Wilder Farm AAR


Colonel Joseph Leo, commanding,
6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV

I hereby submit my report of the operations of Southern Legion units in the actions at Wilder Farm, this past Weekend, July 31st and August 1st.

Mrs. Johnson (Liz Jones) and I arrived on site after a lovely drive through the beautiful countryside. While a lengthy trip, the vast majority was virtually without traffic. We arrived about 4:00 PM, registered smoothly, and were directed to the nearby campsite.

One of the few negative points of the weekend was that the camp area was unmown and rather uneven ground. Yet, compared to several other campsites we have encountered recently, even this was not so bad. Camp was set up in good order, and we settled in for the evening.

Southern Legion forces present included the 16th North Carolina, the host unit, and the Middlesex Light Artillery. A non-legion unit, the 8th Virginia Cavalry, which included a dismounted force, and three mounted troopers, augmented these troops.

It should be noted that the 55th Virginia Infantry galvanized as Federals
for the event, which served to equalize forces. They should be commended for their effort.

Camp setup proceeded smoothly, and a very pleasant evening was spent, renewing old friendships, and making new ones among the 16th. Sgt. Doug Tichnor took me on a tour of the battlefield. The 16th had spent a day constructing field fortifications, consisting of two rifle pits, three redans, and split rail fences providing cover for Federal gun emplacements. The field was an excellent one and much improved by the 16th's work.

Saturday dawned very hot and humid. At officers call at 9:00, I saw that there was no real need for a major in command, so I turned infantry command over to the capable hands of Lt. Ed Forquer of the 16th. I remained on the sidelines, though my cousin, Pvt. Elisha Russell, who, I am told greatly resembles me, took the field with the 16th. He will describe the military matters of the day.

Sgt. Doug Tichnor formed the company for drill. Lt. Forquer, quite wisely, marched us off to the shade. Morning drill consisted of Manual of Arms, with an excellent review of stacking arms highlighted. We were then confronted with a young man (Jacob Lamitie) who refused to take military service, claiming the importance of his political connections. While he argued his case, we were much disgusted, and insisted he should take his place in our ranks. When he refused, we marched off to the chants of "Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Fight". (Good scenario there!)

My cousin's wife, Mrs. Johnson, greeted us after drill with lemonade. We were most appreciative. We then took what ease we could in the oppressive heat, and waited for the next formation.

We formed up, and Lt. Forquer marched us out of sight, where weapons inspection was held. We then waited. I understand that there was a mounted cavalry engagement, after which we were marched into support. Once on the field, we were witnesses to an artillery duel, between our two mountain howitzers abetted by a mortar, and the federal Napoleon (an original piece!). We then marched to the field and engaged the enemy. We advanced up the field, delivering hot fire, and cut of the Federals from occupying the first rifle pit. Lt. Forquer then split platoons. I was in the 1st platoon under the command of 1st Sgt. Lamitie. We advanced upon the rifle pit occupied by the Federals, and took. We the fought a difficult advance on the nearest redan. Our goal was to take the Federal gun. In this advance, I met my most unfortunate demise. Our efforts, that day, were in vain.

My, cousin, while unconscious for a time, did recover, and drifted off to his bivouac in the trees. I, from my wall tent, accompanied the 16th to the nearby brook, where we were able to cool off a bit. Lt. Forquer kindly provided lemonade for the troops, and my lovely wife (Liz) handed out nectarines and cherries. The troops were much appreciative.

1st Sgt. Lamitie, Mrs. Johnson, and myself then returned to my tent accompanied by a young fiddler, where we started to work out some music for a barn dance that evening. I have let my banjo sit idle too much this summer, but we made some good progress.

Dinner was provided by the event organizers, and consisted of Chile, Cole slaw, and corn bread. Supplies were plenteous. After dinner, we returned to camp. I tried to lie down for a nap, but the air was so heavy that it was impossible.

