2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003 - 2002
Sailor's Creek Battlefield State Park, Virginia
April 5-7, 2002
“The Death of an Event”
Participating Unit: U.S. Marine Detachment, Washington
Sailor’s Creek has always been one of those events that
usually happen every five years, near the anniversary of the battle.
This year, the event was held to raise money for the Park.
For those of you who are unaware of the events that unfolded there in
1865, Petersburg has fallen, Richmond has fallen, and Lee is attempting to get
the remainder of the Army of Northern Virginia into North Carolina in an attempt
to join forces with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army.
The Confederates fought a rear guard action there.
This is the battle where Tucker’s Naval Battalion fought so bravely,
holding up an entire Union Brigade for over 30 minutes.
The Event at Sailor’s Creek featured a tactical on the
original site, and two “reenactments” of the battle that was fought there.
As this is an event were Confederate Navy/Marine forces shine, we have
always attempted to support the event. I
am sad to report that we will never return to Sailor’s Creek.
While the event staff was very friendly, the State Park
staff went out of their way to be downright rude. Apparently there is a burn ban (no fires between 6:00 AM and
4:00 PM) at Virginia state parks. With
nighttime temperatures in the mid 20 degree range, a cup of hot coffee would
have been well received. At 6:15
AM, a State Park Ranger drove up and informed the Federal camp that all fires
must be put out now. Word was later
passed that if the Ranger saw even smoke coming from an extinguished fire, every
man, woman and child on that company street would be fined $85.00 each and they
would be evicted from the park.
Later that day, a very level headed re-enactor, who happens
to be a very high priced Philadelphia lawyer, left his weapon and leathers with
his pard, crossed under the spectator line to purchase a hot dog and a cup of
coffee. He was met by our friend
the ranger, and was told that he was in violation of park rules and he must
immediately return to his unit. If
he failed to do so, he would be arrested.
It would appear that the Park Rangers do not want this event to ever happen again. The treatment of the re-enactors made that point pretty clear.
Shiloh National Park
April 6-7, 2002
Participating unit: USNLP
For anyone who enjoys talking naval history with the crowds, this was an event to go to. Unfortunately, due to problems involving distance and money, it proved impossible to move the unit en masse to the site. Ultimately, we managed to send only a single officer -- historically this works out to about the correct ratio in relation to the number of Army reenactors! The National Park Service bent over backwards to help in any way they could, even going so far as to buy some of the lumber needed for the tent so it wouldn’t have to be shipped. As this was the very first time they had ever had a naval reenactor on site, they were a little unsure what to do. Instead of burying me in the Army camps that were set up down near the demonstration areas, I was invited to set up anywhere I wanted on the expansive lawn in front of the visitors’ center – which is also just across the street from the book store and the national cemetery, meaning that anyone who went to these places also stopped at my little camp. The USNLP flag – a copy of Admiral Dupont’s 1864 design – was prominently displayed and visible from the road and the center.
Set up was on Friday night and "business" opened at 7:45a.m. on Saturday. The Park counted over 10,000 people in the park that day; I know I did not speak to all of them, but I had only a single 3-minute break when there was nobody around the tent fly. The spectators were very receptive to everything I had to say, since the naval perspective was totally new to them. Sometimes I would go on for twenty minutes or so and choose which topics to discuss and other times I’d invite them to ask questions about the weapons and tools I had brought with me. It was nine solid hours of talking.
Sunday morning was a later start at 9:30 and the day ended (for me) at 2:15 because I had to pack up and head for Nashville to catch an airplane. The NPS was very impressed with the performance and said that people kept coming into the Visitors’ Center and commenting on the naval presentation. The Navy played a very major role in this battle and the park is now very receptive to any future involvement by naval units. An excellent event with wonderful support from the NPS.
The Battle of Plymouth
April 19-21, 2002
Participating unit: Tidewater Maritime Living History Association
The Tidewater Maritime Living History Association had the
honor of representing the crew of the USS MIAMI at this year’s Battle for
Plymouth reenactment. Although the event is small by some standards we had
approximately 250 reenactors and living historians representing about a dozen
groups participating this year. We had 6 quality sutlers present to fill
the last minute needs of the participants. The weather started a bit damp
on Friday evening, but cleared Saturday morning to a beautiful day. We (TMLHA)
had the opportunity to take the museum’s Lug and do battle with newly launched
CSS ALBEMARLE (replica). The folks at Plymouth can be rightly proud of the
job done by the builders of replica of the Albemarle, she is really beautiful
out on the river. Although only started last September, they’ve done a
beautiful job of getting all the little details right.
|The staff and coordinators went the extra mile to insure the event participants had all they needed for the weekend. And they’ve added a new attraction this year, a fashion show was put on by the event participants, which included both male and female as well as civilian and military clothing. It was MC’ed by our own ship’s surgeon “Doc” Connolly and coordinated by our Ladies Auxiliary. We were proud to be of service to the event. Another must see is the Torchlight Tour, which is done in the evening by candlelight, thru the historic sections of town, including the old cemetery. If you have not been to Plymouth NC, you’ve missed a pleasant experience, in a place full of history. The event staff and coordinators are very pleasant to work with and wish only to present the public with as accurate a scenario as they can. All the participants we met were outgoing and a pleasure to be around. You’ll find us at Plymouth next year for this event.|
Grant's Tomb National Park
New York, NY
April 27, 2002
Participating unit: USNLP
This is a small living history event held on the grounds of Grant’s Tomb on Riverside Drive in New York City. It was hosted by the National Park Service and ran from 9-4p.m. During that time we spoke with several hundred interested spectators as they prowled through the camp and visited the tomb. Despite being in an urban environment, the setting where we were encamped behind the tomb was open woodland atop a small bluff overlooking the Hudson River. The Park Service was very accommodating and demonstrably appreciative that we were there. A very good and attentive crowd with a lot of "repeat customers" who visited the Navy tent several times in the course of the day.
