March 2003 Sic Semper Tyrranus Richmond, VACommanders Column
First things first. Dues need to be received by March 15 and they are set at $45.00. Please send your check right away to the Company PO Box 6583 Richmond, VA 23230.
As you all know the company has divested its tenting interest, selling them to the members of the company and the company will not provide tents at the COI. This means that you will have to provide your own period shelter (A Frame, dog tent, or she-bang) or become fast friends with someone that has a tent. If you have a company tent you can bring it, if you don’t you may want to try your hand at a she-bang, this is strongly encouraged. We will still have a military camp with a tent line. As always bring whatever you need to sleep warm, comfortable, and dry since the COI is about serious learning not being hardcore. Tired soldiers do not learn as well as well rested soldiers. Please plan to arrive on Friday during the day to help unload the wood and straw. We will go into town to have dinner at Namaws on Business 360, the place we ate after the Sayler’s Creek Death March and Tsunami, at 1800 on Friday.
Thanks to Mr. Allen, we have a place to go to for our COI. Just to set all your expectations, it is not devoid of all modern day items; however we will gladly make this work. There is a lot of room that is high and dry for camping, drilling and a place to shoot. There is already a permanent bathroom on site so Mr. Vice does not need to bring his special made throne. The cost for potential recruits and others to attend our COI is $25.00. The paperwork must also be filled out, Waiver of Liability and the Medical Information sheet. Directions are attached. Pictures of the site on in the Photo Gallery.
Specifics on the COI
Bring what you need to keep Warm and Dry - sleeping bags, blankets, long underwear, woolies, poncho whatever it takes, you need to be prepared, it is March in Virginia. It could be 80 degrees; then again it could be 20. We will just have to see. Bring it all just in case, it is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. For the new men, bring some kind of hat to keep the sun or rain off.
Bring a Canteen. If you do not have a company approved one or have not purchased it yet, you can bring a modern canteen that can be strapped to your body somehow. You will need water while we are out drilling. We have some in inventory right now.
Haversack. You need something to carry your food in that can also be strapped to your body. We will be eating out of our haversacks on Saturday noontime and Sunday noontime. You need to bring the food you want to eat for these meals. Saturday breakfast and supper along with breakfast on Sunday morning will be provided. Company members bring one-dollar bills (exact change) to pay for your share of the meals. Invited guests, your meals are part of your attendance fee. When packing food for the weekend, be practical about this, for the new people contact your platoon leader for ideas.
Eating utensils. If you do not have a plate, cup, fork, knife or spoon you better let your platoon leader know that too. You will need something to eat off of. There are usually a few extras in the company but don’t count on it, call. Also, we have some in inventory to sell.
Musket, accoutrements, and other equipment. If you do not have anything, you need to let your platoon leader know, now, what you need so that he can go through the membership and have some extra stuff available for you.
Be prepared to learn how to be a soldier. Safety is a large part of what we teach. No one wants to get hurt out there. So pay attention, and have a good time.
Blank Rounds will be used for Sunday Skirmish Drill and loading and firing while lying down. Do not put them in your cartridge box until Sunday; we would not want them confused with live rounds.
We need 6 staple guns for hanging targets. If you can bring one, make sure that it is full of staples. You should also be sure that it is clearly labeled with your name, so that you can be sure that you leave with the same number of staple guns as that with which you arrived
If you have a campstool, you can bring it too. It is nice to have somewhere to sit other than the ground.
Muskets will be inspected on Saturday morning for cleanliness and serviceability.
Make sure it is clean prior to the COI. Wipe the oil out of the barrel, and make sure the vent is clear by removing the nipple. You can do this Saturday morning prior to formation; however, I suggest that you do this at home prior to leaving for the COI. Your musket has to be clean, clear, and ready to fire. A few days without oil in the barrel will not destroy your musket. We have had a few fouled weapons in the past, and it just takes away from your and our training time. Sometimes the culprit was oil, and sometimes it was not thoroughly cleaned from the season before. If you think it is clean now, you better make sure it is clean then too.
