Fall - 2009 Number 12
50 Years of Living History
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.
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...
We had ridden miles and miles over the weekend, living out of the saddle. We were cavalrymen, tired, sore, wornout, happy cavalrymen.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.