Civil War Transcendence, part 324

 

We reached the National Pike’s crossing of the Monocacy River. Thank heavens, no Yanks were there. So we crossed, and once we hit the eastern shore, I turned us south.

I couldn’t hear our main body firing at the Yank camp anymore. So I was relieved that they were probably retreating toward Adamstown. I brought our men to a halt and dismounted. We began to walk our horses to give them a breather. I guess we had trudged about a mile went we heard cannon booming toward the west.  We stopped and tried to view Braddock Heights, but there was too much intervening foliage and high ground.  The cannonade seemed to be directed toward an object further west.

I smiled and said, “I think Major Mosby has accomplished his mission.”

The men nodded, but they were too tired to really enjoy the moment.

I reasoned, “If the Yanks at the camp south of Frederick had followed our main body, they certainly would turn back to see what was happening at downtown Frederick and Braddock Heights. In fact, I hoped we have confused them so much they don’t know which way to turn.

I motioned for the men to continue walking. We came to a large road and Zeke informed me it was Reich’s Road.

I asked, “What’s tha next big road we will cross, and how far is it?”

He answered, “Urbana Pike’s next, and it’s about two miles.”

I nodded and asked, “That’s tha pike with a ford that’s closest to tha eastern edge of tha Yank camp, right?”

He just nodded in the affirmative.

I directed, “We’re gonna walk some more. Then we’re gonna mount and get past Urbana Pike.”

I suddenly got a notion and asked Zeke, “What’s the next ford after Urbana Pike and how far is it?”

“I don’t rightly remember tha name of tha road or tha ford, but there’s a side road that will take us sowth from tha Urbana Pike to tha ford.  It’s ‘bout three miles, and that ford is about four miles from Adamstown,” he informed me.

I nodded as we continued walking. We could still hear cannonade in the distance. Sometimes when the wind was blowing just right, we could hear what sounded like small arms firing also.

After a while I pulled my pocket watch out and estimated we had been walking about an hour.  I put my watch back in the coat pocket and commanded, “Let’s mount up.”

Stonewall let me know what he thought of my directive by blowing out a long snore.  I chuckled and mounted up.

The ever observant Skeeter inquired, “Does that horse know what yar saying?”

I looked at him, smiled and said, “Yep.”

Skeeter initially looked at me with an awed expression, and then thinking I was pulling his leg said, “Ahh, Lieutenant.”

I just retorted, “Let’s go.”

We walked the horses for another 15 minutes and then began a gentle lope to the Urbana Pike.

324-sentinel

The Urbana Pike was going to be a possible problem.  The Yanks might have been so spooked by our attack from the east on their corrals, that they had fortified the Urbana Pike ford and placed troopers east of the ford as pickets, plus instituted patrols of the area east of the ford.

We reached a stand of trees on the north bank of a small creek that branched off the Monocacy just to the northeast of the Urbana Ford and halted. Just as I thought, the Yanks had stationed a force on both sides of the ford. We were hidden from sight due to the tree line. However, I didn’t know the extent of the Yankee occupation of the area east of the ford.   If we withdrew and went further east to avoid the Yanks, and they had patrols to the east, we could arouse the whole Yank contingent at the ford if we ran into a patrol.  Then they would come down on us like fleas on a hound, because it looked like they outnumbered us three to one. Also, if we got into a running fight, our horses wouldn’t last. They were tired out as it was. We needed to get by the Yanks and make our way back to Adamstown at our own pace.

I shook my head after failing to come up with a solution. Then an idea came to me. It wasn’t one I liked, but it just might work.

Posted in Time Travel | Leave a comment

Civil War Transcendence, part 323

 

I figured that we were basically cut off from our main body of troops by the horde of Yanks fleeing their camp to the north and toward us. So I decided to take a run through Frederick and raise a little Cain with the local populace.  I hoped it would have the desired effect of having the Yanks on Braddock Heights come to the rescue of the Yank camp we had just assaulted.

The only problem would be that the Yanks still had horses available from that third corral we weren’t able to capture. They could have a contingent of troopers on our trail in no time.

If we were to have our fun, it had to be quickly attained. We needed to vacate the area as soon as possible.

We rode like the wind in a column of two’s to the southern suburbs of Frederick.  As we entered the residential area of town, people gaped in amazement as we galloped down the streets interrupting the daily business of the residents. People scattered out of the byways and hurried to their homes as we rode by.

When we began to enter the business area of town, the number of carriages, horsemen and foot traffic increased to the point of grid lock.

I stopped the men and yelled, “Did we lose anybody?”