After reading all this some think, "Well, I will just rush out and get all that stuff I need and I won’t have to borrow it." Rushing into something is not what you want to do. This hobby is expensive enough without rushing out, purchasing substandard items, and trying to use them. Everyone has a Soldier Handbook or New Member kit. Everything is laid out in there on what items are acceptable. Do not try to pull a fast one. Things that are worth doing are worth doing right the first time. This will also save you a lot of heartache when it does not meet the Company’s standards. Sure, it may be an original piece, documented all over the place, that is all well and good, but if it is not in our standards we do not want to see it. Sure, there are plenty of things out there that are correct, period and true to the Civil War, however, we have selected a standard list of items and are adhering to that list. This is one of the things that make us different from other groups - it gives us a uniform, military look. Sure, there are small nuances here and there, but still the general look remains a soldier of the Army of Northern Virginia that was supplied out of the Richmond quartermaster and depot system.
New Recruit News
As all of you know Mr. Ward has officially come back to F Company as a member. We also have gotten another new member from the web page, a new Mr. Perry. Mr. Wilson has brought him along and will be working with him to guide him into the company. Speaking of Recruiting, we are all recruiters. Word of mouth is still the best method of bringing new men into the group. Fliers were passed out at the meeting and there will be more at the COI. From some trial and error we have found that some merchants are reluctant to give up space for a foam core board and seem to not have any problems with the regular 8.5x11 fliers. Also, we need to take advantage of the new movie that is playing Gods and Generals, striking while the iron is hot. Movie theaters are now on the list. This event may cause a ground sell of reenacting in general and we have a real opportunity to pick up some good men.
Events signup sheets are due back to the 1st Sgt right away. We need to know what the company will attend and the sooner you get that back to him, the sooner we can start making plans.
For those that missed the meeting you missed one of the most productive times during the season for company business. Many things were accomplished and lots of good information was passed along. Mr. Stafford has served the company for many years as the Quartermaster Clerk. He came to me and stated that he wanted to let someone else have this responsibility. I put it to the members at the meeting and Mr. Ward along with Mr. Gammon have taken it up. The transfer of the company salable goods will occur at the COI. Mr. Stafford has done a great job keeping our inventory in top shape and I have appreciated all the work he has done. I expect nothing less from both Mr. Ward and Mr. Gammon. I am sure they will do a great job.
The other news at the meeting is that I will be retiring as Captain after this year. My 5 years as commander have been a joy most times and a burden at others. It is a time for change in the company and I need to move on. My children are getting older and they need me more and more for events and I want to be there for them. As most of you know they just grow up too fast and I am not going to miss it. Spending more time for them means I have to spend less time for something else. This reduced time would cause the Company to suffer, and I do not want to decrease the standard, prestige, or reputation of the unit. As I have told you all more than once, the behind the scenes work that must go on is what makes this company great and has everything prepared for each event. The Executive Committee has approached who we felt were the best candidates for the job and we are awaiting their reply. The Executive Committee will work with the best candidate on preparing him for the job in advance to ensure the company does not miss a step.
I appreciate what many of you have done in stepping up in the organization to take on some of the duties that make this company run as well as it does, and I do thank you all for that. This organization, as we have created, is not built around one person. The smooth transition of the commander will validate how we have created this company for the good of all and my end of my tenure as Captain. Next year I will remain, in effect, a consultant to the new Captain and the Executive Committee. In the future I will continue to be a member of the company and attend a few events here and there. This will allow me to spend time with my family and not do as much behind the scenes between events.
February 22nd has now come and gone. Thanks to all who attended. Those unable to be there have the opportunity to get the update via this edition of the newsletter.
Dues for 2003 are $45 which are do to the treasurer by 3/15/03 to remain in good standing. Mail to:
F-Company PO Box 6583 Richmond, VA 23230.
Great News!!! The Minstrel Show is on and anyone who would like to participate, or who can play an instrument, please contact me, see the roster for contact information. It will be historically correct. See ya soon
1st Lt.’s Report
By the time you read this, the Annual Meeting will be over. Thanks to all that attended. After a long and harsh winter, I am looking forward to another season of reenacting. Attendance last year was great. Let’s try to do the same this upcoming year.
I would like to welcome our newest member, Mr. Perry from Falls Church, VA. I am sure everyone will do their part in helping him to get settled into F-Company.
Now is the time to get your gear in shape by making needed repairs and replacements. I look forward to seeing everyone at the Camp of Instruction.
Camp of Instruction
March 28th-30th are the next dates that you need to be aware of for our 2003 C.O.I.
From the North – Take I-95 South to exit 79 stay in the left lane and take I-195 South. Go through the toll booth (50 cent) and take I-76 South, go through the next toll booth (75 cents). Take the second I-288 exit toward Amelia. Take the next exit for Rt. 360 towards Amelia. Now stay on Rt. 360 to Amelia. Take the 360 Business exit and take a left at the bottom. See the attached map. Now go through Amelia till you see Otterburn Road on the left. It will run into Rt. 38 follow it till you see a sign for Tom Scott Park on the right.
