Guyandotte WV 2012
November 3-4, 2012
|Sgt Mergle getting carried off the battlefield. He was dropped four times.|
photo courtesy Toril Lavender For The Herald-Dispatch
Cpl Carte and I arrived early on Friday at Guyandotte WV to get settled in and kick back for the rest of the day. It was around 2 when we pulled up next to the usual spot where the 5th KY set up.
With Capt Steiner and his men nowhere to be found, we just figured we were the first of the group to arrive. But in our usual spot, another group had marked out a campsite, laying out canvas and poles to mark where the tents would go. The real kicker was the flag--there seemed to be an awful lot of stripes on that furled flag--like somewhere around thirteen. Confederate flags do not have that many stripes--only the first national has any stripes at all, and they stop at three stripes.
Something did not seem right.
Well, we went ahead and registered and asked them where the 5th Kentucky camp should set up, pointing out that the usual spot appeared taken. The coordinator in charge of Confederate camping took us out to the regular spot, and suggested a vacant lot on the other side of the house.
Seemed fine, but there was still that thing about that flag of many stripes. Pretty soon, Jonesey of the 5th KY showed up as well, and suggested we wait for the Captain. As I was not keen on the idea of relocating after unloading, I was completely agreeable to this recommendation.
In the mean time, I noticed I had lost my heal plate to one of my brogans. The plate was there at some point during our hike about the village, so it had to have fallen off somewhere nearby. Cpl Carte assisted my retracing my steps, taking a different route than I in our excursion, and fortunately came across Capt Steiner pulling into the center village square to set up camp.
Capt Steiner had been in contact with the Confederate commander and was instructed that the camping locations were switched this year--the Yankee camp was where Confederate camp was last year, while the Confederate camp was where the Yankees had camped. Or something like that. There was a severe absence of significant coats of blue, and one Yankee infantry camp set up close behind us.
It was also a bit disconcerting that the coordinators seemed to have a bit of a communication problem--after all, had Cpl Carte and I set camp in that vacant lot, we would have been camped with a part of the Yankee contingent.
Capt Steiner expressed his concerns for the event. The area, though in the heart of Huntington (Guyandotte had long since been annexed into the city of Huntington), nearly all businesses in the area were closed down. The nearest restaurant was probably over a mile away--although the two bars (one being the VFW), were certainly within easy access.
Another bad sign was the tailless black cat that crossed our path as we marched out to the Saturday battle.
The fight was not much more that a short advance and fire street fight. The colonel was putting on a show, but it was Capt Steiner that was really running the battle. There were a few Yankees there I knew--one normally a Confederate (James Sturkler), but chose to galvanize to help with the numbers. The 5th KY was the main Confederate force, and pretty much the only Confederate company as rebel numbers were down as well.
At one point during the evening, several of the 5th KY and I discussed Perryville. Since I had taken a hit before the end of the Sunday battle at Perryville, I was unaware of how battle progressed near the end, but once the Independent Guard Battalion reached the last road, I was told there was a company of federals waving us on, to get us to push them across the road and up the hill beyond, and both the 5th KY and those federals were confused as to why we never crossed the road. It had never occurred to me that the message simply had not been passed down the chain of command--at the battle walk-through that morning, we were very clearly made to understand that the road marked the end of the battle--under no condition were we to cross that road. Only the companies that had rehearsed hand-to-hand were to cross the road.
Back in Guyandotte--the organizers did provide a decent breakfast and lunch both days, but no supper, so Capt Steiner’s men all headed out to a place called “Hillbilly Hot Dogs” about five miles down the road, while Cpl Carte and I watched camp, sharing in some of his homemade chili. Capt Steiner gave such a good report of the place (particularly since he never stopped singing the “Weenie Song”), we stopped there on the way out after the event, but I think Cpl Carte and I had a better meal.
I almost always enjoy myself at an event, and Guyandotte was no exception, but I feel bad for the place--it does seem to have declined a lot in the past few years, and I am concerned it may not last much longer. We can only wait and see.
Photo Gallery at the Herald-Dispatch, Huntington WV