We arrived after dark on Friday and found our way to camp which was nicely located in a thick, grassy area with lots of downed wood very close by. We were off the beaten track enough to have a nice camp, without being way out. There was also a very large, nicely laid out civilian camp only a couple hundred yards away. We were within site of the river and bridge, but out of site of most modern items. Civilian camp was around the Mill and few other buildings the park had. There was one modern food vendor and a couple very small sutlers. The lack of sutlers was probably the main down side of the event.
The Army of the Ohio composed one company. We were made up of members from the 14th, 21st, 30th and 91st OVI's, making a company of a dozen or so commanded by Captain (normally Major) Scott Sharp. It was a good chance for folks from various groups to 'share a fire' and get to know each other better. Overall there were probably 50-60 Union infantry and maybe slighty more Confederates. There were 7 cavalry who performed very ably during the tactical for each side and 2 cannon used only in the Sunday spectator battle. We were commanded by Will Eichler from Michigan, who did an oustanding job. I was his 2nd in command and was very impressed serving with him. The Confederates were more than ably commanded by Col. Nick Medich.
Sat. reveille was at 7, with us forming up for the tactical at 9 a.m. Using the large amount of area available to us, we spent the next 6 hours in the field. The scenarios varied on who was searching for whom over terrain ranging from open, grassy fields to ravines and woods. There were no scripts, we would just feel our way along until we found the enemy and then we would fight. When things became too close, or a stalemate developed we would go our separate ways and start over. There was a wonderfully noticeable absence of cowboyism (is that a word...) and a good deal of mutual respect. Sometimes we gave better than we got, other times we took more than we gave. Maybe most impressively was we gave the Confederates a 10 minute head start before the last scenario. By the time we were able to locate them they had built works across their entire front about chest high!!! We also took about an hour lunch break in the field, building small cook fires and relaxing. With tacticals end at 3 p.m. we marched back to the village with the Confederates, listened to a few mins. of speechifying and then as at Wildwood, spent some time shaking hands with the Confederates. That mutual respect is so good for the hobby, I was pleased to see it. There was no Sat. spectator battle so the evening was spent in various pursuits as we were left to our own devices. Major Sharp and I were able to spend about 45 mins. with Col. Medich, he seems to respect our battalion very much and looks forward to working with us again.
Sat. evening was again very crisp, but Sunday, as Saturday had, dawned clear and spectacular. The leaves were in dazzling color making for a pleasant and picturesque weekend. Daytime temps were around 55-60 and felt perfect. Sunday morning after breakfast Col. Eichler took us out for some battalion drill, which he very capably led. This consisted of things we were going to use for the battle (a novel idea, that many officers can't seem to grasp) and a walk thru to clear some obstacles for safety's sake. After drill consisted of typical packing up and getting ready to bail as soon as the battle was done.
For the battle we were portraying the 4th Michigan at Shepherdstown, MD. The plan was laid out very well to replicate the battle in which the 4th MI crossed a creek and captured 2 guns. Sadly, there were just a few too many Confederates to allow for this to be done and look real good. We performed the script pretty close to what was called for, but realistically we'd have never gotten across the creek in the face of the superior numbes they had with the 2 guns. That is the downside of trying to do a certain battle, if the numbers don't jibe it doesn't look as good as it could. On the plus side, it was a real rush crossing the knee high creek, under fire and trying to get guys up the steep bank on the other side under fire. I applaud the organizers for trying to recreate something very accurately and also for raising over $900 for preservation of the Shepherdstown site.
All in all this was an excellent event that I would highly recommend. We were treated very well, both sides were led very well with mutual respect and the site is outstanding. Certainly worth considering to maybe get a wing or even the full battalion to in the future.
Colonel Bob Minton
Commander, Army Of The Ohio
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