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Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

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  • Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

    Warlike-Regiment.jpg
    INTRODUCTION - A PROGRESSION


    This is the third Liberty Rifles event I have attended in the last two years. Last year was Sailor's Creek, then Prelude to Invasion and this past weekend, it was Warlike Along the Rapidan. I have to say that Warlike topped the other two. The camp was once again outstanding. At Prelude, for the first time, we saw a full complement of handmade Confederate fly tents and wondered how that could be topped. Well, this time, we STARTED with the same fly tents for what looked to be another relaxing weekend sheltered from the elements. That was where the real twist made this year's event better than the last two, but I will get to that shortly.

    FRIDAY - READY TO GO

    Registration was easy. Parking was more than adequate. Seth Hancock and I made the journey to Virginia together and we arrived around 2:30 PM. Seth gathered some items he had purchased through the event Bully Buys and I picked up the trousers, belt and cap pouch that I borrowed from Mike Clarke. After loitering in the parking lot for a short while, we endeavored to catch the next shuttle to the camp site. We were told that the shuttle ride would be around five miles... which it was. I wondered aloud as we traveled down the road if we were going to walk back on Sunday or be shuttled back. "It would be quite a march." I thought.

    Upon arriving at our destination, we sauntered down a grass trail and soon saw the fly tents through a row of trees up ahead. The forecast called for rain this weekend, so the tents were a welcome sight. We quickly set up with our tent mates of Company "H", the Winchester Boomerangs (LOVE the name). We would be commanded for the weekend by our good friend, Andrew Jerram, who was taking the place of another good friend, Tyler Underwood who wasn't able to make the event. Our First Sergeant was Johnny Lloyd who we had worked with several times before. William "Huck" Green would be our cook, so we knew we were in good hands there. Seth and I served as corporals for the weekend and the most difficult part of it was sewing the stripes on our jackets, which we were not used to since we typically portray Yankees. Besides, most of the boys in our company were experienced soldiers who had little need for overbearing care.

    After a quick wood detail and getting good and comfortable inside our palatial residence, we were informed that our three tents were in the wrong location and would need to be moved IMMEDIATELY. As in NOW. We did our best disgruntled soldier impression, cursing the "powers that be" who would dare interrupt our late afternoon reverie, but did as told and soon our tents were in the proper position and all was right with the world again.

    I kind of missed the first company formation as I was busy "assisting" Guy Musgrove and the teamsters. We talked about old times and old friends and gazed around the camp. Across the field, my company was formed up and I had to decide whether to crash it or stay away. I asked our colonel for a pass back to my company, which was politely declined. Soooo, I sat that one out and slinked back amongst my comrades at its conclusion.

    Not long after that, I was summoned to the regimental commissary for a ration detail. Our old friend, and honorary Mess No. 1 member, Mark Susnis was running the commissary, as he does so well and wanted us to weigh the bacon and coffee ration to hand out to each company. We did so, with a period scale. Eight pounds of bacon for each company and two tin cup-fulls of ground coffee.

    I laid down to snooze a bit and was rudely awakened as Jordan Ricketts "accidentally" tripped over my slumbering form. Our tent population was now set. Time to get a good night's sleep knowing that if the rains came, we would be lulled back to sleep by the soothing sounds of rain drops hitting the canvas without falling upon us, which is exactly what happened. I don't know what time it was, but I startled awake in the darkness and listened as a light shower passed through our camp. I smiled and rolled over to the other side, snug, warm and dry. THIS was going to be a relaxing weekend for sure.

    SATURDAY - DRILL, DRILL, AND MORE DRILL

    Saturday morning, Huck dutifully prepared our coffee, which is always welcome and soon, we formed our company and performed some manual of arms. This weekend, we were stacking arms using the "Kentucky Swing", which was great because the first two years or so of my living history "career" that is what we did. Even better, I was the front rank two, so I had the chance to practice my art. Very satisfying to properly swing that third rifle through to the front. I always like the swing. So smooth. After finishing our company drill, the rumors started to circulate that we might be moving at some point today. Participating in this exercise of speculation is a very period thing and I thought all of us did it quite well throughout the day. I may have even started some rumors myself. ;)

    Not long after our manual-of-arms exercise, we broke into two platoons and practiced elementary movements. Right-face, left-face, wheels, stack arms, etc... etc. Gotta say that I have done my share of drill over the years. The last two years, I have probably done more drill at LR events than I have at all over events combined over that same period. You boys like your drill. Good thing. Lots of young faces at this event. Also a good thing.

    After an all-too-brief period of "down time", we were back at it again. This time, it was drilling the entire battalion and thankfully, in our shirt sleeves in what was now a very hot day with the sun beating down on us. Now, as I said before, I generally know my drill. Done it in fourteen different states, three different theaters of war, portraying many different regiments... Hardees, Casey's and yes, even Scott's. But by gawd the LR's have mastered three sentence commands. You always know when the officers have dug deep into the manual when every command contains three sentences. And let's face it, most privates, if not most NCO's have an attention span of about a sentence or so when it comes to commands, but ya know, once we did it once I felt like the whole battalion nailed it. We move to-and-fro through the tall grass. Solid, straight lines. Sharp wheels. Company "H" was stellar. Seth and I were middle corporals and very little direction was necessary. It was clear that ALL of the companies came with their "A" game this weekend. And that... is where the sneezing began.

    In what we then dubbed "Hay Fever Field", we were kicking up the pollen pretty good. You could literally see it floating through the air. At stops, it seemed as if half of the regiment was sneezing, blowing out or sucking down mucus and just generally in a miserable way. Never heard so much commotion in all of my years of living history. A few of the boys in our company were laughing so hard, I caught a giggle as well, and that is when the little itch started inside my nose. I soon joined the ranks of the sneezers and mucus-bearers. A good farmer blow cleared me out pretty good, but the cacophonous roar of the sneeze continued in Hay Fever Field for the remainder of the exercise.

    We retired back to camp again. This time in a full-on, drenched down to the drawers sweat. The shade of the tent beckoned me inside. The open ends on either end offered a slight breeze. It was impossible not to doze off again... in our nice, comfortable abode. Ahhhhh.

    I awoke to the sound of "fall-in" as the boys of Company "H" put on their traps to go out for another round of battalion drill. As before, the commands were each volumes of words unto themselves. I don't remember the exact commands, but for those of you who were not there, or not used to the more obscure or seldom-heard variety, it goes something like this, "on the left of columns to form companies to the right of the middle company into line, after the last company, march!" It's an exaggeration of course, but to those of us not among the echelon of well-bred and superior officers, that's about what it sounds like.

    Once again, Hay Fever Field took its toll of casualties. Some of the fellows were gasping, hacking, coughing again, but we once again acquitted ourselves very well. After several iterations, Mr. Clarke was somewhat satisfied and said we would do it one more time, just to make sure we got it. After several more "one-times", we had it down. This pattern was repeated several times until it felt like we could do this stuff in the dark... if we had to...

    Clouds were starting to roll in a bit at this point. Nothing ominous, but the hot sun was slowly being replaced by a cooler temperature with a nice breeze, so Seth and I decided to wander around the camp a bit to visit and find out if the rumors were true that we were going to move out soon. Certainly, they wouldn't take us away from our wonderfully-comfortable canvas barracks, right? After many inquiries, including a stop with the Liberty Rifles themselves, it was obvious that no one was going to give up the ghost. Whether we were going to move or not remained a mystery to us lowly soldiers.

    Well, that changed at parade a little later on. This time, we went out in light marching order, looking smart in our matching jackets and variety of trousers. As a guy who typically does Federal, this wasn't too far off. I always say that every time I do Confederate, I feel like I woke up in the wrong camp. Not so much this weekend with the variety of blue and blue-gray Richmond Depot jackets, but I digress. Why talk gear when we need to get to the nub of the business at-hand?

    Mr. Schneider read our orders and at long last, our destination was known. We would be breaking down our tents - our glorious, tents and horror of all horrors, we would be cutting some of them into squares! The camp came alive with activity as stakes were pulled, frames came down and canvas was folded with cookware in the middle. Each bundle was marked with charcoal from the fire and we hastened to take them to the wagons where they would apparently accompany us on our journey. Where, we weren't quite sure, but our camp was no more. When we were finished it looked like the sad remains of a once-thriving community. We didn't have long to mourn the loss of our adopted home. As dusk fell, we formed up and moved out - clouds blocking the light of the stars and the moon as the breeze began to pick up a bit. A nice night for a march!

