June 2001 Sic Semper Tyrranus Richmond, VA
Commanders ColumnI am very proud of the members that attended the recent McDowell event. You all performed as soldiers, and I appreciate it. F Company was one of the few groups that had all the members at the end, that started the event, including the groups that fell in with us. We got a chance to wear our militia uniforms and break in the new battle-shirts. The company looked great. Thanks go to the 4th NC for helping our numbers with 4 members, I missed seeing them at the COI but I guess other obligations came up. Skirmish drill was performed pretty well on Saturday, and Mr. Vice would have appreciated being in the Skirmish reserve on Sunday, though we did see a lot of action when things got hot.
Cold Harbor is coming, June 2 and 3. There will only be one cord of wood for us all to use. There will also be straw for sleeping on. Anyone going in on Friday, please try to gather some of each up for the rest of the company. Everyone needs to have their gear in camp by 0800 and ready to move by 0830. This is so we can make it to the weapons inspection time without any problems. Company cooking will occur on Sunday morning. Bring your frying pans and singles to help out with and pay for the meal. I am sure you are all wondering what happened to Saturday evening, well Mrs. Capt. Jones has agreed to bring fried chicken to us like she did a few years ago. (Mr. Ward's favorite memory of a company meal).
This is a great opportunity for us to shine, as usual, in the park's eyes and get some real drill time in. Don't let this dissuade you from attending. It is always a fun event. There should be the usual torch light tours on Saturday evening, the highlight of the weekend. Bring 20 rounds to turn in. If it is like years past, they had us turn in rounds and they were reissued for the firing programs. This will be a campaign style event this time. We will not have any demo tents for the public this time. She-bangs are encouraged. I would bring a camp stool also, just for comfort sake. There is an early war muster type event at this same weekend and JD, IVR, and 5th Battalion are suppose to be there, so this may make us the largest unit at Cold Harbor. See you all there.
Persons signed up for Cold Harbor
Capt. Jones, 1st Lt. Turley, 1st Sgt. Wilson, 2nd Sgt. Firth 1st Platoon - Cpl. Perry, Eddy, Lawrence, C. Perry, Pierce, Stafford 2nd Platoon - Cpl. Pearson, Alexander, Price, Vice 3rd Platoon - Cpl. Norman, Baird, Courson, Gregory, Hicks, Sineath.
If you are not signed up for this event and want to be, please come on out but let your platoon leader know you are coming. Persons that cannot attend, please let them know that too.
Directions to Cold Harbor. (Look for the Brown signs on the side of the road for Cold Harbor.)
From the North or West, take I-95 south toward Richmond, Take I-295 toward Norfolk. Take the second Creighton Road Exit 34 A.
From the East and South, get on I-295 North toward Washington. Take the first Creighton Road exit 34 A.
The first light is Cold Harbor Road, take a right. Go about 3 miles and the park will be on the left. We are camping at Stop 2, Confederate Turnout. Drive your stuff down there then go and park for the weekend. Parking is in the grass on the left side near the fence when you first pull into the park.
Ukrops Golden Gift Program is drawing to a close. They will be turned in on June 15th prior to the deadline of June 16th. We have received 7452 points and of these F Company will get 2 percent minus tax, of course, for a grand total of $142.35. This is, of course, free money - the company did not have to perform an event, and all we had to do was ask or put out fliers. This was our first try at this fund raising project, and will not be our last. It seems that timing is everything, like putting the fliers out after the certificates have been delivered is a big plus. Also, some minor changes will be made to the flier for next year. as a company, we will start earlier, and be better prepared to blanket the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Williamsburg area. We are up against stiff competition with this campaign: animal shelters, private schools, BSA, and other organizations. There is an untapped market of those people that just throw their certificate away. The potential is there, we all just need to work on this project as it rolls around next year, increasing awareness and getting those certificates. Next year we will be able to unleash the full fury of Mr. Alexander, Fund Raiser Extraordinaire, on this program, in addition to everything else he has planned.