Hammonassett State Park
May 3-5, 2002
Participating units: Topographical Engineers, USNLP, Societé d’Europe
Elements of the unit arrived on-site on Thursday, 3rd May, in preparation for the annual “swarming” of Connecticut school children that takes place on the Friday before this event. In years past, their numbers approached 1,500; it is a very unnerving sight to watch the long row of yellow buses disgorge scores of children who then spread amoeba-like across the field towards the various stations of reenactors, (e.g., headquarters, medical, infantry, artillery, etc). This year the count reached an all-time high of 1,538 students while the number of reenactors who could make it was lower than usual. From the USNLP, only Chief Kuchera was present for the tour; other NMLHA members were Jim Mathews of the Topo Engineers and Paul Raffenello of the Societé d’Europe. The Chief reported that the tours were as challenging this year as they are every year, but that everything ultimately came off without a hitch. The remainder of those USNLP members who would take part in the event proper arrived on Friday afternoon and set up camp. We had a very good site along one of the main access roads from the parking lot to the camp and so enjoyed being 1) distinct from the Army units and 2) the first tents that people encountered. Although our numbers were few this year – five sailors as opposed to nine last year – we nonetheless enjoyed a prominent and highly-visible position on the field through the good offices of fellow NMLHA officer Jim Mathews – who laid out the camps and designed the battle scenario. It’s good to have friends in high places! The event was visited by 2,742 spectators, several hundred of which came by our camp to talk history. Hammonassett is enjoying a rebirth after showing signs of a decline in years past; the number of participating reenactors was at 870 this year This is due in large part to a change in coordinators and also to the efforts of the Union commander, Mark Adler, who encourages new ideas for campsites (it’s a very large park) and battle scenarios from his officers. These efforts are bearing fruit, as evidenced by an increase in the number of spectators as well as the number of reenactors who attend the event. [Note: This AAR was supplied by the USNLP.]
North Attleboro, MA
May 10, 2002
Participating units: Topographical Engineers, USNLP
This is a typical school talk event that has grown in popularity in the five years we have done it. We divided into three stations: USN (Chuck Veit), Topogs (Jim Mathews), and Infantry (USMC Corporal Fred Blandin, who agreed to "go gray" for the day to give the kids some history from the "other" perspective). Each of the five periods of students (about 30-40) was divided into three and guided by Lori Veit (who also fielded questions about cooking and dress); we had fifteen minutes with a group before "time" was called and the kids changed stations. This makes for an incredibly exhausting day, by the end of which each of us had given our talk fifteen times! Although never a bad experience, this year's crop of students seemed especially interested and attentive. Several complained of having to leave when they had more questions. A very good event -- several potential recruits from among the local police officers and history teachers, and a possible new source of inexpensive boarding pikes and axes as the result of talking with another Heritage Day participant, the blacksmith.
I arrived on site in North Attleboro, MA at 7:40 A.M., and set up my fly and demo. tables. I included in my display a recent map set of the event at Hammonasset, a model of a two pier bridge, a model of a signal tower, a model of a topographical map, several examples of period field instrumentation and a display of handguns used in the period. The gun display, I have found very effective in keeping the interest of those school children (and adults) which may not be interested in field mapping and survey.
I had been invited to take part in this school event by the the Naval Landing Party of which I am a member. This was the fifth straight year (my third year) and the Civil War part of this school's "Heritage Day" is reckoned very popular by those teachers who administer such.
We had three five groups of students visit the site in the morning, each group being divided into three sections to visit each of three stations:
--Naval Landing Party H.Q.(Fed);
--Army Field Engineering Office (Fed);
--Hard-Core Infantry Soldier (Confed).
The school treated us to lunch, and we had two more classes in the afternoon. We cleaned up the campsite and had the vehicles packed once again by 2:30 P.M. We all received bouquets of flowers from the school in appreciation for our efforts, and the personal thanks of the History Department Head and the Administrators, together with an invitation to return next year.
The event, while tiring, was much appreciated by both the children and the school staff alike. For the most part the children were well prepared and we all received some very good questions. There was a much higher percentage of interest on the part of the children, which supposes a certain diligence on the part of the teachers there. I will be pleased to attend, if again invited, and will endeavor to complete at least one more of my model projects before next year, in anticipation of the event.
New Market, VA
May 18-19, 2002
Participating unit: U.S. Marine Detachment, Washington
The annual reenactment of the Battle of New Market has always been a minor favorite of mine. Held on the original ground, where Confederate Gen. John Breckenridge defeated Union General Franz Sigel, New Market is in the Shenandoah Valley, some of the prettiest countryside that Mother-Nature made.
Henshaw Farm, Templeton, MA
May 18-19, 2002
Participating unit: Topographical Engineers
I arrived at
Henshaw Farm at 7:30 P.M. on Thursday evening and set up my Engineering Fly Tent
on the Senior Federal Staff Line.
I left that night for the senior staff quarters in the nearby village and returned early on Friday Morning (6:30 A.M.) to arrange my map, models, and displays for the school groups scheduled for that day. I took charge of the Federal Staff, and we formed a single station for the children which was divided equally between myself, Lt. Rieke of the Artillery, and Sgt. Major McBeth. The Provost Clerk, Mistress Stearns had been previously asked by the Event Coordinator to form a separate station speaking about women in the military and women's clothing.
We spoke with
approximately (rough count) 300 children and their instructors.
As usual there were only a small percentage in each group who were
interested in what we had to say, in spite of the local teacher's extensive
efforts in Civil War preparation and some detailed arrangements between the
schools and the Historical Society sponsors of the event.
