Wednesday, August 14, 2019

AAR - Hale Farm 2019

To the Men and Women of Birney’s Division,

As I had command of the Birney’s Battalion this past weekend at Hale Farm I wanted to recap the highlights of the event as it was probably one of, if not the BEST Hale Farm experience I have had since my time with Birney’s Division.

We were camped on the wooded side of the area this year next to the main visitor’s center and entrance. Capt. Gibboney secured us a very comfortable and shaded area for our battalion in the open field adjacent to the visitor’s center. We were already blessed with low temperatures but the additional shade made it just that much better. This year we had the honor of having the 8 OVI from the National Regiment join us as part of our Birney’s Division and family for the weekend.
Saturday morning started off early as we participated in a morning tactical. I was happy to see the majority of our men make the decision to participate and give us a large fighting force to engage the Confederate Army. We were assigned as a battalion to push as battle line across the main battlefield to the far side and continue pushing the enemy back into their own camps that were in the village across the street. The Army of the Ohio brought their large battalion around and moved in and attacked from our right flank as we pushed forward. We were successful in defeating the Confederate Army on their own ”soil”. Armies were coordinated and communicating, everyone did as was planned from our Federal battle plan and it was, in my opinion one of, if not the BEST tactical experiences I have ever had…especially at Hale Farm. The men seemed to enjoy it very much for a change and were excited to participate.

This year’s battle for both Saturday and Sunday was the 1stBattle of Petersburg. The first day we were the first frontal assault on the Confederate breastworks and trenches set approx.. half way in the battle field with additional trenching at the far side of the field on the Confederate end. Our battalion drilled and use some new maneuvers including “By Company in to Line” and “Forward in to Line by Company…” to form our battle line that we have never tried before under my command. After our large Calvary overtook the guns on both flanks of the breastworks, we were able to advance and take them over, pushing the enemy back until their reinforcements arrived. General Baltzer ordered us to proceed forward over the breastworks, through the trenching and prepare our battle line on the other side as we help the line for The Army of the Ohio to reinforce us on the field on our right flank. We then pushed forward by battalion in a leap frog fashion back and forth a few times before our overall Federal Field Commander led us on a complete infantry frontal assault against the Confederate Army to the final entrenchment on the far side of the field. During these 2-3 final assaults, the Federal Army took heavy casualties and in the end the confederate army forced us to fall back and withdraw from the field before the battle ended.

We also participated in Battalion and Brigade Dress Parade as well as the traditional ration issue and those who participated in the morning tactical were treated by the Federal Command to ice cream sandwiches to show their appreciation.

This weekend was nothing short of EPIC for me. As I attempted to address the troops on Sunday after our final battle I became overwhelmed with emotion of shear pride for the battalion I had the honor to lead during this event. We drilled hard, we performed hard, we executed our orders and maneuvers hard, we engaged in our firing evolution hard, and at the end of the day, we played hard as a Birney’s family. As I have said and continue to say all the time, I could not have been any more proud of each and every member of the battalion on Birney’s as a whole regardless if you were in the rank and file as a soldier, in a support capacity in the field, a member of the staff or a civilian taking care of things for us back in camp. Your performance and professionalism in each of these capacities were and are beyond amazing as seen by and complimented to Gen Baltzer by the Federal Command staff and our other army counterparts participating with us. I thank my wing commanders for the hard work they do and responsibility I place upon them as well as the way they communicate and execute my orders on the field. LTC Kaminski and MAJ Wales are two of the finest field officers I have ever had the pleasure to serve with and we are lucky to have them with us. I thank my company commanders for continuously stepping up and executing flawlessly EVERYTHING we ask of you and your men every time we are together. You communicate with your companies, you never complain and you ALL do whatever is necessary to get the mission done and support me and the staff every step of the way. I thank the NCO’s and Privates that make every effort to participate, teach the new, and work so hard to keep this history alive. Without you, we would not have a division or a battalion and it is because of your loyalty and dedication we can continue. I thank our chaplain and ice angels for the hard work they do on AND off the field to support the troops and make sure we have what we need to be able to function in the weather on the field and provide us physical, and spiritual support. I thank the staff for their continued hard service in coordinating our participation in these events that make it possible for us to do what we love doing so much with all the behind the scenes meetings, phone calls logistical work etc. they do. To the civilians that join us and support our hobby and for all they work they do to feed and prepare us each day for our duties….I thank you. Thank you to General Baltzer (or Generally Colonel, Private etc.) for allowing me the continuous opportunities to command the men on the field and for your faith and trust in me lead. I am deeply honored and humbled every time. Lastly, I thank my Adjutant, Capt. Jeff Blanc, who is not only an amazing officer, but an amazing person as well. I would not be able to function as a commander without this man and it is because of his hard work and dedication that things get done administratively and logistically for our battalions. You have no idea how much personal time he gives in service to each of you to make our appearances possible. He is my trusted right hand and I thank you Jeff for ALL the COUNTLESS hours of service you give.

