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Dedication Ceremony John P. Sinclair, Oakwood Cemetery, Traverse City, MI  October 19, 2009

Saturday morning John and Betty headed north towards Traverse City towing the cannon; Buddy caravaned with them.  After a quick stop in Lansing to pick up Mark, they continued onward. Arriving there around noon, the cannoneers met up with Deb, Kris, Chuck and Diane Peterson for lunch at the Grand Traverse Pie Co.  Robinson's Battery arrived at Oakwood Cemetery and the newly set headstone was located.

The artillerymen off loaded the cannon and met up with members of the Robert Finch Camp of the Sons of Union Veterans.  Battery members Deb Gosselin and Kris Lindquist were interviewed by a reporter for the local newspaper, the Traverse City Record Eagle.  See the article.

At 2 pm, the ceremony commenced with an introduction of honored guests and a description of the dedication ceremony by Neal Breaugh. The members of the Finch Camp used a 1916 version of the GAR dedication service for the new headstone for Sgt. John P. Sinclair, a member of the original Battery. 

Captain Hughes spoke on behalf of Robinson' Battery.  "I would like to first of all thank Deb Gosselin, of Robinson's Battery for her research and correspondence with the Sinclair family which led to the discovery that Sgt. John Sinclair had been buried in an unmarked grave back in 1914.

With this information, members of the Battery felt that we should try and provide a suitable marker to identify his resting place.

I would also like to thank Brendon Morgan, Sexton of Oakwood Cemetery.  Mr. Morgan immediately jumped on board for this idea during a phone conversation about the presence of Sgt. Sinclair's gravesite. Mr. Morgan checked his records and verified that Sgt. Sinclair was buried here and was still without a headstone. He provided information on how to proceed with ordering a government stone from the VA and oversaw the setting of the stone once it arrived.

Special thanks to Brother Tom Jenkins of the Robert Finch Camp #14. Tom has been the point man in getting this ceremony organized. Tom happened to have been in Mr. Morgan's office shortly after we had talked about Sgt. Sinclair and heard the plans to install a new stone.  Tom contacted me the very same day and offered the services of the Robert Finch Camp of the Son of Union Veterans for a dedication service. Without Tom's leadership and planning, this ceremony would not have the significance and honor that it now has. Thank you, Brother Tom.

To the members of the Robert Finch Camp. Thank you for helping Robinson's Battery provide the appropriate honors in remembering Sgt. Sinclair's service. Your participation and respect for the soldiers of the Civil War is greatly appreciated. 

To the members of Robinson's Battery, thank you for making the long trek from down state to help honor this man who served in the original battery that we portray. It is our dedication to foster and preserve the history of those men, which allows us the ability to see that they are remembered and honored in a manner that is both fitting and proper."

Kris Lindquist presented the Robinson's Battery floral wreath.

Dedication Ceremony  Team              
Commander:   Jeff Morse              
Chaplain:   Tom Jenkins              
Officer of the Guard:  Bill Skillman

Stone Guard:  George Goodrich, Battery D MI Lt. Artillery

Placement of Artillery Symbols was performed by  Pvt. Mark Pangburn of Robinson's Battery.   First Brother, Dale Aurand, placed an evergreen wreath as a symbol of the undying love for the comrades of the war.

Second Brother, H.G. Smith, placed a single red rose as a symbol of purity so that future generations may emulate the unselfish devotion of even the lowliest of our heroes.

Third Brother, Joe Conger, placed a laurel wreath as a last token of affection from the sons of comrades in arms to crown these remains with the symbol of victory.

Poems of the period, honoring the dead, were provided by several speakers including Judy Jenkins, at left, Jim Ribby with a dramatic recitation of The Last Camp and Neal Breaugh.

A good sized crowd of spectators attended including several ladies from Adrian, MI.

The final salute, three shots, was fired by a cannon cast the same year that Sgt. Sinclair enlisted in the Battery - 1861.

Smoke wafting away....

Robinson's Battery members

A unexpected guest to the ceremony was Chris Campbell, who is Sgt. Sinclair's first cousin four times removed.  He had read about the planned ceremony in the Traverse City Record Eagle and was able to attend.

