after losing it at Perryville, so now I have another repair before my next event.  With the loss of that corner and fearing of losing my entire tent, I finally gave into the peer pressure and broke my camp, cramming everything in rush into my car.  This left only the colonel’s tent standing, but even he lost part of his fly by end of the battle.  It was strange and eerie to see all tents gone, with a battle yet to come.  Many sutlers also packed up early.  The sun was out for the battle, though.

The battle went okay—by the end of it, the battalion had lost all officers, captains and NCOs.  Only a few privates were left carrying the wind-whipped flag, commanded by the guy who does General Pickett, and I’m not sure he’s ever done this kind of thing before.

The weekend good, and I got to greet with some of my friends of 4th OVI I hadn’t seen in awhile. I said my goodbyes to the battalion staff and many from the companies, as this was the last battalion event until next year.  But the season is not over for me—there are still three more events.

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