Oct 15, 2000
Brick House AAR
Colonel Joseph Leo
commanding, 6th Battalion
1st Division, ANV
Herewith, I submit my report of the operations of Co. H, 1st Maryland
Infantry, in the actions at
County Farmers' Museum, Oct. 6-8. Please consider this as the report for the 16th North Carolina and the 55thVirginia, as elements of both those fine units also fell under my command.
Even with holiday slowdowns, the trip was under two hours, making this event most convenient. I arrived on site at around 7:00 PM. While it was about full dark, the bright lights of the adjacent football field made for an easy
setup, although it did tend to diminish the period flavor of the camp. Fortunately, football activities ceased at around 9:00, and we settled in for a most pleasant evening.
Miss Liz was unable to attend, so I parked my dog tent at the head of the street. We had seven soldiers in attendance, including the Sgt. Major and the Provost. We were joined by five members of the 16th NCT, who camped with us, and three members of the 55th VA, who camped with their artillery component. As none of our 1st sergeants were able to attend, lance 1st Sergeant Jacob Lamitie of the 16th, was pressed into service.
The night flew by, and I was pleased to get to spend quite a bit of it with Capt. Duckett of the 12th. As we were about to retire, my tent came crashing down, with a broken ridge pole. I returned to my wagon and retrieved a spare, which also broke! My thanks to Capt. Duckett for the loan of the 12th's flag pole, which served me as a ridge for the night.
Other Legion units in attendance were elements of the 12th Georgia, 7th Tennessee, and 36th Alabama, who also combined into one company street, and an excellent turnout for Lee's Light Horse, who added in elements of the 2nd Florida. They also operated as color company, and were thus joined by the Sumter Rifles. Two non battalion infantry units filled out the battalion, the 30th Virginia and the 3rd Alabama. We also had a large turnout of artillery, with the Middlesex Artillery's mountain howitzer, Jackson's Flying Battery's two full size pieces, and a non battalion unit as well. The Richmond Howitzers decided not to bring their piece, and Sgt. Devine served as brevet chief of artillery for the weekend.
Saturday broke, cool and lovely, indeed perfect reenacting weather. Lance 1st Sgt. Lamitie was no where to be found. It turns out that in sleeping by the fire, he had managed to set himself on fire overnight!! Fortunately, he
put it out overnight. He only lost a blanket, a gum blanket, and put a real nice hole and scorch mark just above the diamond on his father's sleeve. I guess the god of insufficient light smiled on him.
Morning parade and drill was held as usual at 8:00 AM. I was very pleased to see how well the units meshed together in drill. Corporal Tom Hebb (Brian Samsel) of the 1st acted as 2nd sergeant with the Human Torch, I mean lance Sgt. Lamitie as 1st Sgt. I resisted the temptation to command "Flame On"!
Between drill and the 9:00 officers' call, I had a chance to wander the woods and found some fresh cut limbs, very straight, enabling me to return Capt. Duckett's flagpole to him.
A brief officers' call was followed by battalion drill. The drill was very effective, and was marred only by the exceedingly wet terrain. I had brought two pair of socks with me, but to ward off the morning chill, I had both of them on. Still, I was very pleased with the performance of our composite company, now becoming known as the 1,165th North Maryginia Infantry. (We decided to settle on "1st company" for short.)
It was a bit disconcerting when at about this time, youth football, complete with fans, loudspeakers and cheerleaders, began on the directly behind headquarters row. While the event was there last, games did not take place until Sunday. This, year, football was virtually non stop from 10:00 to after 5:00. It did make it a little difficult to get the period rush for which so many of us hope.
Post drill, we had a brogan and sock drying opportunity around the fire. When sufficiently dry, I made a trip to Sutlers' Row. There were four merchants set up, a small assortment, but I did pick up another pair of socks. Our young 16th contingent took it on themselves to mount a guard.