Members of the Robert Finch Camp #14 S.U.V. and Robinson's Battery

Oakwood Cemetery's Sexton, Brendon Morgan who  researched Sgt. Sinclair's grave location, provided information on ordering a new stone through the V.A. and oversaw the setting of the stone once it arrived. 
Brendon looked for a GAR flag holder to place next to Sgt. Sinclair's headstone. He was going through a storage room and picked up one to put in place for the ceremony. When he turned it over, there was an old tag on it.   He cleaned off the dirt and read "Sinclair."  It was the original star placed on Sinclair's grave by the members of the McPherson Post of the GAR to identify the unmarked grave as a Civil War veteran's resting place.  Thanks to all his efforts, it, too, has been placed where it belongs.

A special thank you to Tom Jenkins, Robert Finch Camp #14, who offered the services of the SUV camp members to conduct the dedication ceremony. Tom organized the ceremony, coordinated with all the groups and authorities so that this headstone dedication service could take place.

Antiques & Civil War Show, Centreville, MI - October 2009

Early Sunday, John towed the gun down to the St. Joseph County Fairgrounds at Centreville, MI for the Antiques and Civil War Show. Buddy arrived at 8 am and  helped off load the gun.  Mark and Cody arrived and were put to work polishing the gun and cleaning off the caked-on mud left from the Jackson event.

Cpl. Cam and Pvt."Stephen" Davis arrived and, with Sgt. Liebrandt, filled out the detachment; the cannoneers were formed up with the first firing demonstration taking place at 10 am.

Subsequent firings took place at noon and 2 pm; each firing set off a number of car alarms to the amazement of the spectators.

Between firings, the cannoneers shopped the antique market, looked through the Civil War show and talked to people who stopped by our display tables.  Fortunately the weather, although very cool, was sunny and we had a good day.

Lest We Forget, Kalamazoo, MI - September 2009

Fred and the boys set up camp at the Kalamazoo AirZoo on Friday and were there to help John set up a display when he arrived Saturday morning. Cameron and Sharon arrived shortly after.

Robinson's Battery displayed an exhibit demonstrating the effect of canister at 100 yards on a rank of infantry.

During the opening ceremonies, Fred and Caleb joined the WWII reenactors.

The Lest We Forget program included reenactors and displays from the Civil war to Vietnam era.

A number of visitors stopped by our display to learn about the artillery during the Civil War.

We were able to fire several times during the day.

WARNING: The next images portray a medical scenario and are NOT for the young or the squeamish.

Caleb volunteered to portray a wounded soldier for the Civil War medical demonstration.

The surgeon determined that the leg was severely damaged and decided that amputation was best.

He proceeded with the amputation...

...and Caleb was moved to a hospital for recovery.

Unlike what happened in the real war, Pvt Chapman was quick to recover and was back on the gun detachment later in the day.

A local news channel stopped by and filmed the firing of the gun.

The event sponsors were happy to have us and it was great to see all the other era reenactors bringing history alive.  

Jackson Cascades - August 2009

Friday morning came with a steady rain as John towed the gun to the Cascades Park in Jackson, MI.  Mark Pangburn had already arrived, found the artillery camp and guided John to high ground for our camp. Buddy, Kirk and Cindy, and the Chapman crew arrived shortly afterwards; everyone took advantage of a brief let up of the rain to unload and set up the flies and tentage.

Dave and Jon soon arrived and added their tents to our Battery's street. Cody Hill added his tent giving us 9 A tents plus the two flies. The drizzly weather resumed off and on for the rest of the day causing the ground to mush up where vehicles drove and many became stuck.  Fortunately all of our people were able to get in and set-up before the worst occurred. Our gun was the only Union gun  in camp; all the others were kept on their trailers and parked.  The cannoneers cooked up a boiled dinner for the evening meal and Cindy made a black current roly-poly pudding which was enjoyed by all.

Friday evening there was a small battle at 7:30 in the "village"  and as our gun was on the field and we had a detachment on site, we were allowed to participate. But first...we had to move the gun - by hand - from the artillery camp down to the battlefield about 250 yards...through the mud and soft ground.

