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Bowen's Mill October 2008

On Friday morning, John towed the gun to Bowen's Mill near Middleville, MI. 

The mill was built in 1864 and has been the site of many Civil War reenactments.

Captain Hughes selected a campsite for the Battery and, with the assistance of Cpl. Davis, had most of the camp setup by 1 PM. Cannoneers arrived and added tentage until a small, but respectable looking camp was established.

Breakfast was cooked and eagerly eaten....

...while Brian and Buddy polished the bronze tube...

...making it gleam in the morning sun.

The morning was spent looking at the period buildings, mill and visiting with old friends. Cadet Chapman was on leave from the Academy and visited his father.

Meanwhile, Capt. Hughes attended Officer's Call where the tactical situation was discussed and orders for the day given.

The Infantry started drilling...

...as did our cannoneers. Robinson's Battery donned gray for this event.

The scenario had the Confederates in town and the Union marching in to occupy it.

The Rebels formed a line of battle with a 4 gun battery at the center and defended the town.

Casualties mounted as the battle raged.

The Yankees, having a stronger force, soon overran the artillery and routed the infantry.

As the day's fighting ended, the cannoneers camped near a barn and ate a tasty chicken stew. Using some flour and a Dutch oven liberated from the farmer's kitchen, fresh baked biscuits and a peach cobbler complemented the stew.

Suddenly, an alarm was given.  The cannoneers jumped to their gun and fired several rounds during a night attack.

Once the enemy was beaten back, a comfortable night was spent, with the temperatures dipping down into the 50s.

On Sunday morning after a hearty breakfast, the battle began again with the Confederates counter-attacking...

...and pushing the Federals out of town.

The sounds of battle faded away, leaving the mill pond to revert to its own tranquility.

Thanks to Roger Thomson for use of many of his photos.

Centerville MI Civil War & Antique Show

After the grave rededication on Saturday, the cannon was trailered downstate to the fairgrounds at Centreville, MI, unloaded, and a fly and tents were set up for those spending the night.  Parking was conveniently located directly in back of our camp. Things could be secured in the trailer overnight, a fast food emporium just down the street so breakfast was easy and lunch was available on site.  Once canvas and bedding were in place, several members drove to Middlebury, IN for dinner at the Das Dutchman Essen Haus restaurant. After eating our fill, Buddy and John returned to Centerville to spend the night. The temperatures were getting pretty cool, and as it was late, they soon headed to their tents.

Up early, John and Buddy headed to the local McDonalds commissary for a quick, hot breakfast. By the time they returned, Cameron and Sharon Davis were there. The show opened at 7 AM, and before long, several visitors stopped to look over the cannon and ask questions. Sgt. Liebrandt arrived and commanded the detachment. A hard frost covered the ground but melted as the sun came up.

By midday the temperatures were pleasant, though the uniform coats felt good to wear. The sponsor of the show asked if we would fire the gun at intervals during the day; permission was received from the local police department and we fired the gun three different times during the show,  two rounds each time. Each time drew a small crowd of spectators, and a number of people heading over to the Civil War Show stopped to talk.  Several donations were rceived in the donation can, plus the sponsor donated a nice amount to cover our powder expenses. We handed out a number of brochures and talked to several possible recruits. The show ended at 3 pm; the small camp broke and loaded the gun for the drive home.

Solomon Ostrander's Grave Rededication - October 4, 2008

The cannoneers arrived at Oakwood Cemetery in Allegan, MI before the start of the rededication of Pvt. Solomon Ostrander's grave marker. The cannon was off loaded and polished by John and Erik. Several of the ladies were in period dress for the occasion.

The modern day honor guard was fascinated with our beautiful gun.  Their weapons may be more powerful but they were delighted to pose with this reminder of the past.

Bill Brennen of the General Benjamin Pritchard Camp #20, Department of Michigan, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War began the ceremony by playing his fife.

Several speakers then related information about Pvt. Ostrander's life, both as a civilian and while in the Battery. The gun detachment was put at rest for the speeches to come.

Presentations from Michigan's Senate and House of Representatives were made in honor of the rededication, speakers from the American Legion, other SUV camps and the City Manager of Allegan gave speeches.  Captain Hughes then gave a brief history of Battery C's activities during the war.

The members of the Prichard Camp held the dedication ceremony according to the SUV rituals.

Camp #20 and Robinson's Battery member, Buddy Peters, presented a pine bough tribute.

Camp #20 and Robinson's Battery member, Kirk Walstedt presented a floral tribute.