    SATURDAY NIGHT - MOVING OUT

    We moved as if Satan himself was at our heels. In a column of fours, we clambered over the rutted, dirt road. Every man with an occasional stumble and several with a trip or fall. We were either rushing toward or away from something. For those of us in the rank-and-file, we couldn't be sure which.

    By our estimation, we arrived about two miles down the road at what was either our destination, or just a respite before continuing the march. To our surprise, a wagon was awaiting us and we were issued hardtack. I took a few pieces and fell back into line. We weren't there long. "Something is up ahead", I thought. "Wait, was that a rain drop?"

    Well, as with most things over this weekend, I was dead wrong. Instead of moving forward, we turned and marched right back the direction we had just traversed. "Certainly, this is a mistake" I muttered out loud. Either we were lost, or the officers had gone stark raving mad. We weren't sure which.

    This time, we went into a column of twos, which was much more manageable because we could each be in a rut on either side of the rise in the middle of the road. We moved just a little slower than we had when going the other direction until we arrived in... holy crap, it's Hay Fever Field!

    All you could see were the black outlines of what looked like groups of soldiers, or maybe it was a tree line? We moved out into the field and somehow found the end of the line where we were supposed to be. I guess all of that drill paid off, almost like they planned this... hmmm. "Was that a rain drop?"

    We stacked arms in the dark and waited to see what was going to happen. Would we stay here? Were there Yankees out in front of us? Were we going on picket? Captain Jerram came over to our group and proudly exclaimed that we would be kept in reserve for the time-being and were free to rest. Ah, now THAT was the order we had been waiting for since the sun went down. Certainly we would get a good night's rest now as it had cooled considerably and we were flat worn-out. We laid down right at the foot of the stacks. Seth and I shared a groundcloth and dutifully covered ourselves with our gum blankets just in case it rained. I made the decision to sleep on top of the blanket I had borrowed from Ken Cornett. Seth put his inside his knapsack. A minor decision at that point, but an important one later.

    I don't know how long we slept, but eventually, I was awakened by a soft rain falling on my gum blanket. All of my gear was underneath my gum and I was curled up with all corners down. The rain fell harmlessly off of me and I smiled and fell back asleep, comforted with the knowledge that I was well-prepared for the night.

    For those who were there, you know what happened next. I think it was around midnight when I was roused by a loud noise. Large rain drops were now falling, slowly at first, but definitely at a steadier pace than earlier, and then, the skies just plain opened up on us. It was as if a giant had poured a bucket on the entire regiment. The sound of the drops hitting my gum blanket was deafening. Eventually, they started splashing THROUGH the microscopic holes in the vulcanized rubber. Tiny droplets hit the side of my face, BUT I was still dry! I could hear the muffled anguish all around me. Every known curse was uttered. Misery abounded. Dry inside my cocoon, I began to giggle and couldn't stop. We were absolutely stuck. Our cars were miles away. There was no escape!

    It was right about that moment that I felt a cold sensation start at my shoulder and continue down the left side of my body, which is the side I was sleeping on at the time the deluge began. Very quickly that entire side was saturated. And, goddamit, I was sleeping ON TOP of the blanket I had borrowed, which was now, quite certainly UNDER WATER! I don't know if the squall lasted five minutes, ten minutes or a half hour, but when it was done, it had wreaked its havoc. We were all, irrevocably soaked.

    Slowly, all of us stood up to survey the damage. More curses were uttered. Some were despondent. Some were upset or chagrined and some were just plain mad. Fortunately, some industrious fellows got fires going, using some hay intended for the horses, I guess. There were three fires with a couple of dozen around each fire. Things were getting back into order, at least as much as they could. We DUMPED out the water from our ground cloth and then Stephen Pavey helped me WRING OUT Ken's blanket. Everyone stood around the fires and attempted to get their things dry. This went on for maybe an hour or more until Seth and I determined that we were going back to sleep, wet or not. We laid down on our still-soaked groundcloth, and I put the wet blanket over me with the wetter gum blanket on top. After a few minutes of cool wetness, everything at least transitioned to a warm wetness and we fell asleep.

    SUNDAY MORNING - LET'S GO!

    Suddenly, we were awakened by the sounds of shouting. "We are moving out!" "Get up!" The shock of suddenly waking up was only surpassed by the feeling of wetness that remained. As we packed up our things, it was obvious that it was going to weigh roughly twice as much as it did the night before. Lovely. Just lovely. Captain Jerram informed us that we were headed out. There was a hard rain coming at around 7:00 AM and they wanted to get everyone on their way home. A very, very good call by the organizers in my opinion. I don't know what was planned for the morning, but I do know that everyone to a man agreed that it was time to skedaddle.

    OK, here is the last little surprise. All the while, we were TWO FIELDS away from our cars! The five miles we traveled on the shuttle were simply a mirage. Apparently, we went in a circle. Brilliant! Absolutely, freakin' BRILLIANT! As an event organizer and frequent participant at EBUFU events, one of my pet peeves in recent years has been the tendency for events to end on Saturday night. The fact that they made the decision to keep us overnight to Sunday was the right decision, rainstorm or not. We all stuck it out. Maybe we would have anyway, but thinking that our cars were miles away did the trick and hell, the best memories are made with moments like that storm. Whenever we all get rained on again, the new bar for being soaked will be Warlike.

    When we arrived back at the parking area, the LR's gave an abbreviated speech and basically told us to get the hell out of there, to which we happily obliged, because the rain had started again and would continue in the area for the next few hours. By 8:00 AM, Seth and I had checked into the Courtyard Marriot in Fredericksburg and after a shower and littering our room with wet gear, we were able to enjoy the view of the rain along the Rappahannock River as we sat comfortably inside, drank coffee and wolfed down an excellent brunch.

    CONCLUSION

    Warlike Along the Rapidan was an excellent event. As with each of the LR events I have personally attended, it was well-planned and obviously based very accurately on the history. They took great pains to recreate everything - the wagons, tents, camp set-ups, stretchers, ambulance corps, camp layout, schedule, and rations, everything that you could imagine an EBUFU event to be. All of this was first-rate.

    The scenario was also very well-conceived. As someone who has written and researched for events, I know that it sounds easy to just write down what happened, but it is about finding the details and executing those details where great events are made and this is truly the case for Warlike. On top of that, they kept the scenario under wraps and that kept us on our toes all weekend. I will confess that when I am an attendee at an event, I often intentionally read everything that is put out up to the point that the event begins. I try to get the background, but don't want to know exactly what is going to happen, because let's face it, the originals didn't know either. Most times, all they knew were rumors, half-truths and whatever was right in front of them. So, in my opinion, the scenario was also excellent. They took something that is really pretty simple on paper and maximized the experience.

    OK, I have to say something at least constructively critical, right? Only one thing. Just one. I think the pre-event correspondence could have been reduced by about half. Between FB messages, e-mails, text messages, etc, it got a little overwhelming leading up to the event, especially when I was busy at work and my phone is going off as my boss wonders if it is business related, or "that Civil War" stuff. I fully-realize that a TON of preparation was done and it was certainly disseminated, but less is more sometimes and this is probably the case on this point. So, in terms of overall preparation - A+++++. But, just remember that we all have real lives too, k?

    Overall, Warlike Along the Rapidan was just outstanding. I don't hesitate to say that the Liberty Rifles have certainly made a huge impact to the EBUFU Event schedule over the last couple of years. Between the LR's and all of the events the Independent Rifles have done recently, there is a solid foundation. Additionally, many others have stepped up with some regional efforts that show promise for bigger things to come.

    And lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't say that that Mess No. 1 and the Governor Guards will do our damnest to finish off this year with a bang. 2019 is really turning into a great year for all of us in the Authentic Community. I am somewhat concerned that 2020 can top it. Please prove me wrong and contact me to let me know what is happening for next year and the AC will once again trumpet your events to the fullest extent possible. Let’s continue our momentum and kick ass and grow!
    Last edited by Eric Tipton; 05-10-2019, 07:10 AM.
    Eric Tipton
    AC Owner
    Founding Member, Mess No. 1
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  • #2
    Re: Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

    My blanket got wet? :baring_te
    Ken Cornett
    MESS NO.1
    Founding Member
    OHIO
    Mason Lodge #678, PM
    Need Rules?