After gaining an appreciation for using horses.. we arrived at the battlefield and prepared for the battle.

The scenario was of a skirmish that happened at Brownsville, KY in 1861. The original fight lasted about 25 minutes and our reenactment lasted about as long.  For a brief little fight, things flowed pretty well and it was nice to be able to get our gun into action and have a little "extra" day of the event to enjoy.

After returning to camp, Dave played several selections on his violin, and then he and Nathan Green had a good time with the fife and drum.  Turning in, the cannoneers hoped for better weather in the morning.

Saturday morning dawned a little cooler, but no rain!   Breakfast was cooked and eaten...

...and by 9 AM, Capt. Hughes, Sgt. Liebrandt and Cpl. Chapman attended the Officer's meeting where the Orders of the Day were given. Returning to camp, the men were detailed to move the gun again, but this time were able to have a 4 wheel drive truck to haul it to its position for the afternoon battle.  The men were allowed to visit the Sutler's area for the morning, returning to camp for lunch.  The men formed the detachment and marched to the battlefield to the beat of the drum.

The detachment was reinforced with the addition of Matt Borders, Mike Deni and Jerry Radloff.

Capt. Hughes was Chief of Section over our 6 pounder and a bronze 12 napoleon for the battle.

A description of the battle, written by Paul Garrett, a spectator, is added here:  The afternoon's events started off with a cavalry demonstration by some Confederate cavalry followed by the Union Army marching across the field to the accompaniment of fifes and drums. Some of the Confederate Army units came into sight at the other edge of the field. The battle started with a Rebel cavalry patrol locating the Union Army positions and returning to report to the Confederate General and the battle of Antietam was on. Union and Confederate Artillery dueled back and forth with one Union cannon blowing a perfect smoke ring from its muzzle.

Soon a Union skirmish line appeared followed by the main forces. The Reb Army moved onto the field of battle and the two sides exchanged a volley of fire as the skirmish line fell back to the main line. As the Union forces advanced, another Confederate unit came into view from behind the trees and came on line. From here on the battle ebbed and flowed as the two Armies maneuvered to gain the advantage.

Both sides suffered many casualties and their bodies were littering the field. Nurses and medics came out to aid the fallen throughout the battle and some soldiers not as grievously wounded made their way, as best they could in ones and twos, back to relative safety.

The Confederate cavalry made a few appearances, threatening the Union flanks. The last Confederate advance was thwarted by the Union artillery and the Rebs left the field of battle.  Afterward, the Union troops marched by the crowd and cheered as they were recognized by the announcer. The Cavalry rode past in review and the Confederate Army gave the rebel yell as they marched with fixed bayonets straight at the spectators.

At the conclusion of the battle, the men talked with spectators for almost 2 hours and then returned to camp to prepeare supper.  A bacon-wrapped pork loin was roasted in the tin kitchen.  Sweet corn, summer squash, mixed potatoes, carrots and onions followed by peach cobbler rounded out the evening.  Many spectators and other reenactors were very impressed by the meal - it was very good eating!

Sunday morning turned out to be clear with a slight breeze, and through out the day the ground dried out; by the end of the event, we were able to drive without fear of getting stuck. The morning was spent on breakfast, visiting sutlers and talking to visitors. Chuck Peterson drove down from the Gaylord area and served on the gun.

Capt. Hughes commanded a 4 gun battery for this day's battle, which was very similar to the previous day's engagement although this time at the conclusion of the battle, the Confederates recreated the surrender and signing of paroles at Appomattox. The trailer was brought into camp after the battle to break down and pack. Thanks to everyone for their help with the cooking, cleaning, the putting up and breaking down of camp. 

Charlton Park - July 2009

John towed the gun up to Charlton Park, near Hastings Friday morning arriving shortly after 9 am. Jon Liebrandt and Brian Schwanke arrived soon after and assisted setting up camp. Buddy Peters and the Rusks set up later in the day.

The artillery camp was situated near the river.

On Saturday, a 5 gun battery, consisting of two original bronze 6 pounders and three Parrott rifles, was placed under the command of Capt. John Hughes.