A jar of soil from Stillwater, New York - the birth place of Solomon Ostrander - was kindly provided by the manager of Stillwater; each member of the Sons of Union Veterans placed a handful of that soil on the grave.

The cannoneers then posted on to the gun...

...and fired three rounds in honor of Private Ostrander.

Taps sounded the conclusion; afterward, several of the descendants of Solomon Ostrander gathered at the new marker.

L to R - David Ostrander, Nathan Ostrander, Carol (Ostrander) Moritz and Bill Moritz

Bonnet Workshop

While not a Battery event, Betty Hughes and Kris Lindquist were able to attend a 2 day bonnet making workshop put on by Beth Turza and held at the incomparable Dressmaker's Shop in Leslie, MI.  Although both bonnets still need a bit of work, by 2 pm of the second day, they were nearing completion.  Betty's bonnet is above.

Kris's bonnet is at left.  Be watching for these lovely creations to be modeled at an event near you!

Monroe MI Film Shoot September 2008

At 6 AM Buddy, Brian and John headed down to Monroe, MI to help film a "Virtual Field Trip" for the Monroe school district. Arriving at the Navarre Trading post on North Custer Road, which is a 1700s period building, they found several tents set up and  people slowly arriving for the day's filming. Tony Osterberg joined Robinson's Battery and soon Kirk and Dave arrive to fill out our detachment.

We put up a couple tents to add to the camp...

...and placed the gun in position according to the director and cameramen's wishes. As is usual with any kind of movie making, things seemed to be slow getting done and before we knew it, the morning was gone and we hadn't even began to shoot the cannon scene. Free donuts and pizza held our interest while we waited.

A couple of the "extras" decided to ford the river, which was only waist deep...

....except in one spot.

Finally the cameramen set up their tools and began setting up scenes. Our part was to portray a Rebel camp guarding a bridge over the river and, because we were "far" from the enemy, were busy performing our daily routine in camp.  Meanwhile we were actually being stealthily observed and scouted by 2nd Lt. George Custer (portrayed by Steve Alexander - a renowned Custer impersonator).....

....who then returned and lead a force of Union soldiers in attacking the camp and capturing several prisoners.

As part of our routine, Brian was busy at the fire cooking up a stew, Buddy, Tony and Kirk were busy polishing the cannon tube.

Dave was playing his fife.... 

....Xavier Allen, the drummer, was on hand....

.....and Sgt Hughes was reading the latest Harpers Weekly,

when several ground charges burst around the camp and the Yankees charged in firing.  Custer, waving a "captured" Bowie knife (that really happened) routed the Rebels and marched a number of them off under guard to a Northern prison camp. After those scenes were completed to the director's desires, they had us simulate loading a solid shot and then fire a blank round.

The camera was positioned (see it at lower left) and the gun fired. We could tell that both the director and cameraman loved that! It didn't take much effort to get us to load a second round and, with the camera on the ground about 4 feet in front of the muzzle, they filmed another shot. Then we were done.

It was about 3 PM when we packed up and headed home. Another date is in the works for a filming of a part of Pickett's Charge with the 7th MI Inf. to be held on the River Raisen National Battlefield Park.

Jackson Cascades August 2008

On Friday morning, Cam, John, Kirk and Cindy arrived at the Cascades Park in Jackson, found our camp ground and set up our company street. The weather, which had been low humidity and perfect temperatures for three weeks, abruptly changed to high humidity and high 80s for the weekend (typical Jackson event weather). The camp was set up, and with cannoneers arriving through out the day until we had a compliment of 9 A tents and our dining flies.

Saturday morning the cannoneers awoke to drums and fife music, created in part by Dave Goodwin’s fife playing.

After a hearty breakfast to fortify the men, roll call was taken and a mail call made. Young Pvt. Chapman received a box from home that contained a special gift from the members of the Battery. In recognition for achieving his Eagle Scout award earlier this year, members of the Battery purchased a wheel hat for Caleb which he proudly wore for the rest of the event. 
Hazzah! Hazzah! Hazzah!

The day began with Officer’s Call and drills on the gun. The Battery was proud to have as our guest, Jerry Radloff, the great grand nephew of Sanford Smith, an original Battery artilleryman.  After he arrived, we put him on the detachment much to his enjoyment.

The weather, which was oppressively hot and humid, quickly began taking its toll on the soldiers and other participants; the EMTs had their hands full all day.

