That's right, folks we're #sponsored! Cary Davisson has been so kind to work with our company and our YouTube channel on what he hope is a great and lasting partnership. Those of you who are in our unit, or know our unit know we only set the highest standards for gear. Cary makes high quality kits and gear at reasonable prices. If you're not already subscribed to our channel you might want to do so now as Company D, 2nd USSS will be your only readily accessible source for kit assembly reviews and how-tos. We've already uploaded our first ACWkits.com review video covering his cap pouches. You can easily spend $100 or more for a quality pre-made cap pouch or you can make your own for about $30 with one of Cary's kits and a few basic leather tools. We have the video down below for you check out and let us know if you have any questions. When you decide to buy one of Cary's kits, be sure to let him know Company D, 2nd USSS sent ya'.
Snoqualmie turned out to be a great end to another amazing reenacting season. It began with opening our Maine care package from Cpt. Sulin. The box contained so many wonderful treats enjoyed by everyone. Items included lobster chowder, baked beans, sardines, salt, jams, maple syrup, books, pancake mix, and more! The maple syrup was loved by all with all of us tasting it from our spoons or the palms of our hands. The books on Maine lingo entertained us for hours and we've already started using it. The book is titled, "Maine Lingo" by John Gould and probably is a must have for anyone portraying a unit from the state of Maine. Some of our favorite words or phrases included, Methodist hell, salt through a goose, beamie, gormy, bar room, odd bastard, and of course, ayuh. We can't thank Cpt. Sulin enough for all of support and generosity.
As always, Co. D drilled more often and for longer than other unit in the WCWA and it continues to show. On Sunday we drilled through church call all the way up until battle. Keep in mind, for some absurd reason Sunday drill has now somehow become optional. Not for Company D, where we have higher standards. We started having our corporals leading drill for their individual platoons which paid off greatly during battle. While battalion was looking the other way and being generally passive, 2nd Platoon took the initiative by sprinting across the right flank to capture a cannon and its artillery crew while 1st Platoon continued to hold down the flank with withering Sharps fire. Our corporals and our privates remain unparalleled in their enthusiasm and dedication. We also had the pleasure of having Logan from the 3rd Michigan join us this weekend on the target rifle. It is always nice to welcome such knowledgeable and friendly guests into our reenacting family.
The weather cooperated until the end of our last battle when the rain finally came. It was a bit disappointing to see so many reenactors bringing cars into camp and packing up long before the rain came. The constant breeze kept us cool but unfortunately made making videos out of the question. We do have many exciting new videos coming up including several from our new channel sponsor! I'll leave you with the tease on that one.
It's hard to believe another season is over. We have all sorts of projects for this off season and hopefully we'll be able to organize a get together. We're also hoping the winter is mild so we can have a spring bivouac. During this event we mapped out our company Hainesworth wool buy, so if you are interested be sure to email Cpt. Whitehall. Bulk wool purchasing means we get increased discounts. Until next time, keep checking in on the website and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for all of our upcoming videos.
Finally,our company treasurer's report shows that we have now raised enough money for our National Colors! Next year we'll have the pride of flying both flags in camp and on parades.
It was a pleasure serving with you all!
The always elusive Sharps arsenal pack is no longer a mystery. Capt. Whitehall and I have been researching these for some time now. After re-reading Bill Skillman's detailed article on making these, I thought I'd put the Company D spin on it. Armed with my cartridge tin, I hit the craft stores. Pasteboard boxes are commonly discussed and the Skipper had been talking about using jewelry boxes recently. I quickly gave up on the bulkiness of pasteboard boxes that never quite fit and hit the jewelry section of Michael's. In just a few minutes, I found a four pack of jewelry boxes that fit my tin perfectly. The boxes were also paper-wrapped much like the originals and cost only $3.99. If you pull up your 40% off Michael's coupon on your phone, they're even cheaper! Here's what you'll need:
After Action Report: Chehalis, WA 2017
Fair weather, good battles, good turnout, and of course we finally fired while prone! Our drill skills and our stellar safety track record allowed us to prove ourselves on the battlefield with great effect. We had some great young reenactors fall in with us this weekend and one even plans on transferring. It's hard to go back to line infantry after having ran the field, shot prone, help to capture a company, and drilling like a boss with Company D. As always, we drilled more than any other unit in the club and as always it shows. Our corporals continue to improve their leadership and their mastery of Civil War drill and instruction.
Camp time was fun and relaxing with plenty of camp fire singing with the help of Pvts. Soderling and Cpl Hardway. Mrs./Pvt./Co. Cook Soderling stayed with our Maine Camp and Hospital Association and with the help of her steward prepared a wonderful dinner of chili, cornbread, and blueberry pie. The Corporals were on top of every detail and every private performed their work with dedication and quality. It's hard to believe that the end of the season is only one event away from us.
During some of our down time we even managed to shoot some more YouTube videos. We're getting quite a collection of them in the can and they will be continuing to come out every Sunday. It was a good surprise and a bit sad that Pvt. Edwards was able to join us for our last battle Sunday. This was his last event with us before moving to the east coast. We wish his family the best of luck.
We'll likely not make it to Kennewick in August but will be planning to come out in force for the September Battle of Snoqualmie. In the meantime, we'll keep working on our impressions and studying our drill manuals.
