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After Action Report, Wilderness/ Spotsylvania
To Major General Jake Jennette, cmdg
1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia
herewith submit my report on the actions of the 6th Regiment ANV
(Liberty Greys) in the area of Spotsylvania, this past May 1-4, 1864.
The regiment consisted of elements of the 7th Tennessee, 12th Georgia,
35th Virginia, 17th South Carolina, Headquarters Company, and 1st
and I arrived on Wednesday evening to reconnoiter the area. Being
met by Colonel Sunderland, Division Chief of Staff, we discovered the
ground to be too wet to lay out our campground. Fortunately, we were
able to secure a room at a local inn, where we passed a comfortable
returned promptly the next morning, Thursday, May 1, where we
were met by Ordnance Sgt. Flye, who directed us to Lieutenant
Colonel Plante, Sgt. Major Patton, and Trooper Tom Bass. Finding a
suitable camp area, somewhat less wet then much of the site.
While tight, it proved adequate for the elements of our regiment that
were able to be present for duty. Setting up our own camps, we
awaited their arrival.
modern aside, there is something to be said for arriving right when
registration opens at big events. We walked in and it was Liz, myself,
and 20 volunteers. It was the easiest registration I've ever
balance of the day our people began to arrive, first the command
element of the 7th Tennessee, followed by several soldiers of
that command, followed by the 12th Georgia. All were set up
comfortably, albeit tightly. At least we were dry! The evening
passed most pleasantly, in the company of good friends. The nights were
cold, but not impossibly so, and we had been well conditioned by the
morning broke, happily brightly. Most of our day was filled with school
children, brought to our camps to learn about the war. While all 2500
did not make it to our little camp. I would not be surprised to learn
that 1000 did. We found them bright, inquisitive, and very ready to
learn. The future of the South is in able hands. One might think they
were over banjoed, with me at one end of the camp, and Captain Todd of
the 12 GA at the other, but I fully believe that there is no such thing
as too many banjos!
children had left us, our next duty was the commanders meeting for
Saturday's battle scenarios. I was accompanied by Lt. Col.
Plante, Sgt. Major Patton remaining behind to supervise late
arrivals. We received all necessary information about the early
morning tactical, and made arrangements for those of our soldiers who
wished to go, to fall in under the able command of Col. Rathbun of the
able to take a trip to the Sutlers, always an important point in a
large event, since we find so many that we rarely see in the environs
of New England. On our way, we were stopped a very tall and very
respectful young soldier, who asked me if i was, or had been in the 1st
Maryland, my home unit, My answering in the affirmative, he asked if I
happened to know a Zachary Huddleston. I was in the process of
answering in the affirmative, when I realized this was the "Little
Philistine" himself, son of our founding Colonel, Steve Huddleston! It
was a great pleasure to renew our friendship, despite his being about
four feet taller then I remembered him. It was even more exciting
to hear that his father, the Colonel, would be on site on Sunday!
evening approached, we were most heartened by the arrival of the
35th Virginia. We had wondered if they would be able to attend,
due the illness of Captain Fischer's mother. Happily the situation was
such that they were able to make the long journey to be with us. We
were also joined by private soldier Rooster (Ruth) Streeter, who has
been too long away from our ranks. WE hope that this will mark
the soldier's return to more regular appearances.We settled in for a
fine meal, and a lovely evening of fellowship. As we enjoyed this
fellowship under Col. Plante's fly, a young man approached looking for
his camp site. It was somewhat of a surprise to learn he was looking
for the 6th Regiment. It turned out to be Lt. Kish of the 17th
South Carolina, with his lady friend and another soldier, as it
happened, his father. While we were not expecting them, they were
indeed most welcome, and we found a convenient way to add them to the
end of our camp. With them set up comfortably, it was time to retire
for the evening. Sadly, our rest was rather disturbed by the 7th
Battalion Field Music, whom, it seems, do not understand the concept of
broke, again bright and lovely. Of our contingent, we sent about a
company, under the able command of Lt. Kish, and well superintended by
Sgt. Major Patton. Reports indicate that the action was most
successful. Breakfast was delicious, and our morning proceeded. The
very busy Sgt. Major, and Captain Porteus, who also fought as a
rifleman in the tactical, attended AED training for us at Division.
