View Full Version : In the Van: Trailing Kirby Smith

Gery Barker
07-22-2009, 04:44 AM

In The Van: Trailing Kirby Smith

In August of 1862 General E. Kirby Smith’s Army marched from East Tennessee to link up with Braxton Bragg invasion of Kentucky which would end at the Battle of Perryville. Crossing the Cumberland Mountains, Smith assigned Ledbetter’s Brigade of Heth’s Division to assist the Army’s trains across the rugged terrain. During the move they encountered Unionist “Bushwhackers” as well as mountainous terrain, bad roads and inclement weather. We are recreating one brigade’s trains in General Smith’s Army.

The brigade trains will be made up of wagon companies, a supporting Infantry company, a Cavalry escort, and possibly Artillery. There may well have been a traveling forge, an ambulance, a sutler, and refugees following the column.

The event will be held on 12,000 acres of private land with a minimum of modern intrusions near Crossville, Tennessee from Sunday, August 1st through Saturday, the 7th, in 2010. Sunday will be registration, we will march Monday morning and we will muster out Saturday.

This will be an adventure like no other. We expect multiple wagons, teams and animals. The terrain is rough but manageable. The work will be strenuous. Our intent is to recreate an accurate experience of a part of a soldier’s life in 1862, including food, living conditions, supply, administration, and work. This is an opportunity to learn how soldiers lived in a world dependent on animal transportation; and, the coordination necessary between the various elements of an army, Cavalry, Infantry and their support under realistic conditions. We expect to be moving wagons over obstacles, cutting firewood, improving roads, and gathering forage. This is not a beginners’ event.

For more information:

Military: Rob Murray, in-the-van@charter.net
Refugees: Terre Lawson, in-the-van@att.net
Wagons and teams: Gerry Barker, gerybarker1@gmail.com

Phil McBride
07-23-2009, 09:13 PM
Gerry and Rob, this looks to be yet another big step forward in creating a unique and challenging adventure. Your wagons and beasties have been stalwart support for the two Kisatchie treks and many other events. It's great to see you planning a multi-day event where you guys will be the main show. And I might add that you must be the walkingest man I know and the most positive guy I've seen in the field. This should be good. I hope Miz Nita will bless my joining you.

Phil McBride
The Alamo Rifles

07-23-2009, 10:41 PM
Cousin Phil, we'll be glad to have you.

And should Miz Nita be interested in taking a little 6 day walk in the woods, this is the sort of trip where a woman with skills will find much to entertain herself.

07-24-2009, 12:54 AM
I plan on bringing my horse down for this one for sure!!!!

07-26-2009, 02:13 PM
This sounds like a fantastic, indeed unique, event and one for which I will be drumming up solid support on this side of the Atlantic. We managed 14 or so for ITPW, let's see if we can beat that!!!!
Patrick Reardon,
The Lazy Jack Mess, UK

Jim of The SRR
07-26-2009, 02:20 PM
A very unique idea! I can't help but think about Si Kleggs story as a mule driver. But, this could be great fun.

Jim Butler

Gery Barker
07-26-2009, 10:46 PM
It is really good to see the quality of the people interested, thank you. After being public on this project for a week, we already have five wagons that I think I can count on. If we got up to ten or twelve, we would probably have what a brigade really had in the Army of East Tennessee in 1862. We are about thirty miles from the original route, on the same type of terrain and at about the same time of year. This looks like we have a good chance to see what this part of the war really felt and looked like. GB

Jerry Ross
08-04-2009, 11:11 PM
Due to forces beyond my control, I will no longer be associated with this event.

I will be posting information soon about a more Cavalry centered and friendly event.

Kerry Gallivan
08-05-2009, 10:00 PM
Sorry to hear that Jerry,I know you have alot of time and effort invested into this event from it's conception a couple of years ago unto the present.Please let us know where to sign up for the new version.
In the service of the South,Kerry Gallivan

08-06-2009, 09:36 AM
Will you have an ambulance wagon for us old farts? :rolleyes:

08-07-2009, 01:47 AM
This will be an awesome one that I look forward to attending.

Gery Barker
08-07-2009, 06:32 AM
I suspect I'll be the oldest on the trip (I always seem to be these days), and I get to walk with oxen. No one has said they were coming with an ambulance yet. We seem to have about ten wagons interested though and some do not have assistant drivers yet, if someone is looking to ride. However, particularly in rough country, this is not easy either.

08-08-2009, 12:43 AM
Will you have an ambulance wagon for us old farts? :rolleyes:

Nope. Just a mean-tempered woman with a dosing spoon. That should get you walking again right pert.

Fiddle, I still have green/purple/yellow whumps from the jouncing the blue wagon gave me at Brices---and I was sitting on a feather cushion. Just as cotton has proved to be a poor choice here lately, so is riding.

Walking, wearing linen and wool.......

08-11-2009, 05:52 PM
Gary I dont know how old you are. But I'll be there and some people think I'm older than dirt.
Oh by the way be careful of the Spinster she is quite mean with a hat also.