We had another fun weekend at Fort Stevens educating the public, working on our gear, and having fun as a company. The cool weather made for a comfortable weekend and the interested, engaging public kept us busy during the day. In addition to shooting demonstrations and our information booth, we also had wonderful tent displays available for the public to enjoy.
During the day we repaired, cleaned, and cataloged loaner gear and had our first opportunity supporting our new company cook. It was also great assigning stewards to the cook for extra duty. We also shot three new YouTube videos that will be coming out soon. On Sunday, thanks to the help of Pvt. Soderling and Cpl. Hardway, we were able to improve our impressions by filling out enlistment papers based on Company D impressions.
After the park closed we enjoyed hanging out, having fun, singing, and continuing our annual tradition of going into the tunnels inside Battery Clark late at night to enjoy utter darkness.
We are always so thankful to the people of Fort Stevens inviting us every year and we now have plenty of company funds to purchase our own national flag this off season. We'll see you at the Battle of Chehalis!
Fulbright Park, Union Gap, WA
Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! Seemed the theme of this year's Battle of Fulbright Park as the Colonel marched the battalion every where while the Secesh marched but paces to each battle. The battles weren't the greatest but working alongside the 20th Maine is always a pleasure. It was also nice to have the weather participate with rather mild temperatures for eastern Washington.
Camp time was relaxing and we shot another YouTube video that will be coming out soon. The evenings were cool and a lot of time was spent around candle light catching up and sharing stories. The days were spent with lots of drill with Company D being the first and last company off the drill field each day. The corporals did a fantastic job leading drill. All our drill practice really paid off on the battlefield and earned us accolades from the Union battalion.
Perhaps the biggest highlight was holding Cpl. Hardway's official promotion ceremony. One our company's strongest assets is having such a dedicated and talented corps of NCOs. Our next battle event will be the Battle of Chehalis River. We'll see you all then.
Deep Creek, WA
The first major event of the year was shockingly hot but a good event over all. We had some new people join us for this event and they each did a wonderful job. Everyone worked hard, gave it there all, and had a fun time.
We shot five new YouTube videos that will be coming out over the coming weeks, the Skipper gave two talks at the pavilion about Sharpshooter history, Pvt. Severson and the Skipper participated in the Memorial Day ceremony, and we had some great tintypes made. The company cleaning kit made its first appearance and seemed to really help everyone and keep the rifles in top shape. We have so many bayonets now, that we're still trying to catch up at getting stacking arms perfect.
I'll be watching the weather forecast carefully leading up to Union Gap. If it's as hot or hotter than it was at Spokane I'll be encouraging everyone to bring extra socks and comfortable modern clothes to change into after hours. Health and safety supersede historical immersion. I'll also plan on bringing a treat for company bath time that everyone should enjoy. Melissa and I will continue to have Zip Fizz rations for everyone. If the heat looks to be really bad, I'll consider bringing an extra cooler just filled with ice for everyone to cool off with over the weekend.
The battles were alright. There was a lot less time running up and down the hill as in past years which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Camp layout was bungled again but I think that's just becoming the thing with Spokane. Get there early or have your company stacked up like cord wood.
Union Gap is fast approaching, so I hope everyone continues to take good care of themselves, work on their physical fitness, and come ready for some fun. Speaking of fun, this will be our company's first time marching with our flag in the parade! It'll make that long march so much more worth it. Thank you again to everyone who could make it and for enduring the heat.
Company D has permission to go prone during battle! After much persistence, our hard work at drill, our commitment to safety, and good reputation helped us secure the privilege to go prone whenever the opportunity presents itself. With the help of Colonel Longbeard and Captain Whitehall, we even have the blessing of the Confederate battalion staff.
In other equally exciting news, Colonel Longbeard came up to the Captain and myself to ask if we'd be interested in practicing skirmish by the bugle! Of course, we said, "yes." Separate from battalion drill, the Colonel brought his bugle and met us and the 20th Maine to begin our instruction in bugle deployments. This included...wait for it....bugle calls for lay down and stand up! The Colonel hopes to have a battle scenario where a field piece gets taken, turned, and fired. To accommodate this, the artillery was offering cannon training so naturally, we all ran over to practice on the mountain howitzer. So, start booking your time off for this season because you don't want to miss the event where Company D captures a cannon and fires it.
The rest of the weekend was fun and low key. We filmed some more videos, got in lots of drill, Severson had a blast playing town ball, and the Captain enjoyed displaying his hardcore officer's tent set up. We also had the strange experience of learning how to stack arms. Word on the street is Company D has more Sharps bayonets than any other Sharpshooter unit anywhere. Let alone with the future potential of having two stacks of Sharps.
With so many more possibilities available to us this year, we really hope you can all make it to Spokane Memorial Day weekend. Platoon leaders should expect to take charge of their platoons, since the Captain and I are going to be spending more effort in drilling for tactical deployments and leaving more school of the soldier training to platoon leaders.
Make sure you schedule your time off now if you haven't already and make your transportation arrangements. If you need to use the company cleaning kit, the price is a dollar a day. We'll see you at Deep Creek!
Before you start and exclaim Berdans threw away their bayonets remember, we did it once and had to buy them back. Then, captains were held financially liable for further "lost" bayonets. Finally, if you check your documentation there were Berdan bayonet charges on record. With that out of the way, we are nearing the end of our off season fitting 1861 Springfield bayonets to many of our Sharps rifles.