This year’s reenactment was of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Missouri), so our Battery decided to portray a militia battery in the Missouri State Guard wearing Mexican War style wheel hats to compliment our M1841 style cannon.

Photo by Leo Cumings

After drill, the cannoneers retired to camp for lunch; some took time to visit the sutlers.  At 1:30 pm, the call to arms was heard; the men assembled on the gun line and prepared for battle. 

Soon a line of blue coated infantry crested the ridge and presented an inviting target for our gun.

The bronze gun was soon in action and began to fire at the advancing Regulars and Iowa Militiamen.

The Missouri State guard troops soon rallied behind the cannon and the battle was joined in fury.

Photo by Jack Dempsey

The Federals were too powerful to resist for long and the infantry boys gave way, some even running disgracefully to the rear, and soon our guns were overrun.

But little did they know that in the tree line was a larger force of the guard waiting to spring forth.

The boys rose up, drove the bluecoats from the field and retook our cannons....

....driving them back towards Springfield, leaving the field filled with the dead and wounded from both sides.

When the battle ended, the cannons were taken back to camp and preparations for supper began. The main course consisted of two fat chickens and a ham roasted in the tin kitchen, sautéed summer squash, summer pickles, vine ripened tomatoes, roasted corn on the cob and for dessert, steamed rolly polly pudding.

Another great breakfast for the troops and then the guns were moved to a new position for the afternoon battle. The Battery drilled until noon then went back to camp for lunch and rest. At 2 pm, the battle resumed. 

Luckily, our boys found a shady place to fight.

At the end of the fight, the two forces faced each other; the commanding officers, tired of the blood and death met in the middle of the field, agreed to cease fighting and marched their remaining troops off the field.

Serving on the Gun:
Capt. John Hughes - Battery Commander over three original 6 pound cannon
Sgt. Jon Liebrandt - Chief of Piece
Cpl. Cameron Davis - Gunner
Cpl. Fred Chapman - Gunner
Pvts: Dave Goodwin, Caleb Chapman, Buddy Peters, Kirk Walstedt, Tony Ostenberg, Jerry Radloff In Camp: Sharon Davis, Cindy Walstedt, Silas Chapman, Betty Hughes, Chris Czopek, Erik Lindquist, Kris Lindquist, Deb Gosselin, Carolyn Rusk, Becca Rusk, Jackie Ostenberg and Andrew Ladd

Grayling Live Fire 2008

Winners of the 2008 Smoothbore Competition!!

Cam Davis and John Hughes headed up to Grayling Saturday morning;  Kirk Waldstadt and a friend were already there, as were Dave Goodwin & Tony Osterberg. After driving to the safety line, the gun was off loaded, trailer parked, uniforms pulled on and out we went to the line to serve as line judges as the first relay of field guns opened fire.

Ahhh - the smell of blackpowder smoke in the morning... Dave served on the 12 pd bronze Napoleon fired by the 1st South Carolina. A 2.5 pound service charge of powder & 12 pound ball was LOUD! The ground moved when that gun fired. During this match, Jon Liebrandt arrived to fill out our detachment.

The smoothbore cannon fired at targets 600 yards away; rifled guns had targets set at 1200 yards. A demonstration target consisting of 8 inch timbers cut to resemble a log cabin was placed at 450 yards. Competitors had to fire their first and last round at the long range targeting and then change to the demonstration target and fire up to three rounds at that.

The recoil that these guns have is interesting to watch. After firing, a gun moved  between 8 and 18 feet to the rear, and had to be wheeled back into battery for the next shot. Notice the dirt spraying as Burrough's Battery's Cadet gun begins its recoil.

An estimated 16 to 20 field guns were fired between the two relays. 

At left is a Parrott firing.

Robinson's Battery shot on the second relay.

In the distance one can see the 1200 yard targets...those little bitty white specks are actually 4' x 8' sheets of chipboard.




Out of the 15 rounds we shot, two were hits on the scoring target at 600 yards and two were on the demonstration target at 450 yards. A cross-fire from another gun accounts for the third hit.

Robinson's Battery was the winner of the smoothbore match for 2008!  Huzzah!!

Collecting shot on the range after the firing ceases

This photo shows the topping of a tree. Sometimes a shot will strike the ground, bounce into the air,go through a tree, go to ground and repeat the process several times before stopping.

Some of the tree strikes are very impressive, showing the force and energy that a shot posesses.

Entry of a 3" rifled shot in a 10 inch diameter pine tree.

