Sunday, April 27, 2014

Start of an Alliance

Spring Drill

Huddleston Farmhouse
Cambridge City, IN

April 27-27, 2014

Reenacting season started this year with spring drill, but this year was different.  This year we cooperated with the 4th Ohio Company B and with the 7th Kansas to drill at the Huddleston Farmhouse in Cambridge City Indiana.
We began with setting up camp.  I rode in with Trent Boham, captain of the 4th OVI.  Joe Frost, who manages the property, opened up the barn for use.  The 4th OVI chose to quarter in the barn, while the 1st Tennessee and 7th Kansas camped outside.  The weather was perfect for the weekend.
Saturday started early.  Capt Sharp began the day on a short classroom session to prepare us for the year.  We then went into some individual company drill.
After lunch, as part of our cost for use of the property, we worked on chopping up some firewood.  Joe pointed out a couple of trees to chop down, and Jared Springer of the 1st TN started on the first tree with a chainsaw.
Unfortunately, the tree was not completely cooperative, falling into a neighboring tree instead of dropping to the ground.  An additional complication was that the 4th OVI’s 1st Sergeant—Brendan Kinder—set his tent in a zone that was at risk for being hit by this now precariously balanced timber.  Jared attempted to further notch the trunk to guide the tree down the originally planned path, but only succeeded in further complicating the situation by getting the saw stuck.
We tied straps around the tree and with effort managed to free the saw. With further effort, we pulled the tree off its stump, but it refused to release its grip on that neighboring tree.  We changed the direction of our pull, but only managed to cause the trunk to roll and slip dangerously close to falling on Sgt Kinder’s tent.
With further careful cuts and pulls, we finally managed to cause the tree to fall, safely missing Sgt Kinder’s tent, and relieving our concerns.
Jared brought a log splitter, so we chopped up the wood.  Once we finished the first tree, Jared cut down a second tree and the 4th OVI chopped it.  In total we provided about a chord and a half of firewood.
The wood cutting went longer than planned, so we pushed further drill off until after supper.  We made a trip into Cambridge City, finding a Mexican restaurant where we could feed.  A word of advice, though—Mexican is really not a good food choice in the middle of a weekend event.
We returned to the farmhouse and proceeded to form up for battalion drill, with the companies of opposing sides forming together.  The light was quickly waning.  The 7th KS combined with the 4th OVI.   Since Capt Boham was also the adjutant for 2nd Battalion of Birney’s Division, we put him in the adjutant’s role for his drilling.  With Capt Sharp acting as Colonel, and I taking the Lt. Colonel role, we went through battalion parade and a number of battalion maneuvers. With both captains now at battalion level, various NCOs of both companies were brevetted to commander positions to give them the experience of fulfilling those roles.
The next morning came too quickly.  We did some more battalion drilling and then finished with company drill.  Capt Sharp let every soldier from Sergeant to private of the 1st TN the opportunity to take command and lead the company around.
It was a good weekend, and the start of an alliance.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Barn that Wouldn't Die

Perryville Cleanup Weekend
Perryville Kentucky

April 5, 2014

More and more the 1st Tennessee is progressing into battlefield preservation.  This weekend the Perryville Battlefield held a cleanup day where we assisted.
Over coffee and donuts we discussed the plan for the day where we would work on cleaning out an old barn and tearing it down.  The barn was built some time after the battle and tearing it down was part of the efforts to restore the battlefield to its condition at the time of the battle.
The other groups were to take out fencing that was never part of the original battlefield.

We drove to the barn and started hauling out garbage to the dumpster and tearing out boards.  At one point a tractor was used to help us haul things us.  We also discovered a rather fantastic smell that chased us out of the building on a regular basis.
After lunch the plan was to have the tractor pull the building down.  But unfortunately the bobcat that was used to pull apart the fencing fell backwards and got stuck, so occupied the tractor trying to straighten it out.
We did finally get the tractor back to the barn.  We strapped a chain to a support post and had the tractor pull it.  We had hoped that it would quickly pull down the entire barn—but it was not to be.  The first post broke in half, dragged out by the chain, and the building stood otherwise untouched.  We proceeded to the next post, with the same result.  After pulling out about half the support posts with the barn still standing, the tractor driver resorted to trying to push it over.
He made some progress, but it was still unsatisfactory.  We worked on more posts, eventually breaking all support beams in half before it finally crumbled down.

Next time we’re likely to bring some blackpowder.  The consensus was it would have both more successful, and more desirable, effects.
At the end of the work day, JR Sharp took us on a walk of the battlefield, discussing what he had learned of the original 1st Tennessee’s experience at Battle of Perryville.