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    • #3
      Re: Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

      Alright I’m going to put my AAR on here for y’all. From the moment we walked into the already established camp I had the sense of just coming off of furlough, receiving a new uniform and returning to my tent to catch up with pards I had not seen in a while. The weather was perfect. Everything had a military feel from the first minutes after I got my spot claimed in a “hand sewn” fly tent that could house 12 people and then was ordered to realign the tents to make them look more straight and open the company street. The “choir boys” were practicing the hymns and the line for the “skinner” to open, after returning from Richmond with a fresh batch of goods, was growing longer by the minute. First sergeant was taking role. A good time was being had by all. I made my way through the long sutler line and got today’s Richmond dispatch to see if there was any word of yankee movements. I also purchased some other interesting necessities like “bear grease” hair pomade from London, a comb, shoe laces, and a small ginger cake. Needless to say I was skint fairly quickly. I went back to my tent and read a few articles in the paper by candlelight with my pards huddled around to hear the news. Nothing more than we already knew... the yanks were moving. There was a sense of mystery as to what we were going to be doing that added to the angst and excitement of the experience. Everyone was admiring the new uniforms made of English Army Cloth. The evening weather was delightful and the soft field made for a wonderful nights rest, plus I will add there was a camp guard posted and no typical night time frolicking was seen or heard. I could easily say it was the best night sleep I have ever had in campaign event. The morning of the 4th came with typical camp duties, taking morning role, getting the fire started, waiting for rations to be issued to the company and the assigned company cook to feed us (which was an interesting experience not having 30 guys trying to cook all at once on one little fire). While waiting I went to the “skinner “ and got a sausage and a cake to supplement my breakfast, and a yankee paper from the 28th of Apr. and some matches in anticipation of moving out and possibly needing them. When I returned I found breakfast of a miniature chunk of bacon and a cups worth of rio coffee awaiting. I was very thankful for my purchase. After breakfast and reading the yankee news with my pards, mostly the interesting adds from New York, I was assigned to making biscuit dough for the company, while the regiment went out for company drill. What an interesting experience and something I had never done. 8lbs of flour will make 60 biscuits btw. After the company came back from drill they reformed and I with them for manual of arms by the Lt. Col. this definitely knocked the rust off and I learned some more proper ways of doing Hardee’s revised. I must say the quality of men at this event was top notch, some of the best in the hobby. After drill we came back to some fresh burnt but tasty biscuits and another larger chunk of bacon. The sun started to heat up and we were pretty free to do what we wanted. A church service was held and many boys attended to hear the good work of god and the beautiful sounds of the choir ( who’s hard work learning to sing those hymns must be commended) . Afterwards the entire regiment was drilled in what would later be known as Claritin field due to the pollen that was stirred up and the volleys of sneezing that occurred. After drill on a very warm spring day we headed down to bathe in the stream and get cleaned up and cooled off. Afterwards we made a lazy afternoon of rest and relaxation, some fiddle and banjo music playing in camp, trying to find some shade in the cool woods for a nap, everyone waiting to hear some call to go confront the enemy at a moments notice. And then we were assembled for parade, and given orders that we were to be on reserve for the corps and to be ready to move in an hours notice. We began to pack the extra baggage, the officers hand sewn tent flys were cut into shelter tents for the men. The teamsters were getting the wagon teams hooked up and working out the kinks from being stagnant for so long. It had the feel of real military preparations for something big. The feeling around camp was one of some seriousness and anxiety of what was to come and when? The first sergeant came around asking who had a knife, and I raised my hand. He promptly put me on detail to go to commissary and collect the companies ration of fresh fish (shad) for our dinner ration. I went up there and was given 8 huge bloody fish. So took them back to the company cook “Huck” and he had us fillet them and nail them to a plank to set in front of the fire. After that my fish cleaning detail went down to the stream to clean off the fish guts and smell. Upon our return there was a stir in camp. Orders had come down to pack up the wagons we were moving out soon. The fish had been unplanked and thrown together in the spider to cook quickly and the tents were being folded up and with the cook gear taken to the wagons it was a flurry of excitement and anxiety of what was to come. And then we got our meager ration of fish, which was very good, and waited with our gear on and ready to go for a good while, in true military fashion of hurry up and wait. First sergeant grabbed a man to be put on ambulance detail and he left the company to help carry the stretchers. A side note this was one of those real magic moments for me and took me back to a feeling of my experiences in the real army. It was truly as real as it gets. Then finally right at dusk the officers began to move our way on horseback and we knew the drill, time to form up! The English jackets, and most men carrying knapsacks made for a very uniform appearance, with our new light orange silk banner lighting up the twilight. As we snaked through the field you could look back at the rear and see the ambulance corps with their red hat badges and stretchers creating the eerie tone that we may need them in the very near future. Something I have never experienced at any other event. Once we hit the dirt road the pace was brisk, a real sense of urgency could be felt, and some of the boys were not ready for this taxing exercise. We made it a few miles down the road and came to a halt. Oddly drawing a large ration of four hard crackers per man. Then there was confusion. The regiment made a right face and proceeded to rush back down the road towards where we came from. It was cause for much complaining in the ranks to include myself. The road through the woods was so dark you could hardly see the man in front of you, and each step was a risk of getting tangled with the ruts in the road. We came to a clearing and halted. We were given the order to load. This could only mean that we were expecting contact with the enemy. We moved down the road quickly a little further then were rushed into line of battle in a field. The first division were rushed out as skirmishes and to establish picket. Our division 3rd was told to stack arms and put on reserve. We then quickly spread our gear out and slept on the stacks. This was all good until being awakened by the pickets firing. Followed almost immediately by an immense rain that seemed like a bucket pouring from the sky. All was well under my gum blanket at first until the river of water came flowing underneath. The rain moved out quickly but the damage was done. I am thankful for the hard work of Co I for getting the bonfire started to warm and dry out everyone. There are not enough words to express my thanks. Myself and Stephen then laid back down for a few more needed winks of moist sleep. Sometime around 4 and a half AM we were told to pack up and be ready to move. This was just as the next round of rain was moving in so there was no grumbling or questions. Most were ready and thankful. We moved out through the pickets who looked like they had had a very sloppy night of it. Poor souls. And forded a stream, surprisingly being the first time my feet were wet. We marched to our destination and the rest well you can find it in a history book. It was an amazing experience all the way around, the bar has been set very high. I believe they took every little thing that was great from events past and put it all together as one whole. Simply amazing. So a huge thank you to the Liberty Rifles and the event organizers for making this dream come true. Recreating the 13th Va to the man �� 257 (261). All of the diary accounts leading up to the event, the recreated flag, the ensign, the recreated drum, all of it was just magical. Also the guys who attended and were absolutely impressive in their skills, kit, knowledge, and experience. It is definitely one for the books and I am honored to have been able to be a part of it.
      Guy Covey

      The Broadside Mess

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      • #4
        Re: Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

        For me and others I’ve organized events with, like many events we do, WARLIKE Along the Rapidan was taken as a challenge. Over the years, lots of cool events have recreated certain aspects of a Civil War camp, or the day in the life of a soldier, or neat pieces of gear. Mike and I wanted to do all of it. Not so we could brag about having done it, but because we wanted to see, hear, smell, and feel what it was like—all of it—up until the moment they got to the point of combat that we could not reasonably recreate. We had the diary accounts of multiple members of the regiment, the regiment’s original returns, and artifacts to work with. We wanted to take that book and make it come to life.

        At dusk on Saturday, I looked behind me to see meticulously recreated Army wagons in the same number as the 13th Virginia had--the amazing handiwork of a bunch of great living historians, loaded to the covers with an entire regiment’s supply of hand sewn tents, cast iron mess gear, officer’s baggage, paperwork, and surgical supplies—an incalculable investment of time by dozens of people, pulled by amazing teams—trained and cared for by some amazing horsemen who, just by having said animals, spend every day of their lives preparing for the next event, followed by mounted officers who immersed themselves in not only the manuals but their duties as leaders in the spare moments when they weren’t preparing other things for the event, followed by a regiment of guys numbering within four men of the original 13th in badass kits, the product of so many other talented craftsmen, their stomachs full of fresh shad just like the original guys, followed by an Ambulance Corps loaded down with stretchers, extra canteens, and packs full of medical gear, snaking through pristine Orange County landscape. The Chaplain and I stopped our horses to take a quick look. We couldn’t help but marvel at it. Not only did we see the most perfect recreation of a Civil War regiment that has even been done, we were looking at the final result of the best work of the best people in our weird hobby.

