After Action Report, Paxton

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

I herewith submit my report on the actions of our combined company in the vicinity of Paxton, this past June 6-8, 1865. The company consisted of elements of Co.'s G and F of the 12th Georgia, Co. B, 35th Virginia, Co. H, 1st Maryland, and Co. B, 4th Alabama.

Accompanied by my wife, I arrived at the nearby train station, after a surprisingly short journey. A short carriage ride later, we arrived at our camp at about 3:45, PM. Camp had been well laid out, and we found our place easily.

We were joined by Major LaPointe and Capt. Perkins, who had already established their camps. Soon after, Capt. Porteus, and Lt. Flye arrived, making for a functional command staff.

Our own camp was set up most smoothly, and we were able to make our way to the tavern in the nearby town, where a reception was held in our honor! We were well fed, and quite honored.  However, weary from the trip, we soon returned to our camp, and settled in under our fly for a most pleasant evening in the company of good friends!

There was one small adventure, at our sinks, some of our number encountered a small black bear! It was as frightened of us as we might have been of him, and he was not seen for the rest of the weekend. At length, we retired to spend a most comfortable night.

Morning broke, rather overcast and somewhat bleak.  Nonetheless, we roused ourselves to begin the day.  At 8:30, Federal officers appeared, under a flag of truce, for a parley.  Accompanied by Capt. Porteus, Lt. Flye, and Major LaPointe, we attempted to settle peacefully, so as to avoid a bloody conflict, but to no avail! After walking together awhile in the effort, we finally returned to our respective camps.

On our return, we discovered that the men had been at drill, relieving me of the necessity. After a brief interlude, at about 10:00, we formed the company and marched off to a nearby field. There, with the Federal battalion nearby, we inspected weapons, and were observed by a contingent of people from the nearby town, curious as to our intentions.

One of our number, a Pvt. Pincins of the 12th Georgia, had a small adventure. He greatly resembles Capt. Pincins of the 12th, who was necessarily absent.  I imagine they are brothers. In any event, when capping off after inspection, Pvt. Pincins neglected to return his rammer, which fell out of the barrel, as I went to see if his weapon was clear! Evidently, he has just joined the army, and is need of training.  I am sure his brother, the Captain, will instruct him.

A civilian, a Mr. Marc Bassos, took to the bandstand, and tried to explain the situation to them.  I am not sure whether they understood or not, but they gave him their attention.

After his speech, we marched back to camp, and took our ease. I took out my banjos, and played some of my favorite airs. As I played, townspeople came by, evidently attracted by the sounds of the music. I greatly enjoyed playing for them, and talking to them as they wandered by. I ended up spending a couple of hours at it.

The time flew by, and before I knew it, time arrived for our afternoon reconnaissance in force.  We formed the company and marched off down the road.  On encountering a fork, Capt. Porteus took a small detachment across a small footbridge, while I took the bulk of the company down the main road to the left.

We found nothing, and began our return to camp, when we encountered Federal pickets!

I immediately, dispatched four skirmishers, under that command of Corporal Vieira of the 12th GA, who, by strange coincidence, strongly resembles the absent Capt. Vieira! Yet another brother I presume.

Cpl. Vieira, obviously an experienced and very well trained soldier, took able command, and forced the pickets back on a line of skirmishers. There he was forced to stop. I quickly brought up the main body, and firing several crisp volleys, forced the Federal skirmishers back. Our skirmishers pursued, fighting along the road, as we followed in the way they cleared for us.

After a time, we encountered a larger body of Federals in line.  I recalled the skirmishers, and we fired several sharp volleys as a body, which caused the Federal line to waver, and then begin to withdraw.

We fought our way down the road, advancing rank by rank, as we began to approach the fork. As we came closer, the Federals fell back behind a Chevaux de Frise, and were reinforced by another body of troops.  With numbers now strongly against us, our advance was stalled. We fought there for a while, withdrawing a short space when the fire became too hot. After a time, we began to withdraw, again rank by rank, firing as we went. It was a hot, fighting withdrawal, begrudging every step. We were too badly outnumbered, however, and were forced to make a quick retreat, covered once again by Cpl. Vieira's skirmishers, who fought most valiantly!

I should report at this juncture, that Pvt. Pincins, getting over his earlier jitters, performed most ably and bravely in this action.

Still, our losses left us with too small a number.  I deployed the balance of the company as skirmishers as we tried to withdraw. Ultimately, only a small number of us escaped, the remainder being captured.

Taking our way back to our camp via a circuitous route, we finally arrived.  I was most heartened to find after a short time that our men who had been taken prisoner were soon paroled, and we were whole again in our camp!