From my personal
that it would be much more productive to work out some sort of system in the
schools by which those children who have a real interest in the Civil War are
brought out to the site, and the others occupied in another way.
This is very well done in the North Attleboro School Presentation by a
selection process of what the children wish to do and see.
numbers of children in the groups, must be decreased to make the presentations
effective. 35 children per group
even with teachers are too many even for a large display of artifacts. Too many
children are bored, and begin to lose interest and disrupt those who are
would suggest a system similar to Hammonasset, where groups of children are
under the control of a Senior NCO, introduced to him at the beginning and who
stay with him for the day.
I respectfully suggest that the teachers of these students be more attentive to
the behavior of these children in the following areas:
a.-----handling and taking about
artifacts set up for display, without permission or okay of the lecturer;
b.-----better control of children leaving the organized groups and seeking out amore interesting venue (See Item 1. above);
c.-----better preparation of the students prior to arrival, on site, in the areas of personal deportment, respect for adults, and an appreciation and respect for those people who are taking their time for no reimbursement to provide a realistic view of the Civil War and it's related period and cultural effects.
suggestions are a result of my personal observations at a wide variety of such
activities, and from those who are presenters with similar concerns to mine.
Other presenters may not encounter the same situations, but such is my
view. It was determined early this year that After Action Reports
should be a medium for improvement, and so I offer these suggestions in the
spirit of improvement and not as a criticism of the event of the event sponsors.
After the departure
of the school children and their teachers, we all had a nice grinder lunch
provided by the Event Organizers-- my thanks to them for their consideration.
I then offered to
help Chief Clerk Lorrie Stearns and Sgt. Maj. McBeth lay out the camp.
It was determined that a measurement of the ground and a drawing of the
camp layout would be of benefit. We
proceeded with this task, which worked well and was beneficial to incoming units
in the later hours of the day on Friday. This
effort bode well also for those few units arriving on Saturday morning.
The afternoon and evening hours were spent packing the school display
material for removal from the site and preparing for the predicted rainy morning
on Saturday. I left camp for staff
quarters at 8:00 P.M.
I returned to the
camp at 7:30 A.M. for an 8:00 A.M. Officer's call. Officer's call and Sgt's call
were delayed because of snowy conditions. Officer's
Call was finally held later in the morning, and it was decided that we would
wait until noon to determine any further actions.
The Engineer Staff began work on the ground plan design for turning the
farmhouse into an infantry strong point / citadel, in case of a concerted and
all-out Confederate attack.
By noon the snow
was still falling and considerable effort was being expended in removing a
heavy, wet, snow fall from the tents and flies. It was decided that the skirmish
and parades would have to be foregone, and we would continue in a Living History
/ Garrison mode for the remainder of the day.
It was emphasized that the event was NOT cancelled, and confirmed by the
Brigade Staff around the camp. However,
it was indicated that those who wished to leave could leave, but the Colonel
intended to stay. I decided that
the Engineering Staff would stay until the event's end.
A temperature low of 15º was predicted in the early morning hours.
I wish at this point to commend the efforts of the Brigade Sgt. Major who
consistently kept the Sgts. and Staff of the Brigade apprised of the conditions.
There were several rumors making the rounds, but he sorted them out,
going to the Event Organizer several times to insure that we had the latest
information. My thanks to the
Brigade Sgt. Major for his diligence.
The remainder of
the day was spent in completing the drawings of the farmhouse ground defense
plans, discussion and designing possible field fortification from local materials
for next year's event with the Confederate Chief Engineer, and talking with the
few (two dozen or so) visitors who looked into the camp.
I expected more people to visit the camp from Templeton, since the town
has been very receptive to this event, but I suppose the unseasonable snowstorm
was too much for most people.
At this point I
must repeat a comment that was voiced by one of the more seasoned and
experienced of the Event Committee Members.
When appraised of the snow accumulation in the camps, she said,
'she didn't think that a snowstorm would have stopped Federal Army
movement in the Civil War." Her
comment was appropriate I think, and I was very pleased to understand that a
civilian had those strong feelings for our endeavors.
The snow stopped in the early afternoon, and was well on the way to being
gone by evening.
Evening Chicken Blue Plate Special Dinner put on by the Henshaw Farm was
delicious. The chicken was
golden-brown and well done to "falling off the bone." Both Sgt.-Maj. McBeth and I took the time to congratulate the
cook-party, and thank them. I tried
to weasel the secret out of the head cook but he threatened my well-being and I
left well enough alone. However,
his hint that it took 3+ hours to cook the chicken, the distance between the
charcoal bed and the grill, and the comment by one of the under-cooks that one
does NOT barbecue chicken a few inches from the fire revealed his secret quite
I left the camp at
7:30 P.M. for the trek to the Staff quarters, after covering my tables and
equipment in preparation for a cold and windy night.
I returned to the
Federal Camp at 7:30 A.M. for Officer's Call.
The Federal Officer's took inventory of the men available to us that
could take the field, and Sgt. Major McBeth contacted the Confederate Adjutant
who promised a readout of his troops by noon.
Meanwhile, it was suggested that we have, if not a Morning Parade, at
least a morning Muster. This was
agreed upon and a Muster with music was laid out and completed.
I was privileged to be asked to narrate this activity, and spoke to a
crowd of civilian spectators, about 30 to 50 in number, around 11:00 A.M.
After the muster, I
returned to the Engineering Office and talked with at least a hundred people
before lunch. Of particular
interest was the new map display board with area maps of Henshaw Farm, sketches
of the farmhouse, and ground defense plans mounted on it. I intend to make such display a permanent part of the
Engineering Office. After lunch, I
was privileged to be asked to narrate a " pitchfork wedding."
