Monday, October 28, 2013

Closing the Year

Monroe, Ohio 

October 26-27, 2013 

It was a long year of reenacting, with Monroe making number 18 for 2013 for me.   I arrived Friday evening, but no one else from the 1st Tennessee was going to be there that night.  The weather was also going to get cold.

Jim Kletzli was going to come in the morning, so I decided to camp in the comforts of home and ride in with Jim in the morning.  Normally I might have stayed, but for as many events as I attended, I felt it better to avoid miserable nights for my last event of the year.

So, we arrived Saturday morning, falling in with the 9th KY.

The event was pretty quiet.  The cold and winds kept the crowds away all day Saturday, so when we went up against the Yankees, chasing the 7th KS into the woods, it was pretty much for ourselves.  The cold was such that this was probably the only event, except possibly for Hurricane in March, that required wearing the greatcoat all day, including during the battle.

Sunday went just as quick, though the weather was better.    Spectators showed up and wandered the camps.  We formed up for the battle, advancing onto the field.  We blasted a few company volleys, when suddenly we realized the 7th KS had taken position behind us.  Basically, we were in a crossfire.

It didn't end well. It was pretty clear--the Confederates lost.

But, getting caught like that was a good way to wind the year down.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gettysburg in Indiana

Hartford City, IN

October 12-13, 2013 

Everything written here are my sole opinions and observations and do not represent the opinions or observations of anyone else or any organization. 

The weekend started at Hartford City with the annual wooden State of Indiana plaque deposited in my car to be added to my Indiana mosaic now plastering my wall at home.  I set my camp with the 1st Tennessee, reporting in later with the colonel to let him know of my arrival. 

The weekend schedule was full, with both a morning and evening battle.  A night battle was scheduled for the first time, as well, but we were uncertain as to how that would work, since the artillery night fire was scheduled that evening, followed by the dance, which was scheduled to be on site--on the battlefield--for the first time. 

Saturday morning opened with battalion parade--before I could get an adequate supply of coffee into my bloodstream.   My mind was a bit sluggish so messed up a few things in parade, but we got by.  We ran through some drill, then went straight to the battlefield for the morning battle. 

The battle went well and pretty much as planned.  We had a little down-time between battles--a chance to make future plans and talk with spectators as they came through our camps.  

Culp's Hill was the scenario for the  afternoon battle, and it definitely had a better result than the Culp's Hill scenario at the Gettysburg 150th.   We advanced by division, with Lt Col Clark taking the right wing up against dismounted cavalry, and I taking the left wing against the hill's center.  We pushed forward and fell back several times.  I kept expecting the Yankees to push beyond the fence in the confusion of our regrouping, but never did they leave the security of their fence.    Col Julian stayed with my wing, but he took a bit of a hands-off approach with me--merely giving me the actions to take, and letting me take command of the wing, being there to be my crutch.  It was the thrill to feel like I was expanding to the next level. 

That evening the 1st Tennessee enjoyed a simple stew together.  Some provided various cookies for desert.  I brought some homemade applesauce.  It was a good meal and a good time together. 

Afterward, Capt Sharp, Sgt Kletzli, and I slipped over to the camp of the 4th Ohio Co B, where we discussed some ideas and rudimentary plans for next year.  The meeting went well, and I think we all are looking forward to that which is to come in 2014. 

The artillery night fire filled the field, and apparently the night battle occurred during the night fire, as we could see the silhouettes of various lines with muskets firing across the field.  And although the ball was marked to take place on the battlefield, it was apparently relocated back to its regular location at the 4H building on the county fairgrounds. 

Sunday morning started early as we hoped to get the Yankees incited to join us for the scheduled tactical, but orders were given for the Yankees not to participate so as to not wear themselves out for the memorial service for one of there own who had fallen recently.  We trampled through the nearby woods and fire a few shots off.  Capt Steiner brought out his double-barreled shotgun with some extra powder to be our mobile artillery, rattling the frame of the Yankee cabins with each shot. 

We joined the Yankees for the memorial service.  Words were given and the service was concluded with battalion volleys, using rounds that contained the ashes of their comrade.  The Yankees fired their volley first, with the commander ordering, "Ready, Aim," a series of booms, and finishing with a bit of an embarrassed "Fire", and a final boom.  

At least the Confederates were able to show them how it is done, the entire battalion firing as one. 

The afternoon battle was simple--Pickett's Charge.  Again we split the battalion into two divisions, with Lt Col Clark leading the charge with the right wing, and I leading the left wing.  We advanced forward in spurts of about twenty yards, paused to straighten the lines, then advanced again.  As we reached the crest of the last hill we reformed the battalion and fired a few rounds.  I instructed the captains of the left wing that we needed to start taking serious casualties, but few took hits, so when I returned to the front of my wing to lead them in the final advance, I went down when the Yankee battalion fired, hoping to give the rest to start taking serious hits. 

