2018 Jackson/Ella Sharp Park After Action Report
It was the 34th year, as well as
the ‘1st’ year of this event, and while we learned a few things that we can
improve upon for next year, I think this new venue gives the event, as well as
a hobby, a breath of fresh air and a great foundation to build on.
Arriving Friday things were
certainly different, and a bit of a learning experience (hopefully no one went
to Cascades Park!). Once we figured out the Federal camp and parking, we were
good to go. Tip of the hat to Keith Graham Harrison and Thomas Berlucchi for their excellent
work laying the camps out, I don’t think I have ever seen a camp so well
I was pleased to find on Saturday
morning we had 6 decent sized Federal companies but saddened that our drill was
delayed twice due to rain. We were finally able to take the field around 11:00a
for some much-needed drill. The sun appeared just before our battle of Shiloh,
and specifically we portrayed a portion of the engagement where the 15th
Michigan was involved. We were fortunate enough to have had Ray Berarls put
some time into drawing an excellent map of the battle, which we used for
The battle went according to plan
and Scott Cummings
(after changing uniforms a few times like Superman) and crew served as our
anchor, skirmishing with the Rebs. The main body of the Army took the field
utilizing on the left by files into line (well-practiced...). Russ Paul (4th
Michigan Co A and the 15th Michigan) were called up from camp to anchor our
left flank but didn’t bring any ammunition!! (this was part of the scenario). Russ fixed
bayonets and took a beating from the Rebs until he retired to re-supply, then
came back with a vengeance.
A couple ‘thanks’ to point
out…first, I think we can all agree that while I didn’t use Mark D. Heath to
his fullest extent, I got a lot better at using him (as evidenced by having
some of my voice left). Thanks to Mark for his skills, as well as the
great drumming by TJ
BerlucchiJ and crew.
Saturday afternoon the
re-enacting weather gods continued to smile upon us as we were able to perform
Parade. I was glad Nathan Tingley jumped
in at the last minute to help with the Adjutant role and this gathering (great
job Nate!) (once TJ
remembered we were having it, we had music). 😊
Saturday evening, I made my
normal stroll through camp and somehow agreed to a medical procedure performed
by Marty Walker
and the 3rd Michigan…and I wasn’t drinking, I promise. Anyway, thanks for the
Farther down on my stroll I stumbled into a conversation 6th company was having
regarding tick identification removal…it is a conversation I have been trying
to forget ever since.
On Sunday Andrew McComas took over for 2nd Company. Scott Lawalin, having done a solid job
on Saturday, continued his performance on Sunday. As you may have noticed there
seemed to be some issues with Confederate attendance, and as much as I teased Scot Spiekerman
about it, it was very gracious of him and his boys to be willing to galvanize
to make the battle scenario work. Thanks Scot, and I still didn’t get a pair of
The staff was phenomenal. As
pointed out by Douglas
McComas, it was quite a mix. Chad Johnson probably ran about 10
miles for me during drill and the battle. This is the second time I asked Chad to serve
and he did a wonderful job. I have been working with Denny Whiting regularly
for quite some time and he never disappoints, and new to the staff was Nick Miner, who
did a nice job at Major through the weekend. Thanks to J.R. Schroeder who was our Medical
Officer, as well as the 8th Michigan Medical.
I must comment, as I usually do,
how much of a pleasure it is to work with Greg Van Wey and his crew, so easy to
work with, so willing to do the right thing, always a welcome change.
Side note, I ‘created’ an event
for 2019 Hartford City
Civil War Days on the Cumberland Guard Facebook page, October 18,
19, 20, 2019.
2018 Hastings/Charlton Park After Action Report
Thanks to everyone who was able
to attend. I arrived on site in the early evening due to some significant
construction, weather, and traffic delays. Ultimately the weather forecast
would scare some public as well as some re-enactors into likely not attending,
but overall, we managed through the weather well.
Over the weekend I was summoned
to a meeting with the 3rd Michigan
Infantry Co. F regarding some unresolved issues from Gettysburg. I
walked over to their camp (it was about 1.25 miles away) and was presented with
the chair I discarded at Gettysburg, completely reconditioned (see pictures
below). What a great gift, thanks 3rd Michigan Infantry Co. F!