While they were gone, we had a very effective battalion drill,
before leaving for the commanders meeting for the afternoon action. I
was accompanied by Col. Plante, and the omnipresent Sgt. Major Patton,
leaving the camp in the able hands of Major Fearaby.
learned there that we had been accorded the honor of being the right
flank of the ANV, with the Provisional Army of the Confederate State on
our right. I had the pleasure at the meeting, and at the ensuing
battle, of making the acquaintance of General Brian Gesuaro, of PACS,
whom I was delighted to find to be both a fine soldier, and a true
gentlemen. I look forward to the opportunity to work with him again in
for the afternoon Saunders Field action at 1:45. We conducted our
inspection under the able supervision of an NCO of ANV Provost
department. As Colonel Fallin of the 3rd Regiment passed, we fell
into our place in the order of march for the battle. Arriving at the
field, Col. Fallin positioned his regiment, and we fell in on his
right. General Gesuaro then took position on our right.
as spectators at the beginning, as the Arizona Battalion took the field
as skirmishers, facing General Markejohn's forces.
hard fight, the skirmishers withdrew in good order. General Markejohn
wisely chose not to fall into the trap which had been laid for
him. Had he pursued the retreating skirmishers, he would have
exposed both his flanks to the withering fire of three battalions He
wisely stood his ground.
Jennette, thinking quickly, ordered the Division to advance, engaging
the enemy. Marching in lockstep with Colonel Fallin, we did so,
and laid down a very hot fire. The enemy fell back and we advanced
again, in excellent order, as our soldiers usually do. Sadly, Captain
Todd of the 12th Georgia was mortally wounded, and was replaced
ably by Lt. Kish. The Captain's excellent banjo playing will be missed
the action, we did manage to take prisoners. One was Private Tom
Asselin, of the 2nd CT. I am pretty sure it was him, even though
he was wearing shoes!
bore a striking resemblance to Pvt. Auggie Martin, from the 4th
Alabama. Strangely, the private attempted to fall in with us! He
must be a brother of our friend.
while of this very hot activity, the battle closed, with the field in
our possession! As we cleared the field of our wounded, I chanced on a
Federal Captain, who bore a striking resemblance to Captain Paul Mello,
also of the 4th Alabama. The field seemed full of brothers!
Once our opposition left the field, we reformed our battalion, which
required some searching, as we had “dead” strew about quite an area.
Our ranks reformed, we cleared weapons and retired to our camps.
another modern aside, it never fails to amaze me that we travel 8-9
hours, only to find ourselves facing the same good folks we see week
after week in New England. Amidst the thousands of reenactors present,
one might think Generals Jennette and Markejohn had planned it that
way. Somehow, I think they have other matters on their minds.
like to commend our staff, Col. Plante and Sgt. Major Patton for their
outstanding work. As well, out company officers, Captains Feid and
Todd, for their calm steady leadership. I would also like to note
staff members Major Fearaby and Captain Porteus, as well as company
officers Captain Pincins and Lt. Vieira, all of whom served as
riflemen, a great assistance due to our relatively low numbers. I would
also like to commend private soldiers Nathaniel Porteus and
Duncan Lanier on their first actions as riflemen in the line. A major
national event is a heck of a way to start out.
return to camp, we were most happily surprised by the miraculous
resuscitation of Captain Todd! Our Regimental Surgeon, Captain Porteus,
must somehow have been able to take time from his duties as assistant
adjutant and as private soldier in order to work this most welcome
miracle! As noted earlier, there is no such thing as too many banjos!
I had not
mentioned the persistent wind that blew, letting up only occasionally,
a function of out camping on the higher, drier ground. While it cause
some inconvenience, it also served to further dry the area, resulting
in a comfortable camp experience.
take the opportunity to make an additional trip to the Sutlers, were
some essential items were procured. On our way, we passed the tent of
the 2nd South Carolina String Band, where we were pleased to find
fellow New Englander Tom Digiuseppe, an excellent banjoist. As the
saying goes, there can't be too many banjos!
treated to an excellent dinner, courtesy of our friends at the 7th
Tennessee. As night fell, the winds, mercifully died down, and we were
able to spend the most pleasant of evenings in the company of good
friends. Liz and I were joined under our fly by Colonel Plante and Sgt.
Major Patton, aas well as others of our band. I mention these gentlemen
particularly because we all live within 30 miles of each other.
Interesting to note that we all traveled 8 hours plus to have a party.
But a great party it was!
settled in for the night, sadly "entertained" by the none sleeping
party of the 7th Battalion Field Music. Well, their music
is excellent on the march, and I am glad that they had such a good
time, though at the expense of our staff getting any sleep.
Morning broke, yet another bright and lovely morning, the heavy rains of our trip down but a distant memory.
planned to conduct divine services, as I usually do, followed by
another short battalion drill. However, there was also a
memorial ceremony scheduled to remember Col. Dwight Nesbitt of the ANV
Artillery Battalion who, sadly, passed from this life recently.
We were originally scheduled to form for the pass in review at
9:30, requiring the cancelation of services. The time for formation was
put off twice, but the resulting ceremony, ably coordinated by Col.
