After Action Report, Red Apple Farm

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 Phillipston, this past July 25-27, 1864.

The regiment consisted of good turnouts from the 7th Tennessee, 12th Georgia, 1st Maryland, Co. A, 35th Virginia, Co. B, 35th Virginia, 1st Company Richmond Howitzers, and Headquarters Company. We were joined by elements of the 3rd Arkansas. Our total field strength with these elements was approximately 65 soldiers.

My wife and I arrived on the site after a lengthy journey by rail and carriage. We arrived to find a most agreeable campsite, which had been selected for us by Ordnance Sgt. Mike Flye, acting as our advance scout, being very familiar with the locale. The regimental camp had been most ably laid out by Lt. Col. Paul Plante and Sgt. Major Brian Patton, who had done their usual splendid job.  We had arrived at about 5:30 PM, to find many soldiers already gathering.  Camp was placed on the outskirts of the small village of Unity.  In the distance, on the other side of unity, appeared to be a building encampment of Federal infantry. Fortunately our soldiers who had already arrived in camp allowed us to set up in peace and safety. Camp being set up, we spent a most pleasant evening, renewing our acquaintances with many friends who stopped by, and gathering with a group of staff members under our fly to enjoy the company, and the most pleasant evening.  There were many such groups dotted around the camp.  Eventually, we retired, and passed a most comfortable night.

Morning broke, bright and clear, and the camp was roused by reveille at 6:00 AM, and we went about the business of the day. Sergeants' Call was held at 7:00 AM, and our companies took full advantage of the time allotted for company drill at 8:00.

During this time, I took an opportunity to reconnoiter the nearby field, which Sgt. Flye had pointed out as the mostly likely ground of engagement with the Federal detachment, due to its proximity to the road to Unity. I noted some features of the land, such as possible locations for placing our artillery, and the most propitious areas for using our cavalry detachment. I then returned to camp, and managed to find solace and relaxation by playing some familiar airs upon my banjo.

Our company officers arrived promptly at 9:00 AM for the morning banjo recital, um, I mean Officers' Call.  Assignments of places in line of battle were made, as well as some idea of the ground, and the possibility of an engagement that afternoon. The meeting was short, and followed by a further examination of the field with Lt. Col. Plante, and Sgt. Major Patton.

At 10:00 AM, the companies arrived on headquarters row in good order, in readiness for Battalion drill. Drill focused on evolutions that might be required in the possible engagement, particularly the march in column of companies right in front, deploying that column into line of battle by inversion, and changing front when in line of battle by inversion. We then made a beginning of forming a column on the Right into Line, an evolution unfamiliar to many of our newer officers. I am happy to report the the battalion performed in its usual most able manner, allowing for an active 45 minute drill, after which we returned to camp.

At 11:00 AM, we had an activity new to us, the Drill Elimination Competition.  Some 12 or so soldiers participated, most in uniforms of an odd shade of blue, although many of them appeared familiar. I took command, with Sgt. Major Patton, and Aide de Camp Lt. Todd Purcell, who was acting as Provost Marshal, serving as judges. Soldiers were eliminated, of course, by flaws in their performances of the Manual of Arms, and facings. Since the soldiers were so well drilled, they had a further challenge. Since this was a company size, commands had to be prefaced by the caution "Company", as in "Company, Shoulder Arms". A command of "Battalion, Shoulder Arms", or simply "Shoulder Arms was to be ignored. Also and improper command, such as "Company, Port Arms" should be ignored, since the proper command would be "
Company, Arms Port".

This proved to be a great deal of fun for all involved. All soldiers who participated performed so well that it was difficult to eliminate them. We did eventually work down to the four prize winners.  I hope this can happen again at our events.

Time had arrived for luncheon, accompanied by more airs upon the banjo. Time passed quickly, and at 1:30 PM, the battalion formed for patrol, an possible encounter with the Federal detachment. Weapons were, of course, inspected, with no problems other then trifles.

As we trudged though the woods, we heard the sound of our mounted cavalry detachment, who had encountered a similar detachment of Federal cavalry. Under the able command of Major Paul Brundage, the threat was dispatched quickly.