I spoke to a crowd of about 200 spectators and reenactors at this point.
following this activity was announced that we had a sufficient number of troops
for a patrol-sized skirmish, and I was again asked to narrate the skirmish.
The Confederate Force took the field and secreted themselves in the woods
behind a stone wall. The
Confederate Cavalry were nearby to launch a flank attack.
The Federal Detachment marched onto the field in close order, and were
fired upon by a carefully aimed volley by the Confederates.
Almost immediately, the Reb Cavalry attacked the flack of the Federal
Force, and forced the Federals into a two-faced defensive posture.
Firing was exchanged for several minutes with several appearances of the
Cavalry. Finally realizing that
they had hurt the Federals badly, but cautious of the still greater numbers
against them , the Rebs retired into the heavy woods, unbeaten.
The Federal Force gathered up their wounded, and having driven the
Confederates clear of the field, sought their camp for rest and placed their
injured into the hospital on site.
Ft. Pocahontas, VA
May 17-19, 2002
Participating unit: The Tidewater Maritime Living History Association
From 17-19 May
2002, members of the TMLHA, representing a landing party from the USS Miami,
attended the above event. Members attending included:
17 May: The advance party arrived on-site by six bells in the afternoon watch
and began laying out tentage. Other members of the crew arrived throughout
the remainder of the afternoon and into the following morning. Force 6
winds from the W hampered efforts to set camp, preventing the building of a fire
or preparation of meals until Saturday midday. After completion of setting
camp at one bell in the evening watch, the crew settled in against the wind for
the evening, with periodic rounds by the watch to check for loose stakes.
18 May: Daybreak saw an increase in the wind to force 6 with an accompanying
cloud cover and intermittent drizzle. The LT gave a talk on sailor’s
clothing and personal equipage, scheduled for two bells in the forenoon watch.
By quarter past two bells, winds increased briefly to force 9 in a squall line,
requiring all hands aloft to tend canvas. Despite a failure of one of the
tents, overall the camp endured without incident. By three bells winds
shifted to NNW at force 5 for the remainder of the day, skies cleared, and the
lecture was resumed and completed. Displays of navigation, boarding arms,
marlinespike seamanship and sailor’s personal kit, were set up and the camp
was opened to the public throughout the day until eight bells in the afternoon
watch. A demonstration battle occurred at two bells, and a small party
accompanied a mixed force of USCT’s and Zouaves to skirmish the line, then
fall into the works to repel an attack. Although pressed hard by a mixed
force of infantry and mounted cavalry, at the end of the day the position was
held. Afterward, routine maintenance was performed on small arms, the camp
secured to the public, and the crew granted liberty for the evening.
18 May: Weather continued fair throughout the day. Camps were opened to the
public from two bells in the morning watch to seven bells in the afternoon
watch. A repeat lecture was given at the same time as yesterday, sparsely
attended. Again, displays were set up and the camp was opened to the public
throughout the day until eight bells in the afternoon watch. This day saw
the skirmishing force in a position to assault the works. A foreshadowing
of Fort Fisher was the order of the day, and the men fought and died with great
élan. After conclusion of the action, the survivors returned to camp,
struck all canvas, and the crew was dismissed to return to their lodgings.
Memorial Day Parade &
N. Attleboro, MA
May 25, 2002
Participating unit: The U.S. Naval Landing Party
Along with elements of the 20th and 28th Massachusetts and 17th Virginia, the USNLP took part in the town's annual Memorial Day parade. This year was special in that the celebration marked the culmination of more than a year's work raising funds to refurbish the town's Civil War statue. The parade was very well attended by an appreciative crowd -- which, unfortunately (but understandably) began to dissipate when the politicians grew long-winded. We ended up standing in ranks for over ninety minutes. We were posted to the rear of the bleachers -- behind the audience. Not only could they not see us, but we could not even hear what was going on. After waiting all that time, we fired three volleys, stood for some pictures, and went home. The event was a very worthwhile one, but it could have been handled in a much improved fashion.
Portsmouth Under Two Flags
May 25, 2002
Participating unit: The Tidewater Maritime Living History Association
On the 25th
instant, a landing party from the USRC Harriet Lane traveled to Portsmouth, VA
to participate in the above event. Present were:
event coordinator made provisions for us to set up displays in the yard of a
local resident. After confirming permission with the resident, displays of
navigation, boarding arms, marlinespike seamanship and sailor’s personal kit,
were set up and the camp opened to the public. Approximately 150 people
entered the area and perused the displays from six bell in the morning watch to
eight bells, afternoon watch. A recruiting booth was originally planned to be
employed, but the low numbers of young people present indicated otherwise.
After eight bells, camp was struck with alacrity and the detail dismissed to
return to their local billets.
Portsmouth Memorial Day Parade
May 27, 2002
Participating unit: The Tidewater Maritime Living History Association
On the 27th of
May, a landing party from the USRC Harriet Lane traveled to Portsmouth, VA to
participate in the above event. Present were:
party assembled at three bells, morning watch at the intersection of County and
Court Streets to await further instructions. At a quarter past six bells,
the party formed up and marched out. The route covered about one mile over level
ground and well-paved streets. Weather was sunny and uncomfortably warm.
The heat notwithstanding, not one cutterman was compelled to fall out of
formation, and the event concluded without mishap. After returning to the
muster point, all hands were dismissed to their billets.
June 1, 2002
Participating unit: The U.S. Naval Landing Party
Attended by approximately 100 Union reenactors, this was a well-attended event and we were busy talking with people all day long. New rules going into effect as a result of the September attacks put a serious crimp in our usual routine, but were not insurmountable, (e.g., pistols to stay holstered at all times [even the non-firing replica], edged weapons not to be withdrawn beyond leaving the tip in the scabbard, absolutely no "talking bullets" even laid on the table, and no dummy cartridges). Expect more of these in future at all National Park Service events. Don't blame them -- blame Al Qaeda. Weather was perfect, the crowd very interested, and the Rangers were impressed by the fact that we always had a gaggle of people around the tent fly. After hours the Rangers hosted a barbecue by way of saying "thanks!"
