Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New functions on the Birney's Yahoo Group

For those who have already logged into the Division Yahoo Group to explore the various member functions, there are a couple of new items of interest.

Once you are logged in, look down the left side navigation and click on "Groups Labs (Beta) - Applications". Two new functions that have been added are "For Sale" and "Reenactor Profile".

The "For Sale" area is for members to buy, sell, or trade stuff to their fellow Division pards.

The "Reenactor Profile" area allows members to tell a little about themselves and their background in the hobby.

To log in, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BirneysDivision

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

AAR: Fredericksburg in Zoar, Ohio

I have finally thawed out enough to write a report on the events in Zoar, Ohio this last weekend. The 51st OVI has hosted a winter encampment as part of the Christmas in Zoar event in years past, but this was the first time a battle was held to commemorate the engagement in Fredericksburg, Virginia during December of 1862.

First lets just say to was COLD. Sixteen degrees Friday night, and by Sunday the wind and snow had whipped up a might fierce. Even with a small heater in my quarters, the wind just seemed to carry it away and the eight inch icicles hanging off of the sides of my tent were a testament to the challenges a reenactor faced this weekend.

But, the fires were large and wood was plenty! Food too. More than one wonderful meal of chili was enjoyed by the troops. And coffee was always on. Despite the weather, I can't think of a better place to be than in the company of such fine fellows from Birney's 2nd Battalion and The Army of the Ohio.

Numbers were smaller but that was to be expected. Two companies of Federals (about forty men) faced about seventeen Confederates. Lt Col Chuck Rusche and his Adjutant Lt John Buker from the Army of the Ohio administrated the overall command, while myself and Lt Kirkwood saw to the set up and provisions for the troops.

The engagement began fighting the Confederates through the streets of "Fredericksburg" as they attempted to slow our advance through town. The smaller force was pushed back across the open ground to "Marye's Heights" were they took cover behind fence near the bakery.

A company of our men moved into the open field and advanced in skirmish, being forced to withdraw under withering Confederate fire. The 2nd company advanced but was beaten back as well.

The scenario concluded as our own Bob Penix portrayed Sgt Kirkland, the Angel of Marye's Heights, moving among the dispatched Federal troops, giving them water and words of comfort.

Sunday's battle was a repeat of this scenario. However, the increasing snow forced a number of troops to retreat home. Smaller numbers on Sunday saw us field a single company but fun was had by all.

This was a different weekend to say the least. The environment offered a challenge and a true soldier's experience. Even with cold feet, I would not have traded it for the world! We learned that canteens freeze fast, and heel plates build up inches of ice in minutes when walking in the snow.

My thanks to Grant Kirkwood for his adjutating and fire building skills. I am sure it it could be seen from Canada. Also to Chuck and John for their leadership. I look forward to playing with the Army of the Ohio during the upcoming season.

A special thanks goes out to Mark Gaynor of the 51st OVI for all of his hard work to make this happen. Mark is also the lead on the Zoar event in September and 2d Battalion will be there in force in 2009!

For those of you who missed it (or just want to make sure you remember being frozen this past weekend for some reason), here is a link to some fantastic photos from Andy Donaldson.


Respectfully Submitted:

C.L. Smith, Lt Col
2d Battalion, Birney's Division