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Ft. Adams AAR
Colonel Joseph Leo, commanding
6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV
I apologize for the severe military conditions that have caused the tardiness of this report. Word of the impending Federal troop concentration at Sutton have forced us to take extreme measures to meet it in as full
force as possible. However, I herewith submit my report of Co. H, 1st Maryland Infantry, at Ft. Adams, the 14-16 ultimo.
Our advance party arrived mid-day, and with the great help of our redoubtable Sgt. Major, John Sullivan (John Maloney) and the vigilant eye of Cpl. William Purnell (Emile Roux, "The Yeti), camp was laid out in a most
efficient fashion. Miss Liz and I arrived with a minimum of traffic delay, and the rest of our detachment arrived before full dark.
The odd confusion about dates held our attendance down to eight military (including those on detached duty) and seven civilians. Had the event happened the week before, as we had originally been informed, we would have
had at least six more soldiers at the event. Still, we were most happy to see those that arrived. The drive through Newport, while a little slow is certainly scenic. Camp was set up, with the aid of Sgt. Shank's (Frank
Valvo's) saw, with dispatch. A beautiful, though rather windy evening, allowed for socialization, and the renewal of our great friendships.
Preparations for the impending military maneuvers had caused both yourself and Lt. Co. Boyle to be called to Richmond for your sage advice, causing Major Joe Pereira to lend his most able hand to the reins of command. He asked myself, and my great friend, Capt. J.D. Duckett of the 12th Georgia, to act as wing commanders for the event. We were honored to comply!
As I saw Capt. Duckett maneuver his wagon towards his camp, I also observed Miss Marguerite walking to camp. I suppose the bouncing of the wooden wheels made walking more comfortable!
Saturday morning dawned, cool and comfortable, but with threatening skies. Company parade was held at 8:00 AM by 1st Sgt. Dorsey (Chris Svejk). Our small numbers made it clear that we needed to combine with another company, and we were most happy to do so with our friends from the Seventh Tennessee., under 1st Sgt. Dorsey's able command.
Officers' call confirmed that decision. We also had strong showings from the "21st's" our old friends from Mississippi, and Co. B, 21st Virginia, (whom I am proud to claim as fellow Marylanders) who made the trek down from Montreal! They were under the able command of Lt. Roger Coyne, and the instruction of two good friends, 1st Sgt. John Wrona, and 2nd Sgt. Jack McCoy. I decided to keep an eye on 1st Sgt. Wrona!
We also had a strong showing from the 12th Georgia, under Lt.'s Roger Borgerson and Bill Proal, with the detachment of Capt Duckett to field command, and the 17th Virginia, under the up and coming Lt. Jim Pereira, who tries not to play on the obvious relationship with the Major, (Dave, watch out for this guy!)
We were somewhat surprised, but incredibly pleased with the reappearance of the 36th Alabama to our midst, under the able command of an old friend of whom I seen regrettably little these past years, Lt. Dermitt McDermitt. This unit had my best friends in reenacting outside of my own unit when I first began in the hobby. To see them back again was worth any anguish in driving through Newport, and more! I was also heartened beyond belief to see the return of a brother (Brother) Richard Oberg, (the 1st's Pvt. Tongue) with the 36th. I sincerely believe this may be the dawn of a new age of Confederate reenacting in New England!
Our infantry was also supported by the two mountain howitzers of Morton's Battery, and a detachment from the 35th Virginia Cavalry.
The companies drilled at 8:00. Field staff met with Federal HQ at 9:00, to prepare for the afternoon's engagement.
At 10:00 AM, an inspection of troops was scheduled. The two primary movers behind the resurgence in activity in developing Ft. Adams as an historic site, are both retired colonels, and appeared uniformed as period colonels,
befitting the service they have done for their country. They were joined by Mrs. Lincoln, (Sally Mumy) and inspected the troops of both armies.
After this inspection, Major Pereira quite wisely marched the battalion outside the fort. With both Federal and Confederate camps inside the Fort, there was virtually no room inside for battalion drill. The drill was
performed on the battlefield, and reviewed all major evolutions with excellent effect. 1st Sgt. Dorsey (Svejk), in command of the 1st company, should be commended for his exemplary effort. His only error was in looking
for a marker that was not posted. As, in effect Lt. Col. I should have posted the marker, and I apologize for my oversight.
We returned to camp for lunch and rest. There was a fair amount of down time before formation for the afternoon battle.
We formed on the color line for battle. Major Pereira ordered me to take my wing out to the staging area, outside the fort. We marched through the sally port, and to our position behind the museum.
As we waited for the battle to begin, the Federal battalion formed behind us for the "sneak attack". Actually it was a nice opportunity to talk to such as Bob and Matt Burbank, who, so often are hidden from us behind the veil of the war.
The battle began with an artillery drill. After several minutes of furious bombardment, I sent the 17th Virginia out as skirmishers. The Federals had seen our artillery, supported by the left wing, on the other side of the
beach head, so the appearance of our skirmishers was quite a surprise. With the 17th screening our movement, the remainder of our wing deployed line of battle and fired a withering volley. As we began our advance, all
resistance melted away before us, with the Federal skirmishers and gun crews withdrawing into the fort. It seemed for a moment that we had won the day.
However, matters were proven not to be so simple, with the appearance of a large body of Federals in our rear. I quickly moved by the right of companies to the rear, and formed by company into line by inversion, to meet
the new threat. However, their numerical advantage was great, and we were forced into a slow, grudging withdrawal. I sent the 1st-7th to deploy as skirmishers to cover our withdrawal, but we were then met with an attack from the fort, which we met by the 21st's refusing the flank, but casualties were mounting up.
