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After Action Report, Gettysburg
To Colonel Bradley Tyler Johnson
6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia, commanding
herewith submit my report on the actions of Company G, 15th Alabama, in
the vicinity of Gettysburg, this past August 22-24, 1964.
company consisted of good turnouts from the 15th Alabama, and 1st
Maryland, with elements of Headquarters Company, 12th Georgia and
7th Tennessee. Our total field strength was approximately 18 soldiers,
supported by two artillerists and 5 ladies, making our total number 25.
wife and I took to the train for the beginning of the trip, though much
of it had to be made by carriage over extremely broken roads. We
arrived Friday afternoon after a long and wearying ride. We made
a stop in a local shop for supplies, then lunched at a local inn before
arriving at our campsite. We were early, but found a few soldiers
already well into setting up camp. We joined them in their labors, and
camp soon began to take shape. With our tent setup and camp in place,
my wife and I struck out for town, where we found a local tavern,
O'Rorke's by name, and had an excellent repast.
return, we found that almost all of the company had arrived, and plans
were laid for the morning's labors. As we settled in, I took out my
banjo and played a few cheery airs. After a time, we were joined by a
private soldier, one Joe Mangini of the 1st Maryland, who produced a
violin! We spent the next hour in playing and singing, and enjoying the
darkening evening. Finally, quiet time having arrived, we stopped and
prepared for our rest. As I made my way to the sinks, surrounded
by the quiet of the night, my ears picked up the most amazing symphony
of sounds of night creatures, louder then I can ever remember, in a
totally unscripted song that was a wonder to hear. With these
sounds in my ears, I drifted off to my rest.
before AI realized I was asleep, morning broke. It was a cold and
dreary one, with a constant mist surrounding us. As I went to consult
with 1st Sergeant Jack Anderson, concerning out morning drill, the mist
turned into a steadier rain. Drill was postponed, first half an
hour, then an hour. Finally, at about 9:00, the rain broke, at
least enough to permit our morning's work. Drill was intense, consuming
nearly 1 and 1/2 hours, but the men, being well grounded in the School
of the Soldier, adapted readily to our needs, and performed with
drill, my wife and I were surprised with a visit from two good friends
who had traveled up from Virginia in our wake. We spent some time
with them before other visitors appeared.
11:00, a group of local townspeople appeared. They were obviously
concerned, seeing a company of Confederate soldiers in the vicinity,
slightly over a year after the great battle fought on this
ground. We assured them that we had no offensive intention, and
were only preforming a reconnaissance. We even staged a short
drill for their edification. Lt. Colonel Paul Plante, who
happened to be in the area, took it upon himself to speak with them,
even explaining our drill evolutions to them as we drilled, and
generally assuaged their concerns. After drill, we welcomed them
into our camp and engaged them in conversation. After a time,
they left us, seeming relieved of their concern.
happy, at about this time, to welcome into camp an old friend. Ranger
Tom Holbrook, whom we had not seen for a year. It is always
a joy to renew old friendships. My wife and I then lunched with our
returned to us, harder then before. At about 1:00 another group
of locals appeared. Due to the rains, we were unable to entertain
them with drill, but we did engage with them and allayed their fears as
continued, at time simply a light mist, at times heavier. The day was a
brisk one, far colder then one would expect for this time of year. At
about 3:00, yet another number of locals appeared. The rain
having subsided to a light mist, we were able to both entertain and
educate them with drill, Lt, Colonel Plante again soothing their fears
as we did so. They too paused in our camps, and left with their
concerns set aside.
settled in for the afternoon, under the tent fly, where the constant
mist could not annoy us. I light a lamp, and used the flame to
dry the head of my banjo, and began to play. My wife took out her
guitar, and we spent a fine afternoon playing and singing, with times
out for head drying!
sun began to set. My wife and I, accompanied by the Lt. Colonel, took
ourselves into town, where we were fortunate enough to find another
excellent local tavern, this one with fine ales brewed on the premises.
We chanced to find there, Ordnance Sgt. Mike FLye, and his lovely lady.
We passed a lovely dinner, with fine food, good drink and the most
our way back to camp, we found our way to our tent, with our friends
joining us. My banjo once again found its way into my hands, but
the effects of the extreme humidity was taking its toll, and the lamp
heat was fighting a losing battle. We were, however, joined by
Private Mangini, with his violin in hand, and Private Larry Todd of the
12th Georgia, an excellent banjoist. With my wife's guitar in her
hands, we had quite a little orchestra of music, and whiled away the
evening in music and song.
did become increasingly difficult, and our impromptu concert was, with
some sadness, foreshortened. Our friends made their way to their
tents, and we drifted to sleep. with the sound of the raindrops on the
canvas above us, forming a kind of lullaby.
were even aware, morning dawned. Amazingly, we beheld patches of blue
sky amidst the grey! The weather of the day before, which, while it had
not dampened our spirits, had effectively dampened everything else, had
begun to break! We enjoyed our excellent breakfasts, and began to
prepare for the breaking of camp later that day.
sat around 11:00, Ranger Tom rejoined us, and. after him, yet another
group of locals, for whom we staged our by now well practiced drill,
Lt. Colonel Plante regaling them as we worked. The morning was by now
bright, but astonishingly cool for an August day. We enjoyed our
work, and made friends with the locals afterwards.
locals having left, we went on about our business. Fortunately, our
wagons were not far distant, and we were able to make preparations for
our inevitable leave taking and the return to Virginia. Lunch was
prepared and and we were refreshed well.
again, as the hour of our leaving approached, yet another group of
locals appeared. This time, rather then being gravely concerned,
they seemed to be very curious about us, and very friendly.
Evidently, word of our good intentions had spread. We performed
our drill for them, and engaged them in our camp afterwards. I pulled
out my banjo, and, happily was able to sit in the sunshine, with dry
tight heads, and played and played and played.
but with sadness, I returned my instrument to its case, and began to
pack the wagons in earnest, as did the rest of the company. One
by one, we took our leave, my wife and I being the last to leave the
camp, until next year.
like to thank all who took time out to attend this wonderful
event. How often do we get to camp where they camped. drill where
they marched, and feel the closeness that we feel here. Surely not
often enough, but we have this special time each year. Let us all
make an effort to be here next year. My great thanks to Paul Plante for
his excellent narration, to 1st Sgt. Jackie Anderson, for keeping our
conglomerate company in line, to 2nd Sgt. Dave Laiche of the 15th
Alabama for his fine work, and to the members of the 15th for allowing
us to represent those original soldiers whom they honor every time they
take the field. It was our great pleasure.
let me close by reporting that at no time on our expedition were any
Federal detachments seen. The area here is clear, at least for
Respectfully submitted this 25th day of August, 1864,
Captain Thomas Armstrong Jones (aka Leonidas Jones) commanding
Co. G, 15th Alabama, 6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia
The Liberty Greys
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