New Treasurer, coming soon!
It is time to start planning for a new Treasurer. As you all know, Mr. Alexander wants to relinquish the post of Treasurer, at the end of this year, to pursue fund raising full time for the company. Guess what, this is a good thing for the company! The Company needs someone to step up and let me know they would be interested in being the company Treasurer. Now that Mr. Alexander has set it all up, it will be very easy to keep up. Persons that would be best at this are those that have a home PC, and are thrifty, and are good at cypherin'. If you want to know more about the position, just ask Mr. Alexander, he will let you know all the duties. If we dont get any candidates before the end of the year, volunteers will be selected and asked to step up.
Gettysburg Battle Reenactment is a go with plenty signed up for that event (16), however the Gettysburg Firing program later that month is looking a little sparse (6). If there is not a big influx of members wanting to attend this event, I may need to find something else to do that weekend, which would not be a problem. Don't worry those that still go will have a good home in one of the SWB companies. Let the 1st Sgt. know if you want to attend.
Muster Event, anyone?
It is getting to be that time again to think about a muster event. Gaps in the schedule, lazy days of summer and all that. Any suggestions, then we can go see Pearl Harbor, again? I am sure everyone has seen it at least once by now. Last year's was a big success, even with the little incident in the movie theater, but we wont go into that now. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
Mr. Eddys mother passed away recently, so please keep him and his family in your prayers. In addition, Mr. Wooddy was in a car crash - his police cruiser was hit from behind (with him in it), while working another car crash. Although he was not seriously injured, please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, wishing him a speedy recovery.
1st Sergeants Report
Nothing to report this month.McDowell 2001 by Private B. Baird
The May 4-6 weekend was the 139th anniversary of the 1862 battle of McDowell, Virginia, and was F Companys third time there. I usually travel on my own to reenactments because I have so much stuff that can come in handy in my truck already. However, this time, I went along with Captain Jones, Lieutenant Turley, and Private Courson. This made for an enjoyable trip, both going and returning, with camaraderie and good conversation. We met First Sergeant Wilson in Staunton Friday evening, had dinner at The Cracker Barrel, and then drove on to McDowell, armed with extra biscuits and cornbread muffins for the weekend.
After registering and obtaining our passes, we marched across the bridge over the Bullpasture River to find our camp and Private and arsonist extraordinaire Pearson, who had arrived that afternoon with a contingent from the 4th North Carolina and the 8th Virginia, who were falling in with us to round out our company, so we would not be thrown in with a company possibly not to our liking. Although it was dark by then, we knew that our quest would be easy -- simply look for the largest bonfire, er, campfire. There it was, the fifth on the left down the road by the river. We set up camp, and built some nice she-bangs. An F Company first was the inclusion of Private "Al," short for Alyssa, from the 8th Virginia. Unlike some female reenactors, however, Private Al actually had short hair and did not appear out of place.
The next morning, the schedule called for the Confederates to take breakfast at 7:00 am at the Volunteer Fire Department back across the river and be back by 8:00 at which time the town was supposed to be occupied by the yanks. Not surprisingly then, at 7:00 we marched the opposite direction --farther down river from our camp -- and had a uniform inspection to ensure that no mid- or late-war impressions were to be found. Those of us who had militia uniforms wore them. Several had ordered battle shirts from First Sergeant Wilsons mother-in-law and wore those. Others from the 4th North Carolina and 8th Virginia who were deficient were loaned extra battle shirts First Sergeant Wilson had for a cleaning fee. By that time, it was after 8:00. The more compliant among us began to resign themselves to not having breakfast. As for myself, my intent was to have breakfast whether the Yanks liked it or not. After all, I may not have live rounds, but I do have a real bayonet! Fortunately, common sense prevailed and our time was extended to 9:00.