We started off the weekend with
drill on Saturday which went very well. At the end of the drill, we
participated in a ceremony for Jim Newkirk and John Clark, which included all the
re-enactors on parade at the Village Green. Thanks to everyone who attended. We
later rolled into the battle on the High Meadows. Our march went quicker than
it has in the past (perhaps due to cooler temperatures) and we had some
downtime while out on the field. Compliments to our Wing Commander Denny Whting
and 5th Company / Jeremy
Buschlen for doing an outstanding job leading the way as
skirmishers. Unfortunately, he suffered heavy casualties and it became the job
of 4th Company and Robbie
Giorlando to secure our left flank as we pressed the Rebels. We
pushed them all the way to the tree line before they decided to punch back, and
they pushed us back a bit before finally surrendering. It was, as always, a
great job by Bill Adams and his men.
We marched back to camp to
prepare for the evening parade. Thanks to Tom Emerick for walking the Sergeants
through the parade. We conducted it on the Village Green and want to recognize
the fifers that joined us for the march and parade, thank you. Special note to
1st Company (Marty
Walker, who didn’t run over anyone with his company this
weekend!), and 2nd Company (Douglas McComas) for their men wearing white gloves for
We had the tactical Saturday
morning, and it was the typical tactical. We could not have done as well as we
did without the great support of Kevin Yeager and his boys on horseback, thank you. About
the tactical, I’ll provide a snippet of the same speech I gave on Sunday here
in my AAR, as it relates to the tactical. I am a fan of tacticals? Nope. Who
is? The Rebs, apparently, and our brothers in the Cav. The battle in the High
Meadows and the tactical is the primary reason (I believe) the Cav goes to
Hastings. So to support the hobby means supporting key events. To support key
events, sometimes we need to do things we might otherwise not want to do during
the event. So next year, if you did sit the tactical out, please don’t. Please
realize (also from a prior speech), any event is successful on three pillars,
spectators, re-enactors, and sutlers. If we don’t’ support an activity or
formation, we give other re-enactors a reason to not go to the event, it then
reduces our overall numbers. When our numbers reduce, so do spectators. Lowered
re-enactors and spectators mean less revenue for sutlers. If any of them pull
out, we possibly loose more re-enactors, and so it goes around the circle. Less
re-enactors, less public, the event can't support itself. I know this is a
voluntary hobby, but please support the formations, please engage the public,
please visit Andy Fulks
at Fall Creek Suttlery
and ALL the other sutlers at the event. I’m certainly not saying this event is
going anywhere, but let’s keep it from going anywhere. I would also encourage
company commanders to set the example in attending all the formations,
including the tactical. You lead, your men will follow. (ok, off soap box).
I could not say enough about the
drumming of TJ
Berlucchi. We all know how difficult it is to march when you have
a mediocre drummer, but TJ
just knocked the cover off the ball this weekend. Great job. Also, thanks to Russ Paul who
was the Chief of Staff and all around go-to guy, thanks Russ.
After the tactical we geared up
for one more drill, and obviously the Drill Gods were smiling on us (even
though Dave Bauman made the lady in the walker move 3 times….). Because the
rain started just as drill was finished. Nice job by 3rd Company (combo Nick Miner / Scot Spiekerman)
on managing the colors the weekend. As Sgt. Major, John Vohlken was a huge help in
getting our lines set and marked.
The weather for the battle
looked tenuous, but (again…) we threaded the needle on the rain and we were
able to put on a good show. 1st Company / Marty Walker led the way by stirring
up a hornet’s nest of Rebs. We had to take a lot of casualties (the 1st
Michigan just did not want to stop with those Henrys!) to open the door for the
Confederate Army, including trying to expose our left flank for them to take.
We finally gave up the fight and the Rebs were victorious on Sunday.
Thanks again, and we will see
you at Jackson!!
2018 (155th) Gettysburg After Action Report
Before too much time elapsed, I
wanted to jot down a few notes about the event. As is probably and typically my
fashion, I’ll start with some general comments and ‘thank yous’, some things I
learned and should have done differently, and some comments about the event
Two of my three sons and I
caravanned over Wednesday night to the event with Mark Benning and his son Conrad William
Benning and we arrived Thursday late
morning. I had some concern immediately as there was limited signage indicating
camping logistics. Things were settled and discussion began as it related to
the march to the ‘remote’ site. In the end it was decided, in no small part due
to some weather forecasts, that we would do the march in the morning and march
into Friday’s battle.
