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After Action Report, Norlands
To Major General Jake Jennette, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia
submit my report on the actions of the 6th Regiment
ANV (Liberty Greys) in the area of Livermore, this past June
consisted of good turnouts from Co. G, 15th Alabama, and elements of
Co. B, 35th Virginia and Headquarters Company. Our
total field strength with these elements was approximately 20 soldiers.
without my lovely wife, Jane Claudia, I made my way first by train,
then by a long coach ride to this rather remote location, a rather
lengthy but difficult trip. I arrived at approximately 4:30 in the
afternoon. I was greeted by Cpl. Tom Bassford of the 15th Alabama, who
was very familiar with the area, and the selected campsite. He directed
me to the proper place to set up my camp. Camp was set up expeditiously.
We were very
close to the nearby town of Norlands, and indeed had an excellent view
of their Meeting House. Situated there, I produced my banjo and was
distressed to find that the thumb string had become untied from the
tailpiece on the rather bouncy wagon ride in. I busied myself with
reattaching it, retuning it, and was able to play a number of airs.
neared for dinner, I was very kindly invited to the camp of the 35th
Virginia for dinner, and socializing after dinner, of which I happily
availed myself. As we were waiting by the fire, we were overjoyed
to see the arrival of the rather heavily laden wagon belonging to
Captain Tim Perkins! I was cheered by no longer having the only tent
set up on headquarters row!
delicious, and most enjoyed by all. We then settled in to enjoy each
others' company by the side of the fire. After a time there, we began
to sense a very light rain, which became increasingly heavy as time
went by. We regrouped and settled in under the tent fly of the
estimable Captain Fisher, of the 35th.
After a time
we were joined by many members of the 15th Alabama, and a most social
evening was passed, despite the rather heavy rain that fell. We finally
retired, perhaps a little later then we should. My trusty shelter tent
served to keep me perfectly dry from the continuing rain.
broke, rather gray and chilly, with a decided breeze. mercifully,
however, the rains of the previous night had now passed us by.
informed us of Federal activity near the town, a reconnaissance in
force was decided upon. Capt. Fisher with his troopers probed ahead,
while Capt. Pratt followed behind with his infantry.
soon discovered that the schoolhouse was unoccupied, and seemed free of
Federal activity. Capt. Pratt determined to occupy the position,
which was at the outskirts of the town, near a dense woods.
deployed his company as skirmishers around the open sides of the
building, and awaited developments. They were swift to arrive.
Ahead of us,
from behind the nearby Library, the Federal infantry made their
appearance. Capt. Pratt began to lay down fire, in an attempt to hold
the position. However, despite the troopers of the 35th harassing
the Federal flank, the force of numbers were too overwhelming, forcing
Capt. Pratt to withdraw his forces into the woods.
strong defensive position, Capt. Pratt dispatched his second platoon to
watch the flank with the 35th covering the other flank. However, the
Federal advance was inexorable, and despite the telling fire of both
Alabamans and Virginians, the Confederate force was forced to begin a
retreat continued, one defensive position after another was taken, and
then had to be abandoned as Capt. Gowan's Maine boys, reinforced by New
Yorkers under Capt. Gilbert, both old acquaintances of mine from
pre war days, pushed on in unrelenting fashion.
continued, with Confederate forces contesting it fiercely with each
step. Finally, with exhaustion setting in, the brave lads gave a final
charge, but to no avail!
In a modern look, the Norlands property does have great possibilities for use in tacticals, such as this one.
to our camp and recovered our strength, slowly but surely. I took
out my banjo and played a selection of airs. As I continued to play,
townspeople came by, most simply listening as they strolled through the
camp, but some stopping and asking questions. A few even took the time
to make sketches of me as I played!
After a time,
we received warning from our scouts of Federal activity. Captains Prat
and Fisher called their to arms quickly and went out on patrol. From
the far treeline appeared a detachment on Federal cavalry.
foot, Capt. Fisher's troops engaged the enemy, and stopped their
advance. However, not long after appeared a body of Federal
Infantry from the same direction. Capt. Pratt quickly sent his men into
the fray, laying down a scorching fire, which halted their advance for
their bearings, the Federals, soon returned to their advance. On they
pushed. The gallant Capt. Pratt attempted to resist, deploying
his men as skirmishers. They were joined by the remnants of Capt.
Fishers troopers, who fought with bravery against the overwhelming
the Confederates attempted to make a stand, but the withering Federal
fire continued, until, at last none remained standing.
observation point, I was able to escape capture, or worse, by virtue of
the large field on which we fought the contest, and returned to our
camp, planning to break camp quickly and go in search of
reinforcements. Imagine my delight to discover, that due to the expert
ministrations of Major Chris Nulle, the 15th's regimental surgeon, the
lives of all the men had been spared! Not only that, but all would soon
be able to return to arms in the defense of our homeland!
filled with joy, I took out my banjo, and played a rapid succession of
joyous tunes and dances, much to the delight of the many townspeople
who continued to be attracted to our camp. I was quite impressed
with the large number of artists among them, all of whom stopped to
make their sketches! I suspect this town must be some sort of artists'
After a time,
my fingers began to tire, so putting my instrument aside, I took off in
the direction of the town, which seemed to have been declared an
unofficial open zone by both sides of our conflict.