As a necessary disclaimer this information is for entertainment purposes only and we in no way condone or suggest these modifications being done by anyone other than a professional. That said, this is how our unit goes about making these modifications. We've fitted five bayonets so far this season and none of them really interchange. This is great if you worry about your stuff getting stolen.
If you have an Armi Sport Sharps, you're in luck. Your mods should only take about 15 or 20 minutes. We start with a bayonet purchased from Regimental Quartermaster sand smooth all the rough machining marks inside the lug. Just smoothing the inside of the bayonet lug seems to be all that is needed for an Armi Sport. We then slide the lug to the front sight and use a Sharpie to trace the outline of the sight onto the rear of the lug. This is a poor man's machine bluing. We then file the area inside the "bluing." Once the sight clearance is addressed we then make some slight modifications if necessary to the channel. Lastly, we file the very end of the sight channel with a square file until the locking ring locks snugly behind the front sight. Make sure as you file you keep your corners nice square and crisp.
Now, if you have a Pedersoli, pull up a chair and clear your schedule because you are in for hours of grinding, sanding, and filing to make a bayonet fit. Before you even consider fitting a bayonet to a Pedersoli, you have to come to terms with the fact you will need to file your front sight down by nearly half. The Pedersoli front sight blade is nearly twice as tall as that of an Armi Sport. We used calipers to measure an Armi Sport sight and filed the Pedersoli to the same height. Even then, you will need to file the sight entry of the lug as close to the edge as you dare.
The Dremel is indispensable in the process and we prefer the extension tip for grinding further into the center of the lug with greater ease. We keep the bayonet firmly in a vice with guards to protect the finish. We do most of the heavy material removal with a grinding attachment and a low grit sanding disc. The bayonet material is very soft and one grinding wheel is all we need. Be mindful about over heating the metal while you're grinding and cool it off frequently in water. If you do have any heat discoloration, it sands off nicely with high grit wet/dry sand paper. We have often been plagued by high spots due to the low production standards of Indian made bayonets so an aggressive rat tail file is indispensable in locating the high spots. Everything else requires some measure of filing.
Whether an Armi Sport or Pedersoli, we remove a little and fit. We then remove a little bit more and then fit. It's better to not take off enough and try again than take off too much and have a bayonet for the trash. Don't rush the process. When you're finally complete you can spend as much time cleaning up and perfecting your work as you prefer. Smoothing and polishing with wet/dry sand paper from 1-2,000 grit restores the luster removed from grinding and filing.
When done correctly, the bayonet should fit snugly without scratching or catching and with hardly any rattle. When your bayonet is fitted perfectly, we highly recommend the two rivet bayonet scabbards from ACW kits.
This weekend was incredibly hot with many people suffering from the heat. Army medical and Lou's friend, Dani were life savers. Medical's beds and cold water combined with Dani's nursing bag and experience were so appreciated. Despite the heat, Company D got lots of skirmish action in and often worked along with the 79th New York. It was a pleasure to fight alongside such professional soldiers.
The battlefield was, as usual, practically a football field but with the leadership of Lt. Tackitt, it was a weekend of dynamic battles and too many confederate companies captured to count. Brigade drill time ate severely into our regular company drill but even with new recruits and extreme heat, we performed honorably.
Our newest recruits, privates Hilton and Moran proved to be exceptionally fast and observant learners, dedicated, and hardworking. Both put in so much time on fatigue duty, often without being asked. We are so happy they decided to join the Berdan family and can't wait to see them at our next event. It's really important to honor our runners, Pvt. Doramus and Moran. In Company D, everyone works his or her way up and works hard. When young recruits come in, we train them, support them, and appreciate their hard work because they are not just the future of Company D, but the hobby as a whole. Next year, Pvt. Doramus will be taking the field with a rifle and before long, Pvt. Moran will be ready, too. Thank you to everyone who gave just a little more and worked a little harder all year long. Your work ethic and passion is what makes this company so esteemed.
Also of note, this was the last large event of the year under Col. Geho's leadership as Union Battalion commander. The Col. and his staff have long been friends and mentors of our company and it is was with heavy hearts we saw our colonel retire. During the Saturday pie social, Captain Whitehall along with the rest of Company D, presented Colonel Geho with a Sharpshooter service medal in token of our deep appreciation. After our last battle, Captain Whitehall marched us back to the Colonel's tent after battalion dismissal to give one last cheer of "Hail! Hannibal!" Company D also presented Corporal Spiekermann with his very own custom made Hainesworth wool forage cap in token of our appreciation of his leadership as corporal.
We are starting our off season now and we encourage everyone to stay in touch, ask questions, and keep an eye on our website and YouTube channel for more content and resources. Stay tuned next year as Ft. Simcoe will continue to grow and will be something we'll be discussing about making a formal Sharpshooter event. Finally, as our season wraps up, a special thanks to all you who helped out as carpool drivers to provide the greatest amount of opportunity to our soldiers. Be well, be safe, and we'll see YOU on the battlefield.