        Despite all that, the moment that caught me most was one of the smaller ones. As I stood in the woods and untied my horse from the picket line and prepared to follow the wagons on an errand, I heard the choir singing Return Again. I hummed along. I rode miles down dirt roads with it stuck in my head. I tore down our tent with it stuck in my head. I smiled slightly ironically with it stuck in my head during the rain. I drove home with it stuck in my head. I still can’t get it out of my head. Something as simple as untying a horse to do some monotonous army duty and hearing the boys in the background doing just what the original regiment did may have been the most period moment I’ve ever had.

        You folks did one hell of a job. You showed up on time for an event that started at dark on Friday with a camp completely established. You lived a day in that camp, drilled like they did, ate what they ate, sang what they sang, heard the orders they heard, tore that camp down, and started to march to another. You countermarched back because of a mistaken order just like they did. You picketed in the wrong direction and were spooked by deer because you had no idea nobody was there just like the original 13th. And you sucked it up for a night in some miserable weather like guys did for four years.

        There are more people to thank for putting this event together than I can name. You all know who you are and you should know that I appreciate your efforts more than you can imagine.

        -Craig Schneider
        Last edited by CSchneider; 05-15-2019, 08:47 PM.
        Craig Schneider

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        • #5
          Re: Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

          Musings from Company C...

          "Lightning in a Bottle" is an appropriate phrase that's been used to describe what was achieved this weekend. The stars are aligning, and we're taking the fullest advantage of it. I've been distracted this year, partially because of a plethora of WWI centennial commemorations, and my head was not fully "Civil War" going into this weekend. I read the diary entries and back-channel officer/NCO emails dutifully, pulled the kersey jacket from the closet I made 12 years ago, but had never worn, checked and re-checked the forecast, and sort of let the weekend sneak up on me. I expected it would be a five-star event, but didn't REALLY know it until I was there.

          I love finding fault with things, and doing that was very difficult this weekend. You who were there know what you saw and experienced, so I write this, perhaps, more as a reminder to myself the next time an event like this looms on the horizon. Future-Marc, don't forget to go to the event, it'll be great!

          I've been to reenactments where the overall commander gives a phony-firper speech about "the enemy is just over that hill, boys!" and the like, and never felt an inkling of actual anxiety or dread as I did when the orders were read to us on Saturday. I had grown to enjoy the comfort of our campsite; as others had noticed, there was a tangible sense of unity, right up to everyone knowing a couple people here and there among other companies. It was a decidedly happy atmosphere that turned ominous quite quickly. I could feel the morale shift when the order imploring men to not desert the ranks was read—had it gotten that bad? Rather than feeling a renewed sense of determination upon hearing that order, my gut reaction was to question if others knew something I didn't, and if desertion was the only sensible choice for survival? It was a question I would not have pondered were I to read the text of the order in a history of the campaign. And, so, after the camps were struck and we sat in place as the sun descended, I spent the time listening to the cacophonous chorus of birds, and watching the clouds and changing colors of the sky. The words of Chaplain Black, the orders, and the glorious panoply of approaching twilight put me in a profound place of comprehension, in concert with those whose identical experiences 155 years before would have prompted very real consideration of impending death.

          I think of that, and I also think of the wagons being hitched and moved out during the church service. If it were a movie set, one could imagine the director choreographing that as "background action," but like many of the incredible vignettes, wasn't being done simply as window-dressing. It was being done because it had to be done. I think of our misguided hardbread march, looking into the thick woods on either side, and imagining what the Wilderness experience was like for those who didn't have the Orange Turnpike to guide them.

          I think of our first guard relief, where any period account of "nervous pickets" was explained and validated. When our posts were in trouble, I couldn't rally the reserve quickly enough; they were screaming for help, and the distance from our reserve near the well to the treeline seemed miles as we ran to reinforce them.

          As for our company, I couldn't have been more pleased with everyone's willingness to get the job done. More than once, I found myself assigning water details only to have additional men, whose names already had a couple of check marks next to them, volunteer to help. Cookie Mickletz kept us out of the running for Pards losing Pounds in the best way possible. Historically, we were under orders to take roll frequently, and everyone was terrific about being on-hand for formations and allowing for this additional step, getting it accomplished, and getting onto line.

          We were all miserable Saturday night, sure. The deluge started as I was on my way back to the reserve from our cavalry/deer scare, and so had no choice but to be drenched on the entire trip across the field. There were no dry spots to be found, but for all of our private grumbling to one another, that mood of "in this together" that was present at a sun-shiny moment on Saturday morning was still there. Sunday morning, as the battalion "picked us up" on the march, seeing everyone "still there" and coming towards us out of the mist was a grand sight.

          I'm getting my prohibited "obvious modern WWII haircut" as soon as I can this week, but I'm nostalgic as I find a matted clump of grass or leaf on the floor as I continue to do maintenance on my gear now. "The Wilderness" has taken on a new meaning to me, a new mental picture. It's been informed by "The Blue and The Gray" and "Wicked Spring," and the thoughts of my 121st PA ancestor who was mortally wounded there and never found, but this microstudy of the 13th Virginia was a prism that I'm incredibly grateful to have been given.

          Thank you to Company C, and thank you once again to the command and support staff for everything. Words and pictures will never do justice to what went on; I can only hope that the lightning in a bottle remains on the shelf, at ready-reach, as long as possible.
          Marc A. Hermann
          Liberty Rifles.
          MOLLUS, New York Commandery.
          Oliver Tilden Camp No 26, SUVCW.


          In honor of Sgt. William H. Forrest, Co. K, 114th PA Vol. Infantry. Pvt. Emanuel Hermann, 45th PA Militia. Lt. George W. Hopkins & Capt. William K. Hopkins, Co. E, 7th PA Reserves. Pvt. Joseph A. Weckerly, 72nd PA Vol. Infantry (WIA June 29, 1862, d. March 23, 1866.) Pvt. Thomas Will, 21st PA Vol. Cavalry (WIA June 18, 1864, d. July 31, 1864.)

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

            Warlike on the Rapidan. My own AAR. I wrote this out so I would not forget the experience in the years to come. I posted this on my own timeline but figured others may enjoy it.

            Friday May 3, 2019
            After a red eye flight and a little sightseeing on the way up from Richmond I arrived in Locust Grove VA . I parked at the event site around 5pm and had a nice conversation with a gentleman as I ate my sandwich and then began to get changed. I marched up to registration and was easily given my sutler chits, gun tool, and ammo pack. They were super organized. I then jumped onto a trailer and proceeded on the 5 mile drive to the event site.
            As we got off the trailer and headed to camp I first noticed the period correct water pump and then the camp in a nice meadow. It was very cool. Completely set up to army regs with wagons, sutler tent, officer’s line, band, etc. At the top of each company street was the company fires already in use. I wandered down the wrong direction trying to find company “E” but quickly found them. As I walked up, I met Lee White and Todd Dean for the first time. Todd had purchased my Ross Knapsack and a haversack I had made. I also met many others too numerous to mention. I was offered a spot under the second tent fly which was nice as it was not on the end exposed to the elements. The boys were eager for the Sutler to open so we all headed off to stake down our place in line. A good conversation ensued and I met Patrick who proved to be a very interesting fellow. He runs a living history museum in Knoxville and had all sorts of cool stories about the generations of the family that lived in the home. A price list was passed around and wished I had purchased more Sutler chits. As he opened up around 8:30 I purchased a Richmond Newspaper, a loaf of fresh bread, a half pound of cheese, coffee, and 2 small sausages. For supper I had some of the cheese, bread, and an apple I brought with me. We had company roll call and put our traps on for the first time. I settled down early and fell asleep. My journey from CA had worn me out and I figure I was running on 4 hours sleep

