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East Lyme AAR
Colonel Joseph Leo, commanding
6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV
I herewith submit my report of the operations of Co. H, 1st Maryland Infantry, in the action at East Lyme this past weekend. Please consider this to be the official report of Dement's Battery as well.
A good showing of 17 soldiers and 6 civilians of the 1st Maryland began to set up camp on Friday afternoon. We were aided by two soldiers of the 12th Georgia, and two from the 33rd NCT, as well as two underage soldiers from the 12th. We managed to set up an impressive and comfortable camp, in 1st Maryland style. The renewal of comradeship around the campfire was, as always, excellent. We were particularly pleased at the presence of Capt. Devon Kurtz, of the 8th CT, our sister unit. Devon was injured in a serious automobile accident this summer, and it was wonderful to see him in the field again, and in such fine spirits. We passed a fine and comfortable evening.
Saturday dawned bright and beautiful. The 8th CT's Nathan Bayreuther, the reenacting coordinator, had arranged a 2 1/2 mile march into the camp. Eight members of the 8th, one from the 12th, one from the 33rd, the two underage soldiers, and the 5th Alabama made the stroll. I was given the honor of commanding the march. (Thanks Devon!)
It was quite a pleasure to march alongside my friend, Sgt. Kim Perlotto of the 8th, though I admit to some concern about his right arm, as he insisted at staying at the shoulder the entire time. (I know he is a sergeant, but we are reenactors.) The men marched well, and made an excellent presentation. I would like to commend the East Lyme police for the escort that kept us safe, and Pvt. Bayreuther for arranging the march.
We returned to camp with just enough time to align the company for the 10:00 AM color ceremony. Forgive me for a bit of nit picking here. The "To the Color", played beautifully by a local band director, was the modern version, not the period. The small brass band he brought, which had an excellent period instrumentation, played the "Star Spangled Banner" as the flag was raised. This was not the National Anthem at the time, indeed there was no National Anthem. At the raising, the period "To the Color" should have been played.
The band went on to play "America", which I believe would have been correct, and "America the Beautiful" which was not written at the time. Indeed, I remarked to Cpl. Purnell (the Yeti) "that is a beautiful melody, I've never heard it before." Despite my nitpicking, it was an effective ceremony.
The most important moment of the weekend for the 1st was scheduled next, the dedication of Dement's Battery's James gun, Barker. The 1st and the 8th marched into position around the piece, near the memorial tree planted at the site in 1997. I offered a prayer and made some opening remarks. Miss Maureen offered her thanks, and we all joined in the singing of "Maryland, my Maryland". This was followed by a bagpipe tune, and then a three volley salute. Co. H fired first followed under the command of Maj. Johnson, (Leonidas Jones), followed by the 8th CT, commanded by Capt. Kurtz, and then Dement's Battery, firing Barker, under the command of Capt. Dement, (Leonidas Jones). (I know, I get around!) Let the record show that for Barker's first official shot, the lanyard was pulled by Mrs. Charles W. Barker. We closed with another prayer, and the singing of Charlie's favorite hymn, "Abide with Me".
Charlie Barker was instrumental in seeing that the 1st was involved in this well paid and fun living history. He is held in high esteem by the folks in East Lyme, who honored him with the tree. I would like to thank them for allowing us these minutes to honor Charlie with this ceremony, and I would also like to thank the 8th Connecticut for joining us in this ceremony.
The ceremony having run a little long, the infantry drill was postponed until 11:15 AM. We reviewed all close order maneuvers by both flanks, and skirmish drill.
We returned to camp for a brief space, then Dement's Battery went out for artillery drill. This drill was also most effective. A crowd of spectators developed, and a British observer, who turned out to be a cousin of Major Joe Pereira, and resembled him greatly, explained the drill to the spectators.
The major event of the day, rather than being a battle, was a Town Ball match, between members of the 8th and the 1st. We agreed to a match of 45 minutes or 20 tallies. Capt. Kurtz, somewhat fatigued from the march in the morning, acted as referee. The 1st played what was most likely our best played defensive match. I would like to commend Pvt. Schliephake, (the Screaming Drunkard, AKA Craig Kovacs), who was on his best behavior, and performed superbly in the field as our catcher, 1st Sgt. Dorsey (Chris Svejk) for an outstanding effort both offensively and defensively, and Pvt. William Colston, (Jeff Mansir) for an excellent offensive effort and several superb catches in the field. With this excellent support, we won the match before the time limit, 20 to 2, and gained possession of "The Bell", a school bell procured by the 8th, and engraved with a Calvert cross and CT seal by our own Pvt. Colston, (Mansir).
