After Action Report, Hillsborough

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

I herewith submit my report on the actions of the 6th Regiment, (Liberty Greys), in the vicinity of Hillsborough, this past August 15-17, 1964.

The regiment consisted of good turnouts from the 7th Tennessee, 12th Georgia, 1st Co. Richmond Howitzers, Headquarters Company, elements of Co. B 35th Virginia, and the 15th Alabama,  with the welcome assistance of the 4th Alabama. Our total field strength was approximately 30 soldiers, boosted by the late arrival of the 6th Alabama.

With my lovely wife unable to accompany me, I steeled myself for the long trip by rail and carriage, arriving at the site at around 3:30 Friday afternoon. Our engineer, Major John LaPointe, was able to precede us, and had selected a camp area for us, which, while hilly, allowed us to pass the weekend in some comfort. Major Tom Feraby had also made an early arrival, so matters were well in hand on my arrival. Looking out from our vantage point on top of the hill, we could espy the Federal camp in the distance, as well, as the most likely area of engagement with the enemy, as reconnoitered by Major LaPointe. Fortunately the early arrival of both the 7th Tennessee and 12th Georgia allowed for the headquarters company to set up without concern from the distant Federal detachment. Once camp was set up, I settled in with my banjo, playing tunes and enjoying the company of Major LaPointe. I was then joined by Sergeant Dan Spinner, of the 12th Georgia, who, wearing a sort of vest contraption resembling a simple washboard,  used it as a percussion instrument, and we spent quite an enjoyable time in sharing music together. We were joined by some local townspeople, who were most interested in our instruments. After enjoying this most pleasant company, we retired and, despite the early chill, spent a passable night.

Morning broke, bright and beautiful. We were awakened by the sound of the morning gun from the distant Federal artillery, which reverberated along the hills. As the companies began their daily routine, Major LaPointe and I took advantage of the opportunity to look over the likely field of engagement first hand.  Major Lapointe was able to point out several features of the land, which proved most helpful later in the morning. After this profitable endeavor, we returned to our camp for Officers' Call, where our company officers were apprised of our strategic situation.  During this meeting, we were visited briefly by a trooper who bore a striking resemblance to our recently departed Colonel, Paul Gliniewicz. On his departure, another seeming apparition passed by, appearing to be our former Major, Tim Cipriani, but in the uniform of a Federal private soldier.

After Officers' Call was dismissed, a truly amazing apparition appeared.  Troops who seemed to be Indians, as well as many soldiers, some conversing in the French tongue, who well have been our grandfathers, marched or walked by the Headquarters' camp.  A few minutes later, the sound of gunfire was heard clearly, so some sort action was taking place. About half an hour later, the ghosts marched back again.

As a modern aside, this event was rather unlike our normal event, in that it has traditionally been a French and Indian War event The War of Northern Aggression component was a new addition this year.

We were apprised, due to our earlier reconnaissance, of impending Federal activity, and this formed the regiment shortly after 10:00 AM. We were heartened by the arrival of the 4th Alabama, who had been delayed in fighting a rearguard action, covering our march.  Thus strengthened, we crossed the plank bridge over the stream, and marched through the town to the most likely field of engagement, in order to confront the enemy.

Upon our arrival, I deployed the infantry into the woods, in hopes of taking our enemy unawares, and sent Major Paul Brundige's cavalry to scout, and draw the Federals into our trap. As he rode on his mission, Federal artillery opened up, but was ably answered by Captain Wayne Rowe's Richmond Howitzers, who had placed himself in the perfect location to meet the challenge.  Major Brundige was himself attacked by a small detachment  of Federal cavalry, but after a short but sharp fight, was able to beat them off, as the Federal Infantry appeared on the horizon.

Our plan seemed to be working, but the Federal skirmishers figured us out quickly. Despite Captain Larry Todd's quick action in deploying his company from the woods, the skirmishers faced to our front quickly, covering their main body. Captain Todd just as quickly deployed the 12th Georgia as skirmishers, and, in a sharp firefight, was able to mask our main body as we emerged from the woods.

Moving quickly, we pressed the attack, driving the Federal infantry back
up the field.  Our skirmishers tiring, Captain Stephen Feid deployed his first platoon as skirmishers, allowing the 12th to rally on the battalion.  Covered by the 7th Tennessee, the 12th Georgia was soon back in line.

The Federal resistance stiffened, and the weight of their numerical superiority began to tell. 1st Sergeant Jack Jenkins attempted to turn the Federal right flank with the 4th Alabama, but our numbers were too few, and the Federal marksmanship was beginning to take a heavy toll. We began a fighting withdrawal back to the woods, looking for an opportunity to fight our way out, but to no avail.  Finally, boxed into a corner, I had no choice but to parley with Colonel Kenworthy, who allowed us to collect our wounded and withdraw, to fight another day.

We bandaged our wounded, and made our way back up the hill, where we were able to refresh ourselves, it being time for lunch.  We had a splendid repast, and I picked a few airs upon my banjo, as we rested.

Shortly after lunch, the sounds of music wafted their way up the hill from the direction of the town.  The sound of banjos, fiddles, and assorted percussion could be made out, and singing was clearly heard.  Interested in music as I am, I made my way down the hill in search of the sound.  Entering the town, I found a concert in place, by a band of Confederate soldiers who identified themselves as the 2nd South Carolina!. I listened for a time, enjoying the performance greatly.