I heard Skeeter retort, “Naw sir.”

I turned back to the men and said, “We are going to continue through town to the north and then loop around to tha east and head sowth to Adamstown. If’n anyone gets separated, just head back to Adamstown. However, we are going to cause some real havoc in tha process. Is everyone fully loaded? If not, get that way.”

I began to quickly reload my spent Colts with loaded cylinders, and the men followed my lead.  Once I finished, I looked up and all the troopers were just about fully loaded.

I began, “We are going go on a shooting spree. We will not shoot any civilians. If we run into any Yanks, you may engage them, but mostly we will be firing in tha air and scaring tha locals out of their wits. Is that clear?”

All the man nodded.

I said, “Follow me, and start shootin’ when I do.”

I turned Stonewall around, and as we trotted further into the business district, the concerned merchants and businessmen viewed us with much consternation. In the distance I could hear Sarge Billings and the main body firing at the Yank camp. The distant gunfire plus our presence began to cause the locals apoplexy.  You could see it on their faces.

After about a block, I raised my pistol in the air, and hooping the Rebel Yell to the top of my voice, began firing. People ran for any cover they could find. Women screamed. Horse carriages stampeded out of our way, and business was brought to a halt.  I was hoping that the Yanks on Braddock Heights were viewing us in their long range binoculars. I also was crossing my fingers that the Yank commander up there would panic and send some of his troopers down to deal with us.

We continued through Frederick, taking all the roads that seemed to go north and firing our pistols in the air.  It is needless to say we caused quite a ruckus for the inhabitants of a town untouched by the Civil War. I smiled as we rode out of town. I never had so much fun in my life.

Once we were clear of the town, I halted the men and motioned for Zeke and Skeeter to join me. We stayed mounted and gave the horses a chance to catch their breath.

I rode a few yards ahead of our contingent and asked Zeke, “How can we get across the Monocacy River and head sowth?”

He gaped and then asked, “Howdja know ‘bout tha Monocacy?”

I smiled, shrugged and said, “I’ve studied maps of this area. What I don’t know is where to make a crossing of the river and keep it between us and the Yanks while we head back to Adamstown.”

Monocacy River, Maryland

Monocacy River, Maryland

He nodded and answered, “Therah’s a bunch of fords of the Monocacy on the east side of Frederick. They’s one up nawth where Liberty Road crosses the Monocacy. ‘nother un is straight east of Frederick on tha National Pike. Then farther sowth they’s Reich’s Ford. Even farther sowth they’s a ford wherah Urbana Pike crosses tha Monocacy. So ya can take yar pick.”

I thought for a moment and then probed, “Which one is closest to tha Yank camp?”

“That’d be tha Urbana Ford,” he retorted.

“I wanna keep tha Monocacy between us and tha Yanks if at all possible. We could get bottled up if’n we headed sowth right now on tha Urbana Pike and tha Yanks beat us to tha ford.  Looks to me like tha National Pike is tha closest ford on tha Monocacy.  If’n we go ahead and cross tha Monocacry, and tha Yanks cross it and come looking for us, we’d have tha whole countryside to tha east for an escape,” I reasoned.

I looked intently at Zeke and probed, “Can ya take us to tha National Pike ford?”

He grinned from ear to ear and said, “Sure as shootin’.”

I grinned back and directed, “Well, what are ya waiting for? Take us therah.”

Zeke wheeled his horse to the southeast and commanded, “Follow me.”

We all deployed into a column of two’s and took up a gentle lope behind our trail blazer.

I smiled as our intrepid band left the scene of our encounter with the Maryland populace. However, in the distance I could hear the firing of our main body. I had hoped Sarge Billings would have already withdrawn from the area and headed south.

Posted in Time Travel | Leave a comment

Civil War Transcendence, part 322

We began our journey to the Yankee horse corrals by going south and then east, staying well into the woods that skirted the Yank camp.  Once we got around to the east of their camp, I signaled for my 10 troopers to stay put in the woods while I rode Stonewall forward, with Skeeter and Zeke at my heels, to take a gander of the situation.

There were definitely three horse corrals, and they were full of unsaddled horses.

The enclosures were situated about 25 yards apart. They began about 50 yards from the edge of woods, from where I was positioned. The next corral was about 25 yards further west from the one in front of me, and the last one was another 25 yards from the middle corral.  The northern edge of the Yankee camp was about 50 yards south of the corrals.  There were three Yank troopers acting as guards at each corral.

I took one last survey, and the three of us rejoined the men.

I dismounted and gathered the men around me.  I gave them an idea of the lay of the land and the number of guards.