It was another wonderful time at our Fort Stevens living history weekend. It's such a privilege to be invited back by the park every 4th of July weekend. The public turnout was large as usual and they all really enjoyed our demonstration and museum fly. We really appreciate that Pvt. Ternan contributed so many books and artifacts from her collection to the museum. It was all made possible by Pvt. Hardway who served as our full time Sharpshooter display docent.
The weather was cool, breezy, and little a drizzly at times allowing for favorable drill conditions. We drilled about four hours each day with a lot of emphasis on marching and skirmish drill. Each movement was repeated until it was done right! Corporal Spiekerman did an amazing job leading drill, even giving the Captain and 1st Sgt new ideas! While he lead or supervised most of the drill, even the 1st Sgt was learning, practicing and perfecting his duties. He might even have his "by the flank" and "off the file" commands finally stuck in his head. By Sunday, every soldier had an opportunity to lead drill including manual of arms, inspection arms, marching, and even skirmish deployments.
Even though Saturday kept the company busy at the demonstration area, the Skipper managed to take much of the company on an hour long marching exercise around the fort during a brief lull in the visitors. The marching exercises have become very popular in the company as it gives the soldiers the opportunity to build endurance and feel more of the soldiering experience. At the end of the day, Pvt. Ternan and the 1st Sgt shot a product review video for the company YouTube channel. Thompson Center foaming bore cleaner was put to the test as a speedy alternative to the time consuming hot water bath usually employed for cleaning the rifles. Without water and with minimal additional items, the veterans were able to cut cleaning time down to less than 15 minutes with perfect results! Of course, we always insist on full breakdown, hot water batch, and seasoning after events.
After rifle cleaning, the Skipper cooked and served a delicious spaghetti dinner for the entire company and privates Doramus and Hardway were the clean up detail. This weekend, the hardcore award may just have to go to Pvt. Severson who cooked his canned meat on a shovel!
Sunday saw more drill and even more firing exercises and speed shooting drills. Simulated stress conditions on the drill ground make for confident soldiers on the battlefield. Soldiers practiced loading and firing while marching many times and even developed their skills at prone firing. Everyone did so well at pitching in, giving their best, pushing themselves just a little harder, and supporting each other. In addition to performing their company duties, everyone was always ready to help our civilians. Company D has really flourished as a soldier and civilian family and as leaders and team players.
Co. D captures the entire 11th Mississippi and colors with only four sharpshooters and not a shot fired!
Union Gap was quite nice this year with cool temperatures, light rain, and new union camp. Visitors were low in number in the new camp but the layout was amazing. As always, Union Gap had little to no firewood and what was there was garbage. It was so hard, it literally broke the 1st Sgt's axe!
Saturday morning Co. D participated in the annual parade through Union Gap. The tractor pulled trolley left at 8:30 a.m. for a very low attendance parade. The cool, drizzly weather had a definite impact. The battles were fairly good this weekend and attendance for them was pretty high. We again tried to avoid the night battle since no apparently understands the difficulty of cleaning a Sharps in the dark but we were eventually goaded into it. We were initially going to work the public and informally MC the battle but apparently battalion staff didn't pass the word the Colonel who had a bit of tantrum over it. Feeling ornery, we decided to freak out the Confederates while not firing...still determined to not clean our rifles at night! We ran like we haven't ran in years! We circled the battlefield and the Confederate battalion twice, pulling several companies off line to see what we were up to. At one point we worked with Union Cav and actually kept up with them while running around the whole battlefield, past Confederate artillery, only to plow directly into the back of the 11th Mississippi. The four of us left charged them at a rush scared the life out of them and they almost instantly turned their rifles upside down in surrender. A couple of the officers where having a cow and during the awkward standoff, Cav, in amazement at what was happening, rushed over with their six horses to support us. Also coming out of seemingly nowhere, was our Sgt. Major with pistol drawn to lend support at our impressive feet of taking an entire company without firing a shot. It was the talk of Union battalion that night in camp with several people coming over to camp complementing us on our extraordinary feat. There is a really nice picture of the Captain with his sword drawn during the capture on the Yakima Herald website (CLICK HERE).
It was really nice to have Joseph join us again for this battle and we also had the exciting experience of signing up a new recruit. Not quite old enough to take the field but with Pvt. Doramos field ready next year, we'll definitely need a new runner. Our newest recruit, Ken, is expecting to join us at Snoqualmie in August.
Union Gap was a great event to just hang out. With so much modern activity going on, it was impossible to get into the period mindset. We still had plenty of fun, especially seeing Pvt. Hardway pretty up for the officer's ball. As always, thanks to everyone who could join us over the weekend, you're company, friendship, and support make this the great unit it is.
Sharpshooters 2nd largest company in Union Battalion!
Deep Creek, WA
After Action Report
We had a wonderfully large turnout placing us in second place only behind the 20th Maine! Even with late arrivals from other units Saturday night, Company D still had the 2nd most rifles on the field. The visitor turnout was enormous. For just the Sunday night battle and candle walk alone, well over 500 people purchased tickets. Camp layout was poorly done with companies packed in like cord wood. Due to poor layout, some company streets were only arms width apart! Our civilians seemed well placed though military was so packed there was no room for a company fly. Speaking of our wonderful civilians, it was a pleasure welcoming our newest civilian member, Mrs. Soderling. Our newest military recruit Private Lou “teacup” Bumonte, was great to get to know and will also make a wonderful addition to our Berdan family.
