After set up, our call to man the picket line began at 4 a.m. after a sweltering and challenging night's rest. Up on line, we made ourselves at home while we waited for the enemy. This included sleeping in shifts and cooking from our haversacks. Once the shooting time began, the rebs put up fierce resistance for two hours of rolling gun fights. This included reinforcement at times from the 79th NY and Brooklyn Zouaves. During one of those actions, Captain Whitehall and Cpl. Soderling daringly captured a rebel prisoner who was one of the friendliest prisoner's we ever captured. After taking an oath of allegiance he joined us for fighting throughout Saturday afternoon. We were very pleased to welcome nurse Molly who decided to carry an 1859 Sharps instead of her usual ice bucket this weekend. Molly was a fierce and reliable Sharpshooter and wonderful company all weekend.
Once off the line, it was all about managing the effects of heat. We quickly spent much of the weekend in shirt sleeves, hydrating, and using ice packs liberally to stay healthy and in fighting shape. Midday rest was interrupted occasionally to help support the Union line as the Confederate tactics improved. This included a suicidal flanking maneuver by Cpl. Soderling, Pvt. Severson, and myself. With Union backs to the wall, we provided several minutes of distraction forcing secesh to pull off valuable troops to address our gun fire, allowing Cpt. Whitehall's command to gain valuable ground, eventually holding the forest. During a lull in afternoon fighting, Pvt. Severson and I went to investigate the position of the 79th NY. As usual, we began fortifying a shooting position near a fence crossing that was regularly probed by the Confederates. This quickly took on as the rest of the Company D came up to help the 79th expand fortifications around the Shephard's Hut.
Sunday morning saw fighting come on hard and fast again. With our unit taking early casualties leaving Pvt. Moore and I holding the extreme right flank of the forest. The rebs were hitting us from the front and the rear. Luckily, Captain Whitehall saw a squad of rebs rush to support the few that broke through the Union rear. Returning from camp, he grabbed two training knives and while quickly running up to them in surprise, knife killed at least six of them in front of battalion leaders of both sides.
Both sides did pretty well taking hits and prisoners. You could sense the desire by most of the people there for these events to continue. We heard rave reviews from numerous people about their experience this weekend. Corporal Soderling even praised it as the best event she's ever been in. You could tell the people there were really trying to find a fun balance of hot action and hit taking. It wasn't all flawless, though. Our biggest critique is that our opponents didn't seem to understand that a quick shot at sharpshooters lying prone and behind cover weren't going to die at the first crack of a rifle. This played out disappointingly towards the end of Sunday when our unit, with some early support from a couple of 79th NY soldiers, set out to lie in ambush on a well travelled enemy back road. Taking the high ground, on a rise above a ravine, behind dense brush and under the cover of trees, the company of Confederates didn't take a single hit from the well aimed and well covered expert marksman of Company D. Most of us had at least three well aimed clear shots at different rebs as the they struggled towards our position. Ignoring all of our gunfire, they lumbered noisily towards our position in mass and insisted we were prisoners because they were all loaded. Also indicating, they weren't returning much fire. This was frustrating and ridiculous, but listening to the rest of the fighting die out, we did manage to pull off and delay an entire company for the rest of the day's fighting. I suppose that's what you call making lemonade out of lemons. I'm hopeful this lack of sportsmanship is just a growing pain as more and more people learn the spirit of non-mainstream events.
Speaking of non-mainstream WCWA events, this event was made even better by the lack of public. We weren't held to the old community theater of mainstream reenactments or their overbooked schedules. We were there for us. We were there to improve, connect, and build comradery across units as we spent so much time fighting side by side and against each other. The fighting was better than the vast majority of WCWA events as was the maneuvering. Working in teams and reorganizing cut off groups to form new lines was an incredible experience and great opportunity for commanders to really stress test their companies. Both sides had fun, fought hard, and fought safely.
A lot of thanks go out to everyone who helped make this possible and everyone who could make it and all of those who helped to make it special. We hope the organization can see the value of the time, commitment, and participation of all those involved and honor the event (as well as the participants) as being eligible for numbers. We look forward to the next one!