Then I directed, “We are gonna go a little further nawth of here and then swing east toward tha corrals. I want to put tha corrals between us and tha Yankee camp.  We’re gonna break from cover and ride like tha wind toward tha first corral.”

I pointed to two of tha men and said, “Y’all will be in charge of getting tha corral gate open and stampeding the horses out. The rest of us are gonna be shooting at tha guards and then we’ll ride to tha next corral.”

I pointed to another two men and said, “Y’all will be in charge of getting tha second corral open and stampeding tha horses. The rest of us will be shooting at tha guards, and then we’ll ride to tha last corral and do tha same thing.”

I pointed at two more men and said, “Y’all will be getting tha Yank horses out of tha last corral. We’ll be covering ya and waiting at tha last corral for tha four men detailed to stampede tha horses at tha first two corrals. Once we have everyone, you will follow me. I will take you back tha way we came, or we will proceed further west and try to join our main body of troops. We might even take off and go through Frederick raising Cain. Just keep an eye on me and obey my commands. Is that clear?”

They all nodded that they understood.

I then asked, “Any questions?”

They all shook their heads.

322-stampede

I added, “We’re gonna have a lot of help from tha main body of our troops. They’re gonna be hittin’ tha Yank camp and causing havoc while we hit tha corrals.”

This brought smiles from the men.

I smiled back and said, “Mount up and let’s get this show on tha road.”

It didn’t take much to get the men inspired.  They were happy to do some damage to the Yanks in their own backyard.

We walked our horses to the edge of the woods. I stopped the men, who I had arranged in a column of two’s with our rustlers on the outside rank, pulled two pistols from my belt, put Stonewall’s reins in my teeth, cocked the hammers on the Colts and nudged Stonewall with both knees. He broke from the woods like a comet and the men behind me followed suit.

We made it to about fifteen yards of the first corral before the Yank guards heard us. I guess the wind was from the south and covered the noise of our thundering herd.

The three Yanks were at the south side of the corral where the gate was located and had to run around the corral to see what was causing such a hullabaloo.

I shot the first Yank that appeared and another one went down from the fire of my men.  The third Yank took off running like a streaking comet for the Yankee camp, screaming for help.

Zeke and Skeeter were right behind me in a column of twos. I waved for them to follow me to the second corral.

The Yank guards at second corral came around the eastern side of the corral in time to see the two guards at the first corral go down and to come under fire from me and Skeeter, who was in the rank closest to the second corral.  Looking down the barrels of four Colts and about to be run over by charging cavalry, convinced them to skedaddle to the Yank camp.

About this time we heard bugles blowing for ‘Assembly’. Then another wonderful sound erupted from the woods to our east as Sarge Billings led our main body of troopers down two company streets of the Yank camp. The Rebel Yell was distinctively heard followed by a multitude of gunshots. Both had their desired effect, because Yanks began hightailing north out of the Yankee camp. Some were running to get to their mounts while others were just running away.

I motioned for the men to continue to follow me to the third corral.

The influx of fellow Yankee soldiers gave the three guards a measure of gumption to stand their ground. I fired first one pistol and then another as we galloped toward the corral, but I could tell we wouldn’t be able to capture this enclosure.  I veered off to the north and circled back to the second corral with the men following me closely. By this time the two men detailed to empty the first corral had succeeded and were riding to join us.  The men at the second corral were still trying to get the Yank cayuses moving out of the pen. About half of the horses had vacated the area when we arrived.

I halted our men at the second corral and yelled, “Cover our men while they get their job done.”

We set up a line on the north side of the corral and shot over the fence at any Yanks that came toward us. It didn’t take but a few minutes for the corral to be emptied. Our two men had stayed mounted while driving the horses out of the pen, and when the last of the horses escaped, they broke from the corral and rode around to the east to join us.

I turned to the north and waved the men to follow me as we headed into the southern edge of Frederick.

Posted in Time Travel | Leave a comment

Civil War Transcendence, part 321

The Corporal grinned back and answered, “Their corrals are nawth of tha camp. They’s got about three of ‘em. But they don’t got too many men protecting ‘em. I’d say ‘bout 15, all told.”

“What about tha camp? How’s it laid out?” I queried.

“They’s got 5 company streets with tents facin each other nawth to sowth on each street,” he stated.

“How far are tha company streets from tha corrals?” I quizzed.

“They’s ‘bout 50 yards,” he returned.

“Are therah any tree lines or woods that’d allow us to get up close to tha camp or tha corrals?” I probed.

