Monday, July 27, 2015

Slow Days

Greenville, OH

July 25-26, 2015

The Gathering at Garst in Greenville looked to be a rather relaxed event.  Capt Sharp couldn't attend due to a business conflict, and Sgt Kletzli had medical issues that kept him away.  Since this event was not part of the max-effort list of the 1st Tennessee and I had been part of getting the 1st TN at this event every year for the past 4, Capt Sharp brevetted me to Lieutenant for the weekend.

Friday evening we set up camp and I dug the fire pit, while Jeff and Trish Carte and Jon and Kiesha Farrelly set up their tents.

The night was clear and cool, and in the morning I cooked some bacon and eggs. Hank, the blacksmith and one of the event coordinators, brought in some donuts for us and supplied us with ice.

Chris Silvers arrived and set up his shelter.

Public came into the park in a slow trickle.  After awhile, Gary Evens, former captain of the 1st Tennessee, showed up in a period civilian outfit and helped us with our living history demonstrations.

The 19th Indiana Light Artillery was there along with the Rev War group the Mad River Light Artillery, and they fired their cannons every hour.

I led the four rifles in short skirmish drills three times, ending with a series of manual of arms, and stepping Cpl Silvers in loading in nine times per the Hardee's School of the Soldier.

We flew our Polk-pattern flag, and I was surprised at how it opened many conversations.  I was also surprised at how Rebel-friendly the people of Greenville seemed to be. Many expressed their gratitude for our appearance.

It was a warm night, but I slept well.  Chris Silvers complained of being assaulted by a brigade of mosquitoes, though.

In the morning I had more bacon and eggs, and donuts were provided, but the day held only the Farrellys, Carte's, Chris Silvers, and I.  Spectator turnout seemed low, so we were able to keep up.  Having only three rifles, I joined the ranks as a private with my musket during the one skirmish drill we held, but again narrated Chris Silvers performing load in nine times.

With the low numbers of spectators we had a lot of time for Euchre, so Chris determined that we try to break the record for number of games in a single day.  We only reached eight games.

It was a relaxed weekend, but we provided good education to the public, and possibly gained a recruit or two.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Surrender

Sharon Woods Heritage Village

Sharonville, Ohio

July 11-12, 2015

Courtesy David Burns
Saturday morning at Sharon Woods was quiet.  I didn't feel like much for breakfast, so had a couple of slices of the banana nut bread and coffee the organizers offered.  The coffee wasn't my four-cups-in-one, but it was passable, and the bread was satisfying.

As we prepared for the day, Pvt Chris Wellman, a relatively new recruit for the 1st Tennessee, needed to borrow a musket.  His musket had become non-functional with a problem with his mainspring, so I loaned him Christine, my musket.  Capt Sharp, in returned, placed me as flag-bearer.

This event was solemn.  For the first time in its over 20 year history, the 1st Tennessee would be surrendering.  The event was using Appomattox as the scenario.

Since we represent a western-theater company, our 1st Tennessee, which was part of Maney's brigade, was not at Appomattox.  But Turney's brigade was, and there was a second 1st Tennessee that was part of Turney's, so we bore the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, the St Andrew's Cross and Confederate Battle flag, instead of our flag, which was the Polk pattern flag.

We formed for parade, and Capt. Sharp gave the announcements.  The battle plan laid out, we were ready for fighting a skirmish we were to lose.

We were a battalion of three companies.  As flag bearer, I was attached to the 9th Kentucky, which was second company.  A consolidated company consisting mostly of the 13th Virginia was first company, and the 1st Tennessee was third company.

The 9th Kentucky started the fight as soon as a couple of Yankee scouts made an appearance, forming a skirmish line just outside the picket fence marking the edge of the battlefield.

We fought a hard battle, pushing the Yankees in skirmish, then pushed back to defeat.

We recovered our dead and wounded and marched off, awaiting for the results of General Lee's parley with General Grant.

Since the flag I bore belonged to Andy Enyart, I switched roles with him--he bearing the flag while I took his musket.

After a time, we marched back to the train depot.  Capt Sharp opened our ranks and had us ground arms.  Each company carried their own flags, and trailed them through the ranks.  Emotions were high.  This marked the epitome of what we reenacted.

The flags were brought to the front, and Capt Sharp ordered them furled, presented to the Yankees.

That evening held a dinner of barbecue chicken and pork.

Sunday morning introduced us to a deluge.  Rain flooded the camps starting around 5 am and proceeding through the seven o'clock hour.  Many of the tents were flooded inside and out.

I was among the lucky.  Instead of setting up a tent, I chose to sleep on the back porch of one of the homes.  It was well sheltered from the rain, and all my gear remained dry.

Due to the drenching rain, many of the reenactors left before the gates opened to the public.

A good number stayed, however, but there were insufficient numbers to hold a battle, so we presented a living history.

Among the scenarios that remained included Lee's surrender.  The event coordinator needed someone to portray Col. Marshall and Sgt Tucker, who were part of the surrender.  Capt Sharp asked me if I would portray Col Marshall, and gave me his coat, while Sgt Kletzli portrayed Tucker.

A narrator spoke through the script, and we, with Generals Lee and Grant walked into the home to give the impression of the signing of the surrender.  I felt a bit of emotion to go through this, even participating in a little period small-talk with the Lee impressionist.

The event was a good experience, one that enlightened us to this time of turmoil.