Saturday saw plenty of drill and camp activity but since the organization was recreating Bull Run and since we were the 2nd largest company, we filled in for line infantry. It wasn’t that exciting, but we got rewarded with great play the next day. Saturday afternoon Cpt. Whitehall held a brief but nice corps badge ceremony for our newest enlistees and some overdue vets. Saturday evening saw a wonderful officer’s club hosted by Capt. Whitehall who invited battalion staff and family for a wonderful evening of drinks and gentlemanly conversation.
Sunday morning saw an extensive amount of drill including time for privates to practice leading company drill. After drill, Company D was sent on special assignment to fortify and barricade three trails on an otherwise exposed Union left. Grabbing every available axe and hatchet in our camp and borrowed from other camps, we formed up and marched out for our special assignment. Stripping our uniforms down for proper fatigue duty, we set to work chopping logs and pounding stakes all while staying out of sight of Confederate drill. Next battle, we were deployed to defend the flank against the Jasper Greens at first but then the 1st Texas made a mad dash around the far side of the hill but ran hard into the barricades, stopping them cold in our trap. During the whole battle only three who climbed straight up managed to get around the wall! The Sharpshooters “held the line.” Through the chaos of the battles, our company runner, Pvt. Doramus was vital in keeping communication between squads open.
In between battle, we got some good practice on the rifle range and shot a YouTube video. Our range practice drew a crowd of at least 40 people. Sunday battles were generally pretty good since we were in the trees and on the hill. Everyone performed very well.
The nights were cold but the days warm so we continued the event tradition of company bath time. Braidyn joined us riding on the Captains shoulders while we all marched to clean up and cool down after the day’s battles. Each evening we cleaned rifles and taught our newest members our tips and tricks, as everyone sat out on their gum blankets with their Sharps and cleaning kits with them. Even Sid and her friend came over and got in on the rifle cleaning action.
Monday, battalion called off drill so units could be available for the public. We took some great group photos thanks to help from Pvt. Melendez of the 20th Maine, and Lt. Saint of the 12th. Corporal Spiekerman and privates, Soderling, Severson, and Cook led a very well received talk on Sharpshooters in the events pavilion. Each spoke confidently in front of the large audience and received more questions than other presenters and the only presenters that session that got a full round of applause. Pvt. Hardway demonstrated in a YouTube video an easy way to defarb a canteen. For the Memorial Day honoring ceremony, Company D was requested to participate again. Captain Whitehall, Corporal Spiekerman, Privates Soderling and Cook carried the Nationals as well as service flags in parade dress with honor. It is a true privilege to be entrusted by so many to continually lead in honoring our nations service men and women and those we've lost in service.
The entire event, people performed so well from keeping camp defarbed, practicing military and civilian courtesy (even as some were still learning), volunteering for military and civilian fatigue details, and regular business. On top of that, the unit got a nice photo in the Spokesman Review online (CLICK).
The first annual Berdan camp of instruction went wonderfully. Thank you all so much to those who could make it. The Captain did an exceptional job renting the site. Hours of marching and we never so much as saw the boundaries of the property it was so large and remote. The ranch is a popular one used by WWII reenactors and it was fun walking up on bunkers and trenches.
Our base camp was next to an old barn. The next morning, we packed the knapsacks with everything for an overnight bivouac over a mile from a camp. After a short march, the company drilled for around three hours including at least a solid hour of skirmish drill. The drill increased in speed, complexity, and terrain throughout the day. The company performed with distinction. Special recognition should go to our company runner, who for his first time, picked up the commands and handled the stress like a pro. We decided that our runner, while too young to carry a rifle in the WCWA, should have the safety, knowledge, and confidence of sharpshooter weapons and maneuvers. All sharpshooters learn the position up, and our runner exceeded all expectations.
After drill, we grabbed our packs and marched to our bivouac site. Privates carried additional tools as needed. Pvt. Soderling packed the axe, Pvt. Deven packed the cook pots and shovel, and so on. It was a beautiful piece of prairie full of deer, elk, and wild turkeys. We rested, collected firewood, and cooked supper over the fire. We even took some time to practice our death scenes which was a hilarious affair. After a peaceful evening, we all collected by the fire, cuddled up under our gum and wool blankets and slept the best we could through the cold night. I must have woken up at least four times to get more wood and stoke the fire. As soon as the sun rose, we were up and cooking coffee, potatoes, beans, and oatmeal over the coals. Refreshed, we cleaned camp, packed our gear, and marched the mile up hill back to base.
This training really gave everyone an opportunity to continually improve in drill, tactics, theory and appreciation of the Civil War experience. We all agreed this should become a new tradition. We couldn't be more proud of the hard work and dedication of everyone in the company. Our next Sharpshooter only event is the 4th of July weekend at Fort Stevens. We hope you can make it!
Our first annual Berdan Camp of Instruction is fast approaching. This event is $25 for the weekend and will be at a great site in Goldendale, Washington. It's a popular location for WWII reenacting and we'll have full run of the place with water, firewood, and port a potties provided. We'll be doing lots of drill, skirmishes and night firing is permitted! It will still be chilly at night so for our Sharpshooters who have already RSVP'd come well prepared and bring plenty of ammo. We're working on little workshops to improve impressions and battlefield tactics, if you have an idea that would be interesting be sure to let your commanders know.
