Field Report – New Market May 19-21 2017
Friday May 19th, 2017 –
2nd MD Inf. Co. A, began occupying ground at 2pm directly west of the Bushong Farm house. This was a change in the planned camp area from 2 days prior due to a dispute with the use of the neighboring farmers land. Said dispute also resulted in only limited areas of the surrounding grounds and fields to have been mowed, so our camp area was in 18 inch tall grass. This was better than the parking area though where the grass was up to the car windows.
Our company was attached to 2nd Battalion Longstreet’s Corp. under the command of Col. Russell. We were welcomed graciously and Cpl’s Miller and McWilliams worked with the Colonel to lay out our camp as best they could given the last minute changes. This resulted in our being a little cramped but the end result was adequate. We were later augmented by members of the 30th North Carolina lead by Sgt. Derrick. A short severe rainstorm occurred at 4pm which got everyone outdoors wet, but fortunately didn’t soak the camp area.
Registration was well organized and went smoothly and there was otherwise ample logistical provisions present in wood, porta-johns, water, straw, etc. Company members continued to arrive in the late hours up to about 1030 to include Privates Charles Kreger and Michael Kreger (who had traveled from Ohio). There was another short rainstorm about 7pm but it blew through quickly and didn’t cause disruption.
Saturday May 20th, 2017 –
Reveille was very early this morning due to a planned 8 am tactical (partly scripted “Battle of Kernstown”). Company members began to rise at 6 and muster was called shortly afterwards totaling 16. Our company fell in with the battalion and then moved as a whole to join the brigade for inspections. Co. A was designated as 2nd Company with the colors company (3rd) on our left. The confederate army then marched east under Rt. 81 through the tunnel to the far side of the New Market Battlefield. We occupied low ground with a cedar tree line being the objective. Cavalry engagement was on our right front at the start of the battle and we moved as a battalion only about 300 yards to the front where we were engaged by superior numbers of Federal troops. We were compelled to rally and fall back 4 times to the rear, being engage closely to the front and the right flank, with another Yankee battalion farther off to our left flank, we were rightly surrounded. The Yankees did not engage in heavy firing at our positon though so company casualties were initially fairly light.
As our brigade lines became disconnected, the federal battalion to our front tried to break our line in the middle and marched in column straight between our battalion and 1st Battalion. We were outnumbered and in low ground, but Col. Russell made a last ditch effort to engage and wheeled our battalion to the right and gave the command to “Charge”! This lead to much close quarters and hand to hand engagement and many resulting casualties until a cease fire was quickly called. We did not win the day.
The remaining morning activities ensued with breakfast, weapons maintenance, and Sutler visits.
The Brigade reformed at 1230 for the main scripted engagement of New Market. We had one “fresh fish” to welcome on the field for his first large event. Private Kris Aro was brought forward and did a great job adorning himself for the part!
The army marched south and staged behind about 15 artillery pieces near the museum. Artillery bombardments ensued at 2pm followed by battalions being marched out and formed in line of battle. We remained 2nd company, 2nd Battalion and were in the center of the brigade. Mounted and dismounted cavalry engaged Federal skirmishers driving them back to and beyond the Bushong Farm. In this engagement the cavalry never really withdrew and carried the attack all the way until the last third of the fight. We were therefore very lightly engaged to the front with periodic stops to “Fire by Battalion”.
Our company entered waste high grass on the north side of the farm and the battalion had trouble maintaining formations. Action continued with light casualties until we halted at the north farm perimeter fence and cease fire was called. The engagement was unremarkable from our perspective but the Federals reported later they had enjoyed their part and our efforts.
Saturday evening the company undertook a company supper of ham and chicken, dumplings, green beans, potatoes, pie. The meal was excellent. Private Charles Kreger joined other members of the battalion’s music corp. to practice for Sunday dress parade.
At 6:30 we held our company meeting which will be detailed elsewhere. The remainder of the evening was spent with weapon maintenance, sutler visits, and dominoes until it became too dark to see. The weather was mostly cloudy all day and temperatures were very favorable to reenacting.
Sunday May 21st, 2017 –
Reveille was sounded at 0700 with a planned dress parade at 0900. Our muster strength was 13 as three of our soldiers were asked to join the VMI Corp of Cadets for the scenario. This was being lead by a VMI Senior portraying a Lt. who was well attired for the part.
The army was joined at dress parade by current staff and cadets of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) who were able to observe the morning reports and music corp. A Major from VMI thanked the reenactors for our participation and support of the living history of the event. At the conclusion of dress parade, individual companies were separate out for company drill with emphasis requested on oblique movements. Reforming about 20 minutes later, battalion drill commenced with marching in battalion line at the oblique’s, then forming column of companies, and left wheeling back into battle line. Drill went well. Company A performed well even with our added members from the 30th NC.
The brigade reformed at noon for a 1300 engagement. We occupied the same starting position as on Saturday and retraced the same initial ground. One interesting change however was that they had decentralized artillery to various points in the battlefield. This meant that as the brigade advanced, artillery to the front continued to fire as we moved forward until we reached them at various points. Battalion commanders were given specific lanes to follow to avoid safety zones to the front of the artillery, therefore our three battalion were separated on the field.
The Federals gave ground easily though they had superior numbers. Cavalry did not pursue them through the farm as they had the day before. Causalities among company A were high being in the exact center and we had lost half our number upon reaching the reaching the north perimeter fence. We formed a single rank behind the fence and observed the VMI Cadets Company formed to our immediate rear as well a large field artillery piece. Initially they had planned to move the artillery forward through a gap in the fence to support our further advance but soon declined to do so. We were disappointed hoping to see this and then bound past it with fire support further up the hill.
The cadets company (numbering about 40) were eventually pushed through that gap after some delay and formed the center element with what remained of the second battalion on their left and 3rd battalion on the right. 3rd Battalion was off way left separated by some structures guarding the left flank and heavily engaged as the ground was more open there.
The reformed line was commanded to march forward. Upon reaching the bottom of the hill the VMI Cadets broke into a charge and sprinted up the hill. Spontaneously 1st company on our right did likewise, apart from direction from Col. Russell. He looked, paused briefly, then not wanting the initiative to be lost and the VMI cadets cut off, commanded each remaining company forward. I therefore commanded the remaining members of the 2nd Company forward at the double quick, which soon lead to a full out run with soldiers moving as fast uphill as they could at right shoulder shift. The VMI Cadets had seized the Federal Artillery on the high ground and mounted it proudly waving their institute flag as the rally point. Our company arrive about 1 minute later and we surround the high ground with the Federals continuing their retreat north.
This was a better engagement then had been the previous two but the company was still not given many opportunities to fire independently outside of “Fire by Battalion”.
Retrieving our wounded and KIA we reformed ranks, cleared weapons and returned to camp. The weather remained favorable and members immediately began to break camp.
End report –
2nd MD Inf. Co. A