Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2nd Call! Burton Civil War Weekend

Just a reminder that the annual Civil War reenactment at Century Village in Burton, Ohio is this weekend.

We have the following units as registered to attend: 4th OVI Co. E, 5th OVI, 5th Ohio Sharpshooters, 9th OLA, 83rd PVI, 105th OVI. Also, the 51st OVI from the Army of the Ohio.

If you are coming and are not on the list, please send the following information immediately.

1. Name of unit and affiliation if any.
2. Number of military personnel attending.
3. Will your unit have an officer/NCO in charge?

Please email this information to the Battalion Commander Christopher Smith at clsmith@5thohio.com.

Monday, May 16, 2011

After Action Report: New Market

From: Hqtrs 1st Battalion, Birney's Division
Date(s): 13-15 May
Station: New Market, VA

13 May:
Battalion began arriving in the vicinity of New Market, VA beginning Friday afternoon and throughout the evening. A short rain shower hampered camp set-up, but as canvas began to spring up the rain subsided to a nice clear evening. LTC Rohrbaugh and CPT Murphy attended a brief officers meeting at 1st Division HQ with acting commander Brig. Gen. Frye in charge of the army while Maj. Gen. Baldwin was attending to matters elsewhere. Initial orders for the next day were issued and camp was quiet by 12 o'clock.

14 May:
Revielle was at 7 o'clock sharp and roll call was conducted within the battalion. First reports showed 35 rifles in line broken into to companys; 1st company consisting of the 3rd Maryland, 54th PVI, and 3rd US Co. B and 2nd Company consisiting of the 2nd Rhode Island. Company Drill was held at 8:45 and Battalion Dress Parade followed at 9:30. The final reports after Parade showed the following numbers, 6 heavy guns of artillery, 10 mounted Cavalry and 9 dismounted cavalry. Confederate numbers were estimated to be almost double the Federal forces. At 1:45 the battalion was ordered to move out in support of a forward battery of guns north of the Bushong Farm. 1st Company detached a squad of skirmishers under 1LT Guilliams to extend the skirmish line with the cavalry and watch the battalion right. 1st company was ordered forward to support the skirmish line and the forward gun, which under withering fire was disabled and abandoned. 2nd Company, under CPT Don Hixson held a reserve position on the main gun line and supported the skirmish line with rifle fire. With overwhelming numbers to the front coming south of the Bushong Farm, 1st company was forced to fall back with the skirmish line, with 2nd Company moving up in support. After a stubborn defense and taking heavy casualties the battalion was forced to withdrawal, making the confederates pay for every inch taken til forced of the field. Evening set in and the companies had a nice dinner and were entertained by the battalion fife and drum corps til lights and tattoo was sounded at 10 o'clock. Weather all day was sunny and warm with no rain to slow the arrival of General Baldwin to retake command of the army for the upcoming next days action. The men bedded down for the night with a small rain shower rolling through as the men slept.

15 May:
After a reconisiance patrol by Maj. Bill Raymond's cavalry showing the confederates withdrew back to the south of the Bushong farm, the battalion was ordered to take up defensive positions in the orchard around the Bushong Farm. Supported by dismounted cavalry on the right and a small howitzer to immediate rear, the battalion took up positions and posted a picket line to the front. Confederate artillery opened up the action, and the battalion was soon engaged by two small confederate battalions, one of which was the VMI Cadets. The battalion again put up stiff resistance, giving ground slowly and taking heavy casualties until the overwhelming odds forced the men to break and flee to the rear with the Battalion colors. LTC Rohrbaugh fell into the hands of the Confederates but was soon paroled and exchanged for a rebel commander of equal rank. Once the battalion was consolidated camp was broken and the long retreat north began.

Submitted 15 May

Captain M. Murphy
Adjutant, 1st Battalion Birney's Division

On a side note, all and all the weekend couldn't have been better. The weather held off til after everyone was packed up and back on the road for home. General Baldwin and his staff couldn't have been more pleased with the performance of the men and made that known to us numerous times over the weekend. I think I can speak for LTC Rohrbaugh that we couldn't have been happier with the performance of the men that were on the field. I hope that how things were this year will continue on for years to come and make this event the great event that it used to be. I would like to thank LTC Rohrbaugh, 1LT Guilliams, Maj Doyle, and the rest of the officers and NCO's that helped make this weekend run without a hitch.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

After Action Report: Beaver Creek

After Action Report – Jackson in the Valley Reenactment
May 6-8, 2011 – Beaver Creek State Park, East Liverpool, Ohio

Once again we returned to one of our favorite reenactment sites for the bi-annual event at Beaver Creek State Park. If you have not been to this location, you are missing a beautiful place to camp and fight. There was a concern at the end of last year that this event would disappear from the map as the organizers had left the hobby. I contacted several people who I thought may be interested in taking over and thanks to Mike “Stonewall Jackson” Lawson of the Stonewall Brigade, the event quickly came back to life. Normally, this event alternates with Argus Park in Canfield in July. With the 150th Manassas the same weekend, Mike and the State Park Service found an alternate date in May.

