Fall - 2009 Number 12
50 Years of Living History
Bunker 1974
Bunker 2009
When you're a long time member of a unit as old as ours, you tend to look back and think of all the people that have come and gone and the times you had with those people. A great many people have passed through the ranks of this organization in the fifty years of it's existance, and the memories of the events, incidents, and shared moments are uncountable. Some of those people stayed a very short time - a few came and went so quickly I never noticed them. Some served in the ranks for years and even decades. But only one person has been here from the beginning; the man that founded the unit, Steve Bunker.

Bunker was in his middle teens when he and some freinds started what would be the 2nd Maine Cavalry. When I joined in 1976, that unit had already existed for 16 years, and had a history all it's own. Today, 33 years further along, the unit is still going strong, and Bunker's still here and going strong too.

For the longest time, Bunker not only commanded the unit, he held it up. If you didn't have something, Bunker set you up; uniform, weapons, accoutrements - you got into the field equipped and ready for action. For a lot of folks, reenacting didn't take, but they had a chance to try. Other, myself included, were hooked and stuck with it.

While correct arms and equipments are important, Bunker has never been a hard-liner, ram-rod up his ass type of leader. He's much more casual than that. A Vietnam veteran, he's had his fill of military snap and polish, and hard line rules, and I've never known him to try to inflict it on anyone else. Instead he instilled a spirit of brotherhood, a respect for the unit we represent, and the history we portray. Stories and humor are the rule, all usually with a subtle lesson. Ok, sometimes not so subtle; like the fellow that was smoking a cigarette while filling cartridges from a bowl of powder. None-the-less, Bunker has always kept the unit to the course. Even as others have stepped up to command in the field, run the business of the organization, and taken over the helm to guide the unit into it's future, Bunker had set the tone and the philosophy that kept us an active organization for half a century as the conscience of the 1st Maine.

Since 2005

The last Bugle was posted at the end of 2005. Ok, so I'm a slow writer. Two issues got out under someone else, but then it came back to me, and it's not a job I'm suited for. So let me pick up where I left off, 4 years ago...


Hodge March 2006
Neshaminy 2007
In many ways 2004 was the year we became a cavalry unit. In 2005 we had settled into the job and were getting good at it. In 2006 things slowed down a pace or two. Though the unit did fewer events, what we did and how we did it continued to improve. The unit had a light turn out for Neshaminy in April and The Elmira Death March in September. The event that made 2006 memorable was in October, in Loudon County Virginia. After a Friday night of heavy rain we rode from East of Philomont to Welbourne Manor near Middleburg Virginia - skirmishing with the Valley Light Horse all the way. In the middle of it was the villiage of Unison which was celebrating the battle that took place there in 1862 and that it's surroundings were just being desigated a National Historic Battlefield. There was quite a feast as the cavalry of both sides demonstrated for the locals. Then we moved on and skirmished almost to Welbourne. As darkness approached, we marched on to Welbourne as a squal line passed over us. We camped at the big barn behind Welbourne and rode back to Philomont Sunday monrning.

We had ridden miles and miles over the weekend, living out of the saddle. We were cavalrymen, tired, sore, wornout, happy cavalrymen.


Neshaminy 2007
Neshaminy 2007
We had very good turn-out for Neshaminy this year, and put it to good use. We were up before dawn, in the saddle and out drilling before the rest of the camps were beginning to stir. Despite being a "mainstream" event with all the adornments and paraphilnailia of such things; big tents, cots, coolers, fire grates, women, children, etc - we still lived out of the saddle for the weekend. We drilled at every pace and formation in the manual, then headed out to ride the trails along the river. We took part in the reenactment riding about and hunting down the Confederate cavalry where ever they would hide.

In August we were in Elmira again for the "Death March." Only five of us made it with Dave Myrick and John Tobie riding Confederate.

"September Storm" was held at the same Boonesboro Marland site that "Summer of '62" was in 2005.

1st Maine's Bugler
Bugler Doyan
In early October we returned to Loudon County for the event dubbed this year as "October 1862." Two new members joined our ranks, Ken Doyan and Andrew Standeven, both from Massachusetts. Ken plays the trumpet and has been our bugler since - which has added a whole new dimention to our portrayal. This year we started a little closer to Philomont than in 06, but we rode and fought all the way to Goose Creek bridge at US 50 near Middleburg, and then rode back again on Sunday. Despite being the same event, over most of the same ground, we covered more miles, and new ground we hadn't been over before. Two weeks later some of us returned to take part in Unison Day in support of their event as thanks for supporting ours.