On our way, we lightened our load by putting our heavies into the vehicles. Upon returning from a breakfast of biscuits and sausage gravy, donuts, orange juice, and coffee, it was time to open the camps to the public for living history tours. Unfortunately, due to the fact that we would not be in the same place for Saturday night, our nice she-bangs had been taken down. Three of us volunteered to do guard detail for an hour and make sure that those leaving camp had passes and jackets, although this changed in mid-stream to passes and no jackets. The latter made better sense since those going to town would appear as civilians among the Yanks rather than Confederates freely moving among them.
Prior to the change, one Major Petty attempted to leave camp without benefit of either pass or jacket, informing us with some indignancy of his rank and his intention to go to town to "take a s--t." After some discussion, we allowed Major Petty to pass, although it would have been assumed that one of his rank would have understood and followed the rules. As he left, I was very tempted to call out after him that I hoped he did not think we were being petty about his going to the potty, but I resisted the temptation.
At mid-day, we formed up and crossed the river on a rickety bridge made only of logs piled lengthwise across the river. Our objective was to meet the Yanks in the river flood plain on the other side for battle. This engagement allowed those who like to burn powder to do so to their hearts content, and most certainly impressed the numerous spectators gathered there. We would advance and the Federals would fall back. Then they would advance and we would fall back into the woods by the river. Being fully satisfied with several repetitions of this scenario, I took a hit and proceeded to watch the rest of the battle from the field. At that time, the Yanks had advanced and our forces had retreated into the woods again. After a while when I began to wonder where our forces had gone, the Yanks began to retreat in defeat from the field apparently frightened at the thought of what the Confederates back in the woods must have been planning for them. I believe, however, that this Confederate victory was slightly different from that of the original McDowell battle.
The next order of the day was Dress Parade, followed by a good dinner of Brunswick stew, cornbread, and rice pudding provided by the town. After dinner, and having pushed back the Yanks, it was the Confederates turn to occupy the town, and we found places to put down our bedrolls in the sideyard of one of the houses there. Someone from one of the other units had started a small campfire and we used that to heat water to clean muskets.
Although it had been more or less overcast that day, it appeared that the sky was darkening even more. Private Swenson of the 4th North Carolina had wisely put his bedroll down not next to the rest of us, but beside the porch of the house in the event of precipitation. Being aware of the potential for rain, I followed his good example, and the rest of the unit did so shortly thereafter. As a small drop or two of rain fell, our brave boys quickly occupied the porch, although it was clear that there were too many of us. Fortunately, we had been made aware that the Ruritan building and two churches were available, so, just as quickly, we commandeered a church two doors down from the house, and laid down our bedrolls over the carpeted floor. We will keep this option open next time!
At the unheard-of hour of 4:30 am, Captain Jones ordered the company up. We marched to the vehicles and deposited our heavies, and then proceeded to a staging area where Confederates, one truckload at a time, were being ferried to a trailhead about a half-mile down the road. This was to prevent our being run over while hiking along the highway in the dark. By daybreak, we were all assembled at the trailhead and proceeded to hike a sufficient distance to climb some 900 feet in elevation. Many of us learned about the concept of "false summits" as we made our way to the top. As we plodded along, it would appear that the hill before us was the top, giving us the encouragement to trudge on a little more. Yet, as that one was rounded, yet another would appear just as much higher just as much farther away. This caused not a little disappointment among the troops.
Although the column was ordered to stop and rest from time to time, by the time the end of the column had closed up and stopped we were ordered to move again, not giving those in the rear much of a break. I myself, being in superior condition arising from frequent sprints from the couch to the refrigerator and back again, had no problem making it to the top of the mountain, other than having unbuttoned my coat and still being entirely drenched in sweat. By contrast, Lieutenant Turley performed his duties in the most exemplary manner. He walked so entirely straight and poised that one would have suspected he had attended finishing school and learned to walk with a book balanced on his head. His coat remained entirely buttoned, and not a drop of sweat was noted upon his brow the entire way. Could he in fact be an alien? Private Al, being a competition cyclist, did well also.