If you are interested in participating or would like the address of the venue please email the Skipper.
Our next big Berdan only event will our 4th of July weekend event at Fort Stevens so be sure to mark you calendars!
Recently, the Skipper and I visited Bennett Loomis of Company G, 2nd USSS (Wisconsin) who is buried in Tenino, WA a few miles from my home. This coming year we would like to make a tradition of visiting Mr. Loomis to honor his service during either the Chehalis Museum event or the Battle of Chehalis. At our first formal visit, we hope to lay a Civil War veterans medallion and a wreath followed by a cleaning of his headstone. If you're interested in participating in the honoring, let us know.
Battle of the Chehalis River, 2015
Another exciting event for the 2015 season. For one battle, 13 sharpshooters took the field including our very own Berdan bugler! We also welcomed new recruit Pvt. Tyler Severson to our ever growing company. With this enthusiasm and attention, he quickly showed himself to be an excellent new recruit who performed well during his first reenactment. He also helped to film one of our increasing number of Company D YouTube videos. To check them out visit our YouTube channel Company D 2nd USSS. You can also click on the YouTube icon on the homepage! We noticed that filming YouTube videos at events, while farby, draw our largest audiences for demonstrations. I posted a detailed series on cleaning the Sharps rifle. Expect to see more videos on uniforms, gear, and impression tips.
In addition to our largest military presence in many years we were also very happy to see our biggest civilian camp this season! So many thanks to everyone who could make it!
With so many Berdans, our squads really put the heat on the Confederates who often had a difficult time dealing with so much fire from so many positions. On Saturday we also had a squad of Oregon dismounted cavalry fall in under Captain Whitehall's command. Our effectiveness was increased by the battlefield scouting of privates Reaper and Coffee. Helping our squad work was our very own runner who performed very well delivering messages from the Captain to the different squads all while under Confederate fire. There were so many exciting moments but some that stick out for me was when one of our privates, got tangled up during a retreat from a company of secesh. With a man down, Corporal Spiekerman and myself drew pistols, ran out, grabbed him and laid down a wall of pistol fire covering our retreat! The secesh were so stunned they didn't fire a single shot! We also really upset the Confederates when we charged a visiting Idaho group and took half of them prisoner, marching them off the field in front of the spectators! We were so fast the nearby companies didn't even have a chance to respond. On Saturday, we charged the South Carolina unit and made them scatter and run. Both were great units to play with and we told them to let us know when we can repay the favor.
We really hope to get some time during the battle of Snoqualmie to learn skirmish drill by bugle! Ethan, from the 20th Maine, has been so kind in his willingness to work with us. He hopes to post some skirmish bugle calls for us to start learning before Snoqualmie. Ethan is also a direct descendent of someone who served in Co E, 2nd USSS and already had a complete Berdan uniform including Sharps! If we have the chance to learn bugle calls during Snoqualmie all sharpshooters should expect lots more drill time. Private Edwards brought up the important point that with so many sharpshooters now, we need to expand our drill routine to include more of the school of the company including such things as deploying in fours. We all agreed that was an excellent idea.
This has been such a special year for the company and we couldn't have done it without so many wonderful people. We continue to spend time meeting and hanging out with battalion staff, building positive relationships with other soldiers and commanders, and building our reputation. A good example of putting a smile on battalion's face was how each morning, Pvt. Coffee provided a unique Berdan reveille that who camp could hear. It was great! Thanks again to all our amazing civilians and soldiers. We'll see you in Snoqualimie!
This weekend we had a fantastic turnout with 9 sharpshooters and 1,300 park visitors on Saturday! Drill, demos, leadership, and team building were the main goals this weeked. Saturday included cleaning and repairing gear in preparation for the grand review at Chehalis, 4 hours of drill a day including our first squad drills and skirmishes. Guide sheets were given to squad leaders Cpl. Spiekerman and private Soderling who drilled in small groups for an hour after an hour of company drill. Cpt. Whitehall and I observed the squad leaders as we encouraged leadership, teamwork, and cross training. After squad drill, we pitted the squads against each other in a skirmish capture the flag. Squads and leaders were graded based on number of shots fired, number of correct commands given, and deducted points for improper command or execution. The winner was Cpl. Spiekerman's squad who won with a last minute flanking maneuver and dash to the finish line. Everyone did a great job and we look forward to putting everyone in the squad leader position for these drills and exercises.
The greatest attention to detail went into drilling with accuracy. Several times we pulled out the manuals to double check commands or a procedure. Most of us now have collected quite a few manuals leading to several "well, actually..." moments. A perfect example of our commitment to military accuracy was spending nearly three hours this weekend learning the manual of arms by the numbers. We are starting to look and sound like a drill team. Also part of our drill this weekend was company PT as you can see in the pictures.
The public presence was huge and often required us to break from exercises to work the crowds gathering around the company fly. Everyone stepped up and led discussions with the public. Some groups visited for over twenty minutes. Visitors asked some great questions but two thought Melissa was a mannequin.
Saturday night being Independence Day, we asked permission for night firing and had the rare and exciting chance to drill and fire at night. Did I mention we drilled? We drilled a lot! After that, we lit the lanterns and played Cards Against Humanity while listening to fireworks.