“Yes sir. They’s a tree line to tha sowth and east of the company streets,” he informed.

I turned to Sarge Billings and questioned, “How many men do we have with us?”

He looked down at the ground to do the cyphering in his head. Then he looked up and said, “’bout fifty.”

I went silent and looked as if I had gone into a trance. Then I focused on the Sarge and directed, “I’m gonna take ten men and skirt tha Yankee camp to tha sowth and then to tha east using tha woods as cover. I want ya to take tha rest of the men and divide ‘em into two groups in formations of two men abreast. Follow me to the woods east of the Yank camp and face the men to the west.”

“When ya hear us raise Cain at the corrals, have the two groups of yar men charge down the two southernmost Yankee company streets, firing into tha tents. When y’all clear tha streets, reform in tha woods to tha south and fire at tha Yankee camp.”

“We will go back east into tha woods when we are through stampeding the Yank horses and try to come around to join ya. However, if we aren’t successful and the Yanks get thar horses, they might try to charge ya.  If’n they do, don’t wait on us. Take off south to Adamstown.”

“We’ll head east, and then south, and make for Adamstown on our own. Is that clear?”

Sarge Billings grinned and said, “It’s as plain as day.”

I grinned back and said, “Which troopers do I get?”

He smiled and said, “F troop.”

F Troop image via Warner Bros./ABC

F Troop image via Warner Bros./ABC

I almost laughed out loud, but stifled it in time.  The connotations weren’t lost on me. I added, “I’ll give ya 30 minutes to get yar men in place. Then I’ll attack.”

Sarge Billings nodded and pointed to my troop of men. I nodded back and rode to tha members of F Troop with Zeke and Skeeter in tow. Their corporal saluted me when we rode up. I returned his salute and directed, “Yar troop is to come with me. Stay in single file and don’t say a word. We’re gonna do some horse rustling.” The surprised look on the corporal’s face was worth the wise crack I had made.

We walked the horse into the woods to the south and began our trek to the Yankee horse corrals.

 

Posted in Time Travel | Leave a comment

Civil War Transcendence, part 320

 

It took about half an hour for the main body to meet us at our location.  When they arrived, Sarge Billings saluted and I returned his salute.

“On y’all’s way to Adamstown, Sarge Madigan took over command of the company from me,” I asked, “Where’s he now?”

Sarge Billings returned, “He was reassigned to Major Mosby soon as we got to Adamstown.”

I nodded and then began, “I’ve sent two scouts to find tha Yank garrison. Once we whipped ‘em back down tha road, I was hoping they’d turn tail and head to their base camp. I believe that’s what they did.

“When our scouts come back with tha location of tha Yank garrison, you and I will reconnoiter and see what’s tha best plan for attack.  I want to scare ‘em so they’ll call for help from Braddock Heights or at least raise enough Cain so Mosby can surprise tha Yank contingent on tha heights.  When we do hit tha garrison, I want tha Yanks to end up following us sowth, hopeful with reinforcements from tha heights. We will just have to attack and see what happens. Do ya have any questions?”

The sergeant let out a deep breath and shook his head.  I looked at him closely. He seemed tired and haggard. I asked, “Are ya alright sarge?”

He looked at me and said, “We been given every dangerous mission on this here raid. I was looking for some rest for my men and their horses.”

I nodded in agreement and then said, “Well, yar company has shown to be tha best of all five companies. I guess that’s why you got picked to do most of tha dangerous missions.”

“That’s all well and good Lieutenant, but the company has lost almost half its men. If’n we go into battle against this garrison, we’re liable to get wiped out,” retorted the sergeant.

I looked the sergeant in the eye and stated, “I can’t promise ya what will happen to us during this raid, and I know it has been hard on tha men so far. But we gotta keep tha Yanks from taking Fredericksburg and this raid will do a lot to throw Old Abe and General Scott into a frenzy to protect Washington City. So we have to do tha best we can while we’re here to mess up tha Yankee’s plans.”

The sergeant let out another deep breath and agreed, “I know Lieutenant and tha men appreciate yar riding out front and not saving yarself like most hoity-toity officers do. Not that yar a hoity-toity. It’s just that it seems this war will never end.”

I nodded and requested, “If’n y’all will just hang tough for a little longer, I’ll see what I can do in tha way of leave for tha men.”

The sergeant actually got a smile on his face and acknowledged, “Tha men would greatly appreciate that. Don’t worry about us Lieutenant. We’ll do our duty. We just like to hear that we are appreciated ever once in a while.”

“Well, y’all are appreciated. You can bet on that,” I added.