Lunch was taken at the convenient concession stand, where I was pleased to have the company of Cpl. Purnell (Yeti) and Pvt. Schliephake (Craig Kovacs). I also ran into Corporal of the Guard Jackson, who had found us a new recruit while on guard. The young man is a high school senior, and the son of an instructor at West Point. The young had a military demeanor, but had missed all available drill opportunies. I informed Cpl. Jackson that he would have to instruct the new soldier until he was satisfied with his safety, and then have 1st Sgt. Smokey, I mean Lamitie approve him on separate examination.
On my way back to camp, I picked up another tree limb ridge pole. I have discovered the desirability of having a spare.
Cpl. Jackson took his new responsibility most seriously, and drilled our new soldier for an hour. I had the opportunity to observe his instruction, and found it to be outstanding! I predict rapid advancement.
He presented the young man to me as approved by himself and 1st Sgt. Lamitie. I requested that he go over skirmish drill. Cpl. Jackson proceeded to instruct him, using some small rocks to represent the soldiers in skirmish order. I have the rocks in my possession, in a small jar labeled "Schuyler's Rocks."
Formation and arms inspection for the afternoon battle was at 2:30. We marched to the field to deploy. For those who have been at the event in past years, it was a bit surprising to see that the main field where we have usually fought, was a mud pit. There is still a lot of territory in which to fight, but most of it is wooded, and consequently out of sight of the spectators.
We broke ranks, at our very impressive artillery line, the scenario being that we were artillery support, and the Federals were about to break an uneasy pickets' truce.
Federal sharpshooters, after a bit of a wait, did deploy as skirmishers and began to fire on us. We fell in, took arms and loaded with rapidity, fired a volley and deployed our own skirmish. Our line being stronger than theirs, we quickly pushed them back to the wood line, where, added by a narrow bridge over the difficult terrain, they managed to stall our advance for a few minutes. However, our superior firepower forced them back.
We crossed the bridge by the flank and redeployed in the woods. Aided by the 3rd Alabama, we pushed the retreating Federals before us, and arrived at nearly the road at the end of the woods, where the arrival of the Federal main body arrested our advance.
Despite an overwhelming deficit in numbers, we held our ground for quite some time. Gradually we began to be outflanked on our right, and began a fighting withdrawal, leapfrogging our companies. I must especially cite 1st Sergeant Lamitie, who repeatedly posted back to set our new defensive positions, moving so quickly it was as though he were on fire!
When we returned to the bridge, we retreated by the flank, covered by Lee's Light Horse in a strong defensive position. We fell back behind the gun line for some much needed rest,
As we rested, our artillery opened up on the Federals, now bottled up in the open field. When we returned to the firing line the remnants of their fighting force were easily dispatched. The day was ours. In all, it was a most satisfying fight, and our company's military highlight of the event.
We returned to our camp in plenty of time to catch the second half of the last football game of the day. It was a relaxed time, but after a bit, I noticed the absence of Pvt. Markoe (Marc Bassos). On inquiring, I learned he had suffered a flare up of poison ivy, and had gone to the emergency room. Fortunately he returned later, feeling better.
After a rest and cleaning of weapons, we betook ourselves over to the concession area for the provided meal. The meal itself was quite good, but the line was quite a long one. Still I enjoyed Pvt. Schliephake's company, as well as that of some members of the 124th NY, the host unit.
Just after dinner, and before returning to camp, I was very pleased to have an opportunity to get reacquainted with Pvt. Bill Helmstetter of the 2nd Florida, who I had not seen in entirely too long a time.
Returning to camp, I just started a pleasant visit at headquarters when suddenly we were jarred out of our seats by a loud raucous semi musical sound! Loud speakers had been set up on the other side of the football field, and large screen put up.
Col. LaRocca of the 124th went over to discover what was gong on. Evidently the town had scheduled a laser light show for that evening, without informing the museum. 1000 children were bused in for this show.
Not knowing the age range involved, a guard was posted to keep visitors from wandering into camp. As it turns out, they were young, and well behaved. The show itself was, while loud, pretty poor. Mercifully, it ended around
9:15, the buses were finally loaded, the lights on the field turned out, and we were finally able to return to our illusion of the 19th century.
