Friday, August 23, 2013

The Light of Freedom showings

Passing this along for those of you from Birney's Division who worked as an extra in the film. FYI, you MUST buy tickets ahead of time!

The time has come! We are very excited for all of you to see “The Light of Freedom”! Bob Minton, Mark Holbrook, Josh Mann, and Elizabeth Topping did such a great job organizing, designing sets for the reenactment scenes, the civilians, and making all of you look great... and it shows! We believe you will love it and trust it will be something you all will be proud of.

We at KICKS want to thank you for all your hard work and we are giving you exclusive early access to guarantee you first come while hosting all the special reenactment events we can, and give you first serve tickets to the theatrical release of "The Light of Freedom". We will be giving public access to tickets beginning the evening of August 25th (Sunday). This gives you Thursday through Sunday afternoon to purchase your tickets. Please know, if we sell the theater out, we will work on selling the second showing and do this as long as the tickets are sold! We have sought out our own theaters and we felt this gave us the ability to do a reenactor event in historical clothing. We hope you enjoy them, and please, get all your friends, neighbors, fellow reenactors, family, church, and social groups to come!

Here is the link to all the areas the movie is being released. This page will have theaters added to it daily and will increase before Sunday’s public access and through the theatrical release.

You will find the links to PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS ONLINE below:

Columbus, Ohio: October 14th, Reenactor Event, come in historical clothing.

Rochester, NY: October 14, Reenactor Event, come in historical clothing.

Wadsworth (Canton/Akron), Ohio: October 15th, Reenactor Event, come in historical clothing.

Cincinnati, Ohio: October 15th, Reenactor Event, come in historical clothing.

Pittsburgh, PA, we would like to do a Reenactor Event but are currently working on a theater at this time and have not obtained one as of yet. Check back to the website if you are interested.

October 21st, one week after the above showings we are doing a Reenactor Event in historical clothing in Maumee, Ohio. This is for the Northwestern area of Ohio. To note; there will be two showings, at 4:45PM and 7:15PM on the same day.

Marietta, Ohio: October 23rd, Reenactor Event in costume.


We want to host a special Gettysburg, PA event. This historical event is a celebration to be held November 14th, in honor of Commemoration Day. The theater is secured, but before it is to be officially announced, we need a certain number of tickets sold to reach the goal needed to complete this event. Ticket prices for this event are a higher price due to the theater cost, month, and location. Tickets will be $12.00-$15.00 in cost and 100 tickets are needed to reach the goal. Please email us to let us know if you or your group will be interested at After gaging interest we will then add the ability to purchase tickets for this event.

Thank you all, and we hope you will enjoy these special Reenactor events set especially for all of you!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fall in for Zoar!

As Birney's 2d Battalion heads away from a greatly successful Hale Farm, next on our schedule is another huge regional event in Zoar, Ohio, September 7-8, 2013. This year the reenactment will be based around the Battle of Chickamauga as it is the 150th anniversary.

The website has all of the pertinent information and you can register right online! Go to

As you know, this will be my last event as the commander of the battalion and we will be holding a Change of Command ceremony on Sunday during dress parade. I sincerely look forward to seeing all of you there.

Your Servant,
Christopher L. Smith, Colonel
2d Battalion, Birney's Division

Monday, August 12, 2013

After Action Report - Hale Farm and Village 2013

After 20 years in the Civil War reenacting world, you can get pretty un-excited about the whole thing. Especially the battle scenarios. This includes national events. Let me say this to start off the report. If you didn’t go to the 25th Annual Civil War Reenactment at Hale Farm this past weekend, you need to know that you missed something that you are probably going to find it hard to experience again. To quote dozens of reenactors who came up to me on Sunday, “These beat the battles we fought at the 150th Gettysburg”, and “This was the best event I have been to all year”.

When we began the planning meetings for this year between the Hale staff and the reenactor command staffs, we wanted to create a scenario that would capture the imagination of the public and utilize areas of the property that no one had ever considered before. With this year being the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, and with such a large cavalry presence at Hale Farm, it was only natural to set the scene as Gettysburg: Day 1 and the beginning of the battle around the McPherson Farm.

The camp came together very nicely thanks to Capt. Strichko. I don’t have final numbers for the event itself but we had roughly 90 rifles in the Battalion. The Army of the Ohio experience similar infantry attendance. As the Federal army filled up the village area of the property, we needed to be mindful that the later part of the battle would spill into the village. We needed to hold some space for the scenario. Total number of reenactors (military and civilian, both sides and all branches) I believe finally came out somewhere around 700.

Saturday morning started off with a “surprise” attack on the village. Of course, reenactors can always smell trouble and I think we were ready. Mike Church’s 6th Ohio Cavalry would portray Confederates as well and Capt. Church would send over troopers disguised as a “Federal Detachment” to shoot me down making sure my pending retirement from battalion command was not a quite one. That’s ok. What goes around comes around (insert evil laugh here). I am not a big fan of tactical engagements from a Civil War standpoint. They usually become cowboys and indians with no one taking casualties. This was the same situation but it got the blood flowing in people. Eventually, folks were more interested in coffee and breakfast than who was trying to take the town.