I saw many of
the lovely buildings, and took time to try to exercise my own meager
skills as an artist to make sketches of them. As I made my way
back from the far side of the town, I came across a small group of
fellow Confederate soldiers, and joined their number. Soon after
we ran across a small body of Federal soldiers, who were trying to get
up a match of baseball. Rather then taking up arms against them, we
armed ourselves with bat and ball, and spent an invigorating afternoon
Tired at our
exertions, I walked back to camp in the company of my friend, Cpl. Tom
Bassford, who is known as the premier scout in the Confederate
military. We made our way back to camp,
arrived their, Cpl, Bassford presented an idea. It seemed he had
made the acquaintance of a congregant of the local meeting House, who
had informed him that there would be no services there tomorrow, and so
he suggested that perhaps I could lead a service of Morning Prayer
there. I was most glad to agree to do so.
After a few
more airs on the banjo, my friends of the 25th Alabama invited me to
dine with them. Since my nearly identical cousin, Capt. Thomas
Armstrong Jones of the 16th Alabama is often on my mind, I have always
felt a kinship with this group of Alabamans. We had a most
I moved over a street, to camp of the Virginians. There I spent time
with my old friend, First Sergeant Pete Northrup, from whom I had been
too long parted. With him and his friends of the 35th, we had a
wonderful time around the campfire. They made the most delightful
concoction of graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow, with the
strange addition of a strip of bacon! As bizarre as it may sound it
actually was delightful?
gray skies had given way to the brightest of sunshine, and as the sun
set, we were treated to an absolutely amazing night sky! Not only was
there an abundance of stars, but we were treated to most unusual sight
of two planets in reasonably close proximity, a wonder to behold indeed!
We spent a
very fine evening indeed, renewing our acquaintance, but all tired from
our exertions and our near escape from a a dark fate, we retired on the
early side. We spent a fine and comfortable night.
broke, bright and beautiful, with a distinct chill that was quickly
vanquished by the bright sunshine. I set my banjos into the sun to dry
the heads, and sat preparing for Morning Prayer. After assuring myself
in the Lord's word, I began to prepare for the breaking of camp.
As I did so,
a Federal chaplain, who had been told about me sitting in front of my
small shelter, reading my Prayer Book. He crossed the lines and greeted
me. We spent several moments sharing together, and then praying
together. I hoped he would make it back across line safely.
breakfast that morning with the men of the 35th. It was
delicious, a pie made from egg, sausage and cheese, prepared by Captain
duties continued, and time wore on until it was time for our
service. I took myself to the Meeting House early, and took a few
minutes to make some admittedly poor sketches of it as a remembrance of
As the time
came for services, a goodly number of Confederate soldiers appeared, as
well as a small selection of townspeople. As I began the service, we
were joined by my new friend, the Federal chaplain! It was good to have
him worship with us.
Prayer being concluded, we made our way back to camp. There, I once
again took up the banjo, and played for the ever present townspeople,
and conversed with many of them.
After a time,
we were, once again, alerted to Federal activity. Once again the
gallant Captains Fisher and Pratt marshaled their forces to meet the
threat. We took to the field quickly, ever vigilant to the danger we
know to be approaching.
Again we saw
a detachment of Federal cavalry at the far tree line. They
advanced on us, only to be repulsed by the quick action of Capt. Fisher
and his Virginians. As they fought, a body of Federal infantry
advanced to the foe, and fired several volleys. The fight seemed to be
reaching a stalemate, when Capt. Gilbert's New Yorkers appeared as
skirmishers in relief of the Federal cavalry. Gilbert and
his brave men pushed the equally brave, but very outnumbered Capt. Fisher and the Virginians.
right flank about to collapse, the quick thinking Capt, Pratt
dispatched his first platoon to reinforce Captain Fisher. The strategy
and his men, now under heavy fire, were forced to withdraw. Seeing the
situation, the first sergeant of the Alabamans took it upon himself to
harry the Federal flank.
fierce opposition, this worked. Capt. Fisher, assessing the situation,
moved quickly to cover the gap between the to platoons of Alabamans.
Capt. Pratt presses his new found advantage, moving his second platoon
forward and driving his second platoon forward. Urging his men
os, sword drawn, Federal fire took the gallant Pratt.
I jumped into
the command, and gave the final assault, but the brilliant actions of
the officers before had assured the victory. It came to me to
accept the victory in the name of the brave Pratt!
We made our
weary way back to camp, where we discovered to our amazement, that
Major Nulle had worked his magic again. There we found the brave
Pratt, already on his way to recovery. It was a joyous time indeed!
The day one,
it was with a light heart that camp was broken. Having traveled light
and quickly, I was ready for he early carriage to the train station
many miles distant. It was with some sadness that I took my leave
of these fine soldiers, and of the lovely little town which had come to
feel like home.
to 21st century reenacting mode, this is an event with tremendous
potential. The field is capable of holding full battalions, maybe even
two on each side. There are other fields available that were not even
used, and the tactical area is immense. I hope that in future
years, we can give this event much fuller support.
Respectfully submitted this 15th day of July, 1864,
Colonel Bradley Tyler Johnson (aka Leonidas Jones) commanding
6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia
The Liberty Greys