Pvt. Kilmer hitched his team of Percheron horses to the guns for positioning on the field. 

What a sight!

The men drilled through out the morning and at 2 pm, gave a demonstration to the assembled crowd. The guns were first fired by the piece....

...and then by battery.  The infantry participated by simulating the results of solid shot and cannister fire on advancing troops.  

At the conclusion, the guns were returned to the artillery park on the riverbank.

The Saturday supper turned out to be one of the best meals the Battery has ever prepared. A pork loin and a small chicken were spitted for slow roasting in the tin kitchen.  Side dishes included green beans with bacon, freshly chopped coleslaw, the roasted potatoes with carrots, onion and garlic, drippings gravy and by freshly churned butter for sourdough bread.  Later, Dutch oven baked blueberry and peach pies topped off the meal.

At 7 pm, a few of the stuffed cannoneers walked over to the barn dance...

....but had to report back to the guns at 9 pm to prepare for a night firing demonstration.

After securing the guns, the men observed several of the candlelight tours and vignettes and then turned in for the night.

On Sunday, a relaxed morning was enjoyed; the weather was very agreeable to those of us wearing wool uniforms.

After noon, the guns were repositioned for the afternoon battle.

Capt. Kumero commanded both 6 pounders and a Parrott rifle for the battle, allowing John to step in as a private on the gun detachment.

The Union forced attacked the Rebel camp and "captured" some cannon. The artillerymen then marched to the piece...

...and put it into action.

Sgt. Liebrandt looks pleased with our shot.

Once the battle concluded, sudden clouds brought a rainstorm and we got to break camp in a steady rain, packing home wet canvas.  Overall, this event was one of the more enjoyable reenactments in spite of the last minute rain; the weather was very comfortable all weekend, never above 80 degrees, and a very nice setting of the village of period homes and businesses.  As always there was plenty of good food to eat.  (An army does march on its stomach.)

Grayling Long Range Artillery Match - July 2009

John, Cam & Jon towed the 6 pounder up to Range #35 at Camp Grayling on Friday afternoon and off loaded the gun to make room inside the trailer for their cots. We parked the mobile barracks near the camp site of our old friends in the 1st South Carolina; a pleasant evening was spent around a camp fire talking artillery and reminiscing past events.

After turning in, the artillerymen spent a comfortable night as several rain storms passed through the area but awoke to a dry morning.  After Officers' Call to take relay and position assignments, the matches began with the Cohorn mortar match.

Our gun detachment was filled out with the addition of Dave Goodwin and his future son-in-law, Adam Fritzscher, Mark Pangburn and potential recruit Chuck Peterson.

Robinson's Battery was on the first relay of field guns and, once that relay began, the cannoneers took to their duties with the look and feel of professional artillerymen.


One by one our rounds were fired at the 600 yard target.

By day's end, our effort was in vain, as we only nicked the target frame one time.  All the smoothbore guns were having a poor showing with the exception of the 1st South Carolina's M1857 12 pound Napoleon...

...which won the Smoothbore match with five hits on the target.

Capt. Anthony Variz and a detachment of his artillerymen came to this match from Southern California, bringing a mortar, and a Parrott rifle

After the firing ended, the cannoneers were allowed to go down range and recover the shot. It is always a interesting part of the day to walk through the recently shelled woods and find spent cannonballs just lying on top of the ground, some travelling several hundred yards beyond the targets, some bouncing through trees to the ground and back up through more trees before stopping.

Turkeyville, MI Event - July 2009

On Friday morning, the battery set up camp at Turkeyville Junction and by nightfall, 6 tents and the commissary kitchen and flies were in place.

Camp Turkeyville is aptly named for the abundance of the tasty birds; we even had one that wanted to stay for dinner. Heh-Heh-heh.

Silas and Wyatt stood guard at their tent.

Cpl. Chapman surprised everyone with the battery's new limber chest.  Fred had inletted the hinges, mounted the iron and installed the copper lid over the winter. Now the Battery can retire the original chest from field service.

As it was a first time reenactment, there wasn't a large turnout of soldiers. So several of the Rebel infantrymen galvanized as Union in order to give some support to our gun and detachment.