The event officially opened at 10 am and the crowds began to stream in. And I mean STREAM! Attendance records were set this year with over 2500 people on Saturday alone and what looked to be another 2000 to 2500 on Sunday. Concessions at Hale Farm were cleaned on Saturday so emergency supplies had to be acquired. This was also true of the Flying Turtle Tavern who was cleaned out Saturday! There were a lot of sutlers at this event including national people such as Fall Creek. At this point, quite a few more sutlers on a waiting list and expansion room is being discussed next year.

As mentioned, the McPherson battle scenario was going to be challenging. Everything needed to be precise to the plan as there were so many complexities it could go very wrong. Here was the plan.

The spectators would watch the battle from two locations. The first being from the south side of the creek near the broom barn and Visitors Center (the brush all along the creek had been cut down). This was sort of the area where the sutlers had been in years past.

The second area for spectators was out in the MIDDLE of the north pasture where we had the battle in previous years. The scenario itself would take place between those two lines of muggles, er, spectators with them looking toward each other. Essentially, you could watch the battle from either side over two different days and get a completely different experience.

The battle began with the Federal cavalry (about 65 horses) patrolling around “Gettysburg” and finally arriving at the McPherson farm (the Hale House and barns) after hearing of contact with Confederate forces west of that position. The Confederate infantry and artillery were seated in the woods north of the farm (near Hale Farm’s pioneer cabin). “Buford’s cavalry” dismounted and sent horses to the rear. The troopers move forward along with artillery to engage the Confederate infantry pressing their position.

Our infantry from Birney’s Division was stationed down the road near a barn. The Army of the Ohio troops, along with overall Federal Commander Col. Minton, was stationed down the road in the other direction. Both elements would portray the lead soldiers of John Reynolds’s 1st Corp of the Army of the Potomac.

After the Federal cavalry had been engaged for some time, riders were sent to the two battalions asking them to move forward to help halt the Confederate advance.

As Birney’s 2nd Battalion would fight around the Hale House on Saturday, we spent our drill time in the morning walking through the steps. Forming the battle line once through the gate in front of the Hale House, and moving the Battalion in two wings around the house to engage the Confederates on the other side. All the while, coordinating with the artillery and their location in the apple orchard next to us. We also practiced our retreat back to the village I am glad we took the time to step through it with the entire unit as everything went FLAWLESSLY in the actual battle! There was one little tiny thing that was so cool that some of you may have missed. We were pleased as always to have Mike Dallas and the 150th PVI Bucktails with us this weekend. The 150th fought at the McPherson Farm at Gettysburg. You probably all know the story of the “Citizen Soldier of Gettysburg” John Burns who ran from his home on the first day of Gettysburg with the rifle he carried in the War of 1812 to join the ranks of the Bucktails. Jeff Jones from Hale Farm (and a reenactor for many years) portrayed Burns alongside the Pennsylvanians this weekend complete with a flintlock musket, crumpled tall hat and long coat. Very cool. The spitting image of John Burns.

The Confederates pushed and pushed us toward “Seminary Ridge” and the outskirts of “Gettysburg”. As we fought a retreating fight toward the big stone house in the village, many spectators could follow us behind a fence and over the road as we moved, eventually ending up in a coral and right on top of the battle itself. They were really in it and I saw many of them flinch and duck as dueling volleys played out right in front of them.

As us Federals panicked back toward “Gettysburg”, many were cut down by Confederate rifles. Some of our lads even took refuge in the buildings only to be captured.

After the battle on Saturday, The Army of the Ohio held a pie auction at Federal HQ to raise money for the restoration of the Colors of the 25th OVI currently being cared for at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus. The auction was well attended by hungry soldiers and Birney’s 25th OVI attended with their reproduced Colors. I am excited to announce that $900.00 was raised for the restoration!

In Sunday’s battle, we flipped places with the Army of the Ohio and pressed the Confederates through the apple orchard and part of the pasture where the crowd watched. Thank goodness Jason at Hale Farm took down sections of the fence. It beat trying to climb over several of them!

As I said at the end of Saturday’s fight, I don’t know of any group of reenactors that could pull off such a complex scenario, let alone be on time and on target every step of the way. You did it!!!

In closing, my thanks to the 2d Battalion Staff, Paul Baltzer, Bob Penix, and Dave Strichko, and all of the officers, NCOs and soldiers who served in the Battalion this weekend!

A big thank you also to Bob Minton, Mike Church, Nick Medich, Greg Van Wey and their staffs.

A HUGE thank you to Kelly, Jason, Lisa, Margaret, Catherine and ALL of the folks at Hale Farm and Village for giving us a great sandbox to play in.

Submitted respectfully,
Christopher L. Smith, Colonel
2d Battalion – Birney’s Division

Thursday, August 01, 2013

1st Call! Hale Farm

At this time, we are calling all Birney's Division units and units who will participate with Birney's Division at Hale Farm to report their estimated numbers to the 2d Battalion Adjutant. Please send the following information to Capt. Strichko at ASAP.

1. Is your unit attending?
2. How many military personnel are participating?
3. How many civilians are attending?
4. How many tents do you have and what kind?

Looking forward to seeing all of you there. Remember, the National Park Service has the road north of Hale Farm closed due to repairs. Go to and download the new driving directions map.