Tuesday, June 27, 2006

After Action Report: Shippensburg, PA

Another year has passed and the March to Destiny slides into the past. However, It will be a weekend remembered by both participants and spectators as a "must attend event" for next year.

Although there were a few minor glitches on Friday, these were very minor relative to all the things that went right. There was clearly evidence of a lot of hard work by the March to Destiny Committee in preparation for the event. Registrations went smoothly and re-enactors commented on the efficiency and friendliness of the people assisting in the registration process. The new camps were a welcome change from years past and many participants commented that the sites were some of the best they ever camped on. Most liked the fact that the town was the center of activities versus being camped in some field miles away from town. It was also evident to the re-enactors that the Shippensburg community welcomed the visitors and treated them with utmost kindness throughout the weekend.

There were approximately 325 re-enactors registered for the event plus there were at least 75 walk-ons. Unfortunately, threats of severe weather undoubtedly kept many of those who pre-registered home for the weekend. Actually we had about 160 re-enactors who failed to show, mostly because of the weather but ended up with more than 325 participants. PACS, DNV, Longstreet's Corps, Mifflin Guard, Birney's Division, and Vincents Brigade all provided participants both military and civilian.

It rained a little very early Saturday morning and then again very late Saturday night but the rest of the day was dry, permitting all activities to proceed as scheduled. Saturday morning, the residents of Shippensburg witnessed the Confederate troops foraging (a "military" term for begging) for food and other necessaries. The businesses and residents responded with amazing generosity and the Rebs ate and drank well all weekend.

Speaking of food, all participants enjoyed a fabulous breakfast (free) on Saturday morning and a wonderful chicken dinner for lunch or dinner. Re-enactor feedback noted the extent and quality of the breakfast and the chicken dinner as outstanding.

Shortly after the public was given an explanation of Shippensburg's involvement in the Civil War, the street skirmish began and graphically echoed the words of Wayne Wachtsmith. The streets of Shippensburg came alive with the rattle of musketry and the boom of cannon as the Confederate forces pushed the defending Federals out of town. The skirmish was well attended by residents and other spectators who traveled some distances to witness this historical event. The fire was hot and heavy lasting about 40 minutes. Both sides displayed a good representation of "street fighting", a part of Civil War re-enacting seldom seen.

A short parade followed the skirmish and then the Union troops were inspected by President Lincoln, who also addressed the men explaining how important their service was to ending hostilities and the restoration of peace throughout the country. Re-enactors and spectators alike enjoyed period ice cream at the end of the skirmish. The cooperation between opposing forces resulted in the "best King Street skirmish ever."

The renewal of wedding vows presented the public with a good idea how weddings were conducted during the Victorian era. Reverend Wayne Baker presided. The wedding was followed by the cake cutting and a period ball. The ball was a huge success. Many re-enactors commented on the efficiency of Tammy as the dance-mistress as well as the actual location of the dance. The refreshments were welcomed and helped keep everyone hydrated during the dance. It was quite a hike, especially for the Confederate re-enactors so it was suggested that next year maybe we could provide some type of shuttle service to and from the dance... i.e. hay wagons, etc.

Sunday dawned with a bit of rain and the weather got steadily worse as the day went on. Despite the rain, people braved the Church services conducted by Reverand Baker, as well as the battle scheduled for 1:00 P.M. About noon the rain was coming down steadily and the decision whether to proceed with or cancel the Sunday skirmish was left entirely in the hands of the brave soldiers who had remained on site. Not surprising, they chose to stay and fight. The spectator turnout was quite unbelievable despite the weather and we were all very grateful to the men and ladies who stayed and provided a shortened (due to thunder and lightning) but lively display for the crowd.

In my humble opinion, this was the best Shippensburg event ever, despite the weather and the resulting loss in attendance. Everyone on the planning committee needs to feel very very proud of themselves for all the hard work and dedication they provided. It is seldom evident to the general public and even participants all the work that needs to be done to make an event a success. This event will be judged on many factors, mostly which are due to the results of a lot of hard work. Based on my discussions with spectators and participants alike, this was a "class act" from beginning to end.

