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135th Gettysburg AAR
Colonel Joseph Leo, cmdg
6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV
It is my pleasure to submit my report of the operations of Co. H, 1st Maryland Infantry, in the action at Gettysburg this weekend past.
45 soldiers and 12 civilians were present for the event. Our ranks were bolstered by 9 men in three small detachments from other companies of the 1st (actually from the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK!). As always at large events, it was discovered that the earlier one can arrive, the better. Arriving at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, our 3 carriage travel party breezed through registration, and had little difficulty finding our campsite.
I would like to extend my compliments to the advance party that secured and laid out our camp. Lt. Loftus, Lt. Forquer, and, in particular, Sgt. Major Maloney, did us a superb service in giving us the most comfortable camp
possible in the limited space allotted.
The travel parties that arrived through the next two days had increasing difficulties, but when gathering armies of this size, I fear there is no way to make it smoother.
It was particularly nice to make the acquaintance of Pvt. Mark Van Lingan from Co. A (The Netherlands), who arrived a day earlier than his compatriots. The international experience we had made this event more memorable than any other we have attended.
Our soldiers present by Thursday afternoon had a very effective drill, and settled in for the night, several of us taking the opportunity to forage in the town for our sustenance.
Friday morning dawned to a 7:30 AM Company Parade, followed by an outstanding company drill. It was a particular pleasure to find that our detachments from the other companies, mentioned earlier in the report, fit in beautifully with our drill, giving us typical 1st Maryland precision. This led us to the 9:00 AM battalion drill, where I was again very pleased with their performance.
I need to recount here, the one major problem encountered with the event staff. In the interval between battalion drill and the afternoon formation, I accompanied Pvt. Adrian Spencer, of Co. E (UK) to registration. On his
arrival, he was told that he was not registered, and was made to pay the walkon fee. Worse, he did not receive the ID medallion (or "gong" as the soldiers from the UK referred to it), which is, of course a coveted memento.
I accompanied him to substitute him for a soldier who was unable to be with us.
The in camp shuttle ran so irregularly, that we were compelled to walk all the way to registration. On arrival, Pvt Spencer's original registration was found to be on the books, and his medallion given to him, but they refused to refund his walkon fee, telling him he had to return Sunday. No amount of remonstrance availed, and we returned to camp, fortunately catching a ride. Sunday's schedule did not permit a return trip, and I can only hope he was able to receive his refund. Either way, I find this unacceptable.
After forming for the Friday battle, we were intrigued by the "nature walk" march through the Federal camps. I suppose the idea was to keep us out of the sight of the spectators, but, on the sultriest day of the event, the
additional ground we had to cover took a severe toll on the men.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend Pvt. John Bond (Chet Boris) for his exemplary actions. A man collapsed right behind us as we began the fight. I sent Chet to render assistance, which, as an EMT, he did most ably. He jettisoned his jacket and leathers, and acompanied the injured man. Rather than returning to recover his expensive kit, he spent the rest of the fight helping several others who were stricken with the oppressive heat. I am happy to report that he did recover his gear the next morning.
In the battle itself, we were, of course, positioned towards the far right. Our particular highlight came in the trees, when, after the 3rd Battalion pulled back, the 1st Maryland made what will be forever known as "The Gully Charge", or "Gully Whomper", double quicking over a gully, and laying down a hot fire to prevent a possible Federal flanking manuever. We thank you sir, for giving me the discretion to make that manuever.
After the action, the men were truly exhausted. We discovered the impossibility of marching back up that horrendous hill. Fortunately, for about the only time this event, a cattle car actually appeared right when
For the two hours after the fight, the 1st's camp was the quietest I have ever known it. We were all completely exhausted. While many were likely disappointed, I applaud the decision of General Clark and the ANV to cut
Saturday's schedule to one battle. Had the heat continued, three battles would have almost surely resulted in real loss of life.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express, on behalf of all the men and civilians of the 1st Maryland, our deep and heartfelt thanks to the Battalion and all its companies, for allowing us to carry a Maryland color on
the field at Culp's Hill. We shall never forget it.
By the way, many of you may know the story of Co. H's mascot dog being shot at Culp's Hill. I am sorry to have to say that this story is not true. The historic dog was actually devoured on the march out by the historic Yetti!
The company had performed so well, that I decided that company drill could be dispensed with Saturday morning, so we had Company Parade, followed by battalion drill. I was very pleased to see the improvement by the battalion in drill, and particularly pleased at the improvement in the communication of orders. My compliments to Lt. Col. Boyle and Capt. Danker particularly.
Just prior to the battle formation, Cpl. David Entwhistle, from Co.E (UK), was overcome by the heat. Pvt. Bond (Chet) again took him in charge staying in camp. He found us on the field later without his weapon, and devoted his energies to assiting the stricken. He did manage to pop in to the fire fight and fire a couple of rounds on a borrowed weapon, but, for the most part, he gave up the Culp's Hill experience to assist his fellow reenactors.