Exit of the same shot.

Thanks to everyone who was able to drive up and participate. Overall, this year's match was very pleasing; our hits improved, the weather was agreeable for wool, the new wheels allowed the gun to recoil straight backwards rather than scribing a small arc and we had compliments that our cannoneers looked very professional during the match.

Charlton Park - July 2008

Friday morning Cam, John, Brian and Bethany arrived on site and found  they had the pick of camping sites in the civilian area.  They chose a camp next to the Museum, on the top of the hill, under the shade of trees, and it was pretty much setup by 1 PM. Buddy and the Rusks added their tents later in the day. A nice breeze off the river teased the cannonneers into thinking an exceptionally good weather weekend was in the offing. Wrong!  At 5 pm the breeze died away and the weather turned hot and humid for the rest of the night causing an uncomfortable night's sleep.

Saturday morning dawned cloudy and overcast and soon the cannoneers were very thankful for the new fly that John purchased the Tuesday before, and by adding it to Cam's fly, a very nice dining area was added to the kitchen area - especially when the rain began.

 After moving the cannon from the artillery park to the demonstration area, the cannonneers drilled in the steady drizzle, training a couple new artillerymen in various positions.

After several turns at various positions on the gun, the cannoneers returned to camp for lunch.

At 2 PM, still in a steady drizzle of rain, the artillerymen returned to the gun for a demonstration firing of a 4 gun battery...

...and a chance to show the spectators the effects of double cannister shot at advancing infantry. We fired a couple of rounds at the infantry and a whole company went down.

Quite impressive!

As you can see, our cannoneers suffered a few casualties from the musketry as well.

At the conclusion, we returned to camp for the afternoon and prepared supper. The Rusks offered to plan the evening meal so Carolyn put on a couple pots of green beans, boiled with potatoes, ham & onions...

...while Anna, Ben and Andrew Ladd churned butter to accompany the home baked bread that the Rusks baked earlier in the week.

Becca gets ready for the dance while Pvt. Andrew Ladd demonstrates his enthusiasm at the prospect of dancing after a hard day of serving the cannon.

Sunday morning didn't show much improvement, but at least the rain did finally stop and things improved. The cannoneers had a couple of tintypes taken of them with the gun by a traveling tintype artist (one is at left) during the morning and then repositioned the gun for the afternoon battle.

The sun actually broke through the cloud cover and a nice breeze tried to provide us with dry canvas to pack. The cannon was placed in a section with a Parrott rifle, under the command of Capt. Hughes, and two other Parrotts galvanized as Rebel artillery for the battle.

We fired a total of 7 rounds during this battle.

Afterwards, Andrew learned how to clean a cannon from Corporal Davis.

Note the stream of dirty water spurting from the cannon's vent as well as the Corporal's spiffy wheel hat.

Sgt. Liebrandt & Cpl. Davis trained our new recruits ("Butch" and Ben are at left) and kept a watchful eye on them during their first events. Buddy, Ben and Brian preformed like professional artillerymen and we had another safe event.

Celery Flats - June 2008

Cameron & John arrived at the Stewart House on Friday morning and found that Steve Rossio had already dug a firepit for us in the same area as last year. The morning was filled with unloading the trailer and setting up camp of one wall tent, kitchen fly and seven A tents.

The artillerymen had a schedule of drill and demonstration around noon on both days before the battle to refresh everyone's memory on gun drill.  Dave Goodwin played his fife a bit and tried to get Becca "Ben" Rusk to accompany him on the drum. Dave later brought out his fiddle and played some great music.

The battles worked out very nicely with each day's fight lasting around 40 minutes. Several of the buildings were utilized and some of our ladies served in the battle as townsfolk.

 Along with hand cranked batches of ice cream - strawberry and vanilla!  The rest of the evening we enjoyed a concert by the Dodsworth Brass Band.

Sewing Workshop: Civil War Aprons - June 2008

Betty taught a workshop to create decorative aprons; both elegant and patriotic.  No work aprons for this group!

Linnea demonstrates that the irons of today are much more user friendly!

Deb's new apron

Kris's new apron

Betty and Linnea's nearly completed patriotic apron

Jackson 2007

Dave Goodwin entertaining the Battery in camp

Marshall 2007

Grayling Live Fire - July 2006

The effects of cannon fire can be devastating.

Fort Wayne, Detroit - June 2004

Fort Wayne encampment under beautiful skies

Cavalryman behind one of the historic homes open for tours

Smoking hats for all!