Monday, August 11, 2014

Unending upon the Day

Hale Farm

Bath, Ohio

August 9-10, 2014

It was a rough ride to Hale Farm Friday evening.  I had gotten lazy and trusted the voice recognition of my smart phone when I spoke the location into the navigation.  It was the correct direction out of Columbus, so it must have been correct.  But when I passed the exit onto the I-80 Turnpike, I knew something was wrong.  I checked the GPS out, and somehow it decided to direct me to a William Tricker Inc on Tanglewood Dr in Cleveland.  How it got that out of “Hale Farm, Bath Ohio,” I’ll never know.  I’m beginning to think that Google is trying to take over the world by slowly directing us to drive into a lake—one-by-one.

I wasn’t able to get off early from work, so it was near nightfall when I finally arrived.  Last year, when I was with the 4th OVI, the Yankees were in the village, so I assumed the 1st TN would be setting up camp in the village this year.  But when I reached the deep part of the village, near the church, and ran into Capt Boham of the 4th, I thought there was some kind of mistake—but then realized I was surrounded by Yankees.  Ah—so it seems it’s an arbitrary thing as to where each side camps.  I made my way to the Confederate camp—with Col Bob Minton ribbing me for getting lost as I passed him.

I finally found the 1st Tennessee Camp, thanks to the help of Capt Sharp as he called me on my phone to direct me when he saw me driving up and down past them.  The camp was a bit out-of-the-way, in a wooded area.  The road was mud and a bit risky to take a car through, so I was left to carry my gear in.  Fortunately, I was going pretty light, having left my car packed from Greenville, so I only had a few trips.  I probably could have reduced the trips if I had packed my knapsack properly—but life has its way of keeping one from getting things done.

It was dark by the time my shebang was up, and I still had a pile of gear and blankets to sort through, but I managed to throw together a makeshift sleeping area.

Saturday morning held an early start as we formed up to attack the Yankees in their camp for a tactical.  The original start was scheduled for 6 am, but the Yankees, apparently needing some extra rest, requested the time be pushed back to 8 am.

Col Medich, as overall Confederate commander, split the battalion into two groups.  The 1st Tennessee was part of the vanguard group that attacked the village from the far east side, waiting until the sound of the second group’s gunfire on the west side to attack.   We encountered the Yankees at the edge of the village, fog hiding our and their numbers, neither of us able to push against the other.  Lt. Col Van Wey finally realized that success would come if we only held them—we were against about two-thirds the Yankee force, but our main force was pushing through the village to reinforce us.  By merely keeping the bulk of the Yankee force busy, our victory was ensured.

Formation for drill came at 10 am.  We maneuvered through some challenging drills, then went into a cavalry demonstration where we formed a square to guard against cavalry, and the 6th Ohio Cavalry charged around us, providing quite a thrill.

Back to camp for a short break, and we formed again for an artillery demonstration.  The plan was simple.  Three guns, three sections to the battalion.  The 1st Tennessee as the 4th company and the 5th company would all go down at once when the left gun fired, and the rest of the battalion going down in similar fashion.

We exited the woods and began our advance against the battery.  We marched forward at the half-step, to give the guns plenty of time to load and fire.  The advance continued—and continued—we began to wonder if they would fire.  We finally crested the last hill before reaching the guns—right at the edge of the safety zone.  We fired a few volleys to keep from looking too overly stupid, and continued to wait.  Was it a misfire?  Finally, the left gun fired—we wasted no time and hit the ground.  Shortly after, the next gun, and finally the last.

But in the time it took for those guns to fire—we would have captured and turned them if this were a real battle.

We resurrected, returned to the woods, only to turn around and head back out to start the afternoon battle.  We split into two groups, with the right wing heading up into the village to hold back the Yankees while us on the left wing fought the Yankees in the field.

The ground was a bit uneven, there were holes in places we had to be very careful about—some were deep enough to take a leg off.  It was enough of a problem that I would suggest the coordinators take effort to deal with it for next year—before someone gets hurt.

The Yankees came out of the woods against us, and we fired a round or two, when suddenly there was a call for a medic.

What most of the spectators aren’t aware of is that when there is a call for a medic—the battle stops.  Major Bill “Pork Pie” Adams was in charge of our wing, and he sent a runner to the Yankees who were oblivious of the situation—to have the halt the battle while EMTs arrived.

It turned out two of the artillery crew passed out from the heat.   Perhaps that explained the poor firing capability of the cannons.

After a delay, the battle finally started.  We formed up in plain view of the Yankees and proceeded to fire upon them.

The battle finally ended with us routed.

Afterward we heard complaints from the Yankees that they couldn’t shoot at us because they couldn’t see us.  The crest of the hill we were on obscured us from the Yankees.

How did the Confederacy lose the war?

Pay call was to be about an hour after the battle.  We waited for over an hour and nothing.  I got a good sleep, but pay call never came.  We returned to camp.

Sunday morning had a bit of a later start as there was no tactical.  I needed to get the rations for the company, but they were not available as the bacon was locked.  The rations did arrive shortly before drill, which gave us insufficient time to cook it, but we were able to get the food started, and while we drilled, the ladies finished the cooking.  Upon our return, most of the food was ready.  The eggs were all that was left, so I quickly scrambled them.  The food was abundant—and we couldn’t finish it all.

Another attempt at Pay Call was made—and we waited.  It finally came to twenty minutes before we’d form for battle, so we returned to camp.

At this point I ran into my brother and six-year old nephew.  We didn’t have much time together, but it was good to see him.  I think I managed to give him enough a taste of reenacting that he might try it out next year.

The battle started and we made a point of advancing far enough for the Yankees to be able to see us.  No point in making them think they were shooting at nothing but blackpowder smoke.

There was a lot of kneeling and rising as we battered down the Yanks.  The 1st TN finally broke off to the left to flank the Yankees, but they outnumbered us.  We held while we could, but the Yankees pushed down upon us.

The weekend was a busy one—and a terrific time.  The schedule was too tight to do regularly, but the occasional event with a heavy schedule is good to have.  Hale Farm is definitely among the best events in Ohio.

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