New recruit, Pvt. Mark "Chauncey Ingham" Pangborn, recently transferred from the Infantry to join our detachment and immediately took up drilling on the gun. We also picked up young Pvt. Dakota Hill of the 4th MI. Inf. who is interested in learning about the Artillery.

Also making its debut to our mess equipment, was the restored "Merrimack stove." 

The refurbished stove worked superbly, cooking our breakfasts quickly and almost smoke free. Quite a few reenactors and visitors took a good look at it and thought it was a great idea.

The Saturday afternoon battle commenced at 2 PM with a good crowd of spectators.

We engaged the Rebel artillery while the squad of infantry gamely advanced and protected our flanks.

For a small impromptu battle, it went well, lasted for a long time and looked believable even when our gun took out one of the Rebel cannon.

The Reb infantry broke through and attacked our gun...

...but were surprised when several of the cannoneers took cover and successfully defended the gun from capture.

This event has great potential for expansion in numbers of troops, terrain and public attendance. Capt. John Hughes
Sgt. Jon Liebrandt
Cpl. Cameron Davis
Cpl. Fred Chapman
Pvts. Caleb Chapman
Mark Pangburn
Kirk Walstedt
Silas Chapman
Wyatt Whitman
Sharon Davis
Attached: Dakota Hill, 4th MI. Inf
Arnie White, 17th MI.Inf.
Cindy Walstedt, Civilian

Cannon Ball Casting - June 2009

To prepare for the Grayling long-range artillery match in July, Matt Switlik allowed members of Battery B, Mi. Artillery and Robinson's Battery to use his casting furnace to pour the cannon balls needed for the match.

Several hundred pounds of Kirtsite was heated until molten and the ladle was filled for the pour.  Kirksite is a moderate strength zinc-based alloy developed primarily as a forming tool alloy with a melting temperature of 750 degrees F.

Because each gun fires a slightly different sized ball, two molds were used. 

As the molten metal solidifies, the mold is quenched in a nearby tub of water then broken open.

The hard, but very hot, ball is removed to air cool. The shot will have the sprue and flashing removed later. Thanks to Matt for the use of his furnace and equipment and to the boys of Battery B for helping cast-up enough rounds for Robinson's Battery. 

After the sprue is cut off, the flashing is ground off to make a smooth ball. The wooden sabots are then attached with tape.

The ball, sabot and tape are weighed in grams (one pound equals 453.592 grams) and the weight is marked on each ball.

This will aid when firing.  At left is a round ready for the match.

Coldwater Event - May 2009

Cam and John arrived at the Branch County Fairgrounds at 9 AM on Friday; Kirk arrived soon afterward to set up camp and off load the cannon.  Fred, Caleb, Silas and Tyler arrived later in the afternoon, as did Buddy, and the campsite was completed.

A comfortable night was enjoyed, unlike the previous weekend.  When Capt. Hughes returned Saturday morning, he found the men up preparing a sausage gravy and biscuit breakfast.  Around 9AM, a brief rain shower blew through but quickly and the sun shown through the clouds rapidly raising the temperatures to the high 70s. As the spectators started to arrive, the Battery boys ran through some drills and taught a potential recruit the duties of a cannoneer.

Across the field the Rebel artillery opened fire, so Capt. Hughes ordered a reply -- soon our gun boomed out and the rebels were seen packing up leaving the area.

Things quieted down and we retired to the now welcome shade under the tent flies, venturing out to talk with spectators as they visited our cannon and ammunition displays.

At 1:30 PM, the cannoneers positioned the gun on the battlefield and awaited the Battle that we all knew was coming. Our gun was placed on the end of brush works with Union infantry to our right.

After a period of cannonading between the Yankee and Confederate artillery...

...some Rebel cavalry probed our flanks and their infantry advanced but was being halted by the firepower from the Federal infantry. Several more cavalry flanking attacks were resolutely repulsed by a spirited defense of the gun by several of the cannoneers.

Eventually, the Rebel infantry, joined by the cavalry, was able to advance on our flank and the cannoneers began to suffer losses.