However, the brisk pace led some to drop out and return to town to do "guard duty." In retrospect, it would have been a lot better to have slowed the pace down and had more people continue. That the rush was unnecessary became apparent as, upon reaching the summit, we were told that we would be there "a good, long while," so we would make fires, breakfast, coffee, and etc. The hike apparently had taken a far greater toll on Private Pearson that one would have suspected, as he did not so much as build even a small campfire. Desiring to heat up water for my morning cup of coffee, I headed toward the largest of the several small campfires now going, and asked if I could borrow a portion of the fire for my cup. As this turned out to be Major Pettys unit, I was glad that I had restrained my comment the day before!
After a good, long while, we rose and proceeded over a small knoll and down the other side of the mountain to encounter what must be some of the finest views rivaling any other in them thar hills. We were support to the skirmishers in front of us as we proceeded down the mountain. Two years ago at McDowell, we had been driven half-way up a mountain and had to hike the rest of the way to camp in a field by a house from which we proceeded down the next morning. I had suspected that this year we were hiking to the same place from the opposite side of the mountain, but this time all in the same morning. This was confirmed when the house we had camped by before came into view far below us.
We made our way down steep, rocky slopes barely able to keep from stumbling as leaders of other units were ordering the double quick! Finally, we reached the road and began driving back the Federals. Four of us were ordered to cross the road at a bend. On doing so, a large contingent of Federals was noted just ahead prompting us to find our way into the ditch beside the road in good order. In doing so, Lieutenant Turley got a small amount of dirt on his uniform, another F Company first. Eventually we moved into a field and then crossed the river on foot. Reenactors often demand the immersion experience and this was it. The Federals were eventually driven through the town to the large field where we had had the previous days battle. There they stayed without further retreat, sending a message asking for terms of a cease-fire. Again, this was somewhat at variance with the original McDowell battle.
All were invited to remain for living history in the town followed by a chicken dinner. However, with wet boots and just having endured a lengthy hike up one side of a mountain and down the other, we elected to hike just a little farther to our vehicle, change clothes, and head out. On the way, we stopped and visited the Confederate Fort Johnson on a mountaintop along Route 250 a few miles east of McDowell. All in all, it had been a good event and a good weekend.
Ft. Pocahontas has potential!
Friday I packed up the mess gear, cleaning box, a shovel, and axe and went off to Ft. Pocahontas. I arrived at registration prior to dark. There were three people there, two working the table and another just hanging around. It was small and unassuming. I registered and got an envelope with information, a trash bag and a small metal commemorative pin. It was pretty good looking and well made.
I made my way down to the fort. I noticed participant parking on the left as I went in, everything was marked pretty clearly with small, unobtrusive signs. I drove right into the fort and hung a right, remembering the map. Not far down the path was Cpl. Pearson, she-bang already set up and working on straightening out the camp. We unloaded the company equipment and set to finishing up the camp. I whipped up a she-bang with my new rope and twine and I was set for the weekend. Cpl. Pearson and I rode back to the parking and then walked through the sutlers. There was not a lot to select from, however Cpl. Pearson showed me his free five-dollar candle. We settled back in camp and got a fire started. We sat by the fire with the stars gleaming, laughing and talking, as the cars zoomed through the fort to set up their tent city. There was one set of artillery people that could not decide whether to set up on one side or the other of us with or without running us over. Cpl. Perry and Mr. Perry arrived shortly after this and unloaded their she-bang and such. We settled in for a good night and about 2230, Mr. Ward came waltzing into camp. He regaled us of his hour and a half, self guided tour of the fort, in full campaign gear. Oh yeah, there was also a secondary tour back to the registration tent to look at the map. He was really ready to find us went he arrived. Mr. Ward also gave us the weather and mosquito report and touted how nice it was out and that it would not rain that night. We sat up a little longer gazing at the stars and enjoying the sounds of the river and then turned in for the night. That is when it hit, the rains came down and then the mosquitoes kamakazied into our ears. A cool breeze kicked up and things got better. The mosquito attacks died off and rain let up to just the dripping out of the trees sometime during the night. The breeze was just enough for the blanket to be over your head and most slept comfortably for the night. Cpl. Pearson, kept the fire going all night, there were points where I was sure my poncho and ground cloth would be melted and sealed together, though they did not. We all surely learned the value of a good she-bang, and the difference, fore-thought and good planning can mean to staying dry on a rainy weekend.