My special thanks to Mike Mitchell, Confederate Commander, and his staff and Colonel Mark Essig and his staff whose efforts are truly reflected in the quality of the actual skirmishes. Without extreme cooperation between opposing forces, through their commanders, any kind of scripted battle would fall short of expected results. There is no doubt that both battles this past weekend exceeded our expected results.

In addition to individuals already mentioned, I would specifically note the extreme efforts port forth by Bill Chain and Kevin Bender whose presence was found wherever and whenever difficult work was required. Without their diligence to duty, this event would have had an entirely different end result. My personal thanks to my staff who performed magnificently during the entire event particularly Bill Magargle who was my second in command, Denny Rohrbaugh my Adjutant and bugler, John Price and Don Swope unit commanders, and Pete Peterson Sergeant Major.

Respectfully submitted
Richard G. Adams, Col.
Commanding Federal Forces

Friday, June 23, 2006

Upcoming events

Be reminded that this weekend is the Shippensburg event if you get a chance come out and support.

July - 1,2,3 - Gettysburg - We will have our command staff present at the event and have our own camp our Mounted Cavalry , Artillery and Infantry are attending in good numbers so come out to support.

July - 21,22,23 - Bull Run / Manassas at Cedar Creek - Looks like a big turn out for us give it your top priority.

Aug 12, 13 - Hale Farm - Ohio- great event

August 26,27,28 - Lisbon Ohio - Great event. Get registered. Lots of Rebs to shoot at!

Edward L. Kelley Sr. , Major General
Federal First Division, 2nd Brigade
Birneys Division

AAR Old Bedford Village

The Old Bedford Village event remains one of if not the best event on our schedule. With the backdrop of a non commercialized period village with good ground centrally located to the majority of heavy concentrations of most umbrella groups members run in a friendly laid back manner, fair distribution of command assignments thought the various organizations present, with a diverse event schedule this high mid level event is hard to beat. This event is growing almost to capacity for good reason.

There were approx 900 plus reenactors registered and well over 750 attended. There were approx 400 Infantry, 16 artillery, and 40 mounted in attendance. There were family activities, 2 major battles including an Infantry river crossing, a Saturday evening Ball that the 46th Pa Logan Band of Birneys Division graciously donated their time to benefit the Village along with many other raffles, and donations to help raise badly needed money for Old Bedford Village. The early tally unofficially approaches $24,000 that the event raised I am told and will go a long way to keeping the Village alive and well. The reenactment community is to be commended for their support of the event.

This event is only one example of the quality of the events that the Shenandoah Valley Alliance supports as you may know we maintain a set standard of requirements for the events we mutually attend. You may rest assured that if you see an event that both PACS and Birneys Division are attending and in command it will be a great event. Please go to our event schedule at www.birneysdivision.org for further information on our future activities.

In conclusion I would like to thank all the reenactors for your support at this event and look forward to seeing you all at many others during the season.

The Shenandoah Valley Alliance is an agreement between Birneys Division and PACS to mutually attend certain events to enhance the reenacting experience for all attending

Your Servant,

Edward L. Kelley Sr., Major General
Federal First Division, 2nd Brigade
Birneys Division

Friday's arrival of all the military components filled the streets and fields in and around Old Bedford Village on June 16th.

As the white canvas began to spring up and fill all the nooks and crannies in the rustic village, smoke from camp fires wafted lazily into the air. Fire wood was stacked, water hauled, and the arrival of each contingent signaled an increase in humorous banter and revelry. Spirits were high as weather reports a good but hot weekend was in store. Shade was plenty throughout the village and created a perfect setting for refuge from any discomforting weather.

The dress parade on Saturday displayed an impressive 8 companies of infantry. For Brigade drill, accoutrements and weapons were stacked and blouses removed to defend against a hot sun rising higher in mid-morning. All companies performed admirably as veteran soldiers from earlier engagements.

Saturday's scenarios called for the 2 Battalions to fight independently in different areas on the field.