As the left wing came up to give assistance, we had a heartened moment, but it proved to be of no avail. As I tried to rally my exhausted command, I felt a searing pain, and all went black, as I met my untimely demise.
In all, given the extremely constricted space outside the fort for action, it was not a bad show. There was some concern about the Federal artillery becoming active again with the field before them littered with Confederate
"dead" in very close proximity. This safety issue was addressed by Major Pereira afterwards. I realize that the artillery would like to take a more active role in engagements, but with such small parcels of land to work on, it is most difficult.
We reformed the battalion, cleared weapons, and returned to camp, with an hour before Major Pereira's social for all the officers of both armies. Guard mount was formed, with 1st Sgt. Steve Shelly, of the 7th, as sergeant
of the guard, with soldiers from the 1st and 7th forming the guard.
The social was a great success, giving an excellent opportunity for all to get to know the "other side" a little better. Once it ended, our guard was called in, and participated in consuming the remainder of the refreshments.
We had opportunity for Pvt. Johnson (Evon Mushinsky) to regale the Confederate officers with the story of Pvt. Johnson, from Gettysburg to Cedar Creek.
It was now time for our dinner, a delicious stew prepared by Corporal Purnell (Emile "the Yeti" Roux). It was a mystery stew, since none of us wanted to question too carefully the nature of the tasty meat.
The skies, which had threatened all day, but rained only a few drops, finally opened up as night fell. We retreated under my fly, and were pleased to be joined by Major Pereira and Miss Lisa, Capt. and Mrs. Harry
Adams, of the engineers, and our redoubtable Provost Marshal, Capt. Bass, (John Prusko). The evening hours were spent in fine fashion, with great fellowship. The rain continued steadily, and, one by one, the soldiers and
civilians retired to their tents. The last few of us, Major Pereira, Pvt. Johnson, Pvt. Williams (Dave Barrett, God bless him) and myself, finally retired.
Day broke on Sunday, finally dry, clearing, but promising to be muggy. 1st Sgt. Dorsey (Svejk) held morning parade at 8:00, and drilled the small but undaunted 1st.
Chaplain Hal Hoffner held an excellent service at 9:00. Field staff then removed to Federal headquarters, for a pre-battle meeting. As we moved on our way, I was called aside by a small number of Federal soldiers.
Our sister unit, the 8th CT, was down to 4 soldiers, and seemed determined to desert! As Major Pereira and Captain Duckett continued on their way, we made the seditious arrangements!
At 10:00, the battalion was formed for dress parade. Having researched the parade through J.K. Lee's Volunteer's Handbook, we had discovered that the field officers (in this case, Capt. Duckett and myself) were to begin the parade, mounted, in our posts in line of battle, behind the battalion. Thus, when Capt. Perkins commanded " to the rear, open order," we dismounted, and marched by our respective flanks to our posts in front of our respective wings. My compliments to our horse handlers!
Capt. Perkins, as usual, ran an excellent parade. We then broke into column for inspection, and went from there to battalion drill, which was run to good effect.
After battalion drill, I was somewhat surprised to find an unscheduled church service. On examination, I found an old friend, Steve Delsignore, abetted by his lovely wife Nancy, making his debut as an Episcopal chaplain.
I was very pleased to attend my second service of the day, the order of Morning Prayer, well read by Chaplain Delsignore.
After the ensuing lunch break, the battalion was formed, and I again took the right wing out for the planned two pronged assault. Again. I sent the 17th Virginia as skirmishers, to cover the deployment of our main body. We
charged onto the field, and fired a withering volley. Our advance was more hotly contested than the day before, but, there was no stopping us, as we moved past their gun emplacements, and drove all resistance into the fort.
On Major Pereira's order, I led my command into the fort. As we entered the sally port, I deployed the 1st-7th, under the able command of Capt. Richard Walter, as skirmishers, to cover our entrance. The precaution proved wise, as we met with a hot volley. However, our numbers were too great for them, and soon the fort was ours!
A squad from the 36th-3rd was dispatched to the ramparts. When difficulty was found in striking the "Gridiron", Capt. Duckett took matters in hand, and, soon, our loved Stars and Bars were aloft over the fort. (Okay, they didn't stay up long, but it was a lovely sight while it lasted!)
Again, while the battle suffered from the truncated area provided, the show was a good one, fun for the reenactors, and edifying for the spectators. We were given to understand that, in future years, we may finally get to use some of the more extensive outside properties for battle purposes.
The muggy weather made the striking of camp a bit more difficult, but the blessing was that our canvas was, thankfully, dry! I would be remiss if I did not mention the special assistance given to Miss Liz and myself by Pvt.
Johnson (Muschinsky) without which, we would probably still be there.
While I don't usually report on the trip home in these reports, I should mention that, as opposed to last year, we were able to get off the island, and traveled in good order, allaying another concern about this event.
As to the future of the event, I am very pleased to report that great improvements were made. Travel was not a big problem, and the number of spectators was greatly increased, thanks to the improved publicity! The new
management of the fort seems most supportive of us. Coming into the event, I had the feeling that it was pretty much played out. Leaving it, I feel great anticipation for what its future will hold.
Bradley Tyler Johnson,
(Leonidas Jones) commanding
Co. H, 1st Maryland Infantry
6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV
The Southern Legion