From the East and South – Take I-95 North, around Petersburg take 460 West. Take a right on Rt. 153 North, till you run into Rt. 38 on the left. Go about 5 miles and Tom Scott Park will be on the left.
From the West – Take Rt. 460 towards Richmond. Take Rt. 307 to Amelia. Once on 360 Take 360 Business for Amelia. Look for Otterburn on the right when you get near Amelia proper. It will run into Rt. 38 follow it till you see a sign for Tom Scott Park on the right. (See Map attachment file.)
Recruits Still Needed
As proposed at the Annual Meeting, now is a prime time to reach out and touch a possible new recruit. With the release of Gods and Generals, there will be a renewed spark to those enthusiasts who have thought about this hobby and how to get involved in it. Everyone needs to make a strong effort to look for the good men out there wishing to join a great unit. Please take advantage of the flyers that have been provided to get our name out there to the public.
From The Secret Diaries Of Private Gregory
“You might want to dig the latrines downstream, it might make the coffee sweeter” “How do you like your coffee Colonel”-William Holden in the Horse Soldiers
“Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, where thou shall go forth abroad: And thou shall have a paddle upon thy weapon: and it shall be when thou ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and thou shalt turn back, and cover that which cometh from thee”.-Deut. 22:12-13
Late last year I did a living history presentation at a local school. The uniforms, accoutrements and period food fascinated the children. Then came the questions. One of the first was “How did you go to the bathroom?”
Before you laugh, remember that this is a subject of great importance to a young child. So, in order to give you a little background should you be asked this question the following is offered.
One of the great accomplishments of the modern era has been the introduction of public sanitation for the protection of the citizen’s health. Water flush toilets were available prior to the Revolution, but only the wealthy could afford them. American cities lacked sewers and treatment facilities. The first effort in modern times to construct sewers was the passage of the Public Health Act in London in 1841. American cities would have to wait until after the Civil War for these improvements. Prior to this, American cities and farms were noisome, malodorous, pestholes. So it should come as no surprise that the “bathroom habits” of Antebellum Americans were somewhat lacking.
The general run (no pun intended) of camp sanitation left much to be desired. The only troops that regularly observed camp sanitation practices were U.S. regulars. Army regulations called for latrines or “sinks, to be dug at least 100 yards from the farthest line of the camp. What the regulations called for and what they actually did are two different things.
The volunteers found it too much trouble to travel so far to use the sinks so they would use a convenient patch of brush or trees to do their business. Many men also found it quite discomforting to use such an obvious place.
Letters home mentioned the disgusting conditions of the camps and bivouacs they were forced to endure. One veteran from Longstreet’s corps recalled his brigade stopping for the night in a field previously used by another division as a campsite. Despite the darkness the men were extremely careful where they spread their blankets. In a letter home he stated, “I can’t tell you what we slept in, but it didn’t smell like peaches.”
It was hard to enforce the camp sanitation regulations concerning the disposal of both human and animal waste. The volunteer officers were reluctant to punish men for violating camp policy. Failure to follow regulations led to contamination of water supplies, which would lead to dysentery, which made further problems.
In Customs of the Service by Augustus Kautz; Kautz quotes Dr Hall of the Sanitary Commission as giving the following advice. “Inattention to nature’s calls is frequent source of disease. The strictest discipline in the performance of these duties is absolutely essential to health as well as decency. Men should never be allowed to void their excrement elsewhere than the well-established sinks. In well regulated camps the sinks are visited daily by a police party and a layer of earth and lime or other disinfecting agents be used…”
In an outstanding reference book which covers the devastating impact which humans can have on a local environment; Kathleen Meyer, states that it takes up to two years for even small amounts of human waste to decompose. During this time the decomposing waste is spreading bacteria such as Giardia into the water table. Giardia is a serious intestinal infection that might be more familiar by its other name; “Montezuma’s Revenge.”
Imagine the impact an army of 70,000 to 100,000 men must have had on the local eco-system.
Improper disposal of human waste has another drawback besides contaminating water supplies. Insects such as flies spread contamination rapidly through a camp You not only have to consider human waste, horses, of which the army had plenty generate enormous amounts of manure. Can you guess where that fly that is now crawling on your plate was just a few minutes ago?