Friday morning started off
overcast and muggy. The march Friday morning was marked with constant starts
and stops by a ‘guide’ who clearly had no idea where he was going. We
eventually made it to the first stop and had to insist on water being brought
to us. Our next stop was a farm house where the owners seemed thrilled to have
several hundred re-enactors stop (as well as urinate) on their lawn. Once into
battle, 1st company (AOW commanded by Ian Fulford) did a great job refusing
the flank perhaps 10 or 20 times. 2nd company (commanded by Marty Walker)
ripped off some killer volleys. With artillery in front of us, we became tired
of being targets and quickly went down and captured the guns. The troops to our
right (I believe they were USV) wanted to spend 15 minutes dressing their lines
while under attack, so Ian again wheeled and refused the flank (but boy did the
USV line look great…). The USV folks eventually retired off the field, and our
exposed right flank and weakened numbers compelled us to retire. General
Zeckman suffered a mortal wound during the battle. Given the action, battalion
drill was cancelled for the day. Eventually spotty rain turned into a sunny day
with a light breeze.
Friday afternoon’s battle allowed
us to be joined by two companies of troops from Bernie’s Division. Great group
of guys. We formed up and parked in the shade briefly, then marched into the
battle. The battle was quite chaotic, as the Left Wing (under Howard Morgan)
expertly wheeled into the flank of the Rebs who were attacking the Army of the
Ohio. Somehow the General stole my Right Wing (under Denny Whiting) to support
the right flank of the Army (not cool), and at one point I was taking random
companies and plugging them into our lines. I am pretty sure our Battalion was
doing all the fighting that day. It was another hot battle. Friday evening saw
the temperature’s cool down to the point where blankets were needed at night.
Saturday morning, we had an
‘extra special’ reveille at 5:40a provided by Mark D. Heath (thanks Mark!) 😊. Just now getting to our first battalion drill, we were joined
by Ben Cwayna's
6th Michigan boys who would prove their mettle later in the day. The drill was
done well and we also worked with our Reb counterparts on the hand to hand
portion of the scenario. My voice became a bit…limited..during this drill and I
had to utilize the Adjutant and Sgt. Major as my ‘nice voice’ and ‘mean voice’.
The battle for the morning was the Wheatfield. We marched up to the wall and
had some back and forth with the Rebs and eventually retreated as Ben and his
men performed their scenario. When we came back we went to the extreme right of
the Army (because hey…they needed us again…) and pushed the Rebs to the wall.
Saturday evening the battle was
‘Attack The Stone Wall’. We marched out in front of the stone wall and watched
the first line of Federals fight and break (we knew why we were there…)). We
fought hard. We had a small Federal Battalion dispatched to our right (it took
them a few minutes to get there), and then the battalion on our left, broke. We
were pushed back behind the wall and had to do a little dance (sorry…) to get
un-inverted. After doing so we (again) went to the far right to save the Army
and rolled up the Rebel left flank as the battle was ending. Saturday evening,
we formed for Parade (did I mention I LOVE Parades??) and that ended the formal
activities for the evening.
The battle on Sunday (for as hot
and heavy as all the other engagements were) was very brief for us. We watched
the Rebs throw themselves on the wall (probably some pretty good views from our
lines) as we fired into the flank of the charging Rebel hoard.
It was a great showing for the
GAR, you can see some pretty impressive video of us on various Facebook pages.
Thanks to all the music staff, Sgt. Major William Behrman, and especially Major Greg Swank (we
could not have done any of this without them). Our Wing Commanders were
outstanding, and our company commanders were second to none. It was great to
see Douglas McComas
and Scot Spiekerman
leading 2nd Company. The MDM fellas were just awesome to work with. Many
companies ‘shared’ leadership during the event which you might think would make
it challenging, but it didn’t. Also, special thanks to Aaron Sells who was my
‘rock’ on the left side, great job Aaron. Andy / Barry / Randy were awesome as
6th company, and Greg did an outstanding job as well.
I always like to take a few
minutes and talk about things I did wrong and can do differently, this event
was not unique in that there were several.
1) When the person who was going
to lay our camp out could not make it, I should have figured out some kind of
‘Plan B’. Not having someone from headquarters there in advance of people
setting up their camps was a mistake. That led to some frustration in regards
to streets. In addition, I should have done a better job (along the lines of
what we did at Shiloh) where we had the civilians close (along a line at the
back of the military streets, but not IN the military camp). Not doing so
created some frustration. That was my fault.