This year started with a return, in a small way, to President Street Station, The Civil War Museum in Baltimore. A small ceremony marked the unveiling of a pair of bronze plaques made by Louis Turner's father in the 1960s and finally affixed to the building. (see Bugle #1)

A small contingent went to Neshaminy this time, but performed good service, riding and fighting hard as is becoming our reputation.

In May a small group of us participated in a multi-time period military living history encampment at the US Army Heritage Center in Carlise PA.

Seven of the boys joined by two fellows from the mid-west fell in for "At High Tide" near Gettysburg, PA.

The column rides into Unison
Unison 2008

Dillon being escorted back

The end of October saw us return to Loudon county and Unison. This year joined by friends from Teennesse and Iowa we fielded 18 troopers with Tom heading us up as captain. Three young fellas, Bill Backus, John Fable, and Caleb Horton, joined us for their first real cavalry event. The event was all we could want it to have been. Riding and skirmishing, a stop in Unison for their celebration, and a bit more fighting with the Rebs.

As we camped in the woods on a farm just west of Unison called Fiddler's Green sometime after midnight on November 2nd, our long time friend and compatriot, Bill King, passed away in his sleep. When Bill didn't respond for roll call we went to see what was wrong. A ambulance was called and paramedics tried to revive him to no avail.

In shock we gathered ourselves up and packed our gear, and his. It was decided to march back and five men were detailed as escort for Bill's horse Dillon. His effects were packed and his boots placed in the reversed stirrups. Quietly, solemly, we marched back to Philomont.

Bill King
Bill King
Bill had never been in the best of health. He was a truck driver for Summerville Lumbar Company in Massachusetts until his disability in 1987. He was a life-long diabetic and in 2006 he suffered a heart attack, and that is what would take him from us for good this time. Never-the-less, his determination to "enjoy whatever life he had left" kept him at the front of the column and at the head of the charge. His humor, often sarcastic, is how we remember him most, and will be sorely missed. He left this life after a great day in the field, happy and joking with his friends, doing what he enjoyed, and as is fitting for a cavalryman, at a place called Fiddler's Green.

Later in Novemeber a wake was held for Bill at the American Legion post in Gettysburg where his friends said goodbye and and paid our respects to his wife, Patty.


Guarding the skirmishers flank
at Neshaminy
Neshaminy 2009
The nine of us at Neshaminy this year all had Bill on our minds. There's a big hole where his sarcasim ought to have been. Patty came to visit us at the event. We did our thing in the event, as usual, this time backed up by more Federal cavalry bringing the total to about 25.

In May we went to Welbourne for a tacticle event on the several hundred acres between the manor and Goose Creek Bridge. With an infantry contingent of the Liberty Rifles led by Jeff Hayes, we battled with the 1st Maryland cavalry and the Valley Light Horse representing Mosby's men. Again, it was another fine event where we got to ride hard and fight hard. Plans are in the works to do it again in 2010.

Your editor is originally from Rhode Island, though he lives in Maryland. In September I decided to travel up to my birthblace and participate in the small reenactment in the town of Lincoln. It was an 8 hour drive in the rain, towing a horse trailer, and paying an ungodly amount in tolls and gas, but I went to support our New England boys who so often drive to Virginia.

Looked forward to all year, October finally arrived and we again fought across Loudon county from Philomont to Pantherskin Creek. Some slight rain Friday night was gone by morning and the weekend went as perfectly as anyone could ask. Jerry Ross, Nathan Harrington, and Dan Chmelar, from "out west" and rode with us last year, this year rode Confederate with the VLH and 1st MD. That made 16 Reb cavalry for us to face with 11 troopers and 4 very game infantrymen.

Saturday evening we camped at Fiddler's Green and placed a plaque on a tree near the spot where Bill had died. We held a small ceremony and three men fired a salute as we remembered our comrade.

On Sunday the VLH had left, but the 1st MD and the western fellas stayed and we fought them through the woods on the South Fork of Beaverdam Creek through to Welborne's property. After a morning of fighting, then posing for pictures at Welbourne, we marched back to Philomont. Planning is in the works to have more infantry in 2010.

The Battle of Unison
Unison 2009

As of this writing, 5 of the boys are preparing to go to Georgia to take part in the "Bummers" event as Confederate cavalry.

Edited by Gerald Todd
All content is copyright 2009 by First Maine Cavalry, Inc.

Bugle #11