After Action Report, Confederate Memorial Day

To Major General Jake Jennette, 1st  Division, Army of Northern Virginia

I herewith submit my report on the actions of the 6th  Regiment ANV (Liberty Greys) in the area of Hudson, this past April 24-26, 1865.

Our battalion consisted of excellent showings from Co. G, 12 Georgia, Co. B, 35th Virginia, as well as good elements from Co. F, 12th Georgia, Co. D, 7th Tennessee, Co. G, 15th Alabama, and CO. H, 1st Maryland. Co. A, 351h Virginia and 1st Co., Richmond Howitzers also attended, though not as part of the infantry battalion, of course.

My lovely wife Jane Claudia and I were able to travel Friday afternoon, with a most convenient train schedule allowing us to arrive at about 3:30 PM.  We were greeted by Major Tom Fearabay, who presented us with lovely medallions which had been struck especially for the occasion.

Our campsite had been laid out expertly by Capt. Mal Grant, who performed his function as quartermaster officer most ably, despite having suffered a cracked rib earlier in the week.  By the time of our arrival he had left camp, but we are in his debt. The ground was flat and spacious, and the earth was very good. As we set up, we were surprised with a visit from Sgt. Major Patton, accompanied by his lovely wife Charlene, whom we had known to be necessarily absent this weekend.  They made the trip simply to see us all. Heartened by such good friends, we set up our tents and arranged our equipment before settling in for an evening with friends.

We were particularly glad to be able to spend a good share of the evening in the2 company of Ordnance Lt. Mike Flye, Capt. Randy Porteus, acting as the adjutant for the weekend, and also joined by Capt. Steve Feid of the 7th Tennessee. It was most enjoyable, but the cold weather came in quickly, along with a biting wind, leading to a very chilly night.

Morning broke, and I forced myself from my bedding, having finally warmed to a point of comfort, in order to begin my daily duties. allowing my lovely wife to remain in bed for a while until the sun could work its magic. The bright sunshine quickly brought the temperature to a reasonable level.

Morning reports came in, and companies went out for morning drill at 8:00 AM. Returning to camp for a brief respite, Major Fearabay and Major LaPointe formed the battalion for morning drill,, at 10:00 AM, under my command.

Our drill focused on facing and doubling, with the goal of retaining the best possible alignment when the soldiers moved. With that accomplished,  we then drilled marching, looking at retaining our spacing so as to front out with an absolute minimum of dressing the line needed, both when marching by the flank and when marching in a column of companies. These goals were accomplished very well, maneuvering both by the right and left flanks, and with right and left in front, respectively. All three methods of forming column from line of battle were practiced, with very good effect.

Drill concluded after about 45 minutes and the men were allowed an interval for rest and the refreshment of luncheon. I took the opportunity to bring out my banjo, and play some merry airs to pass the time. Those in camp appeared to enjoy the music.

At 1:00 PM, the battalion was formed again fro afternoon drill. The mornings work was reviewed and improved upon for the first half of the drill.  For the remainder of the time, I turned command over to Major Fearabay, who most ably instructed the men in forming forward into line, and changing front. These important tasks being accomplished, we broke to allow the men an interval of rest before the next formation.

At 2:15, we formed yet again, this time for the memorial ceremony at 2:30.  We were led out to the appointed ground by our newly found fife and drum field music. It was a pleasure to hear the stirring martial music again.  Once at the ground, we deployed in front of the array of flags, with a vacant chair, and accoutrements of a soldier. Capt. Perkins caused the field music to troop the line, and then we continued with prayer and scripture.

Capt. Pincins of Co. G, 12th Georgia, memorialized Lt. Tom Bailey, whom we lost this past year.  Then others of the battalion brought forth the names of significant members who had also passed recently. Music was presented by the ladies present, under the able direction and accompaniment of my lovely wife.

Capt. Perkins then took command of the firing detail, and fired a three volley rifle salute, answered in the distance by the Richmond Howitzers piece, during which the battalion presented arms.  The most moving ceremony being concluded, we marched the battalion back to our camp.

With afternoon well advanced, more banjo music seemed appropriate, as well as some shopping at the local merchant. With these pursuits, as well as renewing our many friendships after a seemingly endless winter quarters, we passed the time until evening. 

My lovely wife prepared an excellent repast for us, after which we settled in for a lovely evening.  Of course, I once again took my banjo, and began to play. Quite quickly we were joined by Sgt. Dan Spinner of the 12th Georgia, with his vest contraption.  My wife took her guitar, and we spent a most enjoyable evening with music, both vocal and instrumental. Too quickly, however, the approaching cold, though not nearly as difficult as the night before, numbed our fingers to the point of forcing us to stop.

The evening continued, however, and once again we were joined by Lt. Flye, Capt. Porteus, and Capt. Feid. Temperature dropped, but, without the wind of the night before, we remained comfortable enough in our wool. The company of good friends was, as always, welcome.  Still, the comfort of our tents beckoned, and, one by one, we betook ourselves to sleep.

Morning broke again, as is its wont, but this time with a cloud cover, which did help keep temperature from plummeting as they had the night before. Morning reports again came in, and again the companies drilled, as I prepared for the service of Morning Prayer.  Having read through the service and the readings from scripture, I took a walk of some distance around the perimeter of the field upon which we had gathered, which allowed for both meditation and contemplation.

At 9:00 AM, the faithful gathered. I was very gratified to see such a large congregation gather to give thanks for the excellent weekend, for the incredible gift of life, and most surely, the wonderful gift of friendship, remembering those friends gathered together with us, and those from whom we must, at least at times, be separated. 

Soon after, Capt. Porteus and Major LaPointe set the line for battalion formation.  One by one the companies gathered, and we began the time honored military ceremony of Dress Parade.

Dress Parade, that formal ceremony in which the troops are formed, assessed, reports of roll calls received, and important orders read, is one of the great unifying factors in military history. It was held at least once daily, often twice, during the time of the American Civil War. We have always tried to honor and continue that great tradition.

Capt. Porteus, in his role as adjutant, ran an excellent parade. As usual, we went directly from the parade into morning battalion drill. Drill consisted of review of yesterday's work and much improvement all around. Important work was done on the improvement of the oblique step, and the maintaining of front when marching at the oblique. Once again, Major Fearabay took command, and reviewed the work he had done yesterday, as well as practicing On the Right into Line, and important evolution.

Drill was concluded by 11:00 AM, and, at its conclusion, Capt. Pincins gave a most heartfelt thank you to all who had come. Wagons were allowed to enter camp at 12:00.  In the intervening time, I once again took my banjo, and played some favorites.  The time for leave taking having arrived, the wagoners entered camp, and we set about striking the tents.

Perhaps the most important point in this scouting expedition, is to report the dearth of Federal military activity in the area.  This was quite unexpected, but very welcome.

I would like to thank all who took the time to be with us this weekend, and most particularly to thank Capt. Dave Pincins, and all of the 12th Georgia, who have been hosting this event for us for the last 20 seasons. I, for one, can no longer imagine beginning a season without it.

Respectfully submitted this 28th day of April, 1865,
Colonel Bradley Tyler Johnson (aka Leonidas Jones) commanding
6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia
The Liberty Greys