The morning came and it was a beautiful, with a light, cool breeze. Cpl. Perry had some of his homemade North Carolina sausages and (handmade) biscuits, thanks to him for that repast. A few more were added to our number, Lt. Turley, 2nd Sgt. Firth. We had the magnificent seven once again. We were not the smallest company but we sure were not the largest. We formed for as the last company in the regiment for the morning parade. The parade went ok, but it was not nearly as formal as we are use to with Jackson's Division, but we made do. The rest of the morning was filled with gathering wood and putting up she-bangs. Our camp looked great and was in a great spot, luckily, the tent city did not encroach on us too much. The battle time was approaching. We formed up and moved into a position in the woods to assault the fort. We were sent to be skirmishers on the far left of the fort. There was not a whole lot of cover so laying down and firing was called for. Since we do not use this very much the men were not very proficient at it. They needed to be as low as possible and they did it better than anyone else on the field. We moved up and then back and held. The main attack was on our right and it went off in the usual fashion. I noticed that the companies in my front wanted to move up and flank the main attack. I was not going to let that happen, My small company held two federal companies in place on our left, my magnificent seven made the regiment proud. After the engagement, I was specifically told that the 21st did a great job and we looked really good at the skirmish drill. After things were settled down, we toured the fort a little bit and walked down to the river. It was a pleasant sight with a pier that jutted into the river in a nice clearing and a small beach. We sat and enjoyed watching the river ambling by while the osprey flew all about, wishing we had brought fishing poles. After getting back to camp I went to find out what the deal was with dinner, where, when and how. I found out and also learned that they had run out of food last year. I specifically was not going to let that happen to my men. Around 1700 we moved off for the beach and the pier where we had been earlier that day. We had found a shortcut road that dropped us in front of another group that had left a little earlier than us. I reconnoitered the area and had a plan. The men moved toward the road but I held them back in the shade closest to the newly placed tables ready to spring at the first sign of food. As we laid in wait, others started gathering in mass to make the rush forward. I noted this and drove my men out of the shadows into the front of the skirmish, winning the day and still staying in the shade. The line formed to our rear, Lt. Turley and Cpl. Pearson were cut off in the heat of battle, but I ordered them to the front with the rest of the company and we waited for the final assault. All the food had arrived, many of my men offered to help but it was refused. I had to hold some of them back from helping since it is just in their nature. The time for the final assault was at hand and I was the first into the breech. Like the Forlorn Hope, we poured into the breach and took no prisoners. We then sat on the pier and had a nice meal, laughing and joking then entire time. After we were done eating, the line was still up the road and almost out of sight. I always take care of my men! We met the grandson of President Tyler, our host for the weekend. He was a kindly older gentleman, wanting to make sure we all were having a good time. Later on we moved leisurely back to camp, walking along the beach and throwing stones in the water, remembering and wishing to be kids again.
