Monday, August 10, 2015

The Curse of the Captain's Coat

Hale Farm

Bath Ohio

August 8-9, 2015

Courtesy Brittany Wellman

Heavy rains accompanied every event where Capt Sharp's new officer's frock was present, including Spring Drill, Sharon Woods, and Ohio Village.  This coincidental harrowing weather left the company to believe that the coat was cursed.  The men offered to donate the cost of the coat if the rains returned for Hale Farm, so that it could be burned in the campfire.

The captain brevetted me to lieutenant for the weekend as we gathered at Hale Farm and Village in Bath Ohio.  1st Sgt Kletzli was unable to attend due to injury, leaving Sgt Jeff Carte to take his place.  I arrived to see Sgt Carte setting the camp, along with Pvt Jon Farrelly.

Trisha Carte identified a perfect location for our campfire--a group of dead stumps.  Pvt Farrelly started to dig a bit of a pit when he noticed a some yellow jackets flying around.  Before he knew it, an entire swarm was gathering around and some started to sting.

As the rest of us received stings, except for Sgt Carte who had stepped away, we realized that the only way we would get a campfire was to spray down the now-exposed ground next with bug spray, after the nest settled enough for us to get close.
Courtesy Brittany Wellman

Once sprayed down and fire blazing on the nest, the rest of the company arrived, giving us about 15 rifles for Saturday.

I slept on the ground in my A, and late into the night the air grew cold, making it difficult to sleep without getting a chill.

Saturday held a tight, though dynamic schedule.  We formed for parade with Medich Battalion, aligning as fourth company, after which we broke to shortly reform for battle, but the battle was delayed.

After the morning battle, we marched out for the cavalry demonstration, where we would form a square and defend against cavalry.  We marched out to the field, only to learn the cavalry had unsaddled their horses and tied them up to cool, so we marched back to camp.

Rations were issued and we scrambled to get lunch together, saving the rations for Sunday and gathering food we brought, for we had less than an hour to form for the afternoon battle.

The sun disappeared to an overcast day, and reports of a thunderstorm in Toledo gave us fear that the curse of the Captain's coat was upon us.  The battle progressed, and we were pushed back.  We lost half our company and Capt. Sharp took a hit, leaving me in charge.  We fell back to a fence line, and the 1st TN survivors got split up as we found positions along the fence to defend ourselves.  There wasn't much for me to do other than run to each of the spread out men and ensure they kept firing.  It wasn't long and the Union cavalry flanked us to the rear, completely surrounding our forces, leaving us no choice but to surrender.  All that remained of the 1st TN at this point was Chad Cochran, brevetted to corporal for the weekend, and I.  We were taken prisoner and escorted off the field, where I turned to Cpl Cochran and told him, "We are the fourth company."

The rains held off, at least, so there was promise that the curse of the Captain's coat might have lost some of its power.

Before we broke back to camps, the Sgt Major asked for volunteers for night guard watch.  Bvt Cpl Andy Enyart volunteered for the 4 to 6 am shift.

For supper, our ladies cooked up an excellent meal.

Later, Lt. Col. Greg Van Wey gathered Medich Battalion together for a "Town Hall" meeting.  There, Capt Sharp told about the 2016 Perryville event to garner interest, but then we had to leave for a meeting with the Ohio Village Yankee commanders to discuss a bit for an after-action report and plans for the 2016 Ohio Village.
Courtesy Hale Farm and Village

I crashed a little early, lying down in my tent with my legs still sticking out, waking hours later in the dark of night, unable to get warm.  After struggling to warm up for an hour, I relocated my gum and wool blankets next to the campfire.

The Sunday schedule was immediately blown with reveille coming a half hour later than originally scheduled.

1st Sergeant's call came at 7 am at the Sgt Major's call.  Upon Sgt Carte's return, he immediately called first call.  Most of the 1st Tennessee was still asleep, so we struggled to get everyone up and awake and geared-up.

Someone got the weather report and it looked like there would be rain in the afternoon, about the time of the battle.  We feared that the curse of the Captain's coat might still hold, and discussed the plans for burning the coat.

We marched out to a ceremony for Col Nick Medich.  This was his last event as the leader of Medich Battalion as command was transferred to Col Greg Van Wey.  The Yankee brigade joined the ceremony as all of us passed in review.

We returned to camp and given a short break, then reformed to present the Appomattox surrender scenario.  We waited--apparently the Yankees were on a different schedule--then marched out and waited some more.  And then we were marched back to camp.

Finally our schedule synced up with the Yankees and we marched up to the Hale House and made our surrender, dropping our packs and weapons, and signing and returning home.

Courtesy Hale Farm and Village
We had about an hour break before we had to reform for battle, though we had a bit more waiting as our schedule seemed a bit off again.

We were marched to the far side of the battlefield to advance down upon the Yankee formations.  After a fashion, the Yankees pushed us back, and the numbers of the 1st Tennessee steadily declined.

Capt. Sharp took a hit, and Sgt Carte announced, "Captain down," telling me that I was now in command.  I checked on the captain, since the battalion was not moving at the moment, then took the captain's position.

We were pushed back further.  Capt Sharp struggled up and wandered the field like a dazed and confused injured soldier, going down upon a volley from the Yankees.  Sgt Carte told me, "He likes to be such an actor."

We were pushed back to the fence, before we finally finished the battle.  We then returned to camp, where we were released.

And with that, not a drop of rain touching us, the curse of the Captain's coat was broken.

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