Garrett Silliman
08-11-2009, 07:40 PM
Terre, Gery and Rob

I remember talking about this at Brice's (you didn't think I was that 'in my cups') and it sounds great. I'd love to be there. It's tough for me to plan a week ahead let alone a year, but this will prove to be a unique experience.


Gery Barker
08-12-2009, 12:13 AM
[QUOTE=majdoc;154520]Gary I dont know how old you are. But I'll be there and some people think I'm older than dirt.

I'm past retirement age. If this was 1862 my war would have been the War of 1812. But, I'll still out walk most younguns. Twenty-two years in Infantry MOS's, after the first few thousand miles you get used to it.

Danny Mesena
11-01-2009, 11:07 PM
I'll be following this. I'd like to do this one but I don't think any of my pards will be able to make it. If my first tier 1 event goes well I'll sure make this one a priority.

-Danny Mesena

Jon The Beloved
12-02-2009, 11:22 PM
Sure am hoping to be able to portray Vaughn's 3rd TN CSA at this one. I assume that will be an option? Here's a quick snippet I found on this regiment in Dan Leadbetter's Brigade * (

12-03-2009, 01:34 AM

The event list-serve is located here:

In The Van is a highly focused event dealing with the movement of wagons. The guiding impression is that of the 57th Georgia and infantry positions are available for those meeting the listed standards.

Experienced horsemen may find that they wish to broaden their period skills by taking advantage of pre-event training opportunities in driving a team. We are also recruiting assistant drivers and swampers for the wagons. The opportunity to work with horses, mules, and oxen are available to those with the right skills.

12-03-2009, 03:59 PM
According to the book about the 57th Georgia, it brigaded with the 56th and 59th Georgia plus Waddell's Alabama Artillery. These units constituted the First Brigade under Gen. Leadbetter. His was one of four brigades constituting the Second Division under Harry Heth. See, Scott Walker, "Hell in Georgia : Survival in a Civil War Regiment (http://books.google.com/books?id=B7j21qTeN5UC&pg=PA304&dq=cummings+brigade+57th+georgia+fifty-seventh&lr=&as_brr=3&ei=JSIYS5qPHaK4yQS8prTCAw#v=onepage&q=&f=false)" at page 32.

Jon The Beloved
12-03-2009, 06:49 PM
With TWO portrayals of the 57th GA this year.. Perhaps this constitutes an enlist/reenlist backstory and corresponding true to history first-person opportunity. I MUST get this book and others to do enough planning.

Thanks to everyone for the info.

12-03-2009, 07:56 PM
I believe Jon just earned a prize.

A number of folks have become fond of the men of the 57th. They are Uncommon, Common Men--the ubiquitious Southern yeoman farmer, the man with a crop to make and a family to feed and clothe. If he's got more than some, his house is a two room dogtrot. The draft animal that pulls his plow is the one he rides to town. He's got a set of working clothes and a set of Sunday clothes--and he knows what Sunday is for.

Observant fellers will figure out that a good farming class civilian kit will be the ticket to a number of 2010 venues. Judicious choices now can enable a man to wear the same basic kit to In The Van and to Struggles of Secession.

And if certain plans continue to progress, the same civilian clothes can see good use in 2011.

Jim Moffet
12-04-2009, 11:53 AM
Observant fellers will figure out that a good farming class civilian kit will be the ticket to a number of 2010 venues. ...... And if certain plans continue to progress, the same civilian clothes can see good use in 2011.

Well, said, Mrs. Lawson

Most all the "Boys of '61" tendered their service in civilian attire, and didn't get issued their new uniforms for some time after that.

Jim Moffet

01-04-2010, 12:53 PM
I like come, but it is the holidays period with my wife and my children.
I don't see leave them one week in the USA Without me :(
It is sad because there will be many of my friends... It is the life, we cannot always be there... See you ;)

Thomas Alleman
01-04-2010, 09:59 PM
My dad lives in Crossville, TN. I am in.

01-13-2010, 01:42 PM
Joe Johnson & myself will follow Rob Murray anywhere. We are in

01-13-2010, 06:53 PM

That vote of confidence is appreciated. Long before folks did publicity through the internet, the First Minnesota did some very innovative research and depiction in living history, and Rob Murray is a long time contributor to that leadership.

Right now, we have our heads down, deep in the infrastructure required for this event. In addition to the upcoming assistant wagoners training, other wheels are in motion. Contracts have been let for crops, folks are manufacturing items for the military loads, and some unusual arrangements are underway for food supplies, with some unique learning opportunities attached.

Shortly, wagons and teams will be loaded into trailers to move across hundreds of miles, loaned for months ahead in preparation for this event. One cannot pick the reins to an unfamilar team and turn the key like a rental car-instead the driver has to work with that team and that wagon well in advance. The generosity of those who are providing the rolling stock for this event is gratifying and amazing. Then there was the observant generous man who pressed a check into my hand last weekend, knowing that we have substantial expenses now, even though I'm not quite ready to open registration, as I want all required paperwork fully prepared to be signed in one swoop.

Folks are accustomed to organizers having a lot to say about an event. We don't. The event concept speaks for itself. Those participating will have to prepare themselves well in advance.

The listserve is here: