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The month of July is going to be busy for the company w/the 155th anniversary of Malvern Hill (1-2 Jun) sponsored by the National Park Service on the battle site; the Bull Run Winery event at Manassas, VA (9 Jun); and finally the Fort Clean-up Day (22 Jul). This is a lengthy newsletter w/a great deal of information you need for upcoming events.
I would like to thank everyone who attended the “On to Richmond” event at Endview Plantation the weekend of 2-4 June. F Company attendance was excellent with ten out of eleven people having signed up actually coming to the event, with the eleventh one having to work. I fully expected to fall in as a private but decided to at least show up as a Captain. I was running a little late so by the time I got there everyone had already taken the field for morning parade and drill. I set about trying to find F Company and was able to do so without any problem. I introduced myself to the commander of the unit to which we had been assigned. He told me he had no problem with us operating as two separate units which was an unexpected but pleasant surprise. He had F Company members fallout from his unit so we could drill on our own. However, upon completion of drill and on returning to camp I was told that our Colonel had expressed his desire that we stay together as one big unit. So I decided I would act more as a lieutenant and just stay in the background which was fine with me.
The afternoon battle was your “hurry up and wait” and let’s follow the scripted scenario (or not?) type of battle. But I will let you get the rundown from those in the rank so as not to be jaded from an old-timer’s point of view. However, in my ever to be humble opinion the real highlight of the event was the dusk battle on Saturday evening. As the sun was setting and we were firing from within the tree line you could see the silhouettes of the Yankees against the sky. Finally we advanced up the hill into a charge and we overtook the Yankees with many of them surrendering and inverting their muskets. You don’t see that very often as a Confederate reenactor.
Early Sunday morning we were up before dawn in anticipation of some rumored action/fighting at the nearby Lee Hall Mansion. We were actually transported to the mansion in some new fangled, enclosed, horseless carriages (i.e.: buses) which were not very conducive to soldiers in full gear, but we made do. Also, I had been told that I was to serve as Captain for the Sunday battles. Yea!
After another break in the action we decided to attack once again. We made several attempts to roust the Yankees from their defenses but to no avail. We took devastating casualties until finally and mercifully the battle was called.
Now for the month of July the unit has two activities scheduled. Both of them are living histories and they are consecutive weekends. The first is at Malvern Hill just outside Richmond running from Friday, 30 June to Sunday, 2 July. The second is at the Bull Run Winery in Manassas right next to the battlefield. It is a Sunday only event. Both events involve demonstrations for the public so we will be firing our muskets. The Winery event may even involve a short battle. I will leave it to the 1st Sergeant to give you the particulars of each event.
That’s it for me. Thanks to everyone for supporting the unit. I will see you all at Malvern Hill and Bull Run.
With kindest regards
On to Richmond (2-4 Jun 2017)- This campaigner event held at Endview Plantation near Yorktown, VA, proved to be pretty much as advertised, that is, a real 155th anniversary of the Peninsula Campaign. I arrived on Fri afternoon along w/Mark Riemer and Bob Gorgone. Registration was a breeze and then we sought out our campsite w/the Palmetto Battalion of the Southern Division. We located a good spot which looked big enough for our ten troops attending; gathered in firewood; built up a small fire and prepared our bivouac for the night. By later in the evening we had seven of our participants in camp. A short visit to the sutlers found that I didn’t really didn’t need anything. We were off to dinner at a local’s seafood joint which Greg Hanson had located for us on the beach at Yorktown. It proved to be an excellent spot and I certainly enjoyed my fried oysters, but especially after our Recruit Steve Adams paid for everyone’s dinner! A more than generous act on his part!
We were up first thing the next morning and formed up w/the Palmetto Bn for morning dress parade and memorial ceremony for Jeff Stepp of the Carolina Legion. It was warm, but w/low humidity. Drill followed for the battalion as the other three members of our co arrived. As we approached the afternoon action we re-filled our canteens and partook of some haversack rations for this spectator event. We made an approach march thru the woods across low ground and went into reserve. As the Federal and Confederate battle action seesawed back and forth, we were moved into a hidden location to attack the Federals in their flank. Coming out of the wood line we hit them in the flank and then wheeled into action for continued fighting. As the fighting concluded we pulled back for a rest and then marched back to camp. A dusk event for participants only was planned for 1730 hours to give everyone a rest, but then was delayed until 1915, all of which was voluntary on our part. Several co members participated and had a “bang up time” since this was not a scripted action, but free form. Our F Co participants returned well after dark and managed to get some sleep before the next day’s action.
Up bright and early we stirred up the fire, boiled up coffee and rations, and exercised “water discipline” as water was in short supply. We boarded buses in the Endview Plantation parking lot for movement to Lee Hall Mansion for the morning’s action. Upon unloading we had access to a large water tanker truck which finally resolved our water issue. Stacking arms in a shady spot, the battalion awaited our call to arms which was not long in coming. We moved across the field engaging Federal skirmishers thru a narrow wood line where we took up position and continued firing on the retreating Federals. The Federals reinforcing their lines, we then advanced pushing them back w/casualties. This seesaw action finally culminated in the retreat of the Federals. Moving into action again we then drove the retreating Federals all the way back to the Lee Hall Mansion where the fighting ended. Reloading the buses we then moved back to Endview Plantation and loading up for the return trip home.
Battle scenarios went pretty much as planned while logistics suffered to a certain degree, but w/rationing our wood and controlling our water intake we survived. As our recruits learned you can survive w/o a whole bunch of camp equipage when you decide to leave the 21st century behind!
I will leave the comments on camping site and Saturday am actions to others. I want to share my experiences of the “Dusk” attack.
First I wish to thank Steven, Nick and Tony for deciding to turn out for the evening scenario, especially Steven who coaxed me into attending. He was steadfast in wanting to participate and I was not going to let him down, no matter how concerned about water and cleaning weapons in the dark I might have been. The 4 of us fell in with our compatriots from South Carolina, led by a reluctant captain (not Tony) who I believe had hoped we were all too tired from earlier activities and heat, not to mention the lack of water availability that we faced. Undeterred, we waited for orders to move out but they continued to be delayed and it was getting dark fast. I was concerned how we would find our way and my fears were enhanced as we were ordered to advance by company front through densely wooded area. We could hear firing from the Plantation that was held by Yankees on the other side of the woods. Maneuvering was difficult but we were guided to our position which was to hold a small bridge as we saw the yanks atop the ridge arriving to block our anticipated charge from the woods. Firing got heavy and I guess neither side wanted to expose themselves from cover. Nick and I continued a rapid pace of firing that I am sure discouraged any Yankee advance. We both felt that the order for us to charge would come at any time but it never did. Our officers urged the men to keep up the firing to the point we needed to move cartridges from our lower tins. Still both sides continued to pound away, neither side with any clear advantage. With light falling all you could see were muzzle flashes and the smell of heavy smoke. If it had been drier weather we surely would have set the woods on fire. Finally, the word came but it was to withdraw, much to the disappointment of the men, back through the woods until we reached a small clearing, all the while expecting a Union charge, but none came. The officers or generals must have known something for soon we were sent from our right flank to the left, again through heavy woods and by now even darker. We finally reached the bottom of the hill on our left flank with only a small Union force in our front. We could feel the order coming as we prepared to push those “people” off the hill and turn the Union flank. Just as we started to move up, my pard, Nick was struck by a Minnie ball and languished in pain but up the hill we went. At that exact moment, the yanks moved off to our left and a gap was created between two buildings in front of us. Without looking back we pushed forward, I finding myself in the lead, and being encouraged by our officers to press the opening that had been created. Just as I reached the top a few yanks appeared from the behind the building on our right and for a moment seemed as if they would try and hold. But our officers keep pushing us forward, giving the yanks no time to regroup. At that moment, amongst the smoke, firing and din of battle an almost calmness or surreal moment occurred. The yanks fell back forming a small circle not knowing what to do. The company was pressing them from the front but they must have been cut off as they were unable to retreat further. Just then the captain looked at me and said, “Go get yourself a prisoner”. With what must have been one big old grin, on my face. I ran forward grabbed a hold of a blue coat, looked back at our advancing company and said, “Hey fellas, I got me a big one”. The yank fully complied with my leading him from the fray as we moved together to the ground we had just advanced over. The fight was over, my pard was down, but we had stopped the Union advance “On to Richmond” just like Marse Robert had asked us, a few hours before.
This is a spring time event so weather could bring rain showers, so make sure you have ponchos and/or use of shelter halves for bivouacking purposes, however, temperatures should be moderate, but bring two blankets just in case.
Malvern Hill (1-2 Jul 2017)- This 155th anniversary event is being held by the Richmond Natn. Battlefield, National Park Service on the original battle site. We are being joined by members of the 1st SC, 12th VA and our friends from the 57th VA for this event. Water, firewood and porta johns will be provided on site.
There’s no sign-up fee for this event, so come on out! CS firing programs are slated for 1200 and 1400 hours on Sat and 1300 hours on Sun. All personnel need to be present on site by 0800 on Sat for NPS weapons inspection w/site opening to public at 0900.
Weapons Inspection/Ammunition- This is an NPS event so we must follow their firearms and ammunition requirements. Plan on 40 rounds of ammunition and 60 percussion caps. This ammunition must be brought in either a plastic bag or paper bag w/your name on it for turn-in. DO NOT bring your blank rounds in your cartridge box or percussion caps in cap pouch as these must be empty each morning during the weapons inspection, and yes make sure your musket is clean for Sat morning inspection, and you have cleaning materials for Sat night.
Bivouac Site- This is one event where a dog tent is recommended due to the lack of shade and planned hot weather. Bring your own tent or make plans w/mess mate to use.
Winery at Bull Run (Sunday, 9 Jul 2017)- This is a very different event from our usual activities, but the membership finds it to be fun, and a great opportunity to overcome all the misconceptions harbored about Rebs in America today! Recommend you arrive NLT 0900 hours. Parking for troops is in the field we used last year for camp area, that is, as you enter Winery look for parking area to your left. We will be falling in w/the Stonewall Brigade, event, and are a well organized functioning unit. Plan on several drill demonstrations and an afternoon skirmish w/the Federals, plus a great deal of public interaction from the Winery customers. Recommend 40 rounds of blank ammunition along w/caps.
You need your musket and bayonet along w/accoutrements, haversack and canteen. Rations are up to you.
Location- GPS address is 15950 Lee Hwy., Centerville, VA 20120. General Directions- From I-64 take Exit 47 thru Manassas National Battlefield Park to Hwy 29 (Lee Hwy), turn right and look for Winery sign within next two miles on the left.
Fort Clean-Up Day (Sat, 22 Jul 2017)-This will be a general clean-up to insure the general maintenance of the Fort. Need to arrive by 0900 w/everything being accomplished by 1200. While it will be warm, plan on long pants and boots due to ticks along w/work gloves as we will be doing brush clearing. You need to bring your own water along w/any snacks you may want, but we’ll be done by lunch time. Useful tools include machetes, shovels, heavy rakes and hoes, bow saws and pruners, axes and hatchets, brush hooks, pick mattocks, and heavy pruning hook and loppers. A wheelbarrow would be useful for collecting cut brush. Request that Greg Hanson bring his leaf blower w/fuel so we can insure the interior of Fort is cleared out.
Michael L. Vice
1st SGT, F Co,
21st VA Infantry
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