As a modern aside, I would like to make note of Federal Captain Todd Bryda, in command of Federal forces, who devised the core of the plan of battle. The original plan had been to fight on a ball field, flanked by diamonds and backstops.  The alternative of the fight along the road proved most satisfying to us as reenactors, though the spectators visibility was limited. Personally, I have just a few too many "Battle of the Ball Field" engagements, and was most glad for an alternative.

After rest and refreshment, I once again took out my banjos, and played some merry airs.  My lovely wife took out her guitar, and we played and sang through the late afternoon. Our good friends from the 1st Maryland came and listened, and we were happy to renew the old acquaintance.

As the sun recessed, we stopped, and my lovely wife Liz prepared a most delicious repast. We took our ease. After a while, we could hear the sounds of music emanating from the nearby town.  We went up the hill to have a look, and discovered a dance taking place in the same tavern where we were feted the previous evening. Not being dancers, we sat and enjoyed the music and the display for a time, before retuning to camp.
Night fell quickly, but our lamps gave us light. The clear sky, while lovely, made for a much chillier evening the the one before.  After a time, I light our brazier to add a little warmth. We were joined by Lt. Flye and his friend Betty, and the Porteus', as well as some others, and we spent a very pleasant, though chilly evening in the company of good friends.

At length, we retired to our tents. Once in our bedding, the chill of the evening seemed to abate, and we spent a most comfortable night.

Morning broke Sunday, bright and beautiful. The soldiers went about their morning routine. It being my turn to lead divine services, I studied the Prayer Book for a time, then relaxed by playing some airs on the the banjo. At length, we went back up the hill to the small chapel in the town where the townspeople had kindly allowed us to have our service.  Indeed, many of them chose to join us, and we were very happy to have them join with is in worship.

On returning to camp, it was soon time to make another reconnaissance. We formed the company, and marched back down the road, again finding nothing.

Once again, on our return, we encountered Federal resistance. We advanced, fighting every step, causing a Federal withdrawal, again aided by Cpl. Vieira's skirmishers. We came close to the fork, where fierce Federal resistance slowed the advance.

We wheeled to direct our fire, and had a firefight there for a while.  I dispatched another set of skirmishers to try to force a Federal withdrawal. The Federals were having none of it, however, and I was about to recall them, when a miraculous event occurred.

One of the skirmishers was Pvt. Flye, who bears a distinct resemblance to our ordnance officer, Lt. Flye. Yet another brother, I suppose.

Pvt. Flye produced a revolver, and began to fire. The weight of his fire alone cause the Federal line to break and withdraw! A miracle indeed.

I recalled the skirmishers and continued the advance. Slowly but surely we gained ground, the Federals taking cover behind a breastwork. I quickly dispatched the trusty Cpl. Vieira to force them out, and, while it was a hard go, he succeeded!

The remaining Federals withdrew across the footbridge, with Cpl. Vieira's men contesting their withdrawal. I placed the rest of the company behind a breastwork, and fired withering volleys!

The Federals could not resist, and those that remained ultimately surrendered. I stood across the footbridge and watched the Federal soldiers come across, their muskets inverted in the sign of surrender. I was surprised to see a Zouave private who bore the most striking resemblance to Colonel Paul Kenworthy! It is truly a conflict of brothers!

As another modern aside, we stood there in sight of the spectators, as I wondered, how the heck do we get out of this? I hit on a plan. I told the company we would break ranks, and shake hands with our Federal brethren! I think the spectators really appreciated that touch.

We paroled the prisoners, and marched back to our camp. On our arrival, we were delighted to discover that the townspeople had invited us to the tavern for a luncheon! Up the hill we went, where we were fed most sumptuously, and. wonder of wonders, given ice cream for a dessert!

After this lovely lunch, we returned to camp.  The time had come, as it always does, to strike the tents, the campaign being at a close. Camp broken, we boarded the carriage, then the train, and made our way home.

To sum up the weekend, this was a small event, and a one timer. Yet I had as good a time as I have had in quite a while.  It serves as a reminder that great times can be had at the small events as at the larger ones. Yet, I am always happy to see more of our friends,  I hope we can build on this, and continue to have a great season.

While I hesitate to give out thank you's, for fear of forgetting too may names, I would be remiss in not mentioning the hard work of Marc Bassos, the event coordinator, who has give2n us so much in these last few years. I would also like to thank Capt. Tom Higgins, who commanded Federal forces on Sunday, for playing the game in the best possible manner.

Special mention and thanks should also go to the 12th Georgia.  Without their strong support of this event, the great success we had could not have taken place.

On to Norlands this weekend, and then Old Mystic Village!

Respectfully submitted this 10th day of June, 1865,
Captain Thomas Armstrong Jones (aka Leonidas Jones) commanding
Amalgamated Company, 6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia
The Liberty Greys
Any Fate But Submission