Archive for the ‘Civil War Reenactment’ Category

A Civil War Rennactor goes to School!!

March 20, 2007

     Well the last time I wasted your time I gabbed about giving a magic show for my  daughters kindergarten class.  A number of years rolled by and I became a grandfather to my son’s little boy.  He eventually started to school and progressed to the second grade.  The school he attended during his elementary years was located in the city of La Mirada, Ca. and was a presidential citation school for excellence.  One day during a visit to their house it was mentioned that his second grade class was studing   the Civil War, which suprised me as I did not know it was studied it that young age.  Once again my foot got inserted into my mouth with out thought.  I volunteered to come to his class in uniform as his show and tell, “Bonk me on the head!!”.  Well Jeremy’s mother went to school and discussed it with his teacher, this led to a conference on the school office with the principal.  While this was being discussed it was overheard by a fifth grade teacher.  She excitedly interrupted to ask if I would consider doing the fifth grade also, as they were deeply involved with the Civil War at that time.   By the time I was notified of the results I was committed to doing the second grade in the morning, both classes aprx. fifty kids, and the three sixth grade classes after lunch aprx. sixty kids.  This had expanded from going to a class room in uniform and being shown off to a full course demonstration of    thirty minutes for the second graders and a hour for the fifth grade.  Once again I was totally unprepared for something of this magnitude.  What the hell could I talk about for a hour?  Well I had enough junk to haul around with me so I hastily made notes of facts I thought would interest them. (more…)

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“Unsung Hero’s”

October 31, 2006

     If you have followed my blog for any length of time you know of my Civil War reenactment and interest.  My reenacting took place  in a Confederate Artillery unit. On the field there were of course the infantry and mostly dismounted Calvary units.  But on the actual Fields of battle in the real war there were many more men engaged in the important behind the lines endeavors that are seldom mentioned.  Supply was a very necessary and unglamorous duty.  Food had to be provided and ammunition did not magically appear in the men’s ammo pouches.  Cannons had to be supplied, medical equipment and medicine delivered.

      For the first time in the history of warfare the railroad played a important part.  However the track only ran from place to place and battles were fought many miles away.  Therefore the supply corps was a very necessary element of both armies.   Can you imagine the size of the supply dept?  Horses for example, need fodder in the form of hay and grain.  Officers horses, Calvary horses, artillery horses, ambulance and  horses of every kind had to be feed.  Now I suppose most people think these animals could forge in fields and roadsides.  No so, it would be impossible to feed that many animals off the land.  This fodder had to be hauled from the northern farms and fields.    hundreds of miles to the front lines.  It took countless wagons to just supply this one important commodity.  Then consider this the animals hauling this grain and fodder also need to be fed. 

      The southern armies were not so fortunate as the union they had not the supply base and equipment.The best they could hope for was to intercept what union supplies they could.  It was often said the best supply corps for the Confederacy was the union army.  Many Confederate Calvary units were devoted to raiding the union supply lines.  Nathan Bedford Forest and John Mosby were particularly adept at this type of raiding.  The rail lines were targets of choice as their routes were limited to the tracks.  Many troops were diverted from combat to guard duty along the lines and wagon routes.

     My wife has a friend whose husband has some of his family history in which his great great grandfather was wounded while delivering hardtack.  Hardtack is a particularly unappetizing cracker made of unleavened flour and water which was a staple of combat troops.  Often times weevils infested  the crackers which the men hailed as extra protein.  For the north air-tights (canned goods) were often available.  

     What I wanted to call attention to here is the fact that for every man in combat there were up to five more behind the lines supporting him.  There were engineers, medical personal, supply and repairmen of all types.  There were telegraph linemen and operators, signal men, map makers, and even balloon conservationist.  (more…)

Civil War Reenacting

September 23, 2006

                    This time I am not going to talk about me so much as about other guys I know and talked with.  The California reenactment group is relative small compared to groups back east especially in the area where the main battles took place.  I used to drive ninety miles to the Fort Taejon State park for my wars.  It was a Fort long before   the Civil war in the Calif. early statehood days.  During the civil war it functioned as the terminus for the experiment with the Camel Corps.  Some one got the bright Ideas to use Camels as transportation vehicular for supplies across the desert.     they had to import Arabs to try to teach members of the United States Army how to handle the big animals.  the American horse did not get along well with the Camel and a lot of difficulty ensued.  Needless to say the program was discontinued after several years of trying.  The camels were eventually turned loose to fend for themselves.  Sometime around 1929 was the last sighting of a wild Camel in the U.S. desert.  A number of the buildings still stand today at the park.