"Under the Redcoat"
June 27-29, 2002
Participating unit: HMS Richmond, His Majesty's Royal Marines
Midshipman Samuel Norton
|What a difference a year makes since our last
landfall in the tidewater area of Virginia. The weather was tolerable
for this time of year and we were blessed with a Nor'easterly breeze,
which gave our lads a much-appreciated respite. Many of the ship's
company who previously were unable to meet in person, made acquaintances
and shared experiences over the past year.
The Richmond mess consisted of 4 active crewmen, acting Boatswain Francis Ross, (a.k.a. Frank Rodriques), Sailmaker David Valentine and his mate, Jennifer Valentine (a.k.a. Jeremy Goodman), ship's carpenter Michael Littlejohn and Captain Craig Fisher. Bos'un Ross was kind enough to bring the lion's share of camp equipment thus providing the "mess" with a smart tent fly and water container. Mr. Ross had a fine assortment of new Nautical projects to show, least of which was a handsome ship's hourglass which made us all long for our compact berths and the daily routine upon the quarterdeck.
We were deprived of our Sergeant of Marines, Benjamin Chapman (a.k.a.. Russell Borghere) who I am sure was with us in thought (speedy recovery!). Missing also was Russel Tucker and Bruce who were missed for their comradeship and knowledge of the period.
Apart from our "active" crewmen, some associate members from the fleet joined us. Joining our mess was midshipman Sam Norton and mistress Edith Norton, Chief gunner Kedge of the HMS Falcon (a.k.a. Gary L. Haas) and Nicholas Armitage, Master's Mate (AKA Steve Diatz). We did have the honor of quickly meeting our newest members from Virginia, Charles Foiles and Robert "Sandy" Osier who were visiting us just prior to us leaving for a sweep of the town. From our brief conversations I can tell they will bring a great deal to the ship's company. Very knowledgeable gents. My apologies to each for too brief a meeting. Had I been on my toes, I would have invited you in uniform.
We were fortunate in having a great many unselfish hands more then willing to watch the camp as the ships compliment was eagerly pressed on the King's business. Edith had graciously offered to keep a “presence” for us while joining the marines in "Hot pursuit" of the "spy" which was known to have eluded so many previous groups.
There was a handsome compliment of Marines. Starting with, the Pittsburgh Marines fielding a Lt. and one captain (Jim McGaughey) and his group. Also present, a number of Marines from H.M.S. Otter, of St. Augustine, FL. and the “pride of the event” the Marines form the HMS Charon from the Northwest territories. The HMS Somerset provided a RN 1rst and 2nd Lt. (Shane Clarke) with a small body of additional Marines.
All total the Naval presence consisted of.
Marine Captain, Lieutenant. Sergeant, 16+marines under arms
Ship's Captain, 1rst and 2nd Lts, one Midshipman, 3 warrant officers, 6 able-bodied seamen
Friday was spent getting our Mess up and our kits in repair. Upon establishing our camp we took a tour of the town and tried to acquaint with the local population and our new Marine friends.
Saturday saw more organization as our ranks were joined by ship's carpenter Michael Littlejohn who showed his "stuff" by walking from the depot at Williamsburg to our site and throwing himself whole heartedly into the fray!
David and Jeremy were showing off their "new" marine
muskets and a right smart grouping it was. How can a “painted-up Polly
of a firelock” engender so much excitement?
(Note: Larger format versions of the photos are available at http://www.hmsrichmond.org/UTR02.html)
The Naval and Marine party escort a prisoner to the military magistrate. It was the aggressive work of these units which challenged the Rebels throughout the weekend.
Capt. James McGaughey and a compliment of His Majesty's Marines at the Trooping of Colours.
The King's justice is served out with its usual aplomb to an accused rebel spy. Mr. Ross is poised for action (red vest) to his left seaman Valentine, Midshipman Norton. Behind master Norton is Michael LittleJohn (in checked shirt) followed by Masters mate Armitage.
Captain Fisher with fellow officers from the HMS Somerset. A right smart group of commissioned officers led by Lt. Shane Clarke who made a complete sweep of the capital for rebel insurgents.
July 6/7, 2002
Participating units: Topographical Engineers, U.S. Naval Landing Party
I was pleased to arrive at Fort Adams early in the morning and begin my engineering display and office set-up in the North Casemates on Friday (July 5). I spent the day in the set-up of the Engineering display, numbering 8 tables, and consisting of weapons, instrumentation, models, maps and plans, as well as descriptions of the major coastal fortifications along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. I set up the basic dimensions of the Federal Artillery Park, with the assistance of the Brigade Artillery Commander and his Staff, and then laid out the Federal Infantry Camp with the assistance of the 2nd CT Heavy Artillery. Upon the arrival of the Brigade Sgt. Major, I was pleased to turn over the camp laypout plans to him to designate the units position within the camp at his discretion. Saturday Morning, The engineers were asked to produce a map of the skirmish field, which was completed by early afternoon in time for the Event Commander's Meeting. If such maps and plans are required in the future, I would respectfully request that the engineer be invited to preliminary meetings of the Event Commander's in order to be aware of the Host and Commander's needs as well as the topographical features of maps and plans requested. This notification has worked well in the past, providing requested maps and plans being available for both Army Commander's Staffs, together with ideas for aking the event better without the necessity of additional efforts for either commander, who already have enough to do. No opportunities were provided for the construction of Field Obstructions except as a display on Sunday.
