After Action Report, Gettysburg

To Colonel Bradley Tyler Johnson
6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia, commanding

I herewith submit my report on the actions of Company G, 15th Alabama, in the vicinity of Gettysburg, this past August 22-24, 1964.

The 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.

My lovely 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.

On our 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.

Almost 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 distinction.

After our 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.

At about 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.

We were 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 Virginia friends.

The rains 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 well.

The rains 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.

We 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!

As the 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 excellent company!

Making 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.

The rains 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.

Before we 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.

Again, 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. 

These 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.

Once 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.

Finally, 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.

I would 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.

Colonel, 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 now.

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
Any Fate But Submission