The sergeant nodded and we both turned to see the scouts filtering back through the woods from their reconnoitering.

The corporal and the other scout rode to us and saluted. The sergeant and I both returned the salute.  I said, “Well, Corporal, where are tha Yanks?”

320-union-cavalry-camp

The corporal shook his head and said, “There’s a whole passel of ‘em about a mile to tha east. There’s about 500 of ‘em. We counted five company flags, two 12 inch cannon, and a bunch of tents.  Tha one good thing is there ain’t no fort. They’s camped out in tents.”

I demanded, “Are they cavalry or infantry?”

“Oh, they’s cavalry, Lieutenant,” replied the corporal.

I grinned and queried, “So where do they keep their horses?”

Posted in Time Travel | Leave a comment

Civil War Transcendence, part 319

 

Sergeant Billings had the troop in a two men abreast formation and the advance skirmishers out in front of our contingent in no time.

I yelled, “Forward at the gallop,” and we moved out.

As I rode by Sarge Billings, who was at the head of the troop, I shouted, “Yar in command. I’m going forward to see what we are up against.”

He waved that he understood.

Zeke and Skeeter were following me as we galloped north toward Frederick. I put Stonewall back into a lope when we got right behind the advance skirmishers. We must have gone about a mile and a half, when the skirmishers brought their cayuses to a halt at a crossroads.

I rode up to them and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“We don’t know which way the Yanks went,” answered a corporal.

I let my gaze scan from west to north to east. Once I looked east, I could see just an inkling of dust above a tree line on the road that had crossed our main pike and headed east.  I turned to the corporal and ordered, “We will go east. Leave a man here to direct tha main body to follow us.”

He saluted, ordered a trooper to stay to give directions and took the rest of the skirmishers to the east at the gallop.  Zeke, Skeeter and I followed close behind.

We hurried toward, what I hoped was the Yank cavalry troop. We had proceeded about a mile, when the skirmishers came to a halt and rode off the road into a tree line. I rode up to them and the corporal pointed to where the road we were on crossed a larger pike that ran north to south. The Yank cavalry troop we had been following was crossing the pike and still headed eastward. I had guessed right that the Yank garrison was to the east of Frederick, but I had thought they would be located to the northeast.  If the garrison was due east, we had a better chance of escape after our coming attack.

I motioned Zeke to come to my side.  Once he was in positioned to my right, I pointed toward the pike and asked, “What’s that road?”

He immediately said, “It’s tha Design Road.”

“Where does it lead to the sowth?’ I asked.

“It goes down south to the other side of Adamstown,” he responded.

“Is there another road east of tha Design Road that goes south?” I queried.

“There’s the Buckeystown Pike. It goes down sowth and stays east of the Design Road,” he informed me.

I thought for a moment and said out loud, “I betcha the Yank garrison is somewhere in the vicinity of the Buckeystown Pike.” Then turning to the corporal, I ordered, “I need ya to take one man and scout from here to the south a ways and then go east. I want ya to find the Yank garrison and, once ya do, high tail it back herah to me.”

The corporal said, “Yes sir,” and, pointing to one his three men, began to weave into the woods to our south as per my orders.

I turned to the last two of the skirmishers and directed, “Go back to the main body and have them come here as quickly as possible.”  They immediately turned and rode back the way we came.

I looked at Zeke and he was the epitome of claim. I turned to Skeeter. He had me under intensely scrutiny. I smiled at him and asked, “Ya got any questions Skeeter?”

‘Yes sir. I believe ya’re gonna try to get tha Yanks to chase us sowth, but will it draw tha Yanks off Braddock Heights?”

I smiled at him and uttered, “All we can do is try.”

Posted in Time Travel | Leave a comment

Civil War Transcendence, part 318

 

318_cavalry

The Yank troopers had been riding two abreast. The last two Yanks turned to see what was making all the noise when six colt slugs hit them. They fell from their mounts, which caused their horses to stampede into the rest of the column.

Our continuous firing and screaming resulted in pushing the enemy patrol about a hundred yards to the west. We unhorsed two more Yanks before the commander of the Yank patrol brought his men under control and got them into a battle line facing us.

At that point, we considered retreat the better part of valor. We turned tail and rode like the wind back to the cross road junction we started from.

It didn’t take long to reach our destination. We halted in the middle of the crossroad and were elated to see the head of our contingent galloping toward us.

I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Company front (face to the left), draw carbines and prepare to repel attack.”

I kept repeating the orders and pointing to the side road from which we had emerged.