Most of our soldiers took an early bedtime, so I wandered a bit from camp to camp, spending some good time with Sgt. Devine and the small detachment of the Richmond Howitzers, before settling in over with Capt Duckett, enjoying the fine music that as being made. It was a very cool night, and I was quite impressed at how Capt. Duckett's fingers managed to stay warm enough to play so beautifully. I finally retired myself, in preparation for the morning's tactical.
Sunday broke, a lovely morning, but very cool. I would have preferred to remain in my warm dog tent, but duty called. The 55th component of our composite did not go out for the tactical, so our company was small particularly since we decided to let Pvt. Markoe (Bassos) sleep. We decided to fight in a one rank line of battle, making an easy formation for 1st Sergeant Lamitie. Before joining the battalion, I brought the good 1st
Sergeant to the front and center for a special presentation.
As many know, we in the 1st all represent soldiers taken from our historic roster, and have researched these men's lives. We decided that 1st Sgt. Lamitie should represent an historic figure as well, so we took the
opportunity to rename him Ambrose Burnside!
As we prepared to join the battalion, a soldier from the Richmond Howitzer's, who had been fighting with Capt. Duckett's company, asked if he could fall in, his company having decided to stay in camp. Being in one rank, this was no problem. On reaching the battalion line, Sgt Devine asked to fall in. We were now at sufficient strength to form into two ranks, and reformed ourselves accordingly. As the battalion marched out, another soldier from the 12th asked to join us.
As we marched, I undoubled the files into one rank, placed our new soldier, redoubled the files, taking care to adjust as necessary, and then recounted in twos. I have been at this a while, but this marked the first time I ever
reformed a company on the march!
Unfortunately, this marked the high point of the tactical.
Actually, since we had been on the firing line so much on Saturday, that it was only fair for us to be in reserve. The tactical was based on a "rescue the prisoner" scenario. We had a Federal prisoner, and their objective was
to rescue him.
The most interesting aspect of the tactical, was that it was refereed by instructors and cadets from West Point. They had researched very well, and did an excellent job. They are to be commended. I very strongly endorse the
idea of refereed tacticals.
This years tactical was moved to a back area of this very large site. It is hilly and wooded, a nice spot for this sort of fight. The other two companies were sent off on their mission. We were sent off into a gully. I didn't really like the position. While we were out of site, giving perhaps an element of surprise, we were also completely boxed in we should be attacked. I guess this was recognized, as we were soon moved off.
At our new position, we deployed our line. Not wanting to place ourselves in the same sort of box, I had the company hug the ground to maintain some sort of surprise factor. Soon the advancing Federal skirmishers moved around our left. I dispatched four skirmishers under the command of Cpl. Jackson, to meet that threat. The opposing force was strong, so I dispatched another group under Sgt. Devine to support Cpl. Jackson's right
Our front was then menaced, so I sent another group under 1st Sgt. Burnside to meet that attack. I realized at that point that I had sent out my entire company, leaving me nothing to command.
Our small force did a superb job at defending that position against a far superior force. I was just about to abandon it through our only remaining exit when the referees ended the tactical. Our prisoner had been rescued.
All in all, we did very well to hold out as long as we did. Not only were we far out manned, two of our companies having remained in camp, but our opponents had mostly grown up on this ground, while we were lost as soon we
entered the woods.
One unexpected advantage we had was that Federals were chasing the wrong object. Lt. Sean Stevenson of Lee's Light Horse happened to be wearing a dark blue kepi and greatcoat. Our opponents spent quite some time trying
to rescue a Confederate officer!
Our company faired quite well with the referee. We had only one man killed, Sgt. Devine, and none wounded.
Since we had about 30 minutes remaining in the allotted time, we reformed and had a basic woods tactical with our referees. We pushed forward in a skirmish line, and pressed up to a shallow ravine. There we faced off and
stood for some time.