            Saturday May 4, 2019

            I was awoken at 5:30 by Reville and the company was formed for roll call. I slept well and it rained periodically throughout the night which was very peaceful. I used by greatcoat as a blanket midway through the night. I am now in 1864. Patrick and I had split our coffee so I gave him what I had and commenced boiling up my own cup on the fire. Coffee never tasted better. Shortly after rations were issued to the company and our cooks, who included Patrick started making coffee, biscuits, and bacon. Had a great conversation with Ryan and Todd over breakfast. Around 9:00 the company was formed for the first time for drill.
            Capt Hodge was a kind man and saw no need to drill us in things we already knew. Half the Battalion did manual arms with Mike Craig while the other part did company maneuvers, mostly wheels and facing movements.
            We had a water break and I volunteered to fill canteens, just so I could work the water pump. We had to fill buckets and then use a funnel to fill the canteens. After a short break, the Battalion wings switched and it was our turn to do manual of arms. I learned a few neat tricks even after all these years of doing it. The Battalion was then formed and orders were read from headquarters to be prepared to march within an hour if necessary and to turn in one fly tent from each company and pack up excess baggage. I was eager to get rid of my greatcoat to avoid its weight on the inevitable march north. I rolled it up and left it in the middle of the company street as instructed. We were thoroughly exhausted and it was now very warm and humid. For dinner, we had biscuits and sugar rice.
            After about an hour of rest, it was now time for the big show, Battalion drill. By now I had learned that when one hears Sgt’s call, go relieve one’s self now or it will be too late! We were happy to be notified by the 1st Sgt Fieto that drill was to be done with no coats, traps, or rifles. We embarked onto “hayfever field” for what seemed like hours. The ticks were active as were my allergies. I have never had such bad reaction to all the pollen being thrown up. My handkerchief was saturated and I had to resort to a farmer’s blow. At one point, the boys on the right of the line ran into a snake in the grass and it caused much commotion to the amusement of all. After what seemed like 2 hours, we were halted and given a water break. Then we were told “one last” maneuver several times by the Colonel. That lasted another hour! Drill, dril, and more drill.
            We all collapsed back into camp and most, including myself took a short nap sweltering in the heat and humidity. There was no wind. The rumors began to fly that we would be moving out soon so many of us prepared our gear as best we could. I noticed that my greatcoat was still in camp and had not made it the wagons. I was then informed that that ship had already sailed. I was going to have to carry my greatcoat much to my dismay. After a few hours, we were once again formed up for Battalion drill into “hayfever field”. It had cooled by late afternoon and not nearly as bad as the height of the day. We returned to camp for roughly an hour and was then formed up for evening parade and inspection. At formation we were informed to break camp and be prepared to move at a moments notice. Orders were also given to pack the kettles, flies, and to even cut up officer flies to distribute to the men (which was actually done!!). I helped move company “E”s cooking utensils and flies to the wagons. As we packed up and broke camp, the foreboding of a campaign began to hit me. The unknown. We were given fresh fish for supper just like the original 13th was given, although it was so bony, it was not particularly appetizing but I ate it anyways..
            We waited for some time around the stacks watching the flies disappear and the wagons get loaded. The ambulance corp gathered their gear and the officers mounted their steads. At that point, we knew the inevitable was near. At about 8pm as sun was setting the wagons headed off first followed by the column and then the ambulance corp. We headed off at an amazing pace almost as if their was great urgency in every step. We continued down a country road through a grass field which was waist high and then into the woods. It continued to get darker and darker and before long one could barely make out the shadow of the person in front of him let alone more than 10 feet. We probably went 2 or 3 miles before called to a halt in the middle of clearing. There we met the officers and wagons and were each issued 4 pieces of hardtack, the obvious sign that a campaign and / or a battle was imminent. We were then ordered to load our muskets. The ranks we busy with the sounds of rammers and locks.
            We were then ordered to about face and head back the same direction from which we had came. Confusion swept the ranks and many including myself were darn right mad. Why hurry so much? Why are we turning around? What is going on? I can only imagine that is exactly what the original 13th was thinking at that same moment only 155 years before. As we headed back we saw the carnage left behind. Many folks on the side of the road with twisted ankles or plain wore out stragglers from our break neck speed earlier.
            As we once again entered into the grass clearing, the Battalion was ordered into column of companies and ordered to advance across. What an amazing sight to maneuver in waist high grass in the dark with 300 men forming into a battle line with skirmishers to the front. Had the enemy appeared to our rear? We later found out that historically there were reports of Yankees crossing the river to our north and hence our deployment that evening We marched forward in line and across the wood edge into the next field, “hayfever field” where we were ordered to stack arms and rest. Roughly 15 minutes went by and the first rain drops began to fall as lightning could be seen in the distance. I pulled out my oil cloth and put it over my shoulders. After a bit more company “E” was told we would be in the reserve and could wait in the rear until needed. With that, we headed to the woods on the edge of the tree line to try and gain some cover under the canopy. I threw down my oil cloth and unrolled my blanket and immediate fell asleep.
            Within a short time I was awoken by a musket shot in the distance and a yelling picket, “post number 4, Sgt of the guard!” The realism was now creeping in. We knew there were no opposition but later found out a jittery pickets either saw a deer or perhaps one of the teamsters in a federal coat! Either way the experience was sobering. What now? We wait to see if we would be called up but until then I covered my head once again fell asleep but only for a few minutes.
            I then heard it coming from across the opposite field, the rain was coming. I hoped that it would be a light rain and that my blanket would protect me but to no avail. I quickly realized that the Lord himself had opened the well on us and I had no other choice but to jump up, grab my blanket upon my shoulders and then cover myself with my oilcloth. I must've sat in a fetal position of 10 minutes as it poured on us. There was much cursing and lamentation from the boys. I managed to make it through this onslaught relatively dry, although my blanket was a wet sponge and my blanket weighed an extra 10 pounds. The fire the boys had started was nearly out so being in better shape than some, I vigorously helped 1st Sgt Fieto restart the smouldering coals. Luckily after 30 minutes or so we saved the fire and the rain stayed off for just enough time. The temperature began to plunge at this point as well. The boys stood around the fire trying to dry out as best they could. I was able to get my oilcloth almost completely dry but my blanket was practically a lost cause. I enjoyed hearing the stories of the men around the fire. There is always a certain amount of comradery born in shared misery. At about 2:30 am I laid down on my oilcloth and laid there with no blanket. I was awoken throughout the night by light falling rain. I however was too uncomfortable to sleep much. I tried wrapping half my oilcloth up and over me and that did work for sometime to ward off the water. In retrospect I should of tried sleeping on the wood planks we were using as firewood. As a last resort, I did have my dry greatcoat in my pack. I was uncomfortable but not miserable.

            Sunday May 5, 2019

            Reveille sounded at 5am followed by officers and Sgt’s call. A gray haze of clouds and fog covered the fields. It was still almost completely dark. Once our 1st Sgt returned, the battalion was ordered to form up and move in 15 minutes. The call had been made to get everyone back to the parking lot ASAP as a large squall was expected by 7am an the future of the parking lot was questionable for people to get out.
            Every piece of my gear was sopping wet. My blanket must of weighted another 10 pounds. Something one never considers is water weight. I have to say it was not fun but at the same time, the original soldier had no choice so the experience was great! My haversack had been dyed by the coffee I had in it and my hardtack was now nice and soft from being rained on in my tin cup. I ate that for breakfast.
            The Battalion formed and we marched off with the promise that the end was only 2 fields away! The organizers had kept this secret to keep guys from bailing to their cars! The experience however was not over. As we marched in column of 4s a lone man struck up some tunes which helped to cheer the boys up. As we neared the field where our former camp had been, it looked rather ghostly. Just the remnants of the fire pits, a deserted landscape. It was erie to think that this would of been men’s homes for months. As we approached the edge of the woods we realized that we were all going to have to cross the now swollen stream.. Some of the men and the battalion officers lit the path with candles and lanterns. The site was very realistic as men clamored through the mud and through the swollen stream. I thought that perhaps I might be the only man in the battalion with dry feet, which I had worked diligently in preserving, until I realized that there was no avoiding it!
            Once crossing the stream, we reformed the column and marched off through the fields and eventually to the parking lot. Faced to the front Michael Clarke informed us that we had raised over $10,000 for preservation and thanked us. He informed us that the 13th Virginia would enter the Battle of Wilderness that afternoon 155 years to the day with 297 men. With in 30 days of the Overland Campaign only 90 would survive to the trenches of Petersburg. 50 would survive to Appomattox. A very sobering experience.
            In retrospect, I have gained an amazing in site. As fun and miserable as the experience was at times, the original soldier’s had no choice but to endure. It was by far the greatest immersion experience in my 25 years of reenacting. It was worth every penny.
            Daniel Sutton

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

              Well gentlemen, WARLIKE has come and gone. Really kind of hard for me to believe after a year and a half of planning. I'm sure you'll all be very disappointed to not get an e mail or facebook post, or 500 facebook posts from Craig and I every day for the rest of your life! I wanted to take a minute and very quickly get my thoughts out in an e mail while they are still fresh in my mind and try and capture my immense appreciation for all of the hard, hard work that so many of you put in to make this event an incredible success.