Sergeant Billings got the idea that we had stirred up a hornets nest from our gunfire and my commands. He took over and quickly got the company into a battle line facing the supposed direction of an enemy attack. I have to say he did a great job in getting our bunch ready. I was just hoping the Yanks had fallen for our ruse and were following.

We were in luck. The Yanks came flying down the road four abreast and mad as wet hens.  Thanks to Sarge Billings, our boys were in battle line along Ballinger Creek Road facing to the northwest and the charging Yanks.

It took a few moments for the approaching Yanks to see our formation and understand they were being sucked into an ambush.  When Sarge Billings saw the Yank officer, who was leading their attack, throw up his arm and begin to slow down, he yelled fire.

Twenty carbines of our front rank erupted. It sounded as if one shot had been fired. The destruction was unimaginable.  The Yank officer and the first four Union troopers were blown from their saddles.  The resulting chaos was mindboggling.  The remaining portion of the Yank column dispersed into individual troopers trying to rein in their mounts and keep from riding into the backs of their comrades. It was like wasps flying out from a nest when it was struck.

At this juncture, I rode to the left end of our line, and pointing to the last four ranks, yelled at the top of my voice, “Follow me.”

I brought the men forward in formation, and turned them to face north. We fired into the Yank’s right flank. This cause even more panic, but it had the desired effect I wanted. The Yanks began to stream as a herd to the north, riding the gauntlet past our line of battle, heading toward Frederick.

I halted my requisitioned troopers and yelled for them to get back into line.

Hurrying to where Sarge Billings was stationed, I directed, “Get tha men in formation with five skirmishers in advance and follow those Yanks. They’ll take us to thar garrison.”

The Sarge looked at me as if I had lost my mind and uttered, “Ya want to fight tha Yank garrison?”

I retorted, “No! But I wanna spook ‘em a bit.” Then I grinned from ear to ear.

The Sarge just shook his head, and yelling commands to the troops, got the company ready to head north into Frederick.

I looked up and saw Zeke and Skeeter ride up from the front of the column.

“Where ya been?” I asked.

Zeke reported, “We got separated from ya when we got back to tha crossroads. We been up front shooting at tha Yanks.”

“Well, ya are gonna get a chance to do some more shooting. Let’s go!”

Posted in Time Travel | Leave a comment

A Once in a Lifetime Experience

I thought that I would intersperse my normal blog with a personal story that happened 22 years ago.

It began during the first weekend in December of 1994, which was Saturday the 3rd and Sunday the 4th. I had been bitten by the Civil War bug due to Ken Burns’ documentary and had joined the local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp, which sponsored the 6th Arkansas Volunteer Infantry reenactment unit. As a member of the camp, I was automatically a member of the reenactment unit.

I was definitely a newbie and didn’t know one command from another, but I sent off for reenactor equipment and a uniform.  Some of the equipment arrived in time for the reenactment at Prairie Grove State Park, which is near Fayetteville, AR in northwest Arkansas on the dates mentioned above.  What equipment and portions of a uniform that I was missing were supplied by the reenactment unit.

Vernon in confed uniformI arrived on Friday night and checked in, make that reported in, to our command tent.  I was assigned a tent, which came with a new guy, like me. However, this guy wasn’t new to the reenactment trade. He had been in artillery, cavalry and infantry units since he was ten years old, first as a bugle boy and ultimately aa a Captain of Artillery. He had just moved to Arkansas and joined the 6th Arkansas Infantry because he wanted to get back into the reenactment game.  He really took care of me during the weekend. He had food to eat, which he shared. Not knowing what to expect, I hadn’t even brought a crust of bread.  Between his snack food and the large breakfasts and noon meals, I was well fed.

The powers that be gave me a coat that had the stripes of a 2nd sergeant, which was a mistake. I had no idea what to do in this billet. A 2nd sergeant is pretty important when forming battle lines. Needless to say, I was yelled at incessantly during the drill and the subsequent Saturday and Sunday afternoon battles.  In fact, our whole unit received the wrath of our Brigade commander during the whole weekend.

However, the battles made up for all the abuse we took. We got a chance to scream the famous Rebel Yell. I was elated from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet the first time I got to participate in this celebrated squall, which is southern squeal.  You read about how the Confederates could disconcert their foes when they went on the attack and uttered this primal shriek.

The bad part about the first battle on Saturday was that no one told me the rules of engagement for reenactors allowed no hand to hand combat no matter how orchestrated or implemented in just good clean fun.  My adrenalin flowed and I got so caught up in our unit’s advance that I charged the Union line by myself and confronted a Union private about twice my size. His officer responded by play acting as if he hit me with his pistol. I went down and played dead, but after the battle I was told in no uncertain terms that what I did wasn’t allowed. Although, I think, it stood me in good stead with about half of the unit as to my pluck and to the other half of the unit as to my stupidity.

