With the March camp of instruction getting snowed out, we began the season camping with the Boy Scouts at Broad Creek Scout Reservation in northern Maryland. Doing demos for 6-12 scouts at a time, we kept real busy all day Saturday getting through some 200 of them. The scouts seemed to enjoy it all, and very definately liked the horses.
Neshaminy State Park, Bensalem PA, April 29-May 1.
Our mission at Neshaminy was to expose the horses, specifically Levi and Skipper to a large scale event to open the season and prep them for McDowell. On that note the event was very sucessful. Levi performed as if a long time veteran and was practically bomb-proof. Skipper did far better than expected and though he tensed up or balked a little now and then, he stayed level headed and did as he was asked.
We also had along John Tobie, of the Columbia Rifles who also was being exposed, for the first time, to reenacting as a cavalryman. Again the result was very sucessful. John had made his saddle and tack and despite not having ridden for a very long time, did extremely well and fit right in.
Overall, the event was no more, or less than expected. The park has some interesting ground to ride, which is why we go there. The participants are, well, "mainstream" but no one can call them unfriendly. Our camp neighbors, the Garibaldi Guard, fed us rolls and meatballs that were most excellent as we sat out a looong rainy Saturday night, and many folks came along to graciously compliment our appearance and performance.
The reenactment was nothing to write about. The usual stand too close in a field and shoot at each other thing with us darting from one flank to another. The thing that stood out most was the rain which it did off-and-on all day Saturday and almost continually Saturday night into Sunday morning. Late Sunday morning the sun came out and we were able to dry everything out. Considering McDowell was the very next weekend, that was a very welcome circumstance.
McDowell VA, May 6-8.
This was the second major event of the season and of a three consecutive weekend run of events. For most of us this was also our second visit to McDowell. If there was any major difference it was the weather. Two years ago it was rainy and gloomey while this event benefitted from fine weather with only a minor shower during Saturday night - hardly enough to get anything wet.
Arriving nearly at the same time Friday, we set about gearing and tacking up, moving the camp equipment to the site via the virtual supply wagons, and scoping out the water source, surrounding area, etc.
Saturday involved a scout up Sitlington Hill to locate a fallen tree for a work detail to remove and cover their removal of it when they arrived. We proceeded to man-handle the tree off the path ourselves. John Nolan and Lester joined our band at this point and we all continued to scout the trail to the top of the Hill with the goal of determining if the ground would prevent our accompanying the brigade in Sunday's action. We returned to camp and reported the path cleared and no obstacles found to prevent the cavalry from joining the brigade on Sunday. We then went to drill for a time in the field next to town, then went into town to look around. We stopped to talk with our civilians for a while, and watched the museum dedication. We then returned to camp to receive our ration issue.
We formed up just before 3pm and headed back to the field for the 4pm battle. We were assigned to screen the left flank within a grove of trees. Fell back before a company of infantry until they were obliged to retire as their supports were pushed away from them. We then moved to the right flank when another body of Confederates entered the field from the right rear. Afterward, Sgt Craig took part of the detachment on a patrol to Possum Hollow while the rest returned to camp.
Early Sunday we were up and mounted to lead the advance up Sitlington Hill. Scouting ahead we waited at various points for the advance guard to come up so we could show them the path to take. Then, very near the top, we finally encountered Confederate pickets. The Confederates moved several companies down the slope that flanked the road as the advance guard came up and engaged them. As the main body came up the 82 OH fought them back so the rest of the column could pass on the road behind them. We pushed into a wooded slope on the right against Confederate flankers, then joined the tail of the column on the road to the hilltop. When the entire brigade had moved onto the slope and cleared the road, we then moved to the left flank. At this point the battled ended because the infantry had expended their ammunition.
All then moved to the hilltop for a ceremony and a bit of speechifying, then back down the hill to camp to pack up and head for home.
Again, all the horses did very well, especially Skipper and Levi who are the newest at this. Everyone did well and the unit was complimented by command and many others for it's appearance and it's performance.
National Civil War Museum, Harrisburg PA, May 14-15.
Three straight weekends of CW events culminated with a weekend at the National Civil War Museum at Harrisburg PA.
Attended by John C, Dave M, Bill K, with guest appearances by Joe B & Larry R on Saturday, and Josh B on Sunday.
For various reasons, we were camped away from the rest of the crowd. That was a good thing actually. We had a great site next to the trees, with a fine view, and open space.
The reasons we were given involved the fact that the other folks were camped on top of the cisterns that held the city's water supply. One version held that they didn't want horse crap and pee soaking through into it, and another claimed our galloping about would set off sensors that would bring the Homeland Security people running. Either way we were camped separate from the infantry, artillery, and others on the shadeless plateau.
The downside of that was a lot of folks apparently didn't know we were there so we didn't get a lot of visitors.
We made the best of it, riding around, talking to the folks that did find us, and enjoying our quiet camp. The edge of a thunder storm blew through Saturday night, and now-and-then showers ran through - none of which was really unpleasent, nor did it get hot, cold, or buggy.
We were the first horses ever on the site which we're told took a lot of doing to push through. The museum was pleased with us, as was the Mayor of Harrisburg who came out and told us so in person - though we didn't know who it was at the time. So I think we'll very likely be asked to come again.
Bugle #8 ~ Bugle #10