2nd BN was committed to battle first. Skirmishers from the Rebel hoard poked and prodded our defenses in the vicinity of the steam boarding the village. 2nd BN units engaged and checked the Rebel line, pushing them back from the front and controlled their movement in an impressive screening maneuver. Once the Bn regrouped, 2 large Rebel companies double-quicked across the wooden bridge and immediately went into a battle front. After trading volleys, 2nd BN was given the order to advance. With flags flying and lines straight, the BN looked impressive as they began the attack against the enemy. The fighting was close and hot.

While this action was playing out, 1st BN was ordered to the front near the Federal artillery. The enemy was positioned at the far end of a large open field. And, after a lengthily delay, began to advance under heavy Federal artillery fire. Although outnumbered 1st BN was ordered into action and began to assault the Rebel lines. Action was fierce and hot as both lines maneuvered to gain the advantage on each other. The howitzer was brought on line to bear against the enemy attempting to flank the 1st BN's left. Dismounts and infantry were strung out to hold the extreme left. The lines pushed and pulled, smoke choked men’s throats, eyes were stung from power, sweat and heat. 1st BN was holding the line and even advanced at one point. The situation was desperate thought as the Rebel hoard began to mount more numbers than 1st BN could bear. Rebel companies began to shift to the Federal r

In the meantime on 2nd BN was pounding the enemy with a withering rifle fire. Effective firing and pressure from the Battalion caused the enemy to disengage and withdraw from the field at a rapid pace. Rebel infantry ran from action at the covered bridge to reinforce their units battering 1st BN. Now the action in front of 1st BN was critical and about to break when lo' and behold a magnificent sight was reported when the entire 2nd BN of Birney's came marching onto the field behind 1st BN!

2nd BN Commanders immediately rushed their companies into line-of-battle to support 1st BN's left. This action immediately checked the enemies advance and held the line. Rebel companies continued to build on the Federal right in an attempt to flank the line. Companies from the Federal left were sent to check this enemy build up and stop the threat. With a now-solid line, Birney's began the advance. Firing, advancing. Firing, advancing. The constant pushing caused the Rebel line to collapse.

The day ended with Federal forces in command of the field in front of an enemy rendered ineffective.

The Sunday scenario was reversed.
1st BN was ordered into action from across the covered bridge into the “corral”. As the BN crossed the bridge they formed an impressive battle line and began to advance against an unwilling and static enemy. The Rebel line used a fence as their defense and refused to budge. 1st BN poured volley after volley into the enemy and decimated their ranks. The temperature began to rise from heat and guns as the BN tried to dislodge the Rebels from the fence, when suddenly from across the bridge and to the rear of 1st BN, two full companies of Rebel infantry double-quicked and form a battle front. A sickening turn of events tricked the BN and caught them with fire from front and rear. The day was lost when quick thinking saved the BN by left facing and crossing the fence to escape both threats.

1st BN marched out of harms way and moved to support action confronting 2nd BN.

2nd BN had been on the field for some time with only light skirmish action. After an intense Cavalry dual, the infantry battle developed slowly with only few Rebel numbers on the field. 1st and 2nd Battalions were in advance of the field and waited for the enemy to advance. Numbers grew on the butternut and gray line and the enemy began the advance. Volleys and howitzer fire checked the advance of the swelling hoard. A separate Rebel contingent advanced independently on the Federal guns and quickly over ran them capturing a number of pieces. The action was intense as the overwhelming Rebels pushed Birney’s back begrudgingly, a yard at a time.

Time, heat, sweat and blood all worked against the Battalions this day. A last minute rally was attempted but to no avail. The day was lost as the colors were struck and carried to safety from the field. The casualties were high as the stragglers made their escape.

Colonel John Price
Brigade Commander

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Old Bedford details


Be reminded that the Old Bedford Village event is this coming weekend and all is ready at the site all water is working, the amenities are in place , the temporary bridge has been removed and we have over 800 reenactors registered. Walkons will be accepted upon prior approval .

We have some really different and pleasing scenarios planned that will be pretty intense to enhance your experience and keep it fresh at this grand event this coming weekend. Bring plenty of ammunition the battles could last 2 hours or more each day if you like to fight this will be the event of the year, we plan to step it up a notch, I promise. The weather looks great so come on out and enjoy.

Your Servant,

Edward L. Kelley Sr. , Major General
Federal First Division, 2nd Brigade
Birney,s Division