Back in camp we had dessert, a watermelon I had brought. It was good and sweet, just enough to top off the evening so we could settle down for the night. Mr. Ward once again regaled us with his weather forecast and mosquito report. Once again it came true, yet this time in a different order, mosquitoes first, then the rains came. A precursor to the rains was the lightening and thunder off in the distance. I just knew it was going to come through right on top of us, so Lt. Turley and I set off to check out the only structure on the site. It was an in-progress museum building that was open. It would provide some protection from the lightening, which was the only thing I was worried about. The light show went on for about an hour, as we counted and tried to decide if the storm was coming or going. Lt. Turley moved into the museum anyway, just in case. The storm never really got any closer than 24 seconds by Cpl. Pearson's count. Feeling a little better I snuggled down into my she-bang and did not worry about it, however, I did tell him to wake me if the sound got any closer than 12 seconds, if he was still awake. I slept through the night. I woke up a little early and took over the fire watch for Cpl. Pearson and he got probably a solid 40 minutes of sleep before we formed up for the morning tactical.
We formed up on Sunday morning and were off. The battalion's number greatly diminished due to the rain. We moved over hill and dell to get to another point where we could attack the fort without being seen until it was too late. We came to an opening in the forest and there was the road and the fort just beyond. It got hot all of a sudden with a company running up the road to our right and left. We had moved forward and split them in half. I took F Company to the right and pushed them up the road and back into the fort. They took up positions to pour fire down on us, however we were in a covered area of the road and they did not have much to shoot at. We were in skirmish order again keeping their heads down. They had trouble with wet powder and fouled muskets, I am glad we cleaned ours the night before. The 3rd company that had taken the federal company that ran to the left had dispatched them (sailors and marines) pretty quickly and rejoined us. We hatched a plan to get the 3rd company into the fort while we kept the occupying federals heads down. 3rd ran down the trench in front of the fort wall as we kept the defenders heads down and made it into the fort and gave chase. The federals were captured and paroled pretty quickly. While this was going on F Company took up positions on the inside of the fort waiting for the main attack. We were not hopeful since we had only seen a couple of companies here and there. Our main body was searching for their main force. We had a little fun with a few federal artillery men that had run off like scared chickens as we approached. They took pot shots at us with their six shooters and we gave them what for with a few muskets at a time. Mr. Ward shined at this, he was shooting heavier loads than usually and his back was shining too. Mr. Ward was going for a new look this weekend, his shirt had ripped in the back and was almost down to a halter top with sleeves, as some of the men noted. The insults started back and forth started in good humor, of course. We held this position till we finally had an attack from the rear which was stopped by an attack to their rear by our main force, with all of them captured. After waiting a little while we had given up that there would be no main attack due to the lack of federal enthusiasm. We found the Federal commander later and it was rumored that he had been woken up by us firing our unspent rounds into the air as we left.
Time for breakfast. This was the meal I had planned for the company. It was a full spread, meat, eggs, bread, blockade run oranges and the topper, milk from one of the local cows. By the time we had gotten back to camp and got it cooked it was more of a brunch but it was still really good. Mr. Courson and Mr. Gregory had joined us by then, making us one of the larger companies. The rain had driven off a few of the Confederates also, but none in F Company. If we could have ended the weekend right there it would have been one of the better events I had attended.
We formed up for the afternoon battle. The scenario was set about 15 minutes prior to the battle and fell apart right away. Needless to say, we moved out in skirmish order again from the fort, got captured, got exchanged, got left out, thank goodness. We were going to be the company that flanked the main federal charge, but they could not get it together and it did not happen. We sat on the side watching the sideshow. Once that was over we cleared weapons and left the for the parking lot. Mr. Ward had a watermelon on ice since Friday. It was very good and we ate till we were full. The men stated they could have done without the last battle but loved the site and would give it another try. Mr. Gregory made a good point. Gregory's rule Number 28, (at battle reenactments) "we are not here to educate, we are here to entertain the public." That is well taken, it was also said that if good soldiers don't go to the supposed "Farbfests" then nothing will ever change. This was not as bad as some but this event has huge potential. The site was incredible, the view of the James River wonderful and there was not a lot of modern day impediments about. Another good thing about this event, all the money raised goes to the site, no Federal or State money is accepted. It was a great time with good friends of F Company and I would like to attend this one again.