              There were so many elements of this event that gave me little pictures and vignettes of what the Civil War was like, just a quick glimpse, or emotion, or experience that colored in a faint outline I had in my mind based on a memoir, or diary. There were times leading up to this event where I continually wondered, are we being too ambitious? Are we expecting too much? Are we biting off more than we can chew? Those were very real concerns for me going into the event. The mixture of emotions I felt going into Friday might have been the perfect combination of anxiety, excitement, concern, anticipation, and hope for success that many of the soldiers of both sides felt on May 3rd. Friday night's camp scene was such a pleasure. My first time coming back into camp after a few hours at the parking lot, I came up over the hill and saw the sloping plane before me covered in large tent flies, with fires going, men singing, and talking and laughing, horses and wagons, flickering candles, and the setting sun; needless to say it was a little bit emotional to see that after so much blood, sweat and tears leading up to this event.

              I could go on and on about my own little personal experiences, joys, pleasures, and certainly miseries, but I want to spare you a 20 page e mail. What I do feel is important to address are some philosophical points about reenacting, the Liberty Rifles leadership team perspective, and some much needed thank yous.

              Reenacting is at a bizarre crossroads. It seems ever more critical for me to be so judicious with precious spare time, as to never waste it on something not worthwhile. Speaking for myself personally, I hit a point somewhere around 2016 where I was just about ready to hang up my boots. Every Sunday drive home was filled with disappointment, and a litany of what could and should be done better. And the product this past weekend is a culmination of all of those things we DIDN'T like about the reenactments we were going to. no 1/16th scale, no cell phones or cameras, no cigs, no goofy battles, no officers that were absolutely clueless, no weird event site that is hundreds of miles away from where anything happened, no mini battalions that couldn't even do the most basic maneuvers, no sloppy history, no cars in camp, no machine sewn tents, nobody hanging around in the parking lot slugging beers. I hit a point where I needed something more, and was fortunate enough to come together with other guys that felt the same way and we took matters into our hands. That's what this weekend was, what Prelude was, Point Lookout, Sailors Creek, etc. Reenacting should be whatever you want it to be, but it should never leave you driving home on Sunday with a frown on your face. I genuinely hope all of you drove home Sunday talking about all the cool things that happened over the weekend and how you had a great experience.

              Now; A LOT of people have been thanking Craig and I - and I won't be bashful, this was certainly a mountain of a job! A lot of time, money, arguments, black and milds, sheetz MTO dinners, research trips, site visits, weird calls to Local Yocals asking if we could have a Civil War Regiment on their property, etc etc went in to this event. But it was not just Craig and I alone. There is such an enormous list of guys who literally made the event happen, and without them, we would have fell disaster. To try and list off all the names would take another 10 paragraphs. Horses, wagons, water, shuttles, registration, group buys, trailers, tent flies, WALL TENT FLIES to be cut up on site, rations (150 lbs of SHAD!), tent poles, tent stakes, boxes, tables, chairs, barrels, the well pump, Officers, NCOs, drill e mails, the sutler, and who could forget the perfect reproduction of the 13th's flag? I guarantee I'm missing so many things that should be addressed. This was an absolute herculean effort done as a team - a team that I am incredibly proud of, and very much indebted to. All the way down to each one of you that showed up, payed attention to the rules and guidelines, showed up on time, put a lot of effort into your impressions and boy did it show! Nobody was lazy about this event and I think the difference really showed. So Thank You! From Colonel down to Private. I saw no apathy, only effort!

              So, what does it all mean? I think we all learned a lot, and gained a lot of empathy and insight about Civil War soldiers' daily lives. I think you all showed a lot of grit and heart sticking it out during a night that felt "two weeks long" as Peyton put it. Hard to imagine suffering through that all night, then marching into combat. It's those little insights that keep me coming back. Obviously, laying in the grass soaking wet with no blanket was about as low as I could get, but the second I got home and got a hot shower, I was on cloud nine. And what about the value of the event in our modern context of 2019? Well, I'm very pleased to report that we were able to raise $11,000 dollars as a donation to the American Battlefield Trust! That's not matching funds or anything, that's $11,000 dollars that you guys fought and scraped for to go to an organization that is on the front lines of preservation. Just absolutely unbelievable. GREAT JOB.

              And lastly, to the 13th Virginia Infantry, who marched into the Wilderness with 257 men (we had 261 on our Saturday morning report), and by May 31st they would be down to 96 men, including the death of Colonel Terrill at Bethesda Church. 63% casualties in 25 days. And that's one regiment, of hundreds and hundreds on both sides that suffered so much in May 1864. I think you all did an excellent job remembering the men who fought during the overland campaign. Job well done.

              SHOUT ON, PRAY ON, WE'RE GAINING GROUND! Keep pushing the envelope. Keep going hard. Keep taking your impression to the next level, keep working on drill, keep working on field skills, cooking, keep researching, etc. Let's keep this thing going!

              - - - Updated - - -

              And Fred asked me to pass this along to everyone as well:

              Following a full night's sleep- after a night of absolutely none- I am now allowed the ability to think and reflect. There is so much to say that it is hard to even figure out where to start. Simply saying thank you to each and every one of you seems such a small gesture given the enormous task that was collectively pulled together. Of course, I do thank everyone- from organization and planning, leadership of companies, equine and teamster organization and tasks, behind the scenes logistics, cooking, manufacturing needed goods, preparing for your specific role, traveling insane distances, the willingness to go along with "the plan"- even though most of you didn't know "the plan"- and the efforts go on. I cannot mention names for fear of leaving out someone- but trust me when I say- it took everyone that was on that site to make this happen.

              My first reenactment was in 1979. I've seen some cool stuff through the years. But, believe me, I've never seen anything quite like this. There were so many times that I said to myself- "damn- that's what the Civil War looked like". The level of detail was simply astounding.

              Watching all of you go about your camp routines and duties was a thrill to say the least and I was able to see so much of what went on because of where I was situated in camp- which brings me to my next point- I just want to say thank you for the opportunity to command this regiment. I have commanded a number of battalions before, but this one....well, it was just different. For one, it was the largest by far. I was really impressed with the length of the line of battle and how far the column stretched through the field. I was also amazed at what I could see from atop a horse. This effort was also one which represented a regiment that had a company whose home town is my current home and the impression was one that recreated the start of the most intriguing campaign- in my mind- of the war.



              Craig Schneider's earlier email alluded to the "little things". That said, please bare with me as I share some of my "little things".



              -When you study a subject for your entire life you tend to have images in your mind of how something may have appeared. Taking in the scene of the church service was exactly that. In my mind, I just know that it was perfect. Watching the choir, I really thought about what would transpire over the next two days for the real 13th Va- how many of those young men singing so well and so joyfully would be gone?

              Similarly, the countermarch area was the perfect blend of sights and sounds, including the whip-poor-wills.

              Seeing the ambulance corps in camp made me think that the boys back then would have thought- this is no camp relocation, it's "on".

              Watching the teamsters moving the wagons out of camp while we waited in column....how many times did that happen during the war?

              -Watching the companies roll out of the darkness of the wooded road, into the field, going into a column of companies and then into line of battle was awesome. I could hear Jeremy Brandt directing his skirmish line off in the distance. I listened to the captains give their commands, I could hear Mike Clarke helping the captains with their direction in the darkness. And then you guys formed a double column in darkness as well. Really, really something special fellows!



              So, in closing, again, thank you- all of you- no matter your role. Each of you played a distinct part in an incredible effort to portray- "the soldier's experience".



              Fred Rickard
              Michael Clarke
              Liberty Rifles
              True Blues
              Black Hats

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

                A quick thought from the teamster perspective of the event. Warlike was a smashing success to us because we were utilized. 21 horses and mules came to Locust Grove, Virginia and did more than just sit tied to a picket rope. From removing excess baggage in camp as ordered to filling the wagons up to the top edges of the boxes with the entire camp’s baggage and moving with the army, we had a job. We didn’t just pull empty wagons around for show or give stragglers rides in the wagon.

                This may seem like a no brainer, but too many times we’ve heard events tell us that we can do whatever we want. What this tells us is that you don’t have a real plan on what we will do or how to employ us, but you like the idea of us. (This applies to horse drawn artillery as well as wagons).

                For all those out there organizing events in the future; give us a job! Employ us! If you don’t know how to, give us an idea of what you’d like done and we can make a plan. What does history say we are to do? Don’t be afraid to make us work!