Thank you all for the great invitations and conversation around your company campfires, for your friendships and for your faith in me as well to be your commander. I look forward to the seasons ahead as we continue to show the reenacting community how great Birney’s Division is. I salute you all for a job WELL DONE!!!!!

1st Battalion

Monday, July 08, 2019

Birney's Division Staff Change Notice

Officers, NCO’s and Soldiers,

A few weeks back, I received a phone call from our Division Chief of Staff. Beyond our normal conversation, Col. Tent Boham informed me that currently life was very busy for him. For this reason he requested, and I agreed to, him taking a leave of absence for the remainder of the year from his duties on the staff. I have valued his friendship and counsel. I hope that his concerns are remedied and resolved satisfactorily. He did say that we might see him at a few events later this year if his issues are manageable.

Effective July 8, 2019, I will appoint Lt. Brandy Taylor, , adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, to fill the position made by Colonel Boham’s absence as the Divisional Chief of Staff. With this appointment, Lt. Taylor will be brevetted to the rank of Major. Major Taylor, like Colonel Boham, will be assisting me in the communication and coordination of events; making sure that the Division’s needs and concerns are addressed. 

Due to this adjustment in the Battalion and Divisional staff, all correspondence that needs to be routed through the battalions will be submitted to Captain Jeff Blanc,   
I look forward to seeing many of you at Hannastown later on this month. Many of you will be traveling north to Mumford at the Genesee Country Village, also in July.  I have not attending this event in many years, but recall it being a very quality event. Also, the deadline for early registration for Hale Farm is fast approaching.  I have been taking part in the phone conferences for this event. It will, as always, be another event you will want to attend.

BG Paul Baltzer
Birney’s Division

Friday, November 23, 2018

Division Retirement Presentation to Maj Gen Mike Maffei

As many of you already know, our Commanding Officer, Brigadier General Michael Maffei retired at the end of this season and we held a formal Change of Command at Hale Farm where he relinquished command of Birney's Division to Brigadier General Paul Baltzer. This past weekend in Gettysburg, we were able to honor General Maffei with some presentations including a formal promotion to Major General and culminating in the presentation of a shadowbox containing his General's flag and his promotion citation/shoulder boards. This presentation was made possible because of the generous donations made by the men and women of Birney's Division. On behalf of The entire Birney's command, Gen Baltzer would like to thank each and every one of you for you generosity as well as the important contribution each of you make to this division to keep us the classiest and most honorable organization in reenacting today. THANK YOU!!!

Additionally, General Maffei has asked us to pass on the following message to the division:
Message from the General: 11/20/18

This message is to thank all the members from Birney’s Division for allowing me the honor and privilege of being your Commanding Officer for so many years. It became official last Saturday at the completion of the annual Remembrance Day Parade, as I turned over command to Brig. Gen. Paul Baltzer, I am retired.

It was time for me to step aside and give another very deserving officer the opportunity to command our outstanding organization. I have been extremely fortunate to have made so many wonderful friends and to work with our former commander and co-founder the late Maj. Gen. Ed Kelley and all our staff.

Saturday evening the staff our ladies and I attended a dinner with the officers of the Army of the Potomac, something we have done for many years. This year was somewhat of a different experience for me with the recognition and thanks I received from all who attended. Gen Baltzer stood and gave a brief rundown of my reenacting career and the co-founding of Birney’s Division to all those in attendance. Then a large framed object was carried onto the floor, I was almost at a loss for words when I was awarded my Generals Flag encased in glass and a promotion presented by Maj. Gen. Withrow, our staff and the members of Birney’s Division to that of a Major General.

I received several additional handmade awards from our staff and Gen. Withrow. However what brought me almost to tears was when Col Bouwhuis informed me that the flag and Maj. Gen. awards were paid for through donations form the staff and members of our division. What a complement to be recognized by my friends for a job well done.

To all I must say Thank You for your generosity, dedication to Birney’s Division and most of all your friendship. I will forever remember my wonderful retirement dinner and all the members of our organization and all the experiences we shared. I will continue to be of service to our division and Gen Baltzer in any way I can.