Perry of the 7th Battalion. It proved to be most moving, and it
was an honor for us to participate. The reviewing party consisted of
General Jennette and the wife of the late Col. Nesbitt. Let us
hope that all of us are as well remembered when our time comes to sit
at the eternal campfire.
close of the ceremony, we handed command to our company officers,
allowing Col. Plante, Major Fearaby, Sgt. Major Patton and myself to
attend the commanders meeting. As we awaited the arrival of General
Jennette, it was a great pleasure to converse with Colonel Grahe of our
neighbors in the 10th Battalion, who is also new to command this year.
He is another fine soldier and a true gentleman. It is most heartening
to note that my fellow commanders are of such stock, making our working
together very easy and productive.
meeting took place outlining the afternoon's action of the Mule Shoe.
We discovered our place in the fortification, just the left of the Mule
Shoe outcropping. On our left was to be the 2nd Battalion, under
the command of Colonel McElwee, and on our right, in the Mule
Shoe proper was to be the 4th Regiment, under Colonel Potts.
Stacked behind us, due to the small size of the earthworks, compared to
size of Confederate forces, was to be the 9th Battalion, under the
command of my long time friend, Colonel Rich Rathbun. This ensured the
smooth working of our exchange of positions.
modern aside here to note that our Mule Shoe recreation was in fact
only a few hundred yards from the actual Mule Shoe on the National
Battlefield Park. I recall several years ago when Liz and I toured the
Spotsylvania battlefield, and gazing with wonderment at the Mule Shoe.
I was struck again when looking at our recreated Mule Shoe. The sheer
size of the original is enormous. Even at these large national events,
we reenact in an extreme miniature. We should all spend time at these
preserved battlefields, and let redouble our efforts to continue to
preserve them, lest the lessons of history be lost.
returned to our camp after the meeting, we were met by Lt. Bailey of
the 12th Georgia, who informed us of a visitor in camp, a Captain
Duckett. On our arrival, we were in fact met with my good friend, Jim
Bob Duckett, former Captain of the 12th Georgia, accompanied by his
lovely wife Marguerite! Jim was the founder of our annual Confederate
Memorial Day event, where we honor those whose memory we strive to keep
alive. Jim is also a fine singer/songwriter and guitarist, now living
in Virginia. He also plays the banjo! While he did not bring a banjo to
add to our ranks, he did play on my instrument, as well as Captain
Todd's. I had the great pleasure and fun of playing a rousing
performance of “Get Up in the Morning”, playing my period banjo, and
accompanied by Jim Bob on my my wife's lovely new parlour guitar.
after Jim Bob's arrival, we were treated to a further “blast from the
past”, as Zach Huddleston brought his father Steve to the camp. How
often have those of us old hands wondered about how Steve was doing,
only to find him there in the flesh, very much as we remembered him. We
recalled those days, 20 some years ago, when our wonderful little army
was formed. Good Times! I dearly wish that Captain Perkins, our
adjutant, had been able to attend. The times I spend with Tim,
recalling those soldiers that only we remember, are legion. I know that
most of those who reenact with the “Liberty Greys” do not recall the
days of the “Southern Legion”, under Colonel Huddleston. I dearly hope
that Steve will be able to be with us when more of us are present. This
man is our history!
Time flew with friendships renewed, and soon it was time for formation for the Mule Shoe action.
on the road at 1:45, and were met promptly by our young representative
from the ANV Provost Department. Our inspection being held efficiently,
we set in march for the vicinity of the camp of the 2nd and 9th
Battalions, to assume our proper order of march. We were met on the way
by Col Grahe of the 19th Battalion, who wished me and us luck in the
battle to come. The making of new friends is a major reward of this
hobby. We were met by Col. McElwee, who suggested that, given our
positions in line, it would make more sense if we led the march, which
we were honored to do. Col. Rathbun, being delayed by the necessity of
inspection, met us out on the field.
action began with skirmishers masking our line of fire, but those were
soon cleared. The main federal force was assaulting the Mule Shoe
proper, but there was a substantial force facing us. Not withstanding
the hot fire we laid down, they advanced upon us, closing to about 40
yards. We redoubled our efforts, and managed to drive them back. I took
advantage of this brief respite to pull our battered men out of the
line of fire, to be replaced by the Col. Rathbun's sturdy command.
minutes after falling into reserve, the left of the 4th Regiment on our
right was overrun. We pulled back to a defensive line, accompanied by
the 9th Battalion, who had to abandon their trenches. After a few
minutes of heavy fighting, the assault was beaten back, the 9th
resuming their place in line. Due to the heavy losses, there was a gap
between the 9th and the 4th, which we filled immediately.
ensued a period of heavy fighting. At one point, we were nearly
overrun, only to stand our ground with determination, beating back the
attack. Forces were engaged so closely that I had an exchange of
words with a Federal Captain, who proved to be Captain Scalora of the
aside again, maybe this is prearranged! How can we keep facing off with
our New England friends in blue? I offered to Victor to withdraw from
our position if they wanted to come over the breastwork, but he seemed
to think they were about to pull back anyway. As we all know, there are
good people on both sides of this hobby of ours. We all work together!