Although ignorant of the correlation between proper camp sanitation and disease control, those units that took care to observe proper camp discipline suffered noticeably less so than in units that were lax about enforcement of regulations.
After tiptoeing around the earlier question; standard question number two came up. That question was whether soldiers had lice. After some thought on this subject I came to the conclusion that the reason we were asked that question is because school age children are extremely familiar with lice and wanted to know if it was a problem in the civil war.
One of the common universal experiences of “the boys of 61” in either blue or gray was body lice. Almost every account of the period mentioned infestations of lice. I have postulated from the evidence available to us that American’s of the ante-bellum period were not up to today’s standards in personal cleanliness, therefore body lice must have been a common occurrence.
When you read from period “practical advice” health manuals or pamphlets they are virtually silent on the subject. We can infer from our reading that since they were ashamed and mortified when they discovered an infestation it must have been a familiar experience, but one that was not talked about.
We can also conclude from these readings that an infestation of lice was considered a social disaster. In his memoirs Andrew McKim recalled that the first member of his mess who became infested was called a hog and made to leave the mess.
Lacking today’s modern insecticides, the only way soldiers had to get rid of them was by grooming themselves. The soldiers of both sides called it “skirmishing” or “nitting”. This would consist of removing clothing, spreading it out and removing the individual lice from clothing seams and the body. Very fine-toothed lice combs were used to remove nits and eggs from the hair. The fact that lice combs were common indicates that there was a great deal of familiarity with nit hunting.
One period account that tells us a little something about a pre-war familiarity with lice is by Wilbur Hinman. Although writing a fictional story, Hinman was a veteran of the entire war and used his experiences to make up the characters in his book. The new men of the 200th Indiana came down with lice after camping in an area previously inhabited by veterans and the main character Si Klegg is baffled by a strange insects he finds crawling on him.
Pre-war infestations may have been more prevalent depending upon your environment. Crowded conditions in cities and the increased potential for contact with someone who has an infestation would be more likely for a city dweller than a rural dweller. An English visitor to New Orleans recounted how infestations of lice and fleas were common.
According to many veterans lice or “cooties” were a universal experience. The amount of infestation would depend upon the personal cleanliness habits of the individual. Conditions would be different for soldiers on garrison as opposed to those on active campaign.
Besides lice, soldiers in the field endured the depredations of fleas and ticks. More so than lice, ticks are vectors of a great number of viral fevers. It is established that as units spent longer times on campaign their numbers were reduced by disease. With the inability of medical science to accurately determine what type of disease much less the source, it is probable that tick borne diseases unknowingly brought down a great many men.
One insect that a study of the antebellum period shows frequent mention of is the lowly bedbug. Travelers mentioned staying in inns and finding themselves the targets of bedbugs. Bedbugs unlike other parasitic insects do not attach themselves to the host. Taking infested bedding to new areas spreads them.
Lieutenant Arthur Goodloe, Company D, Thirty-fifth Alabama best summed up the field conditions that soldiers faced:
To do full duty in the ranks, especially in the infantry, it was simply impossible for us to be altogether free from dirt and vermin, with the best pains we could take. To be sure there were some soldiers who were not as careful of cleanliness, in person and clothing, as they might have been; and yet, when we consider that there were thousands...who were without a change of garments, and remember that we constantly marched through dust and mud, or were transported in dirty cars, and slept almost constantly on the ground, the utter futility of their undertaking to be free from dirt and vermin, in any effectual sense, is but too obvious. With all the washing that could be done (and we were frequently where we could scarcely get a sufficient supply of drinking water) and all the care that could otherwise be taken of garments and persons, there was the barest possibility oftentimes of an approach to cleanliness.
Bettmann, Otto L., Dr. The Good Old Days--They Were Terrible! Random House Press New York 1974
Larkin, Jack The Expansion of Everyday Life, 1860-1876 Harper Perennial, Reprint edition New York November 1989
McCutcheon, Marc Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians Writers Digest Books March 2001
Sutherland, Daniel E. The Expansion of Everyday Life,1860-1876 University of Arkansas Press, Little Rock April 2000
Varhola, Michael J. Everyday Life During the Civil War: A Guide for Writers, Students and Historians (Everyday Life Series)
Writers Digest Books March 2001
 McKim, Andrew -Diary of An Old Johnnie
 Wilbur Hinman- Si Klegg and His Pard
Notes from the Editor
Captain Jones’s notification to the members of his desire to step down was foreseen by some and surprising to others, but nonetheless, it was very emotional for all present at the Annual Meeting. Informing you of this decision through the Newsletter does not give justice to the moment. If it weren’t for the Captain, I may never have joined the 21st. For that and many countless reasons I say thank you and will surely make your last year at the helm memorable.