Arriving on site Friday evening, I went to the Federal Headquarters area in the pines and met up with My Old War Horse Major Penix and his wife Pam. HQ went up quickly and I started to look around. A lot of familiar faces from the 105th and 61st OVI. Mark and Kristi Gaynor from the 51st were there too. And I knew there were a group of guys coming from the 5th on Saturday… but that was it. Hmmmm.

To park the truck, I had to travel around the loop that is only one-way. As I drove through the Confederate camp, I came to the realization that there was a HELL OF A LOT OF REBS! As well as two guns!! No one has had these kinds of Confederate numbers at event here in Ohio for quite some time. Mike Lawson and the event CSA commander Jim Powell must have been shaking the trees.

At the officer/NCO meeting Friday night, I determined that we were going to have to use different tactics to fight this battle. We would have at the most, 30 rifles and officers. The official count from the Confederate command was 90 infantry, plus two guns and crews.

We couldn’t fight toe to toe on this one. Skirmish tactics would be the order of the day. Hit and run. Keep the Confederates moving. The battlefield at Beaver Creek is a rolling terrain with a mill pond, a small village and two narrow bridges that sit below high ground. Our tactics for the weekend were to use all of this to our advantage. With a larger force (many of whom have not worked together previously), it would take the Rebs longer to organize, move, and get on line. With the trees, buildings and terrain, they didn’t always have a clear shot at us.

The Saturday battle would see the Confederate infantry (supported by their guns) come into the village with our boys in the heights above. As soon as we saw them we opened up. Their un-mounted cavalry moved forward in a skirmish line to engage us while the rest of the infantry came out of the covered bridge and into the village. As the skirmishers tried to cross the small foot bridge (the only way to enter the rest of the field), the sharp aim of our infantry cut them down as they tried to cross. However, faced with overwhelming numbers, we pulled back to our next defensive position and formed another skirmish line running from the pond up hill to the other side of a small house. That pond was great to keep from being flanked and forcing the Confederates to run their battle line up a steep slope would slow their movement.

We continued to fight and withdraw until our backs were against the larger bridge at the other end of the mill pond. With the 2nd Company holding off the Confederate infantry (and now taking fire from a second gun), the 1st Company began a reverse “street fighting” maneuver across the bridge to slow the Confederate advance but they came on hard and we had to move across the bridge with haste to reform on the edge of the woods. We continued to fall back as the trees gave us cover. The scenario was at an end.

On Sunday, we fought the battle in reverse. This gave us the high ground on the bridge and we stacked the Rebs up and slowed them down. But numbers don’t lie and we eventually got pushed back into the village and retreated. As I said, there was no way to win against those numbers. I told Jim Powell, we don’t NEED to win. We just want to have a good fight! In reality, our force did what a lot of probing elements did back then. Cause the enemy to deploy. Count their numbers and make them use up ammunition and men. This was a way to get good information for the brass up the chain.

All in all, it was a great event. If I can have a good time with good friends, honor those who fought, and educate just one person, it is a winner in my book.

One thing I do want to make a comment on is our Union numbers. There could be several factors involved here. Gas prices. Mother’s Day. Or is it the fact that every little apple butter festival is trying to scoop up Civil War reenactors to put on a show. With the 150th now underway, I get at least two emails a week asking for Civil War reenactors to attend this and that. Most of these request have nothing to do with the Civil War. Local organizers have not suddenly become Civil War buffs or are trying to educate and honor. They are looking to make a buck for their event off of the hoopla over the 150th. Unfortunately, established reenactments are suffering. That is a crime. Ok. I’m off the soap box.

I want to thank all of the folks who put on Beaver Creek and especially Mike Lawson, Chris Jones and Jim Powell. It was a pleasure to fight against you guys and I have rarely seen a scenario (let alone TWO) go exactly as walked-through. Our hats are off to you and your boys. Thanks also to the Federal officers and men including Bob Penix. We have shown the Rebs how we fight even when outnumbered.

Submitted, May 12, 2011
Christopher L. Smith, Lieutenant Colonel
Commanding, 2d Battalion
Birney’s Division

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Call - Burton!

May 27-29, 2011

The annual Civil War reenactment at Century Village in Burton, Ohio. At this time I would like to as for the following information from any units that are planning to attend as part of Birney's 2d Battalion...

1. Name of unit and affiliation if any.
2. Number of military personnel attending.
3. Will your unit have an officer/NCO in charge?

Please email this information to the Battalion Commander Christopher Smith at clsmith@5thohio.com.

When you arrive on site PLEASE see Maj Don Van Meter before you set up.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Director Cut of Gettysburg and Gods & Generals on Blu-ray

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, Warner Brothers is releasing an extended director's cut version of both "Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals" on Blu-ray. This will also be the first time either film will be seen in high definition. Both sets include a book and a second disc with special features.

On-line websites such as Best Buy are currently taking pre-orders ($29.00 for each film) and will be available May 24th.