                Dan Chmelar
                Dan Chmelar
                Semper Fi
                -ONV
                -WIG
                -CIR!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Warlike Along the Rapidan - An Epic AAR for an Epic Event

                  Originally posted by Eric Tipton View Post
                  [ATTACH=CONFIG]53263[/ATTACH]
                  INTRODUCTION - A PROGRESSION


                  This is the third Liberty Rifles event I have attended in the last two years. Last year was Sailor's Creek, then Prelude to Invasion and this past weekend, it was Warlike Along the Rapidan. I have to say that Warlike topped the other two. The camp was once again outstanding. At Prelude, for the first time, we saw a full complement of handmade Confederate fly tents and wondered how that could be topped. Well, this time, we STARTED with the same fly tents for what looked to be another relaxing weekend sheltered from the elements. That was where the real twist made this year's event better than the last two, but I will get to that shortly.

                  FRIDAY - READY TO GO

                  Registration was easy. Parking was more than adequate. Seth Hancock and I made the journey to Virginia together and we arrived around 2:30 PM. Seth gathered some items he had purchased through the event Bully Buys and I picked up the trousers, belt and cap pouch that I borrowed from Mike Clarke. After loitering in the parking lot for a short while, we endeavored to catch the next shuttle to the camp site. We were told that the shuttle ride would be around five miles... which it was. I wondered aloud as we traveled down the road if we were going to walk back on Sunday or be shuttled back. "It would be quite a march." I thought.

                  Upon arriving at our destination, we sauntered down a grass trail and soon saw the fly tents through a row of trees up ahead. The forecast called for rain this weekend, so the tents were a welcome sight. We quickly set up with our tent mates of Company "H", the Winchester Boomerangs (LOVE the name). We would be commanded for the weekend by our good friend, Andrew Jerram, who was taking the place of another good friend, Tyler Underwood who wasn't able to make the event. Our First Sergeant was Johnny Lloyd who we had worked with several times before. William "Huck" Green would be our cook, so we knew we were in good hands there. Seth and I served as corporals for the weekend and the most difficult part of it was sewing the stripes on our jackets, which we were not used to since we typically portray Yankees. Besides, most of the boys in our company were experienced soldiers who had little need for overbearing care.

                  After a quick wood detail and getting good and comfortable inside our palatial residence, we were informed that our three tents were in the wrong location and would need to be moved IMMEDIATELY. As in NOW. We did our best disgruntled soldier impression, cursing the "powers that be" who would dare interrupt our late afternoon reverie, but did as told and soon our tents were in the proper position and all was right with the world again.

                  I kind of missed the first company formation as I was busy "assisting" Guy Musgrove and the teamsters. We talked about old times and old friends and gazed around the camp. Across the field, my company was formed up and I had to decide whether to crash it or stay away. I asked our colonel for a pass back to my company, which was politely declined. Soooo, I sat that one out and slinked back amongst my comrades at its conclusion.

                  Not long after that, I was summoned to the regimental commissary for a ration detail. Our old friend, and honorary Mess No. 1 member, Mark Susnis was running the commissary, as he does so well and wanted us to weigh the bacon and coffee ration to hand out to each company. We did so, with a period scale. Eight pounds of bacon for each company and two tin cup-fulls of ground coffee.

                  I laid down to snooze a bit and was rudely awakened as Jordan Ricketts "accidentally" tripped over my slumbering form. Our tent population was now set. Time to get a good night's sleep knowing that if the rains came, we would be lulled back to sleep by the soothing sounds of rain drops hitting the canvas without falling upon us, which is exactly what happened. I don't know what time it was, but I startled awake in the darkness and listened as a light shower passed through our camp. I smiled and rolled over to the other side, snug, warm and dry. THIS was going to be a relaxing weekend for sure.

                  SATURDAY - DRILL, DRILL, AND MORE DRILL

                  Saturday morning, Huck dutifully prepared our coffee, which is always welcome and soon, we formed our company and performed some manual of arms. This weekend, we were stacking arms using the "Kentucky Swing", which was great because the first two years or so of my living history "career" that is what we did. Even better, I was the front rank two, so I had the chance to practice my art. Very satisfying to properly swing that third rifle through to the front. I always like the swing. So smooth. After finishing our company drill, the rumors started to circulate that we might be moving at some point today. Participating in this exercise of speculation is a very period thing and I thought all of us did it quite well throughout the day. I may have even started some rumors myself. ;)

                  Not long after our manual-of-arms exercise, we broke into two platoons and practiced elementary movements. Right-face, left-face, wheels, stack arms, etc... etc. Gotta say that I have done my share of drill over the years. The last two years, I have probably done more drill at LR events than I have at all over events combined over that same period. You boys like your drill. Good thing. Lots of young faces at this event. Also a good thing.

                  After an all-too-brief period of "down time", we were back at it again. This time, it was drilling the entire battalion and thankfully, in our shirt sleeves in what was now a very hot day with the sun beating down on us. Now, as I said before, I generally know my drill. Done it in fourteen different states, three different theaters of war, portraying many different regiments... Hardees, Casey's and yes, even Scott's. But by gawd the LR's have mastered three sentence commands. You always know when the officers have dug deep into the manual when every command contains three sentences. And let's face it, most privates, if not most NCO's have an attention span of about a sentence or so when it comes to commands, but ya know, once we did it once I felt like the whole battalion nailed it. We move to-and-fro through the tall grass. Solid, straight lines. Sharp wheels. Company "H" was stellar. Seth and I were middle corporals and very little direction was necessary. It was clear that ALL of the companies came with their "A" game this weekend. And that... is where the sneezing began.

                  In what we then dubbed "Hay Fever Field", we were kicking up the pollen pretty good. You could literally see it floating through the air. At stops, it seemed as if half of the regiment was sneezing, blowing out or sucking down mucus and just generally in a miserable way. Never heard so much commotion in all of my years of living history. A few of the boys in our company were laughing so hard, I caught a giggle as well, and that is when the little itch started inside my nose. I soon joined the ranks of the sneezers and mucus-bearers. A good farmer blow cleared me out pretty good, but the cacophonous roar of the sneeze continued in Hay Fever Field for the remainder of the exercise.

                  We retired back to camp again. This time in a full-on, drenched down to the drawers sweat. The shade of the tent beckoned me inside. The open ends on either end offered a slight breeze. It was impossible not to doze off again... in our nice, comfortable abode. Ahhhhh.

                  I awoke to the sound of "fall-in" as the boys of Company "H" put on their traps to go out for another round of battalion drill. As before, the commands were each volumes of words unto themselves. I don't remember the exact commands, but for those of you who were not there, or not used to the more obscure or seldom-heard variety, it goes something like this, "on the left of columns to form companies to the right of the middle company into line, after the last company, march!" It's an exaggeration of course, but to those of us not among the echelon of well-bred and superior officers, that's about what it sounds like.

                  Once again, Hay Fever Field took its toll of casualties. Some of the fellows were gasping, hacking, coughing again, but we once again acquitted ourselves very well. After several iterations, Mr. Clarke was somewhat satisfied and said we would do it one more time, just to make sure we got it. After several more "one-times", we had it down. This pattern was repeated several times until it felt like we could do this stuff in the dark... if we had to...

                  Clouds were starting to roll in a bit at this point. Nothing ominous, but the hot sun was slowly being replaced by a cooler temperature with a nice breeze, so Seth and I decided to wander around the camp a bit to visit and find out if the rumors were true that we were going to move out soon. Certainly, they wouldn't take us away from our wonderfully-comfortable canvas barracks, right? After many inquiries, including a stop with the Liberty Rifles themselves, it was obvious that no one was going to give up the ghost. Whether we were going to move or not remained a mystery to us lowly soldiers.

                  Well, that changed at parade a little later on. This time, we went out in light marching order, looking smart in our matching jackets and variety of trousers. As a guy who typically does Federal, this wasn't too far off. I always say that every time I do Confederate, I feel like I woke up in the wrong camp. Not so much this weekend with the variety of blue and blue-gray Richmond Depot jackets, but I digress. Why talk gear when we need to get to the nub of the business at-hand?

                  Mr. Schneider read our orders and at long last, our destination was known. We would be breaking down our tents - our glorious, tents and horror of all horrors, we would be cutting some of them into squares! The camp came alive with activity as stakes were pulled, frames came down and canvas was folded with cookware in the middle. Each bundle was marked with charcoal from the fire and we hastened to take them to the wagons where they would apparently accompany us on our journey. Where, we weren't quite sure, but our camp was no more. When we were finished it looked like the sad remains of a once-thriving community. We didn't have long to mourn the loss of our adopted home. As dusk fell, we formed up and moved out - clouds blocking the light of the stars and the moon as the breeze began to pick up a bit. A nice night for a march!