The Union Infantry broke and our gun had to be abandoned on the field.  

The Battle was well attended by spectators, many of whom stopped by our camp and asked questions asked regarding the cannon and the ammunition used during the Civil War.   Later that evening, the reenactors were invited to a very nice meal and soiree provided by the sponsors of the Civil War Days.

After returning to camp, the cannoneers enjoyed a relaxed evening.

Sunday started out with rain at 2 AM but later the gray clouds gave way to a blue sky with a nice breeze. The boys had a hearty breakfast of fried potatoes with onions, sausages and German toast. After breakfast, the cannoneers talked with the public until noon and then attended a hog roast put on by the organizers. The food was great and included pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, coleslaw and desert. After lunch, the cannon was moved into the lines and we waited for the assault to begin.

Soon the Confederates opened the battle and Robinson's Battery returned fire. As the only Union gun on the field, the battery was hard pressed to answer the large contingent of Rebel artillery pieces.

Private Silas Chapman brings another round to the piece. 

The piece is loaded and ready to engage the enemy.

The cannoneers take cover as the Confederate infantry and cavalry advance upon our position. Soon the Union forces turned back the enemy and held the field in victory.

Tyler Berg, Cameron Davis, Caleb Chapman, Fred Chapman, Silas Chapman, Kirk Walstedt, Buddy Peters, John Hughes

Niles Event - May 2009

John & Cam arrived at the reenactment site just south of Niles on Friday morning and drove into a secluded campsite devoid of all twentieth century intrusions. Under threatening skies, the camp equipment and gun were unloaded and the camp set up. Later in the afternoon, Fred, Caleb and Silas along with Buddy arrived as a steady rain began.

Other reenactors arrived throughout the day. After talking with Capt. Ziggy of the 21rst Ind. Battery, it was determined that Robinson's Battery would be Confederate for the weekend. The evening was spent under the tent flies trying to stay dry. Around midnight a clap of thunder awoke everyone with a start, sounding like it was directly overhead.

The soggy weather continued Saturday morning keeping most visitors away, but as the day progressed, the weather cleared.  By the time of the 3PM battle, the sun had broken through the clouds and was quite nice; the cannoneers went through several firing drills to refresh their memories as this was the first event of the season.

Our gun was placed in a tree line and the Union gun was located about 300 yards away. The Infantry had a large field in which to maneuver and a lengthy skirmish between pickets took place before the cannon opened fire.

After the battle was over, the event's hosts towed all the guns back to camp for the night.

In the meantime, the camp had grown.  The hosts treated everyone to two breakfasts as well as a pulled pork dinner on Saturday night.

With clear skies, the temperature dropped over night; we awoke to a layer of frost covering the ground and about one-eighth inch of ice in the water buckets.

Fortunately, as the sun came up, the temperature did too, and by the afternoon, it was comfortable but the wool jackets still felt good to wear.

Our positions on the field were reversed from the day before and we were placed near the spectator viewing area.

A number of visitors stopped at the gun to talk with us throughout the weekend. The members who were there felt that the land could lend itself to some interesting scenarios for future reenactments.  It was a good start to the year's activities.

Civil War Relic & Artillery Show, Mansfield, OH - May 2009

Robinson's Battery was well represented at the Mansfield, Ohio Civil War Relic Show on May 2 and 3, 2009. 

Shown at our tables are John Hughes, Fred Chapman, Silas and Caleb Chapman. Not shown: Jon Liebrandt & Kirk Walstedt

Kalamazoo Living History Show 2009

The Battery was well represented at the Kalamazoo History show. Captain Hughes, Sgt.Liebrandt, Cpl. Davis, Pvt. Peters and Sharon Davis attended the table and talked to the crowds of people on the first day at this year's show. There were many new vendors this year and the available products were endless. Many nice items were there to entice all.

Many conversations with event organizers took place as the Battery boys were pummeled with request after request to attend events all across the Southwest Michigan area. We are, it seems, much in demand.

John, Cam and Jon proudly display the Smoothbore Trophy from Grayling won in 2008.

Buddy enjoying the show and working the crowd.