First Lt. Wayne LaFluer, was available on Sunday with the engineer's and provided a sketch map drawn of the skirmish field. The maps of the Lieutenant and Major were compared and a composite map was drawn up and approved. Second Lt. Dean Danforth and his wife, Mistress Maureen Danforth who is a contract artist attached to the Topographical Engineers, were present on Saturday and assisted the spectators with their questions about the engineering display. Capt, Stephen Ferris, the engineering artillery advisor was present for a short time on Sunday.
The engineers were asked to narrate the skirmishes on both days, and to make short presentations to the spectator tours regarding the engineering displays and the role of engineers in the Civil War. The meals served to the Brigade Staff were delicious and well prepared, and there was a party hosted by the Brigade Artillery Officer which was a very enjoyable success.
The skirmishes both days were very successful, in large part due to the expanded space of the fields in use this year. I was pleased to be asked to narrate the Federal Parade on Sunday in which we were treated to about 75 spectators and the parade was very well executed. Following the parade was an excellent demonstration of Brigade Drill which also went very well.
As always, I found the Fort Adams Event to be a very special event for the engineers, and I will always be prepared to return if invited. My personal congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Gardner for their excellent hosting of this event for the last several years. It has not been an easy task, to coordinate the many variables of a large Civil War Event, and meet the widely varying needs and circumstances of a large contingent of reenactors whose practical, political, and reenactment views cover such a wide gamut of attitudes. To Mr. and Mrs Gardner and to all those on their staff who labored long and hard---three huzzahs and a tiger.
Always a well-attended event in terms of reenactors and spectators, Fort Adams did not disappoint this year. Following a theme of "Civil War Firsts," the U.S.N.L.P. came prepared with copious research on submarines (see article in "On Deck!"), which, along with several tables of displays, proved attractive to the hundreds of visitors who stopped by the lavishly-appointed casemate that had been provided the unit. The next casemate over was occupied by Jim Mathews and the Topogs, and together the equipment and displays we both brought formed a large museum browsed by all who came in to escape the heat and smoke (this last occasioned by the cloud that moved down from the large Canadian forest fires that had been burning for weeks). Many Army reenactors also came to listen and talk.
Coast Guard Day 2002
August 3, 2002
Participating unit: The Tidewater Maritime Living History Association
The TMLHA, representing crewmen of the USRC Harriet Lane, participated in the 2002 Coast Guard Day event at CG Reserve Training Center (RTC) Yorktown on 03 August. In attendance were: Jim Brigdon, Eric Jeanneret, Judy Brigdon, Phillip Mordica, Ken Arkin, Al Mitchell, Bob Zogg, Pat Zogg, Rich Logan, Lori Joyner, Mike Johnson, and Allen Mordica.
Canvas, tables and equipment were supplied by the TMLHA. The unit trailer was used to convey all camp gear to/from the site. The organizers provided meals and beverages, and overall were very responsive to our requirements.
Canvas Flies, and navigation, surgical, armaments, storekeeper's, ladies, marlinespike and carpenter's displays were set up at 1200 without incident and operated until 1645. The location was excellent, with plentiful shade and breezes from the York River to partially offset the heat. During the event, over 100 visitors were engaged. At the conclusion of the event, camp was struck and the party departed by 1700.
The placement of the displays was with a fence line only 6-8 feet to the front; this may have contributed to the low numbers engaged. While striking camp, it was agreed that if placed in the same area next year, the display line would be oriented at right angles to this year's setup to facilitate easier access by the public.
Overall, this event can be filed as another in our continuing series of successes, as regards to both member participation and resulting credibility. We will undoubtedly be invited to return next year.
3rd LT Allen Mordica
Officer in Charge
Mariner's Museum: U.S.S. Monitor
Newport News, VA
August 10, 2002
Participating unit: The Tidewater Maritime Living History Association
The TMLHA, representing crewmen of the USS Monitor, participated in the Monitor Turret Arrival at Mariner's Museum on 10 August. In attendance were: Mike Connolly, Jim Brigdon, Connor Jeanneret, Judy Brigdon, Phillip Mordica, Allen Mordica, Kim VanAtta, Eric Jeanneret, Ken Arkin, Al Mitchell, Bob Zogg, Pat Zogg, Brewer Eddy, Lori Joyner, Keith Halstead, Joe Filipowski, Mike Johnson, and Justin Johnson.
Tables were supplied by the Museum, and equipment was supplied by the TMLHA. Members conveyed all unit gear to/from the site. The unit provided meals to members, and the Museum provided water and Gatorade while at the riverfront.
Navigation, armaments, ladies, marlinespike and carpenter's displays were set up in the Museum's lobby at 0830 without incident. Surgical and storekeeper's displays were initially set up at 0830 at the turret arrival site. The crew then traveled to the arrival site on the riverfront at 0900.
The outdoor location was sufficient, with shade to partially offset the heat while awaiting arrival of the barge. Upon it's arrival the turret was placed on the trailer and the arrival ceremony conducted at 1300.
The TMLHA was designated by Museum officials as the senior LH unit, and our commander was assigned as coordinator of the order-of-march. At 1300 the Surgeon's and Storekeeper's displays were moved to the Museum's lobby without incident. During the transfer of the turret to the Museum, the Marine contingent and the Colors were placed at the head of the column. TMLHA crewmen were assigned as close escort and guards upon the trailer and it's contents. The remainder, composed of assorted infantry and artillery units, brought up the rear of the formation. The route to the museum grounds covered 1½ miles on a well-paved road. Aside from the blowout of one of the trailer's tires, the trip was completed efficiently and without incident.
