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Brick House AAR
Colonel Joseph Leo, cmdg
6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV
It is my privilege to submit my report of the operations of Co. H, 1st Maryland Infantry, in the actions around the Brick House Museum/Orange County Farmer's Museum, in Montgomery, NY this past weekend.
A small detachment of 13 soldiers and 6 civilians from the 1st arrived Friday. We were joined by detachments from the 16th NCT, 55 VA, 7th TN, 21st VA, Lee's Light Horse, and 55th VA Artillery, as well as small groupings from non battalion units. Miss Liz and I arrived at 6:00 PM, to find most of the camp set up. Our setup was accomplished expeditiously in a light rain, which grew heavier as the evening progressed.
While the camp site was tight, it was well laid out. The increasing rain proved the major flaw. The Confederate camp was in a depression surrounded by the road. All the water draining off the road drained into our camp! Perhaps the event organizers can find a more favorable camp site should weather prove unfavorable next year.
We awoke to a rain which very from a mist to light rain, which continued much of the day. Even when it was not raining, the high humidity made it impossible to dry anything out. Despite that, we continued in good spirits, with our morning parade and a light company drill at 8:00.
Battalion drill followed at 9:30. I was pleased to note that despite the non battalion elements who were unfamiliar with our drill, evolutions were completed with dispatch, if not with our normal parade ground precision. Our
drill has progressed greatly, and I look forward to a schedule next year which get all together a little more often. We could be a sight to see!
While battalion drill was a bit long, it caused no serious problem, as the schedule was clear up until the afternoon formation for the battle. Some took the time for a very interesting tour of the Brick House Museum, as well as
looking around the rest of the site. The Farmers' Museum is in development, but is already interesting, and will become more so as the years go on.
We began our season in earnest with Chancelorsville at Hammonassett, so it was perhaps fitting to end with it at Brick House. We marched out into the woods, where we turned around to face the Federal threat. Dismounted Cav skirmishers flushed them out, and, when supported by skirmishers from the 1st, drove them from their position. The rapid advance of the rest of the battalion deployed by inversion in line of battle, drove the Federal forces from the woods altogether, and into an open field, where we were able to lay fire on them from a protected position.
Again we saw that the inversion of the company order causes no safety problem, and only minor inconvenience in maneuvering. Indeed, since we were able to maneuver in line, and change front in wooded terrain an a steep slope, perhaps we can now say that there is no inconvenience in maneuvering.
The battle was marred only by two Federal companies that broke the scenario and advanced beyond their mark to attack our left flank. The 1st and the dismounted managed to refuse the flank, but it did lead to an unsatisfying end to the battle, which simply ended with no clear cut winner. Despite the unsatisfactory end, it was an exhilarating fight.
The rest of the afternoon passed into evening in a very relaxed manner very appropriate for a laid back season ender. Spectator traffic was held down by the weather, but there was much to see and do, without a great onus on the reenactors to create the whole show. The 1st had an early dinner followed by our October meeting. While most of the proceedings there are not germane to this report, I will state that 1st Sgt. Dorsey (Chris Svejk) and I have been nominated to continue as military officers of the company. Our elections will be held in January.
Many members of the battalion took up the 124th NY's offer, as host unit, to join in the festivities at their camp. Most of us, however, stayed to enjoy the friendship around our own campfires. At 9:00 PM we had an officer's call which laid excellent groundwork for our Nov. 1st Battalion meeting at Westmoor Park, West Hartford.
The rest of the evening allowed us to take our last opportunity for a while, to sit in camp, and enjoy our closest friends.
Sunday dawned to a somewhat less gray sky, with an occasional burst of sunshine! The 1st was hit hard by casualties (daytripping) and being down to a strength of 8, decided to pass on the tactical. Keep in mind that my report is from second hand sources.
Most seemed to feel that the tactical was somewhat less than satisfying. The Federals were to start from the far end of the site with a chest of "gold" for a payroll, with the objective of transporting it to the Federal Provost hut. The Confederate objective was to intercept and capture the payroll.
While this was a most intriguing scenario, it was marred by two problems. The Federals, instead of moving out to the far end of the site, started from their camp, cutting the area in half and putting them right on top of the
Confederate force almost immediately. This was combined with inconsistent refereeing. The modern military referees were very aggressive, declaring a large portion the combatants killed within 10 minutes. Since the Federals outnumbered us 3-1, Confederate forces were quickly reduced to a point where they could no longer compete.
While the execution of the tactical was not good, most seemed to agree that the idea was sound, and with some tweaking could produce a satisfactory result in the future.
Divine services were offered under increasingly improving skies, conducted in excellent fashion by Chaplain Brolley of LHHC. I was pleased to see a good turnout from the 1st.
Sunday Dress Parade went off very well. My compliments particularly to Lt Ed Forquer of the 16th NCT for filling in so ably in the critical role of adjutant. Dress Parade was followed by battalion drill, which showed great
improvement over Saturday. In all, it was a good weekend for drill.
In the interval after drill and before the battle, the ladies of the 1st, having discovered a phrenologist on site, decided it would be advisable to get all the soldiers over to have their craniums analyzed. These modern men of
science gave interesting readings of our intellectual abilities and emotional states. We discovered that I am well suited for command, except for my unfortunate tendency toward instability and insanity. This would leave
command to 1st Sgt. Dorsey (Svejk) who was found by the professor to be likely to be ruthless, aggressive, and tyrannical!
Armed with this disturbing knowledge, we none the less formed up for battle. We were once again marched into the woods. Our dismounted troopers screened our motions, keeping Federal forces occupied while we took a strong position behind a fence on their right flank. They retreated across the field as we continued to move up and stay on there flank. Finally, they changed their front, but too late to avail them, and they were forced to retire from the field.
As an aside, you will remember that during the battle, you informed me that you might be wounded, which, in Lt. Col. Boyle's absence, would cause command to fall to me. I had to inform you that, due to my tendency toward
instability, your death would certainly cause me to go insane, rendering me unfit for command! 1st Sgt Dorsey, due to his tyrannical ruthlessness, would surely order the 1st to make a suicide charge on the Federal position! I am glad that you kept yourself safe.
In all, while the Sunday battle gave less opportunity for maneuver and skirmish order, there was ample opportunity to burn powder, and the conclusion was more satisfying, leading both soldiers in the ranks, and spectators to be well pleased.
Sad to report, on our return to camp, I did go insane. After returning to my senses, I was informed that I ran about the camp aimlessly, screaming as I went. 1st Sgt. Dorsey immediately took command, ordering the men out for two hours of drill, without shoes. Happily, we were both restrained, and soon the proper order of things returned. 1st Sgt. Dorsey and I plan to seek treatment from a practitioner of mesmerism and animal magnetism, to avoid such a circumstance in the future.
Despite the unfortunate incident, we were most pleased to see full sunshine as we broke camp. While much clothing and equipment remained wet, we had the blessing of dry canvas, ready for winter storage.
To sum up, this is most promising event, well run by the 124th, who are clearing even more ground for us. The site is lovely and, with the gift of good weather, could make an outstanding season ender for the Battalion. It
is convenient for the western units, less than two hours from most parts of Connecticut, and even our Northern comrades, with trips of 4 1/2 to 6 hours, seem to consider it a "local" event. I would strongly urge all member units to consider this event for their schedules next year. It would be nice to end the year seeing all our friends!
Captain, Co.H, 1st Maryland Infantry
Major, 6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV
The Southern Legion