Sunday started with rifle cleaning and repairs, PT, drill, manual of arms, and a two hour long tactical training exercise. Cpt. Whitehall and I were referees. The Cpt. took out Cpl. Spiekerman in command of our newest recruits to set up an ambush. His crew consisted of privates Cook and Amuchastegui from Struve's Marines. Pvt. Soderling commanded privates Hardway and Ternan. Observing Soderling's command was impressive as they meticulously paroled sectors of the battlefield and trails for Cpl. Spiekerman and his team. Most impressive was watching everyone's commitment to following period manuvers, commands, and patrol formations. The Captain and I were so happy to see everyone avoid the desire to get all "Call of Duty" during the exercise. Even though pvt. Soderling's group engaged first, there was no clear winner on our first tactical but everyone performed great. The real victory was watching everyone learning to follow orders from each other, problem solve, and support each other.
After the park was closed, we started filming instructional videos that are now posted on YouTube and on our media page. We hope to continue making these short videos to encourage recruits, grow as a resource to other reenactors, and provide training to new and old recruits.
We really look forward to making this a yearly team building training weekend. We also got $200 closer to our fundraising goal of buying company colors! So many thanks to all who could make it. We can't wait to see you at Chehalis.
A note from Captain Whitehall: Thank you to all the sharpshooters who came this weekend and made the biggest turnout yet for our living history. So much was accomplished this weekend and I am proud of each and every one of you. Keep up the good work and we will be the stars at the Grand Review in a couple of weeks.
Union Gap, WA
Sharpshooters continue to make history this year as we had two sharpshooters on battalion staff Sunday. I was requested to fill in as battalion Sgt. Major and Captain Whitehall was once again requested to be acting battalion adjutant. In other exciting news, pvt. Ron Guwick joined us! We had a wonderful time catching up with our favorite Canadian. His stories and company are still wonderful and his recruiting talents second to none.
Saturday was a long one beginning with battalion's participation in the Old Town Days parade. We had a fun time cruising to the event with the colors and hanging on while on a flat bed trailer. Including the parade, we had a 2.1 mile march from the parade straight to battle. It was a lot of fun but left a few sore and blistered feet. The battles were alright. While dynamic, they were not particularly exciting. Once again, our shooting range was a hit and now being looked forward to and requested by battalion and other reenactors who appreciate joining some firing practice. It's a magnet for the public. We have carefully designed the range from lots of documentation but we continue to fool other reenactors who actually think we're firing lead down range! Saturday we had a visit from east coast Sharpshooter, Joseph who fell in for second battle. He was good company and pretty awesome on the field, too. Captain Bright from the cavalry had a new recruit fall in with us for second battle, too. For having zero reenacting experience he did a fine job.
I enjoyed being Sgt. Major during 1st Sgt.'s call but the position isn't particularly exciting especially when you're a sharpshooter used to sending rebs to their maker. During the battles, the Sgt. Major is essentially the safety monitor but Captain Whitehall put me to work for a very exciting maneuver during Sunday's second battle. Captain Whitehall did an ammo check and had me rush to deliver more ammo to our heavily engaged sharpshooters. The captain called me in for additional support crushing the heavily exposed confederate flank. The South Carolina boys were backed up right in front of the pubic. The captain seeing the opportunity signaled to Captain Struve to join in the attack who, with lighting speed, rushed over to support Company D. Once we were in place we opened up a wall of fire and the Captain led a charge that completely broke the rebs. I had never seen a company scatter and run in complete disorder like a spooked flock of birds. Company D took five prisoners including two officers and three privates which I detained under armed guard in front of the public while Captain Whitehall, supported by Captain Struve, chased the rebs almost off the field to end the battle capturing a Confederate cannon!
Our speed in shooting is growing in intensity each event through our diligent practice in drill and on the range. I've noticed we're often going through twenty five or more rounds a battle. Speaking with other units while acting Sgt. Major, quite a few other reenactors maybe fire 6 to 10 rounds a battle! Our new field clean technique is proving itself fast and very effective as we have yet to have a single rifle malfunction or stuck block this year.
With Company D's leadership on battalion staff Sunday, Pvt. Hardway (Aurianna) did a great job as acting 1st Sgt. It says so much about our company's commitment to cross-training our soldiers to handle every position and supporting them for success and confidence. We also have to commend Pvt. Ternan, who for the first time marched the company back to camp, halted, fronted, and dismissed them with perfection. Company D, continues to be the battalion's go-to company for support and leadership. Sunday morning we provided the battalion escort to board the U.S.S Tahoma and then to Confederate camp for battle planning.
Battalion did some good things for all of us this weekend. Rather than waking up at o-dark-thirty for the pancake feed, Col. Geho gave everyone Schwann's ice cream sandwiches Saturday. On Sunday, the Colonel had me distribute two pounds of black powder to every company. Saturday's movie night also seemed to be a hit with a number of the reenactors.
We are looking forward to a record turn out at our Ft. Steven's living history event on the Fourth of July weekend. Ethan's carpool is fully loaded already as is ours. With such a large turnout expected and with three new recruits we are considering planning the first Berdan tactical at Ft. Stevens. We will have the hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. to pit squad against squad in a battle royale. I will also have a competition shot clock ready to dial in our speed shooting and to measure shot splits. We will also be drilling, building leadership skills, and planning for Chehalis. We will also be expecting a huge turn out for Chehalis and will be planning for a Company museum display. I expect to have at least one period correct heavy rifle case completed by then to continually up our impression.
