Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Changing of the Guard

Hartford City IN

October 11-12, 2014

Hartford City was a busy event as usual, with parade at nine and skirmish drills through the afternoon, and pay call of real cash awarded to random individuals (including myself) but it was different from usual.

For one thing, the usual Sunday morning tactical was no longer on the schedule.  It seems the Yankees got tired of always losing, and finally acknowledged they had no chance of winning, so decided to stop trying.

But this was also Col Dave Julian’s last event as colonel of the Independent Guard battalion.  Elections for Colonel, Lt. Colonel, and Major were this year.  The annual meeting had always been held in Jackson, Michigan, but due to low attendance from battalion member companies at Jackson, the election was moved to Hartford City.

After morning parade, we had a quick skirmish against the Yankees, pushing them up the hill to the rail fence.  Once finished, we rehearsed some basic hand-to-hand combat that we would do for the battle at four pm.  Many were a bit uncomfortable with this—particularly members of the 1st Tennessee (including myself, though I was on battalion staff), but they gave us the out to simply take hits in the battle before encountering the hand-to-hand.  Our discomfort was with not really knowing the Yankee companies we’d be facing.  Back in Ohio, several of the events we know the Yankees—such as the 4th Ohio, and members of McCooks Brigade, so I think we’d be more comfortable with prepared hand-to-hand with them than with these Indiana companies.

After the rehearsal for the hand-to-hand, the Independent Guard held its election.  Col Julian had announced his retirement from the position, leaving Danny Linkus from the 44th TN running unopposed for colonel.  For lt colonel, Duane Clark was running for re-election, being opposed by Richard DeWitt.  Finally, I ran unopposed for major.

Finally, Sgt Major Len Kizer had announced he was also retiring from his position.  Since the position would not be up for election until next year, Col Julian announced that as for his last action as colonel, he would appoint the replacement sgt major, appointing himself to the positon.

It was a close vote, but Duane Clark was selected for lt. Colonel.

We had a long break until battle, with the individual companies going onto the battlefield for half an hour each for drill or skirmish (if the Yankees played along).  I used the break to pick up a few necessities from a sutler.

The 4 pm battle seemed to go quick.  We pushed up the hill.  The 1st TN broke off to put pressure on a company with repeaters—I stayed with the 1st, since they were on my wing, to facilitate communication with Col Julian.  Capt Sharp was pleased to see the repeaters firing normally, and not like a machine gun being fired from the hip like some cowboy—like what we see far too often.  To show his pleasure, he used the opportunity to avoid the hand-to-hand and have the 1st take massive hits from the repeaters.

The 1st TN ladies cooked dinner for us—a meal of chicken and noodles and potatoes.  The event offered food too, but I think the chicken and noodles as a far better choice.  There quantity was a bit over-estimated, perhaps prepared for twice the number that had attended, but there were a number of no-shows.

The night grew cold and I was worn out by the time the night cannon fire lit the night.  I managed drift off in my tent in the middle of the blasting.

Sunday was a slow day—breakfast, morning parade, and a 2pm battle.

The battle was a bit quick.  We faced up to the Yankees and pushed.  The faced up to us and pushed forward.  One Yankee company broke off and tried to flank us, but the 1st TN refused them, getting decimated in the process.  The battle ended with nearly the entire Confederate force marked up as casualties.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Choking in Chaplin Hills

152nd Anniversary, Battle of Perryville

Perryville KY
October 4-5, 2014

We knew the turnout for this off-year event would not be anything like the big anniversary years, but there was still enough to field a battalion on each side, though the 4th Kentucky had to galvanize for the battle each day.  I was told that 75 Confederates were expected.

I was able to keep warm in my Army sleeping bag despite the cold night, but morning came with the sounds of a drum beating away beside our camp.  We never found out who was responsible for the drum, because even Confederate headquarters was upset with the disturbance.

We were supplied with an over-abundance of rations, including hardtack, salt pork, beef, potatoes, onions, oatmeal, and more.

Larry, a new recruit, joined us that morning.  He is probably one of the most enthusiastic recruits I have ever seen—arriving nearly fully equipped with all new gear.  We drilled him a bit and gave some basic training.  He picked up everything quickly.

We held a short ceremony for Joe Bellas.  His health is forcing him to retire from the hobby, and he has contributed much over the years.  Capt Sharp presented him with an award for his service.

The battle was simple, our three-company battalion facing three Yankee companies, pushing them over a hill.

Later, Capt Sharp walked us on a tour of the battlefield, as he had done in the Spring.  The walk went well, and we learned more about the 1st Tennessee and their part in the Battle of Perryville.

We feasted Sunday morning on more of the rations from Saturday, finishing with enough left over for the next event.

We formed for the battle, and a spoonful of apple cider vinegar was given to each of us. I didn’t have a spoon, so had an ounce or two poured into my cup.

I have had various forms of vinegar before, from apple cider vinegar, to white vinegar, red wine vinegar, even drank pickle juice like it was a soda.  But I had never had more than a spoonful of apple cider vinegar before, so was not prepared for the reaction my throat took when I gulped that few ounces down.  At first, it was like I had a frog in my throat, and had a bit of difficulty talking.  But then I could not get any air, as nothing but squeaking came out with each gasp I took.  Horror came to me as it occurred that I might not get the rather necessary air I needed, as my throat nearly complete closed up.  The major turned to me and realized I could be in trouble, asking if I was okay.  When I shook my head with a no, unable to get a word out, he and a few others gather around.  He asked what he wanted me to do, which really wasn’t a helpful question since I could only gasp.  He made an attempt at some sort of Heimlich maneuver, which he fortunately didn’t get quite right or he might have broken a rib—but he did put some good compression on my lungs which did help.

It fortunately cleared up about as quickly as it came on, and I was soon back to normal—with only a slightly scratchy throat—but it was quite a scare for me and all around.

Note to self: no more than a spoonful of vinegar at any given time.

At the battle the first was sent out separately as skirmishers.  We advanced for a while, rejoining the battalion. Capt Sharp took a hit, leaving Sgt Kletzli in charge.  We pushed and fell back a few times, but eventually pushed the Yankees completely across the field.

The event proved enjoyable, and I look forward to the next big national here in 2016.  Although next year will likely be small scale like this, I am certain the 1st Tennessee will return in 2015 to be a part of this event again.