Major General Michael D. Maffei (retired)

Thank you again for all you do and we wish you a safe and warm winter's quarters and look forward to seeing you all soon again next Spring.
Col R. Bouwhuis
1st Battalion

Monday, November 05, 2018

Commanding General's Message to Birney's Division - November 2018


Birney’s Division

November 3, 2018

Soldiers, Civilians and Friends,

I hope that this notice finds you well and in good spirits. We are fast approaching the time to settle into winter quarters. Many of our member units have completed their scheduled events, are repairing their kits and planning for the next campaign season. However, for some of our units and those that do partake on their own to participate in the annual pilgrimage to Gettysburg for the Remembrance Day parade, I have the following information to share with you. Also, at the end of this notice a heads up on a few more items to come.

On Friday November 16th, the 150th would like to extend an invitation to a free battlefield tour with tour guide Rich Kohr. This year the subject will be the Confederate artillery July 1, 1863. The tour will begin at the Peace Light Memorial at 1:30 pm, tour begins at 2:00 pm. Be prepared to walk and dress for the weather. As is tradition, the hat for Rich will be passed at the conclusion of the tour. 


On Friday, November 16, 2018  in the lobby at the Hampton Inn Gettysburg, 1280 York Road, I would like to hold a staff meeting to include the Division and Battalion staff officers and NCO’s. The time of this meeting will begin promptly at 7:55 pm. The agenda is to plan and coordinate for the 2019 Campaign Season. If you are unable to attend please RSVP your regrets to me or your battalion adjutant.


On Saturday, November 17, 2018 there will be the Annual Remembrance Day Masonic Ceremony at the Friend to Friend Masonic Monument. The ceremony will begin promptly at 11:30 am and end no later than Noon, giving plenty of time to walk to the parade assembly area. It is open to ALL period-authentic Civil War Masonic re-enactors.

On Saturday, November 17, 2018 the members of the Division are requested to assemble behind the middle school (same as last year) no later than 12:30 pm. Your timely arrival allows enough time for the staff to organize the lines and determine the order of march. The parade will step off at 1:00 pm. We are in need to two soldiers that are capable of carrying colors during the parade. If you are willing, please let me know ASAP.

The following was published by the SUV as the parade’s order of march. This should help you find us as we assemble.

Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade Second Division (Reenactors)
(20) 2nd Federal Rifles
(21) Mifflin Guard
(22) Vincent’s Brigade
(23) USV’s
(24) National Regiment
(25) Army of the Potomac/Birney’s Division
(26) Federal Volunteer Brigade
(27) All other orphan reenacting groups and civilians
(28) Grand Army of the Republic/ United Confederate Veteran. This group will be last in line between the 2nd Division and the Third Division

A reminder of the Army of the Potomac / Birney’s Division Staff of the dinner to be held at the Pike Restaurant, Gettysburg, PA. Social time is 5:00 -6:30 pm with dinner followed at 6:30 pm.

The Division is looking for sites near Youngstown, OH to hold our Annual Meeting. Tentatively, the General Commanding is considering a Saturday in late March, 2019, but still is TBD. So possibly March 23rd or the 30th. I don’t want to interfere with those that partake in St. Patrick’s Day and Easter is in April, so those two possible dates appear to hold minimal conflict. Also, it is early enough for those evens just weeks away to consider and the weather should be reasonable for driving (maybe).

Several years ago, Dave Strichko and I compiled a resource guide for battalion tactics. It was not designed as an absolute replacement of the period tactics such as Casey’s or Butterfields work, but only as a quick resource to unify our drill, evolutions and camp organization. I would like to again resurrect a form of this publication for the Division’s use. It would be good to do the work on this during winter quarters and presented at the Annual Meeting. For this reason, the Division will establish a committee, under the direction of the staff, to plan, compile and publish this guide. Please contact your respective battalion adjutant, if you would like to be considered for this committee.

Also, is there any interest in creating a logo for Birney’s Division that could be placed on T-shirts, sweaters and hoodies?  It could be embroidered or silk screened. It would be nice to have  traveling civilian attire to events and maybe increase interest to the Division.

I look forward to seeing all that can make the trek to Remembrance Day in just two short weeks. For me, this has always been a special event where pards, friends and family come together in good fellowship at a very special place.