2) I should have ignored the
order to pull us off the wall for the Wheatfield scenario. We were promised to
be a part of that, we were lied to. I blame myself for not ignoring the order.
Those of you that were frustrated by that I apologize. I was so angry by this I
did not bother attending the Brigade Officer’s meeting later in the day. The
practice we put in was completely wasted. I am sorry.
3) A bit of the same ‘trust’
issue in regards to the march. It was longer than what was ‘advertised’, and it
fatigued a lot of people. I should not have taken at face value what I was told
in regards to this march, again, my fault.
4) Last, bugle calls. Having a
Brigade commander in our camp with his Bugler, doing calls that sometimes were
not in alignment with our calls, caused a lot of confusion. At one point that
created some tension with our color company and a few of our other companies.
That was NO ONE’S fault but mine, I should have done a better job of clarifying
times of when to form up in the street and when to come onto line.
Logistically I give the event a
D- at best. Limited signage, the regular fight for water and ice, and the
disgusting conditions of the porta-pottys were big negatives and an event this
size should have had all that figured out. I was thrilled with our performance
in drill and battle, that was probably one of the best battalions we have put
Thanks to all of you for
attending, I hope I can march with you again soon.
MI, July 2017, After Action Report
I’m not really sure to where the weather we actually
received was supposed to go, but I am sure they were jealous because the
temperature we had was fantastic. I may have even used a blanket on Friday
night. Many thanks to John
Vohlken for not only his duties as Sergeant
Major, but also for keeping the mosquitoes away with spraying. TJ Berlucchi really added to the
weekend with his drumming (getting some help from Russ Paul on occasion).
Saturday morning, we started off with some drill that was
performed quickly and efficiently. Organizationally we had a lot of various
companies combining to form the battalion. Scott
Cummings commanded 1st Company, Marty
Walker (although I tried to promote Ryan
VanMaldegen) had second company (and we were
all so glad Marty didn’t have another ‘episode’ like he did in 2016), 3rd
Company was Robbie
Giorlando (with some instruction from Ian Fulford and Russ Paul), and 4th
company was Captain Douglas
McComas. (more on THAT guy later...:))
All did well, but I wanted to point out the performance of Robbie
Giorlando. I believe this was the first time
I have seen him command a company in a battalion formation and his performance
was very solid. Also thanks to Scott
Cummings who made sure I didn’t invert the
battalion during drill!
The battle on Saturday was out in the High Meadows. Union
forces came in from the road and wrapped around the spectator hill which I
believe they enjoyed. The battle wrapped around both sides and the Cav (led by Kevin
Yeager) was very helpful in sweeping up
the Rebs. We had a significantly higher number of troops on the field and ended
the day with a victory.
Saturday Parade was held on the Village Green and Greg Swank helped facilitate one of the better parades I have seen
in a long time. I briefly left for dinner Saturday evening. When I returned it
was reported to me some of the men were being treated at the hospital in town.
I went there immediately and found Captain Douglas
McComas, who was either fatigued by battle
or drunk…maybe both. Before the evening was over Captain Douglas
McComas was in a duel with another Officer
and unfortunately it did not go well for him.
The tactical on Sunday was the regular fare. Scott
Cummings and his crew were out on the field
with picket responsibilities. The Rebs
did a fantastic job covering the field and at one point gave us a great volley
as they came in behind us, well done! Sunday’s drill went well, with a special
note on Marty
Walker's 2nd Company’s volleys which were
outstanding (I am guessing Ryan had drilled them earlier). The battle on Sunday was held
on the Village Green and gave the Cav the opportunity to open up the battle for
us. Kevin and his crew dusted up the Rebs who were very aggressive
during the opening of the battle. Although we came down two different roads, we
eventually deployed ourselves across the width of the field. Eventually the
Rebs were driven back through town and surrendered. A big ‘thank you’ as always
to the Reb command staff. Greg Van
Wey could not make it, but Bill Adams
took his place, both of these men are fantastic and have been very flexible to
Last, I appreciate the skills of our Wing Commanders
Denny Whiting as well as Dave Bauman, thank you both.