It was a terrific weekend--and a great way for the 1st Tennessee and Independent Guard Battalion to end the year, though my year is not yet over.

Video of Saturday afternoon battle

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ambush in the Village

As I go into my experience at Pioneer Village, I would just like to say that many seem to treat my writings as after-action reports.  They really aren't.  They are merely my observations, sometimes opinions, of the sequence of events that occur.  They are my perspective on things--and nothing more.  When I go to an event as a private, there are many things hidden from me, so I see things often at the lowest level, and never the big picture.  When I go as a battalion officer--I see things from a different perspective--but again since I'm not in charge, the whole picture is not always available to me.  Large national events have thousands of reenactors--but I am only going to be exposed to a minute fraction of that number, so my story only reflects that corner of the picture.  Even with small events I rarely interact with the Yankee side--or if I galvanize, I would not see the Confederate side, so at best, my story is only half the picture.  I also mean no offense to the parties I write about, but occasionally I do step on some toes.  My goal with this blog is to primarily write about my experience, but also, as a secondary goal, to better the hobby.  I do sometimes let my emotions control what I write, not always thinking through the ramifications.  I apologize if you take offense at what I write and ask to look beyond what is offending you and at what you can do to fix problems that get noted; I would love to return to an event with issues I note and find those issues corrected.  If you wish to discuss matters with me, feel free to send me a note on my contact page--I am willing to listen to anything you have to say, so long as you keep it civil.  It is not without precedent for me to alter to my writings.

I am continually surprised by the growing popularity of my blog, receiving the occasional compliment for it--that someone is actually reading it--so I am not yet used to the idea of just how much care I must take with what I write.    These United States is a great country, where I am free to write what I want, but with that great freedom does come great responsibility, and a true exercise of freedom is to execute true responsibility.

With that said, Pioneer Village started on good footing.  I arrived early Friday morning to assist Joe Bellas with his high school class in a bit of living history--and possible recruitment.  The kids were bright and inquisitive.  Shawn Swart, Jim Kletzli, Chris Silvers, and I all assisted in demonstrating a life of the soldier--even giving the a bit of drill.

Saturday brought a sunny and warm day.  The morning was quiet.  For the afternoon battle we tried what we did for Ohio Village, which was to continue the scenario beyond the battle and have a medical scenario take care of the dead and wounded.  

It started with Jared Springer and I on picket duty.  Suddenly, from the woods behind our camp, several shots were fired by the 7th Kansas.  They descended upon us with shouts of alarm as the 1st TN formed the company to respond--they had just given the first call and had hardly started equipping themselves when the fighting started.

We were pushed back, and then the rest of the Federal forces joined the field, but in the end, we pushed them from the field and won the day.

After the battle, we carried wounded off toward a tree for Doc Gill to tend to.  James Sturkler was one of the dead.  George Moore came to his friend and said a prayer over him, then balled over him theatrically.  We stripped him of his gear, then carried him off the field.  We gave the spectators a taste of the horrors of war.

That evening we enjoyed a superb dinner with the 7th Kansas.

A little while after supper and after a cannon nightfire, I called the ball.  The dancing went well, with about a third more dancers than the year before.  I stood with most of my tried-and-true dances, but did try a new one I learned called "The Irish Quadrille".  I had never even seen a quadrille prior to the Jackson MI, but I took notes at Jackson and was able to teach it pretty well.  There were a significant number of new dancers, so I had a bit more work teaching the dances, but it was an enjoyable evening.

Sunday started on a mournful note.  Michael Hernandez, commander of the 9th Kentucky, passed away about a month ago, so both Federals and Confederates came together to perform a memorial ceremony in his honor.  I did not have much exposure to the man, but the few times I met him, he was a good man.  I served under him a couple of times at Monroe, and he was on my wing at Perryville, when I was on the battalion staff.  I could see that he will be long missed.  My regret is not having the chance to get to know him better.

Beginning with that ceremony, the sun never shone that day.  It even drizzled a little in sorrow for him.

At one point during the day, the captain of the 7th Kansas came over to discuss matters with Capt Sharp when we heard gunfire. It appeared that some of our men engaged members of the 7th KS in an impromptu skirmish.  Capt Sharp seized on the opportunity and took the 7th KS captain at gunpoint over to the fighting, instructing the 7th KS to lay down arms, and they would be allowed to leave the field with their captain.

But, the 7th KS had other ideas.  Their captain ordered them to open fire, taking a hit with the first volley.  Skirmishing continued for awhile, until some from another Federal unit decided to join in.  Fighting was quickly halted when Sgt Kletzli realized they were pulling their ramrods, which is an extremely dangerous situation.

The battle began later that afternoon.  As guest commanders, Gary Evens and Edd Sharp were brought in to participate.  The 9th KY handled the left side of the battlefield, with the 1st TN handling the right.

Things just went sour from there.  I'm not real sure what went wrong, and I can't really do it justice.

At least Hartford City in two weeks will be a new start.