Thanks to everyone who could make it and thanks to everyone's dedication and hard work. We hope to see you at Ft. Stevens!
1st Sgt. Koepp
Deep Creek, WA
Sharpshooters Wipe Out 3 Companies, Capture Major
Captain leads division into battle
In short: We kicked butt and had fun. For more detail read on!
This Memorial Day weekend was one of many firsts for Company D and one for heart pounding battles. The Tahoma Marines fell in with us this weekend giving us nine men on the field. In addition to promoting Colt to corporal, we picked up an energetic new recruit, Bryce Cook who is our new man on the target rifle. Corporal Spiekerman quickly proved his skill as second squad leader as the Berdans annihilated three confederate companies on Saturday. Our squad work on Saturday was effective and deadly in part to Captain Whitehall's excellent battlefield map and our pre-battle scouting. Corporal Spiekerman led second squad consisting of the Tahoma Marines. I led first squad including Pvt. Hardway (Aurianna), Pvt. Ternan, and James from the Marines. On Saturday we held the left flank while jumping logs, sliding down hillsides, hiding behind trees and laying down a wall of fire. The one poor survivor from South Carolina met his maker in vain to defend himself against the Captain's sword. Captain Whitehall actually slayed two rebs with his sword this weekend. A few rebs tried to sneak up on the the trail leading to our position. After one bloody volley killing off the remaining threat to our front, I pulled off 1st squad reset the line and sent the threat to an early grave allowing the Captain to sweep down with 1st squad and capture Major Harriman and his sword.
All our efforts in drilling really paid off this weekend as we were often the last company to leave the drill grounds and the only company drilling while firing. Our excellence in drilling and safety led battalion to easily approve our company's request to engage the enemy while prone. Eight sharpshooters hitting the deck in front of the audience made for a great show.
Corporal Spiekerman did an excellent job bearing the colors this weekend which were quickly posted on the field before we set to our deadly work. Due to battalion's need to have us hitting hard we ended up only have to march the colors out half of the time before posting them. Captain Whitehall also did an exceptional job as temporary adjutant for battalion. We were the go to company for all sorts of duties. In addition to our daily fatigue duties we were also employed as battalion escorts to confederate camp.
Another exciting first was Captain Whitehall commanding three companies on Monday's surprise attack on the rebel forces. While Captain Whitehall, along with Corporal Speakerman, led the 79th New York on a long surprise rear assault on the rebels. Captain Whitehall: “After reaching the battalion staging area above Deep Creek Cpl. Spiekerman, myself and the 79th double-quicked along the ridge and crossed the fence on the far side. From there we entered the woods on a knoll overlooking both rebel cavalry camp and the main body of the confederate battalion. For the next hour the 79th and us laid low, Messages were sent by runner (Cpl. Spiekerman) back to the Colonel informing him the Rebs were in camp drilling and having parade with no clue of the battalion intentions. Once they moved from camp and deployed from column of companies onto the field,that is when the 79th led along trails by the Corporal and I sprung the trap, bursting from the trees and forming a firing line behind the Rebels. As planned two companies were pulled off to face the new threat to their rear as our Cavalry screened our rear. While the 79th pushed the rear of the rebels and began a flanking fire maneuver, Cpl. Spiekerman and I ran a small trail through the woods and to our surprise found a Private from the 20th Maine as well as our own Private Ternan.After a quick volley we came from behind the two rebel companies who fired a poorly executed and poorly timed volley into the 79th, who charged them after seeing us smash into their flank, capturing them before the battle ended.”
While the Captain was marching the 79th to the Confederate rear, I led the Berdan's first as a screening force for the battalion. Here we kept throwing ourselves out in a skirmish line to cover the advance of the Colonel, the 20th Maine, and 3rd Michigan as we swept down the hill. After zigzagging from the top of the hill, we rushed to cover the battalion's right flank as the Jasper Greens crept up the trail behind union camp. We fell back in skirmish line to cover the right flank. When the Jasper Greens marched up the main hill trail to sweep down and pressure the right flank, we crashed through the woods on the lower trail, rushed up the hill, threw out a well covered skirmish line and kept the Jasper's not only entirely off the field but out of view of the entire public. Our Sharpshooters performed with valor, fighting with bravery, accuracy, and mass volume of fire.
Our unit was also honored when battalion chose one of us (the 1st Sgt) to be part of the firing detail as part of Monday's Memorial Day service.
Some other key things to quickly review:
Captain Ethan Whitehall: email@example.com
Wambaugh & White
Dell's Leather Works
VTI gun parts
Numrich Gun Parts
Cimmaron Firearms Co
Cherry's Fine Guns
EMF Co. Inc.
Dixie Gun Works
Washington Civil War Association
Happy Friends of Civil War Farb
Company C Berdan Sharpshooters
WCWA Safety Test
Company D Standing Orders
Company D Drill Guide
Special thanks to the archivists at the Maine State Archives for all their research help.
School of the Soldier April 27-29
Central Washington Ag. Museum in Union Gap, WA