     On one occasionI went up on a Saturday afternoon for a meeting and spent the night in my camper-shell, battles were fought on Sundays.  I was parked on one of the side roads next to the park cleaning up for the day and eating a small breakfast, a stand of trees separated me from the main camping area and open battle ground.  As I was shaving I looked through the trees and up above the open area I saw the Union Infantry at drill.  This was early in the morning and they had camped overnight.  They were in full uniform marching four abreast in full company strength.  Their rifle’s were at shoulder arm with naked bayonet’s shining in the early sunlight.As they maneuvered around a obstacle they looked like a silver snake crawling across the ground.  This was before the park was opened for spectators so  everything looked period.  It was a chilling and thrilling sight and one felt like he had been transported back in time to the 1860’s.  This is the feeling I want to try to capture for you through the eyes of others.

     I once talked to a fellow who portrayed Gen. grant at a reenactment at Shiloh, (known as Pittsburgh Landing to the union army).   reenactors from all over the U.S. were on hand for the set piece.      It was early morning with daylight just coming on, the ground was srouded with fog.   Union Infantry was silently filing into position voices were muted and equipment soft clinking as he rode along.  These are decated people who take their roles very seriously.  Individual solders would acknowledge him with a half wave or salute.  Officers would come with reports or to seek instruction.  He said tension and anticipation was so thick in the air you could hardly stand it.  Everyone was straining to hear the approach of the confederates waiting for the attack to begin that he would forget for minutes at a time this was just a reenactment.  When the battle opened off to his left he was startled he had expected it to come from the front.  then suddenly while everyone was consecrating on the left they were hit from the right flank.  He said the confusion was so real he now understands why so many battles were uncertain affairs until the end.  (more…)

The Civil War and Me

July 13, 2006

     The largest opening Battle of the Civil War after the firing on of Fort Summter was litterly fought n my back yard.  On July 3 1961 the Battle of Carthage Missouri took place.  I started two miles north of town and proceeded right over the property of the first house I remember living in.  It involved over four thousand Confederate troops, half of them unarmed, and a large force of regular Union troops from Springfield, Mo. under the command of a General Lyons.   I grew up on storied of the battle and tales of a union cannon abandoned in Spring River.  Periodically boys would form expeditions to try to find the gun.  According to official records such a gun was lost never to be found.  But I expect it was later recovered by the victorious confederate troops.       As a young teenager after I discovered the town library I spent countless hours pursuing a set of ten large books of Civil War photographs.  My Wife   Bought me this set about five-teen years ago for one Christmas.  Over the years I have amassed a library of over one hundred hardbound books on the subject.  Add to that the six or eight years of magazine subscriptions I have quite a Lot of materiel on the subject. 

      If you have read my previous ramblings you know of my forays into the Mountain Man era.  I have a respectable collection of books and material on that subject also, as well as on the American West (read that as Cowboys that for a later time).  After my daughter had reached the age where she became her own individual and was perusing her own interests, I drifted away from the Mountain Man encampment and was at odds-ends as what to do with my self.  I attended a function one weekend at the store that provided most of my shooting supply for black-powder shooting which hosted what they called a shivery.  This was a gathering of different shooting enthused.  One group caught my attention.  They were calling their-selves the Southern Missouri Confederate Artillery.  After talking with them and discovering there was a large group of Civil War reenactors in Southern California I became involved.  I found I could join the Confederate group     using much of my mountain man equipment with out a large out lay of money.  To join the Union forces at that time would require in excess of fifteen hundred dollars, that was a no brainer on my part.  Yeah I know I had at least six  double great grand fathers who fought for the Union rolling in their graves but what the heck I was not making a political (more…)