2004 was a big year for 1st Maine. The unit has grown not only in membership, but also in ability, confidence, quality, and reputation. 2004 also marked the first year we did the majority of our events on horseback.
The last newsletter had us preparing for Recon 3, Into the Wilderness. We opened the season with a camp of instruction early in April that looked very much like an old episode of F-Troop, but despite comical appearances was very productive.
Recon 3 itself was, for us, a shining success. Nine of us rode in the event with 2 from the
1st Massachsetts over what seemed to be every inch of the Brandy Station site. 3 of the 1st Mass attended on
foot and found employment with the wagons, learning a great deal. Some interaction with the civilians and
a scuffle with the Critter Company rounded out Saturday. Sunday followed a “9 hour shower” and was
capped by a glorious charge against infantry that impressed all that saw it, ourselves included.
The rest of the year consisted of nearly all small living history events; Goose Creek, Mount Zion, Union Mills, City Point, Sky Meadows, Remembrance Day and several small things attended by one or two of us; Kernstown, Five Forks, Rockville, Christmas at Union Mills, etc. The next big event for us was to be Burkittsville in September, but that event was postponed to 2005 - and so it goes.
A leisurely October ride, in uniform, to Prettyboy Resivoir and back will forever be known as "The Wicked Hardcore Ride" by the three of us that did it. Following a washed out trail up Gunpowder Falls resulted in Chance up to his chest in mud and retracing our steps. A missed turn headed home added a loop into Pennsylvania and not getting back home until after dark. Had there been some shooting along the 16 mile trek, it would have been a hell of an event.
August saw us at City Point in Hopewell VA. Guarding prisoners was the theme here as well, with 1st Maine taking a more active roll in guard duty.
Mount Zion's Eyewitness to War living history in June saw 9 of us mounted and doing public demonstrations.
Union Mills was organized and hosted by 1st Maine. With members of the 1st MN and 83rd PA serving as the 4th NJ escorting prisoners from the battle of Gettysburg to Westminster and stopping to rest at Union Mills. We arranged a 2 mile march along Saw Mill Road to the homestead and spent the rest of the weekend doing demos and talking to folks.
A season of relatively light events actually worked in our favor. With several new horses and people new to horses, it gave us time to acclimate and learn without the pressure of a lot of big events. Toward that end we rode every chance we got between events. Short rides around my place at Lineboro, at Don Warlick's in September, the 16 mile Wicked Hardcore Ride in October, our annual Gettysburg trail ride after Thanksgiving, and any other excuse to get time in the saddle.
The Monday following Recon 3, I brought home Skipper, the horse I had bought nearly a month before. John Clark's old quarterhorse Chance joined Skipper a week later. Late in October Dave Myrick found Levi at an Equine Rescue, and he joined Chance & Skipper at Passing Wind Farm.
The horses deserve as much credit for making 1st Maine what it is as any 2-legged member, so early on, they got their own page in the photo section of the website.
A fine weekend in November was spent at Sky Meadows state park in Virginia. Beyond the living history for the park, we went on a ride on the trails in the midst of a judged trail ride with a Wizard of Oz theme. The Flying Monkeys gave up without much of a fight once they saw firearms.
Since Gettysburg will require a $100 per horse deposit beginning in 2005 to take part in the Remembrance Day Parade, we decided to do a proper mounted color guard this year as it may be the last time we could. With Larry Raskin of the 5th US Cavalry along, 8 of us rode in the parade in full regs looking sharp as knives with our fine colors flying.
A 1st Maine tradition is to ride the Gettysburg trails on the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year the weather was excellent as was the turn-out.
Early December saw a few of us at Union Mills during the day, then at our annual meeting that evening. For 1st Maine this year's meeting was an historic moment as the unit voted to join an "umbrella organization" for the first time in it's existance. We are now members of the Potomac Legion, a collection of authenticity oriented units including our long time friends the 1st Minnesota and the 83rd Pennsylvania. As a cavalry unit our membership rounds out the "Legion." As an organization of quality units, the invitation to join is a compliment to our efforts
Our focus all year was to do everything as preparation for Lee's Final Retreat a cross country event ending at the Sailor's Creek battlefield. Unfortunately, LFR was cancelled in February 05. While the cancellation was a great disappointment, our focus during the year moved the unit along at an accelerated rate and we go into 2005 charged and ready.
2005 promises to be a busy year. Beginning with Neshaminy as a warm-up for McDowell, Eyewitness to War at Mosby's Run for Mt Zion, hosting Union Mills again, Summer of 62 at Boonesboro, and Burkittsville - it should be a good year.
Bugle #7 ~ Bugle #9