After the trailer entered the enclosed compound, TMLHA members fell out and manned the display area in the lobby. Displays were operated until 1645. During the indoors portion of the event, over 150 visitors were engaged. At the conclusion of the event, equipment displays were secured and the party departed by 1700.
Our assembly area was in a shady area, but we did not anticipate the lengthy delay before the trailer was ready for transit. We did not kit-up for an extended march. For future similar events, canteens will be declared mandatory.
This event was significant not only from a historical aspect, which cannot be overstated, but also from the regard with which we are treated by Museum authorities. Our assignment to the security detail was specifically requested by the Mariner's security chief. This is an unusual honor and privilege. TMLHA is considered a viable, professional asset to the Museum, and not merely another reenactment group to be dealt with. Without doubt this event is another success as regards to both member participation and resulting venue credibility.
3rd LT Allen Mordica
Officer in Charge
July 6/7, 2002
Participating member: U.S. Naval Landing
The event hosted by the 77th NYSVI & the North East Military District Association, held in Troy, NY was another great success. After setting up on Friday afternoon, I was approached by the sergeant of the 77th, who informed me that my tent had been appropriated by the 77th to serve as their Headquarters. As an associate member of the 77th, I couldn't refuse.
The event was well attended with 150 re-enactors present, up from 75 from last year. The Union forces were still outnumbered about 2 to 1, but two Napoleons made up for that. The word is that this event will be the main one in upstate NY in a year or two. No wonder when your fed 5 meals, sandwiches on Friday night, 3 meals on Saturday & Sunday morning coffee & donuts, no registration fees and you have full use the Masonic Hall (indoor plumbing ). Plus, this is a bountied event. The Masonic Lodge, where the event is held, presented a check for $1000.00, along with a check for $500.00 from the Knights Templar, to the NEMDA, to be divided among the participating units.
As for spectators, the total was down from last year, it was the 4th of July weekend, with only about 400 on Saturday & 500 on Sunday. They do draw a good crowd of very interested civil war buffs.
Ryegate Corners, VT
August 17/18, 2002
The event at Ryegate was again a well attended success. There were over 100 re-enactors present, 2 units cancelled at the last minute because of the heat. As for the heat, it was almost unbearable. Very unusual for Northeast Vermont. You couldn't move with out breaking a sweat. Friday night was the worst, it didn't cool off until 2:00 AM. But Saturday was almost perfect weather. 90 degrees in the shade will do bad things to anyone wearing a wool uniform.
The turnout of spectators was, as always, very impressive. I guess it's a Vermont thing. There is a lot of interest in the Civil War in Vermont. Seems that every Vermont native had a relative that fought in the war. There was even one relocated gentleman who travels all the way from White Plains, NY every year just for this event, and he's a spectator.
He say's it's, the event, the best kept secret in the North East Kingdom. This event is a great way to spend a relaxing weekend with lots of good people, in a beautiful setting.
Chatham (Austerlitz), NY
August 24/25, 2002
This was a brand new event, hosted by the 2nd Battery Vermont Light Artillery & the Living History Association from Wilmington, VT. It had been scheduled to be held at Austerlitz, NY with the sponsorship of the Austerlitz Historical Society. But at the last minute, 4 weeks, the Society backed out and wouldn't help pay for the use of the field where the event was to be held. Seems the field was covered in briars and thistles 4 feet high and hadn't been mowed in 5 years. They wanted $1500.00 to mow and rake it for the event and the Society wouldn't pay and the 2nd VT didn't have the funds. Luckily, the town park in Chatham, NY was available at the last moment. And what a perfect place to re-enact ! Open fields for the battle,
woods for the tacticals, open areas with lots of shade to pitch your tent, all freshly mowed by the town. And best of all, indoor plumbing!
For a first ever event, it was well attended by re-enactors. There were about 60 including women and children. But the spectators were a little thin, maybe 100 all day. It started raining at 9:00 AM Saturday and drizzled all the rest of the day. There's nothing better to keep people away than rain. Sunday was much better, sunny and warm and lots of public support. This was another event that has great promise provided the weather cooperates. Check out the following web sites below for more info on the Chatham event, especially that of the 1st Virginian Cavalry: http://www.2ndvermont.org (2nd Vermont) and http://www.middlebury.net/civil-war/index.html (1st Virginia).
All in all this was a good summer schedule. Being the only sailor at an event has it's pluses, even if you do have to associate with Army re-enactors. Dealing with Marines is bad enough, but the Army is almost too much to bear. Having to explain to them that the Navy saved their hides so many times in the War does make you wonder which books they've read. You get lots of questions from people who want to learn all they can about our "true" history, and that's very rewarding.
The Tunbridge Living History Event in late September, and all the other events, is when you realize that re-enacting is not just camping with other re-enactors or carrying a rifle during a battle, but keeping our history and heritage alive for future generations. With all the "politically correct" history books being printed today,
telling history as it really happened is paramount to our future as a nation.
I'm just glad that there are lots of people out there who don't believe everything there told by those in authority, but are willing to find the truth for themselves.
(Sharpsburg for the Politically Challenged)
Near Hagerstown, MD
September 13-15, 2002
Participating member: U.S. Marine Detachment, Washington Navy Yard
I enjoy certain aspects of the anniversary “Mega” events. I like the large numbers of troops, real “Brigade” Drill, and at night looking across the camps and observing something of what servicemen saw during the war. The recent 140th Antietam provided all of those.
I arrived at the event site on the Monday before the event. My unit provides the Federal Headquarters Guard when Dana Heim is in overall Federal Command, and my unit provides the Mess for the Headquarters Staff. The site for the event was all it was promised to be. Open areas for Brigade, Regimental and Company Streets, wooded areas for the campaigner units, and piped in water points.