I won't go into great detail on this phase, as we were very static for most of the fight. I do have one point to comment on, however.
Sgt Devine, having made a miraculous recovery from his mortal wound, was fighting on our skirmish line, when he received a wound card from a referee. His right arm was wounded. We bandaged it, saving his life, but from that point on, he had no use of his right arm.
He continued to load and fire, using only his left arm. I was tempted to help him, but the process was so fascinating to watch! After ten minutes or so of this, the referee gave him a serious wound to his right leg. He
fashioned a tourniquet from a leather strap, which I tied around his leg, saving his life, although the leg would surely be amputated. We pulled out, leaving him still firing, resting the barrel in a small tree to aim.
Sgt. Devine has the distinction of being the first soldier I have ever known to be killed and crippled, in that order!
As we marched back to camp, 1st Sgt. Burnside took a side trip to a very wet patch of ground, thus reenacting his mud march at Fredericksburg.
Formation was broken at the concessions, where I took the opportunity of breakfasting with the 16th component of our company. I was particularly glad of the chance to make better acquaintance with Cpl. Jackson.
Unfortunately, on our return to camp, we found Pvt. Markoe(Bassos), much recovered, hard at work, cooking breakfast! Ah well!
We returned to camp with only a little time left before dress parade, leaving no time for company drill. Dress parade was well run by guest adjutant Lt. Sean Stevenson. Battalion drill was kept short, with a minimum
Church services were held at 11:00. We had only four, but "when two or three are gathered". Chaplain Hoffner's sermon spoke to me.
On my way back, I detoured through the woods and picked up another nice ridge pole. I have discovered that you can't have to many!
I passed on lunch, having eaten for more than usual, and listened to the cheers from the adjacent field. Soon, however, we had to form up for the afternoon battle. Our troops were rather scattered, and, unfortunately, we were several minutes late, for which I do apologize.
We marched out past the museum and rested past the road. There were a few minutes for us to take our ease, before the left wing was sent out in advance. After a few minutes of fighting, we were sent out by the flank.
When the advance companies had retired, I deployed the 1st division in line to check the Federal advance. Lee's Light Horse deployed on our right, and we began a slow push of the Federals.
We reached the bridge, and, by company, we passed by the flank and formed line in the field. Unfortunately, we found ourselves in the same box in which we trapped the Federals the day before.
We made a desperate advance against the entrenched Federals, but, as we did, I and most of my brave lads, met our unfortunate demise.
As I lay on the field, my life's blood leaving me, just before I gave up the ghost, I heard 1st Sgt. Burnside trying to rally the company, trying to coax one last flame from the dying embers of our once proud command.
Coming back to life, we marched back to camp. Before ranks were broken, Pvt. David Patnode, of the 7th Tennessee, came forward, and challenged Col. Leo to a duel!! It was because of some disagreement concerning the Colonel's dog, I believe.
Once formation was broken, we went about the business of striking the tents. Our chore was interrupted by Pvt. Patnode's insistence on his affair of honor. I will leave it for others to describe, but I must say those were the darndest dueling pistols I have ever seen!
My own personal camp being so small, I was very pleased to be able to offer assistance to my friends, Major Pereira and Miss Lisa, and yourself and Miss Helen, sir. The camp then was deserted, except for Capt. Duckett, and his new recruit, Pvt. Streeter. I offered my assistance, and helped some, but was most repaid by the conversation and fellowship we shared.
I certainly hope that this event will continue to grow and prosper, but, based on this year, there are issues to address. First of all, the location of the Confederate camp next to the football field is really not the answer. Last year, it was merely picturesque. This year it was in almost non stop use all weekend. The idea of moving us into the nearby woods has some merit, but they may want to think of rotating camp sites. The issue of the laser show was, I am sure, a one year problem, which will be rectified.
I certainly do suggest that we support this event, hopefully in greater numbers next year.
McHenry Howard (Lee Jones)
Captain, Co.H, 1st Maryland Infantry
6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV
The Southern Legion