We settled in for evening and our meal, chili prepared by Sgt. Dorsey (Svejk) and a smoked pig prepared by Pvt. Colston (Mansir). I was relaxing under the fly, when Capt. Kurtz arrived at around 6:00, asking if I was going to the meeting for the house tour skit presented by the Societee D'Europe. I had not heard of such a meeting, but was informed that the scenario called for a Federal officer and a Confederate officer. Being the only Confederate officer in the near vicinity, I acquiesced.
This would not have been a problem had I been informed earlier. Since I, as Bradley Johnson, was required I the house, it was a little awkward for me, as William Dement, to command the night firing artillery demonstration. I also missed two hours of socialization at the campfire. Still, I had the pleasure of the company of my great friends, Capt. Kurtz, Lt. Bob Boucher, and Cpl. Hal Elwell, of the 8th and 1st Sgt. Jim Hollister, of the 12th GA. We also had the pleasure of the company of Brevet Major Ian MacKay (Jim Matthews) for the entire two hours.
In the first tour, Lt. Boucher accused me of violating my oath as an officer in the prewar army. Little did he know that Bradley Johnson was not an officer in the prewar army. In the second, Brevet Major MacKay ordered me to detach Sgt. Hollister to him. I informed him that, as a brevet major, he was junior to me, and, until such time as the Crown recognized the Confederacy, he had no business issuing orders to a Confederate officer anyway. He backed down. The next two tours were not as fun, as both the Federal officers and myself found our good lines deployed by another actor.
As we approached the 9:00 PM artillery night fire, I grew concerned. The Battery had been steadfastly avoiding partying in preparation, but the house had decided to add another tour. I arranged to leave to command the night fire, which would take place between tours. The battery performed nobly, and Barker gave us some beautiful flames. The Yeti, I believe, has recaptured them on stone, in cave drawing fashion.
After the night fire, I returned to the house, to report that the piece was down. I found that Capt. Kurtz and Lt. Boucher had retired, replaced by two NCO's. I then placed the Confederate side in the able hands of 1st Sgt. Hollister (sorry Jim) and returned to camp, to spend a most sociable rest of the evening.
I had not mentioned earlier the presence of our Battalion ordnance Sergeant, Jack Kelly. In establishing a business with his son, he has been unable to be with us this past year. Having him in camp and around the camp fire, particularly as we honored our mutual friend, Charlie, was one of the great pleasures of the event. I also enjoyed hearing Pvt. Lemmon (John Robideau) regale us about his "Toaster" collection. While I didn't quite follow the entire discussion, the idea of heating the captured hard tack before attempting to eat it seems a good one.
Sunday dawned rather cloudy and foreboding. I was most heartened by the appearance of Pvt. Randolph McKim (Bryce Wilkins), who has been unable to join us for some time. It was wonderful to have him back in the ranks.We formed at 9:00 AM for the color ceremony, and marched immediately to the nearby cemetery for a ceremony honoring East Lyme soldiers. The only serious glitch was the lack of road security. Twice, I threw myself in front of oncoming traffic to keep the 5th Alabama from being destroyed. Lt. Boucher form the 8th joined me in traffic security. A word on Living Histories; make sure traffic control is arranged ahead of time. Event coordinators may not think of it.
The ceremony went well, and the march back was without incident. I did appreciate Taylor Quist thanking me for "helping us not get killed!" Infantry and artillery drill took place as scheduled, and excellent brunch, cooked by Sally O'Rourke, was enjoyed by all.
I would also like to commend and thank Sally for cleaning the Dutch ovens and fry pan. It makes it so much easier to prepare for Brick House when we don't have to clean them. Thanks!!
As we prepared for afternoon Town Ball, it became clear that the 8th, affected by daytripperittis, could not field a team. We divided forces equally, and played a "non-bell" match, enjoyed by all. During the match, we were joined by Col. John Singleton Mosby, AKA John Bond (Chet Boris) and his daughter Sherry. Again, it was wonderful to renew old friendships. We then returned to camp, and began to strike the tents.
In all, this was an outstanding living history. We saw members we had not seen for over a year. We cemented our relationship with the 8th CT, an outstanding group of reenactors, and we made a good amount for both our units treasuries. I am sure we will work together closely in the future. I would also like to thank the event team, particularly Nathan and Rebecca Bayreuther, who live in the area, and did so much to make the event a success.
Major Bradley T. Johnson (Leonidas Jones)
Captain, Co. H, 1st Maryland Infantry
Major, 6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV
The Southern Legion
Captain William Dement (Leonidas Jones)
Dement's Battery, 1st Maryland Flying Artillery