After our Saturday battle, our overall Brigade commander was so flustered with our inexperience that he took it upon himself to teach us all the maneuvers required for our unit to utilize for the next day. It was an exercise in futility. The guy with whom I shared a tent knew all the right orders and how our unit should implement them, but he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut and let us muddle through as best we could.  The only thing that drove me crazy was his constant whispering to me during our drill that the officers were giving the wrong commands.

Anyway, we made it through the first day. We had a very good supper and then were assigned night picket duty. I was so gung ho that I even enjoyed that normally distained obligation.

The next day our unit was held in reserve for the first part of the battle and then ordered to charge at the Double Quick onto the field to confront our foe and to scream the Rebel Yell.  We performed the maneuver very well, which was really uplifting. However, what was really awesome was the spectators’ reaction. They all stood and cheered. I was higher than a kite. I was 49 years old and hadn’t had this kind of adulation in a long time.

During the weekend, I had learned that my tent mate and I didn’t live too far from each other back in Little Rock, so he told his initial driver of the unit that he had another ride and traveled with me back to Little Rock. We discussed everything under the sun during our drive back to Little Rock with the openness of two long lost kin folk.  Needless to say he became My Pard.  Now we are as close as brothers even though we live 800 miles apart.

So, the Prairie Grove reenactment of 1994 was a momentous occasion for me. I got totally hooked on Civil War Reenacting and discovered my brother from another life.

Here’s hoping you have had a great experience at least once during your life.

Posted in Re-enactment | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Civil War Transcendence, part 317

 

I looked at Sergeant Billings and directed, “Send out four troopers as scouts ‘bout a mile in front of us, with two troopers half way between tha scouts and tha main body. I need ya to stay with tha troop. I’ll be between tha two troopers and yar command.”

He nodded his affirmation and loudly called, “Troop A, four men forward as advance scouts with two men as courtiers between us and tha scouts, Move out at tha gallop!”

The advance troopers headed out in a very orderly manner.  The Sergeant timed the advance scouts departure and then sent the two courtiers forward. Zeke, Skeeter and I left just a few minutes later with the main body to follow.

We had about 10 miles to go before we entered the southern outskirts of Frederick City. I reckoned there were at least 1000 Yanks garrisoned there. We were probably outnumbered 20 to 1. Our raid would be like a flea biting an elephant. However, it would depend on where a flea would bite that would draw the attention of our elephant.

In my prior visits to Frederick, I remember there was a main street that housed a large church and other government buildings. I figured that the Union garrison would be located away from the city, probably on the National Pike to the east of the Frederick downtown area.  I also believed the Yanks had a contingent of men on Braddock Heights because it would need to be defended, since it was the gateway to eastern Maryland.

317-braddock-toll

We would be coming into town from the south. If we switched to a road coming in from the southwest, we could raise enough Cain before we got to downtown Frederick to pull men off Braddock Heights to the west and from the Union garrison that is probably situated to the east. Then we could hightail it north and pull a bunch of the Yanks away from Mosby’s main thrust on Braddock Heights.

Once we knew they were on our trail, we would circle back to the west and then south to Burkittsville. It was a crazy plan and I felt that I would end up like John Hunt Morgan did in my universe. However, I was committed.

We had ridden about four miles with me deep in thought as to what we were going to do in Frederick, when one of the two courtiers came riding back to report a possible Union contingent ahead. I told the courtier to continue to the main body and tell them to halt until further notice.

Zeke, Skeeter and I trotted ahead for about a half mile. We found the second courtier along with the four advance scouts to the side of the road with pistols drawn.

We quietly rode to where they had taken up position.

“What’s going on?” I questioned.

A corporal piped up and informed, “Sir, we was just coming to a bend in tha road and saw tha tail end of a Yank patrol cross our road from a side road. They came from tha east and headed west.”

“Did ya see how many Yanks there were?” I asked.

“We didn’t see tha full patrol, but I figure ‘bout 20 troopers. It seemed they’s just riding tha area and didn’t seemed to be in a big hurry or ‘specting anything,” he added.

I turned to the second courtier and told him to ride like the wind and pull the main body up at the gallop.

Then I left one advance scout to tell Sarge Billings to follow my trail and took three of the advance scouts along with my two constant companions and rode after the Yank patrol.