As Mr. Alexander stated, we will have a minstrel show, and a stage to perform on as well. I will be present with my harmonica and guitar. I understand there will be other period instruments.
I wish to thank Mr. Gregory for his continued secret diary entries. Not only are they insightful and educational, but they are very entertaining as well.
Ms. Dottie’s knee surgery went very well, and her time for therapy and healing has begun. Her thanks goes out to all members of F-Company for taking care of Pvt. Schirmer. She knows that he’ll always be safe amongst us. That’s for sure. As Corporal and Member at Large, I make it my point to stay on top of all safety issues and take care of all of the men (rain or shine).
Private Talbert has officially announced to his family and I share this with his other family in Grey of his engagement to be married. I’ll let him share all the details at the C.O.I.
I have another grandson due in June, so I figure by the time I’m almost 70 years young, I’ll have seven more recruits that will call me either Corporal or Corporal Gramps.
The Beard contest has begun. I’ve set the bar. Now, let’s see who are the real men. Watch out Generals A.P. Hill and James Longstreet.
Unit Event Information
After the C.O.I. on March 28-30, there are two events likely for April that I need to mention in this newsletter to give you some advance notice if you plan to attend. April 6th will have the Richmond Confederate Heritage Parade, which is sponsored by the Virginia SCV. This is a one day event. It is my understanding that the exact time and starting point has not been determined as of yet. The route will be 2 and 1/2 miles and, at this time, concludes at Hollywood Cemetery with artillery and musket salutes. This is being discussed and the itinerary may alter slightly, as do most things in the military, but Mike Kendrick is coordinating this event, so I will personally contact all members to pinpoint the times and location and parking arrangements so you will not be left in the dark. Your editor plans on being there. So please try and make an effort to attend this if you have the day free. Mr. Ward attended this in 1996 and mentioned how much he thoroughly enjoyed the parade and also plans on attending with all from F-Company wishing to show their Southern Pride.
On April 26th, Richmond Civil War Days will be honored and held at Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond. Last year, we elected not to attend, but Mr. Perry, Mr. Perry, Mr. Pierce, and myself were there to represent our unit. This year we may have a larger contingency should anyone wish to share this one day Living History event. There will be some drill and manual of arms for the visiting public. More than likely, we will not need to bring rounds. They usually ask for volunteers for the brief firing demonstration. This is a good opportunity to talk to the public and scope out any possible new recruits. Those of you who live the closest, please help to support those who drive the farthest.
Battle of McDowell is scheduled for May 3-4th. This has always been a premier event that occurs every other year. For new members and veterans alike, this is an event you don’t want to miss. It’s unique, demanding, and unforgettable. I will put a more detailed write up on McDowell in April’s newsletter, but mark this one on your calendar.
I look forward to the COI and all that comes with it. Get out the WD40 because whatever rust you have in your memory banks in regards to military training will be tested, tested again, and then one more time for good measure before the season gets underway. Remember, I love drill, I love marching, I love skirmish...uggh
Sailor’s Creek, as I understand it, will not occur this year, but please be informed that Cedar Creek will be on our schedule of events to vote on. Cedar Creek is on Oct. 18-19.
On May 31-June 1, Cold Harbor Living History will be an annual event that F-Company observes. For those of you who cry for drill, but enjoy some relaxing camp life, this is a great event. The most strenuous part of this weekend will be the marching from Camp to the Visitors’ Center where all of our firing programs will be held. The major highlight for the visitors is always the Saturday evening torchlight walking tours.
Of course, the talk of the town for 2003 is:
Mega-events can have 10 times the people we’re use to and ten times the problems, but it will also have ten times the memories, so make sure you’re hydrated for this hot one, and remain patient. There’s also a ten times the chance of getting lost among the acres of soldiers. As this event comes closer to reality, I will keep my thinking cap on and try to make it easier for you all to find our camp.
As everyone finishes up their 2003 Event Worksheet and sends them in ASAP, this will finalize F-Co.’s schedule for the entire season. As I requested before, please make your voice heard and send in those worksheets.
With the unknown current events that may affect all of us, consider the buddy system in traveling to events to keep your expenses down to a minimum. Fuel is gold these days. Ride together whenever possible.