As we neared the opening into the field, we heard the distant rumble of Federal artillery.  Fortunately Captain Wayne Rowe of the Richmond Howitzers had positioned one of his pieces in the perfect location to answer back. We were able to emerge into the brightness of the afternoon sun.

We marched into the field, about a third of its length, when a strong detachment of Federal infantry came out of hiding in the woods and attacked the left flank of our column. Thinking quickly, Captain Tom Fisher of the 35th Virginia immediately deployed his troopers, who, fighting dismounted, held off the Federals while we deployed our column into line of battle. Our combined firepower reduced the threat.

However, quite soon after, another strong body of Federal infantry appeared, reinforcing. them, then another.  The initial party fell back upon the main body, while we continued to push, with dismounted troopers from Co. A 35th Virginia harassing their left flank, and the troopers of Co. B 35th harrying their right, the enemy was driven back to their line of fortification.

Acting promptly and steadily, Captain Christian Svejk of the 1st Maryland supported the attack on the Federal left, overrunning the artillery and allowing us freedom of movement. Captain Steven Feid of the 7th Tennessee moved in similar manner on their left. With our men firing on them from all directions, the enemy was forced out of their fortification and into retreat. Despite fighting hard and with much valor the day was ours.  Colonel Paul Kenworthy of the New England Brigade called fort a parley accepting his defeat. where, being much diminished ourselves we offered the courtesy of allowing his men to tend to their wounded.  We took advantage of the opportunity ourselves to do the same.  I am very glad to report that we did emerge successful and victorious on the field that day.

On our return, we were able to refresh ourselves. I was most gratified to met by my lovely wife, Jane Claudia (aka Liz) with a pitcher of lemonade, which soon restored me to vigor. I reached for my banjo, and began to play. Others in the camp also reached for instruments, another banjo, a guitar, even a violin. Soon, all those in the camp were treated to the accidental harmonies created by the different airs being played concurrently. I am sure it was much enjoyed. Then again, perhaps they were simply pleased that my banjo playing was finally being drowned out! No, surely it must be the former, rather then the latter.

The music helped the afternoon pass quickly and most pleasantly. Soon it was evening.  My lovely wife presented me with a most delicious stew, which surely she must have worked over the entire day.  I am a most fortunate man! All our companies were well fed as well, and all seemed happy. While we did have a brief shower, it passed quickly and cleared.  Lt. Col. Plante, Sgt. Major Patton and myself made a tour of the company streets to ensure that all were well, and content. awe then returned to Headquarters Row, this time to Col. Plante's fly, where a wonderful evening was passed in the company of good friends.

On my way to the sinks that night, I chanced to look up to the heavens, and, on that moonless night, beheld such a display of stars in their beauty, that i was without words. I had just been talking with a good friend about the beauty of a starry night, and the wonder of that heavenly display, and behold there it was. What a blessing has been given to us!. With that thought before my eyes, I retired happy and at peace.

After a most refreshing sleep, morning broke again with sound of reveille at 6:00 AM, the beginning of another days tasks, despite the gloom of the overcast skies.  Sergeants' Call again at 7:00, and company drill at 8:00, while I took the opportunity to prepare to read Morning Prayer on the Lords's Day. About 30 of gathered at the appointed spot. We prayed for friends who were in need of the Lord's help, and prayed for those unknown to us by name, who might also be in need. We gave our thanksgivings for the many great blessings we have received, and enjoyed the fellowship greatly.

Morning prayer behind us, we returned to the realities of military life. Our companies, one by one, marched to the parade ground for  dress parade where we were pleased to see the late arriving 4th Alabama, delayed by heavy enemy action on their route, and resplendent in their newly captured blue uniforms! Our adjutant, Captain Tim Perkins, did his usual outstanding job in running this time honored military tradition.

As a modern aside, the 4th Alabama had been intending to do this event in grey, but, in order to even the sides, making the event more successful, they attended in their alter egos, the 15th Massachusetts.  They decided they wanted to participate in our dress parade, and even took part in our succeeding battalion drill.

During dress parade, the rains began to fall.  I had been concerned that we might have to cancel the battalion drill.  While this would not have been a real disaster, this was to be Lt. Col. Plante's first time conducting battalion drill.  Fortunately, the rain abated to a drizzle, perhaps more of a mist, and drill went on as planned. To no ones surprise, Col. Plante ran a most efficient and excellent drill.  My congratulations go out to him. With him and Major atom Fearaby,who sadly could not attend this event due to illness, our Regiment is in good hands!