The Yanks were proceeding to the west and could possibly run into Mosby’s advance guards. Our unit had to pull the Yanks away from the west and get them to chase us toward the east.

We didn’t have far to travel before we saw the tail end of the Yank patrol. I slowed the men to a walk and whispered, “We’e gonna charge tha Yanks. I want ya to empty yar pistols into ‘em. Then we’s gonna hightail it back tha way we came, and hopefully our main body will be therah to cover us. So, come into battle line.”

We reconfigured to where we were six abreast.

“Draw pistols. Let’s give ‘em tha ole Rebel Yell. Charge!”

We rode forward at the gallop, screaming like banshees and firing our Colts.

The Yanks were taken completely by surprise.

 

Posted in Time Travel | Leave a comment

Civil War Transcendence, part 316

 

316_sergeant_chevrons

We got directions to the camp of Greenley’s former company, which is now commanded by First Sergeant Billings.  We rode to the camp in a matter of minutes.  I asked the first trooper we met where the sergeant was located. He directed me to a tent at the beginning of the company street of tents.  We quickly went down to the sergeant’s abode.

Once there, I said in a loud voice, “Sergeant Billings, are ya therah?”

We heard a gruff, “Yeah, what cha want?”

“We want to enlist ya in a raid of Frederick City,” I intoned.

This brought him out of the tent at the double quick. “What?” he sputtered.

When he saw it was me and that I had a smile on my face, he toned down and shrugged, “Oh.”  Then he queried, “Ya ain’t serious about a raid are ya?”

“I’m afraid so, Sarge. Can ya get tha men ready with 60 rounds of ammo and enough food for 3 days?” I asked.

“Yes sir. But what ‘bout the horses?” he questioned.

“We’ll have to live off tha land,” I countered. “We need to be on tha road within tha next thirty minutes. Can ya get tha men outfitted by that time?” I solicited.

“Yes sir. We been resupplying since early this morning. By the way, who authorized this herah raid?” he judiciously asked.

“Major Mosby with General Ashby’s blessing. We just got the word a few minutes ago. Our raid is the event that will bring the Yanks into our clutches,” I added.

“Well, I ‘spect we need to get going. If’n therah is anything I want to get in our clutches, it’s some Yank troopers,” he joked. “Which road are we takin?”

“We’ll be going out tha Ballinger Creek Pike,” I informed.

The sergeant walked out into the middle of the company street and suddenly yelled, “All troopers get yar gear and saddle up. We’re moving out.”

Zeke, Skeeter and I moved out of the company area and went to where the pike we would be following left the small hamlet of Adamsville. We dismounted, and I began to give Stonewall one of his massages. In the distance we could hear the other units being called to get ready to move out.  Stonewall snorted his distain of having to move out after so many days of fighting and riding.

I grinned and whispered, “Just wait til this is over. I’m gonna get ya a bushel of oats and a bale of hay.”

He opened his eyes to see if I was joking. I gave him one of my most sincere looks and nodded my head in the affirmative. He just snorted and closed his eyes again.

In just a few minutes, Billings arrived at the head of his troop. He saluted and I returned his salute. I requested, “How many men reporting for duty and how many are too sick to come along?”

“We have 59 men reporting for duty and 3 under a surgeon’s care,” he answered.

I nodded, and pointing to Zeke and Skeeter, said, “These are Privates Milton and Williams. Private Milton is familiar with this region. We will use his knowledge for the lay of the land and for directions.  If for some reason I can’t command, you will take over.

“Our mission is to raid Frederick City and to cause as much havoc as possible. However, we don’t know the strength of the Union force there. In any case we don’t want to get caught in a sustained fight with a larger force. We want the Frederick garrison to contact the larger Union force that is west of here at Middletown to come to their aid.

“General Ashby and Major Mosby are gonna ambush ‘em at Braddock Heights, which is west of Frederick. Ya got any questions?”

“Lieutenant, what cha mean by a sustained fight with a larger force?” Sergeant Billings asked.

I smiled and explained, “If’n we run into a larger force, we will make a runnin’ retreat of it. No need to get in a fight with a superior force.”

The Sergeant smiled at my in-depth explanation.

“Well, we better head out. Sergeant, please send four scouts forward. We will need to move rather quickly so let’s move at the gallop,” I directed.

Sergeant Billings saluted and began obeying his orders. Zeke, Skeeter and I rode ahead of the troop as the four scouts moved pass us and out on the pike.

I sighed, which made Stonewall look back at me. He whinnied loudly as I nudged him into a gallop.

Posted in Time Travel | Leave a comment