As mentioned, the 49th Indiana will be fielding a company
for Hale Farm, so we’d love to have anyone fall in with us who is interested,
dates are Aug 12/13.
Shiloh, TN, April 2017, After Action Report
I think I just now have the energy to sit down and put
some thoughts down in regards to Shiloh, as I was exhausted after the
event. I'll go into more detail in a
post on the Grand Armies of the Republic page about noting all the logistics
and pre-planning done by the event staff (Earl Zeckman and John Nash Jr), and
the (not kidding, 2 site visits and (by my count) 8 conference calls led by the
overall commander Bob A Minton who did an amazing job at getting this event
I arrived on Wednesday and was greeted by Terri Cooney
Zeckman working the registration table.
After setting up on site we worked through a pretty windy and rainy
Wednesday and Thursday, but by Friday things were starting to shape up for some
great weather. We had most of the
company, battalion and brigade leaders on site by early Friday afternoon so we
met to discuss the schedule for the weekend.
I enjoyed camping next to 1st Battalion Steve Lundburgh who was great to
work with all weekend.
I was honored to command all the infantry for the Friday
afternoon battle, and we had three battalions that, while never worked together
as a brigade, performed beyond expectations.
2nd Battalion 4th Company Captain Ryan VanMaldegen was tasked with being
the bait of the scenario and led his company in drill in the field. One the attack unfolded he was joined by 3rd
Company Captain Douglas McComas.
Eventually the battle unfolded with the 1st Battalion (led by the fierce
Colonel Dave Brunner) and Federal Calvary coming to our aid. The Confederates didn’t put up too much of a
fight so we opted to retire off the field.
Saturday morning’s battle started off early with a 6:00a
First Call. This battle was in two parts
with us initially marching out with some interesting fog and deploying on the
hill. As we covered for the rest of Army
retreating behind us, our 1st Brigade fought a very stubborn delaying action
allowing the rest of the Army to reform in the next field where the battle
continued. Excellent work by Brian Riley
and Aaron Sayles on the 1st Battalion Right Wing as well as Captain William
Behrman of the 2nd Battalion 2nd Company.
On Saturday afternoon, we performed Brigade Drill which
was something we don’t get to do very often.
I must say all the Battalion and Company Officers did a GREAT job with
this drill. There were 5 or 6 specific
things I wanted to do in terms of deploying and forming and we got those down
so quickly, there was no reason to make it last any longer. (I only deployed our column of Battalions
incorrectly one time…one time only….pretty sure no one noticed except Ian
Fulford. 1st Battalion 2nd Company Greg
Kohn was great to work with on this drill.
Saturday afternoon had a delay but it was due to the
incredible number of spectators coming for the event. In part, these are the folks that pay the
bills and I for one supported the delay in order to allow more of them to come
see the event. The battle had an
impressive display of artillery. After
the battle, Lt. Colonel Jesse Poe led a patrol into the town of Purdy which was
something we don’t get to do very often.
It was right after the delayed battle so I know the guys were tired but
I made the mistake of staying to long (or maybe going at
all?) to the 3rd Michigan Infantry Co. F's camp where someone hit the ‘on’
button for Gary Houghtaling. I was also
supplied green liquid and for the rest of Saturday night there was probably as
much fog in my head as there was on the battlefield Saturday morning.
The Sunday battle had us march into the farthest corner
of the battle field to stage. Our
battalion kicked off the fight with an initial assault. A few observations here…the men of 1st
Battalion looked amazing. I really saw
Lt. Colonels Howard Morgan and Ted Opran do a fantastic job. I commented to Dave that their battle line
was as straight as a ruler. Jason Andrew
Brunner was great as 1st Company Commander, setting the pace, all the companies
looked fantastic. (In a national event,
what better place than 1st company, 1st Battalion??) I had to dispatch Marty Walker to the middle
of the field to act independently, and he did a great job not just during the
Sunday battle, but all weekend ‘appearing’ right in front of me when I needed
him most and figuring out my hand signals.
Our final push drove the Rebels from the field and we marched back to
Compliments to 2nd Battalion Sgt. Major John Vohlken for
his excellent work on the Guard Mount (several commented to me on it), and to
Thomas Berlucchi, my Chief of Staff who I could not have done the event
without. TJ Berlucchi filled in for
drumming at several formations and did a great job as well, and last, thanks to
my ‘bugle translator’ Tom Emmerick, for keeping me honest to the bugle calls
for 1st Brigade.