Sadly, the 4th Alabama, exhausted form their hard fought trip in, and further drained by their determination to drill, were forced to retire.

The weather held as nothing more then a mist for the drill, but, on our return to camp, the skies opened up! Our gear was stored, so we weathered the storm.  At one point, the wind gave us sideways rain, and our only recourse was to retreat to the safety of our tents. With the possibility of approaching thunder, we began to have concern for the remainder of the event.

We worried needlessly.  Thie event surely had some sort of Heavenly blessing.  Late morning, the rains abated fully. By noon, the sun began to peak out. The grounds dried, the canvas dried, all became well!

1:30 PM rolled around and the battalion formed for our afternoon patrol, and possible engagement with the Federals. again we trudged along the wooded road, again, Federal artillery spoke in the distance, only to be answered by our own. We broke out into the welcome sun, and marched towards Unity. Our cavalry detachment had been called away, and so we marched without their welcome screen, though flanked by the dismounted troopers of Co. B, 35th Virginia. Almost defying credulity, we were attacked from the woods again in almost exactly the same place. Captain Fisher was well prepared, and hit them hard. Again we deployed our column, and quickly drove them from their position. awe pushed hard, driving them back onto their main body at the field fortifications.  As I looked into the distance at them, I seemed to see many who had a more then passing resemblance to the 4th Alabama! Surely the effects of the hard fighting we had endured recently were playing tricks with my eyes!

We pushed hard at their position, but they were well entrenched. Our cavalry skirmishers were unable to displace their artillery, which continued to pound us. We stove with all our might to displace the infantry from their position, to no avail. Sensing our exhaustion, Col. Kenworthy acted quickly, and moved his troops forward. In our weakened state we could not hold, and had to fall back. Again and again, we rallied the troops, and attempted to make stands, field adjutant Captain Randy Porteus, and Sgt. Major Patton doing yeoman service. Finally, exhausted and unable to continue, I raised my kepi on my sword, calling for a parley with Col. Kenworthy. This brave and worthy soldier refused the offer of my sword, and courteously allowed us to return to the field and care for our wounded. After an interval, we were able to retire into the dark safety of the wood.

As we returned to the comfort of our camp, I was again greeted by my lovely Jane Claudia (still Liz by the way) with her ever present pitcher of lemonade, and her kind comfort after our difficulties on the field. Our brave lads rested and were refreshed, and finally, it came time to begin breaking camp, and moving on to our next post of duty.

Finally, down the road, the wagons appeared and entered our camp, and the slow process of breaking camp began. As we contemplated striking our tents, we were amazed to find them completely dry, even after the intense rains of the morning. What a true blessing easing our labors.

We were most fortunate to have received a three week furlough, so, one by one, our parties dispersed into the countryside, leaving, finally, only a few of us behind. As we loaded the last of our equipment into the wagons, and prepared to board the carriage for the ride to the train station for the trip back to Richmond, the rains once again began to fall.  No matter, our labors were complete, and we could rest easy.

I always try to mention as many of the large numbers of people deserving of praise for the great success for the event, but, invariably, there are names omitted. In truth, every member of our organization, soldier and civilian should be mentioned, but these reports are more then lang enough as they are. Please consider yourselves all to be thanked, I am in your debt for your hard work. On this one, I do need to mention especially, all of the members of the 7th Tennessee, who worked so hard to make this a great success. Most especially, Ordnance Sgt. Mike Flye, who conceived the idea of the event last year, and has worked tirelessly ever since on the site and the logistics. People may call it a thankless task, but he surely has our thanks. This event will return in two years, and Mike has secured us access to the property in the off years.  Lt. Col. Plante is developing a non spectator tactical event for next year, with details to follow.

As always, my great thanks and appreciation to all who worked on the event and all of you who attended. You have my thanks and appreciation, and you are all in my prayers.

Respectfully submitted this 28th day of July, 1864,
Colonel Bradley Tyler Johnson (aka Leonidas Jones) commanding
6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia
The Liberty Greys
Any Fate But Submission