Registration was quick and fairly painless. The event had computerized all of the registration lists, which greatly speeded up the process. Upon arrival, members of the event staff showed you where to park your car and you walked into the Registration tent. Participants had been warned to bring their Driver’s Licenses as ID. ID’s were checked against the computerized registration list; you filled out the ever-present registration form, and got your event pass. The only fly in the buttermilk, was that folks from New Jersey apparently are not required to have their photo on their driver’s licenses.
Like most “Mega-Events”, participants started arriving early. Most camps were in place by Wednesday afternoon, with some folks arriving on Thursday. Camps were open to the public on Friday morning, and participants were warned that no cars would be allowed in camps after that point. Apparently, some participants didn’t read the event rules, or figured that did not apply to them.
Friday had two “battles’ on the schedule. The first was a tactical demonstration for the school-children that had been bussed in from as far as 60 miles away. Friday afternoon’s demonstration was the Battle of Compton’s Gap. Good numbers of troops participated.
Saturday morning, the troops were up at 4:00 AM for the pre-dawn Cornfield scenario. Event organizers had planted a corn-field for this battle. It is truly an eerie feeling, marching into a cornfield, in the dark, and only really seeing a few feet in front of you. While “The Cornfield” was fun, the scenario was broken when certain units refused to obey the commands of their Division Commanders.
Saturday afternoon brought the “Sunken Lane” scenario, where General Longstreet held against overwhelming numbers. Despite the larger number of troops than expected, that scenario seemed, at least from my viewpoint, to go well.
Sunday brought the problems. It began to rain, and many troops began to leave. Despite rules to the contrary, about half of the participants began to bring their cars into the camps to break camp. Traffic jams developed, leading to horns honking. Two horses threw their riders, and began to run wildly through the camps. One horse crashed against a car, breaking his leg. The animal had to be destroyed.
As I stated at the beginning of this AAR, I do enjoy larger events, but there were problems. Not enough firewood was the leading problem. Many units started hoarding wood in their tents. The other problem was the cars in the camps.
Brandywine State Park, Wilmington, DE
September 21/22, 2002
Participating member: His Majesty's Marines, His Majesty's 2nd Battalion Marines
The 225th Battle at Brandywine State Park was a smashing success. The event started off on Saturday night with a twilight re-enactment of the battle of Paoli. The crowd watching this first (at least since the early 1800's) event were estimated at over 3,000+. The bayonet attack and night firings were greatly received by the public, if not the rebels. This event occurred on recently acquired land where the actual battle was fought in 1777. The trust hopes to acquire even more of the surrounding area, which is largely residential, but building up fast.
The next day's events featured two battles for the public at Brandywine Park, with crowds well over 5,000+. There were two British Marine units present, both members of the NMLHA. Our next big 225th Rev War event will be the Battle of Saratoga, just outside of Fort Edward, NY, Oct. 12th weekend. Again, both British Marine units will be in attendance to support our less gifted army friends.
There is currently some discussion of a British Garrison weekend next June at Old Fort Niagara, with the Bomb ketch Royalist and several long boats and bateaux in attendance. There is also a possibility of a Rhode Island event next August which might also feature some naval support as well.
Civil War Day
September 28, 2002
Participating member: U.S. Naval Landing Party
Surgeon's Steward Danish and I showed up early on Saturday morning to set up camp along the periphery of the central green of the horse track in which this event is held. Tunbridge is a well-attended event and we were busy talking with people -- or each making a formal speech in one of the halls -- from opening until a little past closing time. As always, a naval impression attracts a lot of people. This was the only complaint the coordinators had -- that there were so many people speaking with us that it seemed that no one was looking over the rest of the camp! Not quite true (since the fellows with the Gatling gun attracted a lot of attention), but we did do a brisk business.
East Lyme, CT
October 5/6, 2002
Participating member: Society of Europe, Topographical Engineers, U.S. Naval Landing Party
A small but very well-attended little event in the beautiful setting of the 19th century Smith-Harris House. The coordinators expanded the timeframe this year to include not only Civil War reenactors but French & Indian War as well. It was a little disconcerting to be speaking with people and suddenly be interrupted by war whoops coming from the Indians in the woods! Chief Kuchera had to cancel at the last moment, so the Civil War part of the weekend (as least as far as Union goes) was left to one lone sharpshooter and to me. The Rebs always manage to field 30 or so people for this event; I think it's a "best kept" secret for them, because Smith-Harris House is a really relaxing way to close down the season in New England.
In addition to manning the USNLP "tent museum," we had committed to making a series of 5 minute presentations inside the house itself. This was not going to be a problem when two or more of us were going to take part. With the Chief absent, though, I sometimes had to tell people to "hold that thought," dash into the building for a few minutes, and then run back to the tent! Happily, people were sufficiently interested to hang around.
Jim Mathews of the Topographical Engineers also took part, but on both days in RevWar uniform, appearing both on the field and in the house. Another NMLHA unit, the Society of Europe, held sway in the house throughout both days of the event.
Fort Edward, NY
October 12/13, 2002
Participating members: 1775 British Marines, His Majesty’s 2nd Battalion Marines
The 225th Anniversary event for the Battles of Saratoga (held outside Fort
Edward, NY), were a smashing success. Two NMLHA British Marine units were
in attendance. The two day event saw over 800 British regulars, German
mercenaries, Loyalists, and Indians take the field against well over 1,000
rebels. This is the largest turnout for Rev War re-enacting since the
While the weather was rainy most of the weekend, we were favored with no rain for the battles each day. Curiously, Saratoga Battlefield National Park was rather quiet as they did not seem able to coordinate in harmony with the organizers of the event. Shame. Perhaps someday NPS will realize the error of their ways and the loss, both financially and PR wise, they suffer from such poor relations with re-enactors.
All in all and outstanding Rev War event. On to Monmouth next year!