I appreciate all of you did your part except one group
who left about one cord of wood stacked in the middle of the field (because,
you know, I didn’t communicate expectations there….). Having said that, there was no trash to speak
of in our camping area, so thank you for that as well as minding the 'no fire
I expected nothing less than excellence from the Indiana
and Michigan boys in terms of their performance as I work with them regularly,
but it was my first time with the MDM and KATs in 1st Battalion and they were
hands down an amazing group of guys to march with who are well led and well
trained. The other company officers I
didn’t already mention, Todd Koster, Jeff Cordell, Todd Wisnant Matt Mallory,
I am grateful for all of your hard work. (If I mixed up any company numbers / names
here please let me know).
Hope my voice comes back soon….
MI, August 2016, After Action Report
Ton of front end planning credit has to go to Thomas Berlucchi who facilitated several conference calls with
all the principals for the event prior to the weekend, thanks Tom!
When I arrived on Friday afternoon Major Greg Swank was already ‘on scene’ and forming Headquarters.
Thankfully Keith Graham Harrison had already laid out 5 company streets (which at the time I thought would
be adequate allowing for last year’s number with some growth. John Vohlken was busy providing some much
needed pest control over the weekend, thanks John.
As we compiled company reports, we were actually considering consolidating to 4 companies based on the
numbers we were seeing. When Saturday morning came our ranks swelled to not only 5 large companies, also
we were pleased to see Scot Spiekerman with the 114th PA on site with a
full company. Unfortunately due to a registration miscommunication I
didn’t have a 6th Company Street laid out (sorry guys…)
but we made it
day started with a few rough edges but by the end of the drill we were
pretty much in sync and we practiced a few maneuvers that (believe it
or not) we actually used in the Saturday battle, such as by the right
of companies to the front and to the rear. The battle plan called for
us to march out in front of the crowd and wait for the battle to start
(which we did). We also moved into the crowd to interact with the
spectators which everyone seemed to enjoy.
We engaged the Confederate forces and pushed back and forth but were finally ran off the field. A quick note
here, unfortunately the JDR Commander Greg Van Wey was unable to attend Jackson. Greg is always a
pleasure to work with. In his place was Bill Adams. You can tell these two are cut from similar cloth as Bill
was incredibly accommodating and just amazing to work with. It creates such a positive experience when you
have commanders on the field putting their full effort into fulfilling the vision of the battle, not trying to break
scenarios. Bill was fantastic to work with.
After the battle we were able to honor John Clark and Jim Newkirk for their many years of service to Cascades
Park. We were also able to have a moment to honor several folks in the re-enacting community who we have
Later in the evening we had a Parade scheduled (which I might a few people on staff seemed to think we
should cancel due to weather…) but, they were WRONG! The rain cleared off and we were able to have a
solid performance on Parade. The only thing that would have made the Parade (and the event) better would
have been to have consistent music.
We had a very solid bugler and drummer in and out of the event over the weekend, just not all the time. I’d
really like to make that a goal for next year. That concluded most of the formal activities for Saturday as the
dance was unfortunately cancelled. Later in the evening I did have the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Spiekerman
who was wonderful to talk to. I understand she keeps an axe close to
her tent but thankfully she did not feel the need to retrieve it.
Sunday’s drill we practiced the maneuvers (specifically deploying the column) we would use later in the day.
The battle plan for Sunday involved having Kevin Yeager's crew initially engaging the Confederates on our
front. Kevin, as always, put on a great show for the crowd. As for the
infantry, our plan was to march to the top of the hill behind the
battlefield and then march down through the crowd (which the spectators
always enjoy). As we came down the hill we went into a column of
companies then deployed. I have talked before about having solid left
and right ‘hooks’ as a battalion, and with Scot
Spiekerman's boys on the left and Nick Leach's AOW company on the right
(including my awesome home company of the 49th Indiana Co F), I had
them. Up until that well placed Confederate gun opened up on our
left (sorry 6th Company, we had to get through there!). Anyway, it
decimated Scott’s boys, but I was fortunate enough that the Marty
Walker's 3rd Michigan filled the gap. At one point when we may have
been turned, it was calming to see Ryan VanMaldegen in the thick of it
already anticipating what I was going to ask him…and he said he
would not allow the left to be turned.
