Monday, October 3, 2011

Walking Through Time

Auckerman Creek, Eaton Ohio, October 1-2, 2011

When I first arrived at Auckerman Creek, near Eaton, Ohio, I began to wonder if there would be anyone I knew there—or at least if there would be anyone there.  One tent from the Indian River Regulators was set up, but no one was there.  An old Rev War friend—Mike Thompson was there, at least.  I knew Cpl Jeff Carte was on his way, but there was no one to tell me where to set up, so I set up where we were last year.

The weather Saturday reminded me of last year—cold and windy.  At least there was no rain.  And without Pvt Steve Winston to build our fire pit, the job of starting the fire fell to the first one up.  We had dug the pit the night before, but since it was just the two of us, we saw little point in starting the fire, and instead hung out with the Rev War guys until we turned in.  Since I was the first up Saturday morning, I did my best to start the fire.  I have not yet gotten some flint and steel (though I think that will be on my shopping list for Hartford City next week), so I disgraced Winston and soaked some paper with rubbing alcohol and tried to light a match to it.  But that wind was so high it kept blowing out my match before I could get the alcohol lit.  I wish it had occurred to me to steal some hot coals from the Rev War camp.  I finally won the battle with the wind when I switched to using a lighter.

Sgt Shaw had to bail due to illness, so we did not have the wind break like last year.  Capt Evens was there, but as a Regulator, so Carte and I teamed up against Evens and another Regulator for some Euchre.

The other Confederate Unit that we had last year—I think it was the 27th Virginia—did not show up, except for one, so any hope of any kind of Civil War thing was pretty much gone.  Jeff and I did our best—but there was not much in the way of crowds.  Like last year, there was an antique auction.   But unlike last year, there was some very slim pickings.  Nothing at all caught my interest.  It was odd seeing the Virginia reenactor wheel off an old scooter to his car.

Pvt Tim Elifrit was there as well, but since he reenacts about five different eras, he chose the one with the best guns, attending as a WWII British Commando.  There were rumors that Lt. JR Sharp would be there as a Russian paratrooper, but he never made it.  Well, with so few reenactors present, we at least got extra helpings of Elifrit’s wife’s superb cupcakes.

We made an odd attempt at a battle, with Evens using an old pump-action shotgun, Carte and I with our muskets, and I wielding  my 1860 Remmington pistol, Elifrit tried out three different machine guns, and Rob Applegate, a WWII reenactor doing a  German soldier bit.  I am not really sure who was on who’s side, but Carte and I were not much of a match with our three rounds a minute to the WWII guys and their 500 rounds a minute.

I had brought all my reenacting gear—and I do mean all—to try the chameleon thing that Elifrit had done last year.  I started the day in my normal Confederate private gear, switching to my Captain’s garb (like I did for last week’s ball), then switching to Yankee.  Even tried on an old coat I had used for the few times I had done some Wild West stuff at the Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville.  It was kind of silly fun, but it wore off before I got to my old Rev War gear—I thought I might switch to that Sunday.

The event did provide an excellent Saturday supper, with pulled pork, barbecue beef, bean soup, pies of various kinds, and cider.  Somehow we had missed out on this last year.  Carte and I had talked of running to Eaton for food, unaware that supper would be provided, so we were very pleasantly surprised.

Sunday’s weather was much more pleasant—a perfect 50 to 60 degree temperature for wool with only a light breeze, and sunshine.  But then the even set up a demonstrator next to our camp that made me decide to put my first thumbs down on an event since I started this blog.  I have always said that it will take a lot for an event to make me disappointed in it.  Sunbury came close this year, but I still enjoyed it.  In fact, the only event I have ever encountered before now that I would call a disaster would be the last time the Granville Ohio event was held (the food there was so bad, it has become legend).  But when Auckerman Creek had an artisan set up next to us who made his art with a chainsaw, and demonstrated his work by running that chainsaw most of the day, I was about as disappointed as possible.  Had it not been for us able to sit with the WWII reenactors some distance from the chainsaw, I would have packed my gear and left by noon.  There would be breaks, but the chainsaw was so noisy, Carte and I were chased out of our own camp.  The only saving grace was that the event coordinator did acknowledge this issue as we were leaving at the end of the day and said she would try to locate him elsewhere next year.

We did try more with a Sunday battle, but Evens only came for Saturday, so the Nazi ganged up with us against the British commando.   Not much of a battle, as the two of us would do company volleys while the machine guns rat-a-tat tatted away.

I never tried on my Rev War gear—instead opting to sell it to the guys at the Rev War camp.  I was never so glad to be rid of it.  It had been hanging around in storage for four years or so, and I was never going to be wearing it.  I am not sure if I sold it for anything close to what I had paid for it, but I did get a good amount of spending cash for Hartford City.

As we packed our gear, the event coordinator asked about the 1st Tennessee, and when she found out we like battles, she said that next year they might try to get something like that going for us—which I took to mean that we might have some Yankees to shoot instead.  I did not have the heart to tell her that our plans for next year are to go to Perryville, which I hope will be on this first weekend in October to avoid conflicting with Hartford City.

To be honest, had the event coordinator not acknowledged the issue with the chainsaw, I had decided I would never return.  But I am an easy guy.  The respect of that simple acknowledgement was enough that I would be willing to give Auckerman Creek another try—so long as an event like Perryville did not conflict.   Since Perryville is a national event, and one that the 1st Tennessee was actually at during the Civil War, and since 2012 is the 150th year since that battle, it is unlikely we would pass that up.

There were other things that worked against Auckerman Creek.  There was the weather and lack of reenactors and crowds. But I have also done a long string of back-to-back events.  I have done every weekend since the last weekend in August, and I still have one next week.  I do not recommend that for anyone.  I may be addicted to wool and blackpowder, but I still need a break from that for the real world once in a while.  It would be much better if there were more events early in the year and less late.  By April and May I am itching to get back into wool, but I have found that with such and long string, and now the weather starting to get cold, I am starting wear.

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