Marching out for the afternnon battle by the road not only saved us many steps, but, in my opinion, provided a magnificent spectacle for the spectators, far better than trying to hide us.
When we reached postion, loaded our weapons, and began to advance to the hill, the blood began raging the adrenaline pumping, when 1st Sgt. Dorsey (Chris Svejk) called over and pointed out that we seemed to about to assault the
wrong hill! This was Little Roundtop, not Culp's Hill. I apprised Lt. Col. Boyle who apprised you, who apprised Gen. Clark who promptly led us to the correct battle. We did get a nice viewpoint from which to watch some of the operation at Little Round Top.
Rather than recount shot by shot the action at Culp's, which was mostly a hot fire fight just inside the tree line, I will content myself to say that the men of the 1st had an excellent opportunity to relive our historic counterparts bravest day, and will never forget the experience. Every man among us would like to thank you for leaving us in the woods in the firing line, while you cycled the other companies in and out. You kindness and consideration will not be forgotten!
The overcast which came up abated the heat, so our camp was in high spirits. Our cooks did amazing work in preparing a wonderful meal for some 60 people. Our evening was made most special by a visit from Miss Caroline Billups, who is a UDC member from Maryland, who has done us an exceptional service in researching the men of Co. H. Now, rather than having a name from the original roster and basically making up a personna, many of our men have pages of concrete information on the men we honor, making a much more special
reenacting experience. We were quite pleased to make Miss Billups an Honorary member of the 1st. Even the drizzle and the rain shower that came through could not dampen out enthusiasm
Sunday morning dawned noticably cooler and drier, hardly a Gettysburg July day at all. Miss Liz and I, although Episcopalians, were pleased to be able to attend the Catholic mass held in our Battalion camp. I would like to recognize Lt. Col. Boyle for his hard work in bringing this service about.
Our Company Parade was held at 9:30, where we able to announce to the men who we had chosen to be our two men to go over the wall at Pickett's Charge. We chose Cpl. David Entwhistle, who had performed most bravely the entire weekend, and, having traveled from the UK and missed the Culp's Hill experience, deserved the honor, and Pvt. John Bond (Chet) whom I believe I may mentioned earlier in this report. We were also most honored to be presented with the English flag, signed by the four members of Co. E who were with us. We also took this opportunity to make a pictorial memento of all who served with the 1st Maryland at this historic event.
I must apologize to you and the Battalion, sir, and thank for your understanding that the 1st could not attend the dress parade at 9:30. We were informed just as Miss Liz and I were leaving for church, and there was no other opportunity to complete the ceremonies we had scheduled. We will certainly endeavor to see that this does not happen again.
Sunday's formation and march out once again brought us along the road and out to set ourselves for the magnificent display of Pickett's Charge. The mens questions about why we had to form so early all weekend were answered as we so the spectacle of the columns of brigades march out to be positioned. It was truly an awsome spectacle.
Once again, rather than report on the complete battle, I will content myself to report on the very end at the wall. When I saw the opportunity to get what little remained of my boys to the wall, I simply commanded "Forward to the wall". I am most proud to report that most died bravely before reaching the wall, and the only ones who went over were the designated men. My boys played by the rules all the way through. I wish such could be said for every brigade and battalion on that field, but, regardless, it was a glorious day.
As mentioned, Pvt. Bond did reach the wall, and actually fired a couple of shots before discovering a Federal artillerist under his piece, overcome by heat. Chet also spent time working on Gen. Armistead, whose death nearly become more than an act. His service this weekend was an inspiration to all of us.
Most members of the 1st were able to spend a relaxing night, however Miss Liz and I had to leave. The hour and a half to the truck and the 45 minutes back to camp were instructive. My advice is, for huge events, take a week, come early, go late, if you can't be prepared to wait. If you can't come early, try the campaign impression. We arrived home safely at 4:30 AM.
As I have said, the international aspect to this event made it our most memorable. I would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank Wolfgang Schindler, Thomas Jans and Holger Baumgarten from Co. A (Germany), Rob Berends, Mark Van Lingen, and Joep Vossen also from Co.A (Netherlands) and David Entwhistle, Jason Crowley, Neal Chapman, and Adrian Spencer from Co.E (United Kingdom), for making the trip and serving with us so ably this weekend. We made friendships that will never be forgotten.
I would like to commend all of the units of the 6th Battalion, their officers, enlisted men, and civilians, for a superb effort this weekend. I believe this event marked our coming of age as a battalion.
I would like to offer my congratulations and those of all the 1st to Lt. Col. Bryan Boyle on his promotion. He proved it to be very well deserved this weekend.
Before closing, I would like to offer my compliments and congratulations to you sir. You proved yourself to be outstanding battlefield commander of a large battalion. We never doubted it, but the ANV can't either.
Capt. Co.H, 1st Maryland Infantry
Major, 6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV
The Southern Legion