Speaking of nonverbal communication, it seemed like I was also totally in sync with Russ Paul and his HUGE
Company. It was hard to yell the orders out over the noise of the battle (and the announcer) and I could lock
eyes with Russ and know based on his expression if I needed to repeat any orders or change anything. Moving
towards the center of the battalion, I also have to compliment a few more company commanders. Nick Miner
turned in a solid performance managing 4th Company and was always where
he needed to be and was great to work with. Last, 3rd company which was
tag teamed by Chad Johnson and J.R. Schroeder….gents, you both
did fantastic not only in drill, but were crisp and timely in both
battles. Great job to both of you, it was my pleasure to work with you.
I’d like to thank two incredible wing commanders, Denny Whiting and Ron Wilkins, as well as Greg Swank
for his hard but fantastic work all weekend. Also thanks to Gary 'Smith' Houghtaling for stepping up to be
Sergeant Major all weekend. Unlike Hastings, I was able to spend a bit more time around Gary and have a
huge appreciation for his sense of humor. Matt Guinn was also in cam p and on staff, and helped with the day
to day running of the event. Of special note also should be William Eichler who provided the flags for the
weekend. Last and certainly not least, TJ Berlucchi for dispatching communications to the field.
issue to discuss…some of you may have been aware there were some
vehicle break ins over the weekend. The responsible party was
caught very quickly by the local police. However, the event staff will
be taking the extra step to hire additional security at the event next
year to patrol the parking lots, so I think that is an appropriate and
responsible step on their part.
See you at Perryville! (get registered!!)
MI, July 2016, After Action Report
Apologies for my late report. We wrapped up another fantastic Hastings weekend. First, the weather. Wow, I
am pretty sure I can’t remember a Hastings where I needed a blanket to sleep. The mosquitoes seemed to be
minimal, and although there was a brief period of time where a significant storm looked like it might come
through the area on Sunday, the lake dissipated its strength and we generally had great weather all the way
Many to thank this time around. I think we all realized just how much work Keith Graham Harrison has put
into Hastings, and as always we missed him. Doing a fantastic job filling in his shoes was Greg Swank, who
not only kept the weekend running smoothly, but also pulled off a fantastic Parade on Saturday. Ivan Gucci
Vargas also did a phenomenal job making the next evolution in the battalion orders documents, thank you! The
other members of the staff did a fantastic job, including Wing Commanders Denny Whiting and Dave
Bauman, Tom Emerick and Bill Combs. I’d like to make a special note in regards to Ron Wilkins, he was
everywhere. He made sure everyone was online when they needed to be, chased down issues, resolved issues, could NOT say enough about his hard work. Gary Houghtaling was incredible at Sergeant Major, and
wow…let’s talk about Kevin Yeager…we’ll talk more about the cavalry a bit later.
Thanks to Jim Newkirk for keeping everything in motion, and as always I have to tip my hat to our noble
Rebel friends, led by Greg Van Wey.
It was an honor for all of us to form and honor both Jim Tononi of the 4th Michigan Co A Volunteer Infantry
Reenactors as well as Rich Roscoe of the 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, and it was such a class act for the Jeff Davis Rifles to participate in that, thank you gentlemen.
I thought the drill was quick and to the point, we accomplished what we needed to and used much of it during
the battle. Saturday’s battle on the High Meadows was certainly hard fought…but the cavalry…wow the
cavalry. Those guys did a fantastic job controlling the field. Also of special note I wanted to recognize Brian
D. Jankowski for all his input in regards to the battle planning for Saturday.
Sunday morning’s tactical required us to capture an artillery piece which, with the help of the Cavalry, I think
we had in our possession in a count of ‘minutes’. From there we pulled it back up to a hill and controlled the
field for the majority of the scenario, although I have to say there were some times when the Rebs were giving us a pretty hard push. In the end, had we not had the Cavalry, I am pretty sure the outcome would have been more to chance. Thanks to the artillery crew for lugging the gun up and down the field for us!