As I left the concert, walking through the little town, a miraculous transposition took place. I found myself in the midst of what would appear to be a military camp, but the surroundings with which I am so familiar.  I found, English soldiers, French soldiers, fur traders, and Indian braves! The attire was more that which I would have expected my grandfather to have worn.  I wandered the camp, making quick sketches of the seeming apparitions, seeming to be the same ghosts we had observed this morning in the woods near our camp.  While I must admit to questioning my sanity, it was a wondrous sight none the less.  I continued my wandering, and came upon a row of merchants, selling all sorts of wares, again, all of a bygone time.  Whether it was a vision of the past, or my reaction to the pressures of war, I know not.  While not trusting my eyes fully, I made my way back up the hill to our camp, and retired for a rest, to purge my mind of the spectres of the past.

On arising from, nap, I found myself secure in perceiving the present of 1864, and the duties of camp life. I took advantage of the opportunity to converse with Majors Fearaby and LaPointe, and had an excellent talk with Captain Perkins, as we enjoyed the view from the top of the hill, as the sun worked its way into the west.

After a fine repast I once again heard the sounds of music from the direction of the town.  I joined a party of other officers, including Major LaPointe and Captain Perkins, and made our way down the hill and over the bridge, where we found this time, not a concert, but a ball in progress. Wonder of wonders, a good half of the dancers appeared to be from that bygone era I had dreamed of this afternoon, while others appeared to in truly outlandish costume that must have been from some far future time!. I made a note to see our regimental surgeon, Captain Porteus, to see if he might give me some relief from the ill humors causing these strange mirages to appear before my eyes.

We stayed at the ball for some time, enjoying the music and the dancing, before making our way back up the hill in the darkness to our camp.

Sitting under my fly, I strummed a few chords upon my banjo, when I heard music again, this time emanating from our own camp.   Again, I could hear banjo, fiddle, and percussion instruments.  Walking again to the sound of the music, I discovered a band of musicians in the 12th Georgia camp.  I went to my tent and took my own banjo to join them.  A lovely time was had for the balance of the evening, sharing the joys of music.  The hour becoming late, I betook myself back to my camp to spend a few minutes preparing for the morning divine service before retiring to a well deserved and needed night of rest, the gentle rain which began to fall lulling us to sleep.

Morning dawned, somewhat cloudy, but blessedly dry. My exertions and ill humors of the previous day caused me to oversleep my time, but I managed to get organized and appear on time to lead Morning Prayer.  We were gifted with the appearance of the sun, and a spectacular view of the town and camps at the foot of the hill. Prayers were given for many of our friends who are in need, for the recently passed, and those unknown to us who are suffering and in need of God's help. We were blessed to be together that morning.

I returned to headquarters refreshed in spirit, but lo, the apparitions would not leave me in peace.  Again, Indian brave and soldiers of the past stole past me on the road to our camp. This time, I determined to see what I could discover, and so followed them at a discreet distance. The ghosts had melted into the woods, from whence could be hear the sound of gunfire, and orders being called out in the French tongue.  I decided to leave the visions to their strange work, and returned to our camp in the present, for the battalion formation.

We were most heartened by the arrival of the remainder of the 4th Alabama, giving us a third company to fend ott our foes.  After weapons inspection, we made our way across the stream via the plank bridge, and through the town to the same field where we had encountered them before. We determined to attempt the same ruse as before, enticing the Federal forces with a small screen of cavalry.  Again, the keen eyed Federal artillery opened on us, answered again by our own. Again, Federal infantry refused to be drawn in, expecting our advance from within the woods.  We had no choice but to fight our way out.  Captain David Pincens brought his Georgians out of the woods in advance, and through sheer determination, opened a small way for our our main body to emerge. Fighting, pushing, firing, we made our way almost inch by inch into the field, driving the Federals before us.

We were able to rally the gallant Georgians, replacing them with the sturdy lads of Tennessee.  Captain Feid fought his way over to our right, opening the way for the battalion to advance.  Our relentless fire began to take its toll. The Georgians, refreshed, moved quickly to menace the Federal right flank, and we began to push them into a corner. After a continued withering fire, there were only a few soldiers in blue standing.  Colonel Kenworthy appeared with his hat on his sword, asking for a cease fire.  When I moved to meet him, a rogue group of Federals fired upon me.  All went black.

Fortunately i awoke under the ministrations of Major LaPointe, and found I had suffered a mere glancing blow.   With his assistance, I made my way to Colonel Kenworthy, and gave him generous terms.  Tending to our wounded, both armies retired from the field.

We marched back to our hillside camp, broke ranks and refreshed ourselves with an excellent luncheon. I again heard the sounds of music from the direction of the town, but this time duty called instead. It was time for dress parade.

Oddly, I believe this to be the only time our dress parade was conducted in the afternoon, after fighting an action. however, regulations are clear that this should be done.  We were pleased to be joined by the men of the 4th Alabama, straight from their picket line in close proximity to the Federal encampment, having ensured our safety from attack.  Captain Perkins conducted his usual excellent ceremony, and an effective battalion drill followed the parade. We then broke ranks and returned to camp, tired but content with the product of our labors.

We all rested awhile in the shade of the woody hillside.  Finally, after a time, the teamsters appeared with their wagons, and we began to break camp, in order to progress to our next campaign.

Respectfully submitted this 19th day of August, 1864,
Colonel Bradley Tyler Johnson (aka Leonidas Jones) commanding
6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia
The Liberty Greys
Any Fate But Submission