                  SATURDAY NIGHT - MOVING OUT

                  We moved as if Satan himself was at our heels. In a column of fours, we clambered over the rutted, dirt road. Every man with an occasional stumble and several with a trip or fall. We were either rushing toward or away from something. For those of us in the rank-and-file, we couldn't be sure which.

                  By our estimation, we arrived about two miles down the road at what was either our destination, or just a respite before continuing the march. To our surprise, a wagon was awaiting us and we were issued hardtack. I took a few pieces and fell back into line. We weren't there long. "Something is up ahead", I thought. "Wait, was that a rain drop?"

                  Well, as with most things over this weekend, I was dead wrong. Instead of moving forward, we turned and marched right back the direction we had just traversed. "Certainly, this is a mistake" I muttered out loud. Either we were lost, or the officers had gone stark raving mad. We weren't sure which.

                  This time, we went into a column of twos, which was much more manageable because we could each be in a rut on either side of the rise in the middle of the road. We moved just a little slower than we had when going the other direction until we arrived in... holy crap, it's Hay Fever Field!

                  All you could see were the black outlines of what looked like groups of soldiers, or maybe it was a tree line? We moved out into the field and somehow found the end of the line where we were supposed to be. I guess all of that drill paid off, almost like they planned this... hmmm. "Was that a rain drop?"

                  We stacked arms in the dark and waited to see what was going to happen. Would we stay here? Were there Yankees out in front of us? Were we going on picket? Captain Jerram came over to our group and proudly exclaimed that we would be kept in reserve for the time-being and were free to rest. Ah, now THAT was the order we had been waiting for since the sun went down. Certainly we would get a good night's rest now as it had cooled considerably and we were flat worn-out. We laid down right at the foot of the stacks. Seth and I shared a groundcloth and dutifully covered ourselves with our gum blankets just in case it rained. I made the decision to sleep on top of the blanket I had borrowed from Ken Cornett. Seth put his inside his knapsack. A minor decision at that point, but an important one later.

                  I don't know how long we slept, but eventually, I was awakened by a soft rain falling on my gum blanket. All of my gear was underneath my gum and I was curled up with all corners down. The rain fell harmlessly off of me and I smiled and fell back asleep, comforted with the knowledge that I was well-prepared for the night.

                  For those who were there, you know what happened next. I think it was around midnight when I was roused by a loud noise. Large rain drops were now falling, slowly at first, but definitely at a steadier pace than earlier, and then, the skies just plain opened up on us. It was as if a giant had poured a bucket on the entire regiment. The sound of the drops hitting my gum blanket was deafening. Eventually, they started splashing THROUGH the microscopic holes in the vulcanized rubber. Tiny droplets hit the side of my face, BUT I was still dry! I could hear the muffled anguish all around me. Every known curse was uttered. Misery abounded. Dry inside my cocoon, I began to giggle and couldn't stop. We were absolutely stuck. Our cars were miles away. There was no escape!

                  It was right about that moment that I felt a cold sensation start at my shoulder and continue down the left side of my body, which is the side I was sleeping on at the time the deluge began. Very quickly that entire side was saturated. And, goddamit, I was sleeping ON TOP of the blanket I had borrowed, which was now, quite certainly UNDER WATER! I don't know if the squall lasted five minutes, ten minutes or a half hour, but when it was done, it had wreaked its havoc. We were all, irrevocably soaked.

                  Slowly, all of us stood up to survey the damage. More curses were uttered. Some were despondent. Some were upset or chagrined and some were just plain mad. Fortunately, some industrious fellows got fires going, using some hay intended for the horses, I guess. There were three fires with a couple of dozen around each fire. Things were getting back into order, at least as much as they could. We DUMPED out the water from our ground cloth and then Stephen Pavey helped me WRING OUT Ken's blanket. Everyone stood around the fires and attempted to get their things dry. This went on for maybe an hour or more until Seth and I determined that we were going back to sleep, wet or not. We laid down on our still-soaked groundcloth, and I put the wet blanket over me with the wetter gum blanket on top. After a few minutes of cool wetness, everything at least transitioned to a warm wetness and we fell asleep.

                  SUNDAY MORNING - LET'S GO!

                  Suddenly, we were awakened by the sounds of shouting. "We are moving out!" "Get up!" The shock of suddenly waking up was only surpassed by the feeling of wetness that remained. As we packed up our things, it was obvious that it was going to weigh roughly twice as much as it did the night before. Lovely. Just lovely. Captain Jerram informed us that we were headed out. There was a hard rain coming at around 7:00 AM and they wanted to get everyone on their way home. A very, very good call by the organizers in my opinion. I don't know what was planned for the morning, but I do know that everyone to a man agreed that it was time to skedaddle.

                  OK, here is the last little surprise. All the while, we were TWO FIELDS away from our cars! The five miles we traveled on the shuttle were simply a mirage. Apparently, we went in a circle. Brilliant! Absolutely, freakin' BRILLIANT! As an event organizer and frequent participant at EBUFU events, one of my pet peeves in recent years has been the tendency for events to end on Saturday night. The fact that they made the decision to keep us overnight to Sunday was the right decision, rainstorm or not. We all stuck it out. Maybe we would have anyway, but thinking that our cars were miles away did the trick and hell, the best memories are made with moments like that storm. Whenever we all get rained on again, the new bar for being soaked will be Warlike.

                  When we arrived back at the parking area, the LR's gave an abbreviated speech and basically told us to get the hell out of there, to which we happily obliged, because the rain had started again and would continue in the area for the next few hours. By 8:00 AM, Seth and I had checked into the Courtyard Marriot in Fredericksburg and after a shower and littering our room with wet gear, we were able to enjoy the view of the rain along the Rappahannock River as we sat comfortably inside, drank coffee and wolfed down an excellent brunch.

                  CONCLUSION

                  Warlike Along the Rapidan was an excellent event. As with each of the LR events I have personally attended, it was well-planned and obviously based very accurately on the history. They took great pains to recreate everything - the wagons, tents, camp set-ups, stretchers, ambulance corps, camp layout, schedule, and rations, everything that you could imagine an EBUFU event to be. All of this was first-rate.

                  The scenario was also very well-conceived. As someone who has written and researched for events, I know that it sounds easy to just write down what happened, but it is about finding the details and executing those details where great events are made and this is truly the case for Warlike. On top of that, they kept the scenario under wraps and that kept us on our toes all weekend. I will confess that when I am an attendee at an event, I often intentionally read everything that is put out up to the point that the event begins. I try to get the background, but don't want to know exactly what is going to happen, because let's face it, the originals didn't know either. Most times, all they knew were rumors, half-truths and whatever was right in front of them. So, in my opinion, the scenario was also excellent. They took something that is really pretty simple on paper and maximized the experience.

                  OK, I have to say something at least constructively critical, right? Only one thing. Just one. I think the pre-event correspondence could have been reduced by about half. Between FB messages, e-mails, text messages, etc, it got a little overwhelming leading up to the event, especially when I was busy at work and my phone is going off as my boss wonders if it is business related, or "that Civil War" stuff. I fully-realize that a TON of preparation was done and it was certainly disseminated, but less is more sometimes and this is probably the case on this point. So, in terms of overall preparation - A+++++. But, just remember that we all have real lives too, k?

                  Overall, Warlike Along the Rapidan was just outstanding. I don't hesitate to say that the Liberty Rifles have certainly made a huge impact to the EBUFU Event schedule over the last couple of years. Between the LR's and all of the events the Independent Rifles have done recently, there is a solid foundation. Additionally, many others have stepped up with some regional efforts that show promise for bigger things to come.

                  And lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't say that that Mess No. 1 and the Governor Guards will do our damnest to finish off this year with a bang. 2019 is really turning into a great year for all of us in the Authentic Community. I am somewhat concerned that 2020 can top it. Please prove me wrong and contact me to let me know what is happening for next year and the AC will once again trumpet your events to the fullest extent possible. Let’s continue our momentum and kick ass and grow!
                  That's a wonderful AAR of what sounds like a fantastic event, Eric. I'm glad to see the hobby progressing ever further, with AARs to match... ;)
                  Michael A. Schaffner

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