Lastly, I am honored to lead you in the campaigns before us. In all behind the scenes labors you may not be aware of, I represent the Division and its interests with you in mind.  My staff and I will make every effort, within our realm of influence, to make the events we attend as positive and enjoyable as possible. My challenge will be to make a positive impact beyond and after the exemplary tenure of my mentor General Maffei. He’s a tough act to follow!

Respectfully yours,

Paul D. Baltzer,

Brig. Gen. Commanding

Birney’s Division

Monday, August 27, 2018

Message From the Commanding General Emeritus

Birney’s Division:

The Passing of the Generals Flag

on Sunday August 12, 2018 Birney’s Division underwent a change in overall command. Brig. Gen. Michael D. Maffei one of the founding members of Birney’s Division has stepped down from command to answer the call from President Lincoln to report to Washington City, bringing his years of experience there to assist in the war effort.
Before relinquishing command I announced and congratulated my replacement, Brig. Gen. Paul D. Baltzer. A long time confidant and close friend to me for many years. As I stated “it is time and only fair that Gen. Baltzer after many years of loyal and dedicated work for Birney’s Division be named as my replacement.”

Birney’s Division has been extremely fortunate over the years to have been associated with so many wonderful and dedicated people in our hobby. Not forgetting with a reverent respect those hugely important figures, which have now passed Major Gen. Ed Kelley, Major Gen. Ron Palese and others who have shaped and formed our hobby.

Gen Baltzer is the next step in the evolution of our division and I wish him and Birney’s Division the very best. Birney’s Division has formed an excellent staff of officers who are well versed and present a very proper impression as well as being capable of handling any situation brought to them on or off the field. Our troops are battle trained and represent an outstanding impression as a hard fighting battle force on any field, led by our seasoned commanders and NCO’s. Birney’s Division’s continued association with the Army of the Potomac (AoP) under Major Gen. Brian Withrow and his very capable staff has been very favorable for us over the years and we hope to continue that relationship.
It has been an experience and honor beyond words, belonging to Birney’s Division and forming friendships with so many wonderful people. In the future I hope to continue to maintain those friendships and support the Division in any way I can.

Brig. Gen. Emeritus
Michael D. Maffei

P.S. Not to take away from the importance and sincerity from the above letter, I would like to take a moment to explain what in addition to the change of command did occur on that Sunday. Yes, on Sunday August 12, 2018. I did unfortunately suffer a medical issue during the ceremony. I was transported to the hospital and tests did confirm, I suffered a mild stroke. There seems to be no permanent damage only some dizziness and unsteadiness as I walk. The Neurologists tell me it will pass in time. My sudden illness on the field took away from the importance of the moment and for that I am truly sorry. I hope you will congratulate Gen. Baltzer on his promotion and follow his command as you have done mine in the past. I had prepared a fine speech for that ceremony, however due to circumstances was unable to deliver it.

I would at this time like to say to my staff and so many of my friends who have sent messages and phone calls, thank you for your concern, I so much appreciate you taking the time to contact me and inquire about my health and needs. Once fully recovered I hope to see you all on the field again in the future. “Once a reenactor, always a reenactor.”

Friday, May 18, 2018

Message from the Commanding General - Old Bedford Village

Old Bedford Village: Information

Event June 8-10 2018

Registration through June 1st 2018

Information obtained at our meeting on May 12, 2018 with the organizers of Old Bedford Village. These rules will apply to all union troops.

All Union Artillery will be camped at the lower parking lot, just on the right past the ticket booth as you enter. No artillery will be kept in the village, due to new insurance regulations.

Any one camped outside the village, behind the church or barn may set up anytime they arrive on Friday. All others who camp in the village or use the houses must wait until 5:00 pm or sooner if the village is empty of spectators. This will be determined by the officials at the village. You of course can carry in from the lower lot or across the bridge behind the pond.

All cars must be out of camp by 8:30 am Saturday morning; anyone not removing their vehicle will be subject to being towed at their expense. Best practice is to unload your equipment, go park your vehicle and then set up. Sunday those camped in the village will be held to the usual 4:00 pm time to enter the village for tear down. Due to new insurance and security requirements we cannot do as we have in the past, your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

All troops must report to Union Headquarters after registering for camp assignments and instructions, please do not set up before checking in at Headquarters.

Registration is open until June 1st see Birney’s Division web site for information.

The battle reenactment this year will be the 2nd battle of Winchester VA that occurred on June 14, 1863 as Robert E. Lee and Confederate troops were making their way north toward Gettysburg, PA.

We look forward to seeing our troops and many friends at this annual preservation fund raising event for Old Bedford Village.


Gen. Michael Maffei
Birney’s Division