Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I'm not wearing my glasses

Sidney Ohio

September 17-18, 2016

After setting camp, rain threatened, but never materialized.  We hoped to have as many as 20 rifles show, but arrivals were light.  In the end, the 1st had around ten rifles plus a handful from the 13th VA and 9th KY.

The night was comfortable, interrupted by light rain and a thunderstorm.

With Capt Sharp as overall commander of a two company battalion, I had command of the 1st Tennessee.  Because of Capt Sharp's high level of involvement in the planning for the event, he was given a gator to be able to quickly travel about the park.  He got a bit of enjoyment out of riding it around, dropping off wood for all the camps, and threatened to four-wheel it through the creek around midnight.

Saturday morning brought rations in excess, and I ate a hearty breakfast, though I decided to not break my teeth on the hardtack.

After battalion parade, the other company went on patrol while members of the 1st Tennessee were assigned picket duty.

Rain arrived and soaked the grounds, and Capt Sharp had me go ahead and pull the pickets.  We heard reports of the possibility of delaying the battle, but we were able to keep to the schedule.

A few of us, including myself, put on ponchos to try to keep from getting much wetter as we went into the battle.  I tried to follow Capt Sharp's guide as I led the 1st Tennessee, but my game was off.  I did okay, but I felt like a deer staring down headlights, messing up commands and sluggish with the delivery.  We crossed the creek beside the covered bridge and made our way across the battlefield against the Yankees.  The other company soon joined us, but were in a bit of disarray as they were a consolidation of about five companies with too many NCOs. We were pushed back to the bridge, and we left the field.

With how much I felt I messed things up, I started blaming it on the fact I wasn't wearing my glasses.

The event served supper for us back in the civilian area.  The meal was a delicious and healthy serving of pulled-pork and chicken with potatoes.

When the night got dark, we marched out to the creek for a night battle.   The infantry lit up the night with barrage after barrage, with an occasional blast from artillery.  Occasionally Lt James Sturckler shouted random orders to make it sound like we had more going on, such as "Bring up the ammo wagon!"  I responded, "Ammo wagon coming forward, sir!"  It was black, and only the light from our the muzzles gave any indication of where we were.

Sunday morning we were assigned a patrol action to a ford along the creek.  We expected to encounter the enemy, so when we reached the ford, I sent Sgt Carte with a squad to scout ahead.  When they signaled us clear, I sent the rest of the company across while the first squad remained at the ready, expecting the enemy to arrive at any time.  On the far side, we set up defensive positions, then eyed over the top of the banks to find the field clear.  The Yankees must have gotten lost or something.  We followed a canal tow path down toward the Yankee camp at 10 pace intervals for a time, until we came to a bridge that a few Yankees held.  Rapidly moving each file into position on the path to fire, then vacating for the next file, we pushed our way to the bridge and took it.  The Yankees took position down a small ravine, giving us the high ground.  They continued their retreat, and we pursued them from the high ground in quickly moving skirmish lines all the way back to civilian camp.  Capt Sharp noticed that Yankee reinforcements might soon arrive, and a Union gun started to move into position, so we abandoned the pursuit and made our way back across the creek.

For the battle, the 1st Tennessee staged near the civilian camp behind the spectators.  The plan was that we would be the reinforcements into the battle.  As the battle progressed, our other company was pushed back nearly completely off the field, and Capt Sharp called us onto the field.  I ordered the 1st down at the double-quick, bringing us onto the field a mere ten feet from a lone soldier with a Henry.  After a quick foul word of shock, that soldier skedaddled off.

We pushed the Yankees back, and eventually took the field.

As we marched back to camp to end the weekend, I ordered "Right shoulder-shift".  My brain started messing things up again, and wanted to say "march", but I knew the execution was "arms"--causing it to come out "marms".  I wasn't wearing my glasses.