Sunday’s battle in town resulted in a Union defeat as our forces came on to the field and were chewed up in
pretty short order by the Confederate Army.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Colonel…looking forward to seeing all of you at Cascades Civil
MI, August 2015, After Action Report
much to say in regards to Jackson…let’s start at
beginning. What many people did not see was the tremendous
planning that went into the event before anyone even stepped a foot on
grounds. Special thanks goes to Thomas Berlucchi , as he set
teleconferences including via GoTo Meeting (sharing computer screens)
the event the maximum chance of success.
to that, but still even prior to the event, Keith
Graham Harrison was there laying out the company streets, and the
there laying out the civilian camp, so by the time most of us were
looked pretty organized!
night we conducted an officers meeting and, much like
Hastings, we reviewed the schedule as well as the drill maneuvers we
to do. I think this was time well spent as the drill on
simply outstanding. I often find that at any event,
I’ll have one of the
drills and one of the battles I like the best, and they are typically
opposite days. This weekend was no exception, but
I’ll get to the battles
soon enough. I had two of my sons ( Rob Roy –
(22), and Ray Van (20),
at Headquarters as well to assist, which was very enjoyable for me.
staff was amazing, we had the likes of Keith Harrison as Chief
of Staff (more on him later), Nathan Malone as Sergeant Major, my
Right Wing Commander Dave Bauman, Denny Whiting did a great job as Left
Commander with his Great Lakes Battalion boys, and I had the pleasure
getting to know Robert Rock who’s service was invaluable as
Aide-de-Camp. I didn’t really get a chance to meet
the rest of his
family, but his daughters were there as well. Special thanks
artillery wizardry of Jim Newkirk, and although he was only
‘on our side’
Saturday, I have come to have a high regard for Kevin Yeager's cavalry
skills. I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention
important music is. We had a one drummer that popped in for a
(not really sure what happened to him), but a young man whose last name
didn’t catch, but his first name was Jonathon, was arguably
one of the best at
giving a beat to march to I have heard in a long time, and was there
of the weekend.
drill on Saturday we moved into battle preparations, including
a rousing prayer by Reverend Charlie Buckhahn (wow that man can
As we formed up, many were surprised and delighted to see Dave
the field as ‘Commander Emeritus’ for the battle on
marched out with us. Although it went
‘well’, it was not my favorite of
the two battles. It was too over scripted with too many last
changes, and frankly I don’t enjoy that kind of set
up. Colonel Nick
Medich was gracious enough to come over and provide some guidance as
to how we
might move him off the field, only underscoring the fact that the man
class act. We came out and pushed the Rebels off the field
and that was
basically that. One thing I have begun to rely on time and
time again, is
the solid performance of my ‘bookend’ companies,
Marty Walker and the 3rd
Michigan boys on the right, and Scot Spiekerman and his Zouaves on the
can’t tell you how assuring it is to see them
there. Also performing good
work with some punches in the middle were Captains Russ Paul , J.R.
, and several more. After the battle, the event organizers
had set up a
special ceremony to honor Dave Shackelford, Nick Medich, and (although
didn’t know it at the time), Keith Harrison. (This
would not be the first
time we had something planned for Keith he was not aware of).
recognized all three men and provided them plaques for all of what they
done for Jackson and for re-enacting.
marched back to camp with a planned parade later in the
evening. Again, tip of the hat to the Rebel Army, they came
over to link
up with us for the Parade which actually was a ceremony to recognize
Keith. What can you say about a man who has given so much, so
for so many years? Keith walked among the men after he was
pistol as recognition of his service.
Sunday we formed up for drill and this drill went well, just
not quite as smooth as Saturday’s. I hold myself
responsible for that, as
I think a ‘do different’ for me will be to have a
brief Officer’s meeting BOTH
Friday and Saturday to review drill concepts. Also before
battle, I also had the pleasure of meeting Russ Paul’s wife
for the first time.
battle (at least for me) was a bit more loosely scripted
but more enjoyable. I have to say I feel like I am really in
Greg Van Wey (the Confederate Commander on Sunday) in terms of how we
battles flow. I am looking forward to working with him more
more. We ended up getting pushed off the field Sunday, but I
bloodied their noses at bit before we did.
nothing else, I am incredibly excited about the Cumberland
Guard and the direction it is taking moving forward. I
received a lot of
positive feedback and offers of assistance.
thanks to all of you who shouldered a musket for Guard Mount,
it is very much appreciated. I’d also like to
extend an invite to ‘All
Ya’All’ to consider coming down to Hartford City,
IN on October 9, 10, 11 2015.
Find more details at http://hartfordcitycwdays.com/
you for letting me be a part of your weekend.