At 7:00 PM there were "twilight tours" rather than candlelight tours, since darkness was not yet upon us. In an interesting version, they were set up away from camps. Every 50 feet or so, there was a station with a particular scenario. The tours progressed from station to station. This allowed those who desired to participate in such scenarios to do so, without disturbing those who desired to rest in camp. It seemed most effective, and I recommend it to event coordinators.

A bit before 8:00, Mrs. Johnson (Liz) and I arrived at the pavilion for the dance. Musicians also included Sgt. Lamitie and two young fiddlers. The dances were instructed and called by Brad Ellis, of the 2nd Michigan. We tried to get organized while Brad instructed the next dance. With so little rehearsal, all went remarkably well. It was a great pleasure to play with these folks. The dancers seemed most appreciative.

We returned to camp about 10:15. The heat had finally abated. We had the great pleasure of the company of Lt. Ed and Miss Lynn, and several others, including Sgt. John Perry, before we passed into sleep.

Sunday began overcast and warm, yet not nearly as humid as the day before. We held officers' call at 9:00 AM. I then, after a brief trip to the sutlers, where I purchased percussion caps for my wayward cousin, who had not brought enough, I repaired to the pavilion to prepare for divine services. We had an excellent turnout, and a most uplifting service. My cousin did not choose to attend. However, he did participate in the military activities, so I will turn the report over to him.

There was rain over the night. I hope my cousin was comfortable in his wall tent. I was not bivouacked in the woods. However, by time of morning drill at 11:00 AM, the heat was much less. Lt. Forquer drilled us relentlessly. Despite my hate of officers and drill, I must give him grudging admiration for his knowledge and teaching skills. The 16th is a well-drilled unit, and I was proud to fall in with them.

After a bit of a rest, we formed up for the 1:00 battle. We marched out and were fortunate enough to find the rifle pits unoccupied. We took one, and before the fight began, Sgt. Lamitie spotted Capt. Rathbun, the turncoat. Calling him out, they proceeded to have a fistfight. Much too small, the Sgt. was overwhelmed, and was saved by the good offices of Lt. Forquer.

Soon the true battle began. After a time in the safety of the breastwork, Lt. Forquer decided to split the company. I was in the front rank, which was taken by 1st Sgt. Lamitie, to flank the Federals on their right. We
delivered a withering fire, and then, on orders from Lt. Forquer, moved behind the trees, and caught the Federals off guard. We moved quickly, following the hard charging Sgt. Lamitie, and took the first redan. Lt. Forquer, with the rear rank, fought a difficult frontal assault. Aided by our enfilading fire, he took the middle redan.

The artillery fire from the Federal piece was hot. So hot, that it took out
the entire front rank, blasting the middle redan. Sgt. Lamitie led us on a wild charge to the rail fence to the right of the piece. There we engaged in a firefight. Finally, the turncoat Rathbun led a desperate but doomed charge, resulting in their deaths. We had to be impressed with his bravery, even when wearing the hateful blue. This loss of infantry support allowed us to capture the Federal piece, ending the engagement.

There was a brief closing ceremony, and we were then marched back to camp, where we struck tents and left. Having no tent, I was on my way quickly, but my cousin was there for quite a time.

I was indeed there for quite some time striking camp. Not only did I have a tent to strike, but also there were many fond farewells to be made. I wouldlike to thank the 16th NCT for making Liz and I fell so comfortable and
welcome in their midst.

In conclusion, this is an event with great promise. The campgrounds and sutler areas could accommodate much larger numbers. The battlefield was somewhat larger that the Hammonassett field, devoid of "rivers", and much improved by the aforementioned hard work of the 16th. While it is a haul, it is an easy and very beautiful ride. The event will be held again in two years. I recommend it!

Respectfully submitted,
Leonidas Jones

Captain, 1st Maryland Infantry

Major, 6th Battalion, 1st Division, ANV

The Southern Legion