battle raged on, wave after wave coming at us. Sadly, Captain Pincins
of the 12th GA was mortally wounded, and was replaced by Lt. Vieira in
most able fashion. Another overrun occurred, this time again being
beaten back. We accrued more prisoners. Again, amazing enough, we
captured the brother of Pvt. Auggie (Deb) Martin, who must have escaped
in the night, only to be captured again.
modern aside, I remarked to 1st Sgt. Chen of the 12th GA about
how amazing it was that we kept running into New Englanders. He replied
that it really is “brother against brother”, though, in the case of
Pvt. Martin, maybe its “brother against sister”!
point a soldier appeared asking to fall in. It was Zachary Huddleston,
whose company had been killed. What a pleasure it was to have him
fighting shoulder to shoulder with us again.
battle raged on, but I guess the powers that be decided it had run its
course. We just had another overrun when Cease Fire sounded on the
bugles, followed by Taps.
our ranks was a simpler task this day, as our operations had been
confined to a smaller space. I was taken by the fact the General
Gesuaro of PACS took the time to seek me out and thank me for my
cooperation on the field. I am really looking forward to working with
him in the future.
returned to camp. Finding Colonel Steve still with us was a special
treasure. It made our unwinding after the fight a more special
moment then most. Sadly, the wind seemed more persistent after the
battle then it hd been all weekend. Still, the event had been so
successful, there was little that could dampen our spirits.
Company, the 12th GA and the 35th VA all decided to stay over the extra
day, and travel home during the day on Monday. The 7th TN decided to
pull up and leave Sunday. The 7th Battalion Field Music departed Sunday
which A) allowed HQ to pull our vehicles in right behind our tents, and
B) allowed to sleep that night. We were able to do a lot of our
breaking down that night, facilitating our exit the next morning.
left on our own for our evening meal. Happily. Sgt. Major
Patton's lovely wife Charlene sent along a delicious chili. This was
combined with rice, and cornbread from Miz Liz and Col. Plante's lovely
wife Trish, and made a very fine meal.
fell, and we were treated to one more wonderful night of fellowship.
What a wonderful group of people we have to assemble with.
treated with a visit from Captain Dave Laiche, who had spent the
weekend with the 3rd Arkansas of the 3rd Regiment. He was accompanied
by his lovely wife Kylah. Kylah, having spent the weekend in an A frame
tent, amidst a collection of shebangs, acquired nicknames, the “One
Percenter”, “Miz Kaylah in the Big House”, and the “Queen of Shanty
Town”! It was an honor to be in her presence as, clearly, Queen
We passed an excellent night, and awoke early the next morning to finish packing and get on our way.
was not quite finished as far as this report. In packing, I closed the
lift gate on our Durango, only to find that it would not open. Lt. Dave
Vieira, who was about to leave, was able to open it, and explain
clearly how it could be opened, allowing us to complete our packing and
deeds, helping others, has always been a hallmark of our
regiment. I have always felt that these good deeds are fluid, and
simply passed on the next person in need of help. Rarely is it so
immediate as it was this day. Trooper Tom Bass, who was there to help
us lay out the camps at the beginning of our time there, found that his
vehicle would not start. I was able to jump his battery to allow him to
get on his way. It was a perfect symmetry of helping others. When
someone else needs our help, we give it freely, knowing that we will
someday need help, and it will be given back to us. Lets all remember
home was long but easy, and filled with immediate memories that will
live with us long. As these big events go, this was one of the best.
like to give some final thanks. Col Plante, Major Fearaby and Sgt.
Major Patton have been mentioned many times in this report, but it is
worth noting that without their steadfast work, our success could not
have been achieved. Less often mentioned is Captain Porteus. He filled
many duties this week, but his duties as substitute Adjutant are, while
not the stuff of active reports, they are vital to the functioning of
the regiment within the Division.
of Ordnance Sgt. Flye has come up only once in this report. Mike has a
position on ANV staff, and was integral in the smooth operation that
marked this event. It is great for us to have friends in high places.
brings us to the ANV staff as a whole. This hard working and dedicated
group of people brought us a truly outstanding event. It starts with
General Jennette. Our regiment, one of the smallest battalion present,
was treated with with equal respect and concern for our well being as
those four times our size. It is an honor to be part of such an
be remiss if I did not mention Major Jay Haines. As Chief
Adjutant, she keeps the event running. I honestly believe that
had Jenni not been there, the event would have collapsed. Fortunately
for all us, she was there, and we owe her a great debt!
This concludes this report.
Leonidas Jones, Colonel commanding
6th Regiment, 1st Division, ANV
The Liberty Greys
Any Fate But Submission!