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150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg - July 2013

At 8 am, Glenn arrived at John’s house, ready to hitch up the trailer; while were doing that, Scott, Brandon and Joshua arrived. Jim and Dena Miller pulled in around 9 and everything buttoned up for the trip east. We stopped in Marshall to pick-up Jacob and soon we were heading across Indiana and Ohio on our way to Gettysburg.

A few miles past Toledo, we heard a muffled pop coming from the trailer.  John checked out the trailer tires in the side mirrors, but couldn't see anything obviously flat, so kept on driving. Before long however, the trailer started to fishtail, but then would straighten out when the speed was reduced. This occurred intermittently until reaching the Vermillion rest area; there we stopped for food, fuel and to check out the trailer.

Scott called John to say that he saw something hanging under the trailer, but it hadn't caused a problem. Upon inspection, it was found that the left rear tire had shed its tread, and that piece wrapped around the axle. The tire was still inflated, but we had been running on the nylon cording.

We had a spare tire and jack, so John went to get it and noticed that the front right tire was doing the same thing. While Scott called around to find some new tires, John changed out the tread-less tire and then gingerly drove about 20 miles to a tire shop. They had 4 new tires that were a heavier load rating than what we had, so they installed them and we got back under way.  As we started to get back on the toll road, we were advised that an accident ahead had traffic at a standstill. We were instructed to take a business loop through Cleveland and get back on the toll road further east. We followed the alternate route, but between the tire incident and the slower traffic, we added 4 hours to our schedule. We arrived at our motel near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at  11:30 pm. There wasn't much time between closing the room door and sleep.  

Up by 8 am, the cannoneers stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast and then took Route 15 south towards Gettysburg. Before long we found our exit and turned onto Pennsylvania two lane roads that took us to Table Rock Road and the reenactor registration area. A light rain began as we met up with Jimmy and Nancy Hughes (Dena’s sister and brother-in-law). We followed directions to the reenactor entrance,  a farm lane, and headed up the hill. Where we were to turn right, John found that his truck with the heavy trailer was not able to get traction in the wet grass and mud and he started to churn up ruts.

The traffic controllers told him to wait for a tractor for assistance. So we all waited…and waited…and waited until an hour later, the tractor arrived and was able to get us moving enough for the 4 wheel drive to engage. Driving to the artillery campsite, we found the typical confusion and last minute changes to the plans that had been set the week before. Our company street wasn't hard to find, we were the center battery of 5 in our Division and so were right in the middle. We had planned to unhook the trailer and go into Gettysburg and tour the battlefield, then come back and set-up camp. But the delay pushed the time to close to noon, so we decided to set camp and then go into town.

It was still raining as we started to put up the A tents, two flies and the Lieutenant’s tent, but by the time we finished, it had stopped and the sky cleared.

We off loaded the gun and limber under sunny skies.

With our camp established, we drove into town...

...and ate a late lunch at the Lincoln Diner.

After lunch, we headed to the battle field and stopped by McPherson’s Woods, the Lutheran Seminary and on to Confederate Avenue where we stopped at the Lee Monument.

We took a short walk to where Jim and I had our guns during the filming of the movie, Gettysburg, and pointed out the woods where we heard the sound of thousands of men cheering as the filming of Picket's charge took place, except that there was no one in the woods.

We continued on to the Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den...

...Little Round Top...

...and the Angle.

We decided to head back to camp and see if the State House Battery had arrived.  The downtown streets were grid locked, so we took a couple side streets and got out of town relatively quickly. Reaching camp, we found some of the Ohio boys setting up their tents, but the Battery mess was not. A couple volunteers  from our battery drove into town and brought back some KFC that sure tasted good.

Scott was brevetted to Corporal...

...and Dave reluctantly sewed on Sergeant stripes.  

After dark, the Ohio boys stoked up the fire and got out their Celtic instruments; we enjoyed some good Irish music for several hours.

Military order began with reveille at 6 am.

The boys were “shaken-out.”

Several of the men helped the State House Battery with breakfast.

With the morning meal over, field rations for four days were issued out by the Lieutenant.

The rations were supplemented with air cured salami and aged cheese; some of the boys were reluctant to try this period style food.

The newly minted NCOs...

...and gun detachment went out for some drill in formations, marching and gun drill.

The first battle was at 11 am, but as the guns of the Ohio Battery had not arrived...

...we took the opportunity to drill until we became presentable.

As most of the guns in our Division headed off fight, our men were released to go to Sutlers with orders to be back in camp by 4 pm.

Some went into Gettysburg, but most of us hiked the quarter mile to Sutler City.

Most of the big name sutlers were there as well as a few smaller ones the Michigan boys had not seen before. Madame Lili’s Emporium was on the fringes offering “simple pleasures.”  It is rumored that a couple of our boys patronized this establishment. "A cold towel, a back massage and some plum cake"…now the Lt. knows where all those men’s pay is going.

The batttlefield was a large meadow with two huge grandstands located 90 degrees from each other, each full of spectators...

...watching the ongoing battle.

Returning to camp at the allotted time, we learned that only the 2nd Division Artillery was participating in the 6 pm battle.

Some of the men...

...were disheartened by this news.  After supper, Jimmy and a couple others ran into town,  and brought back large slurpees for our cannoneers. And as the men enjoyed the icy drinks, they watched fireworks over Gettysburg before retiring for the night.

Reveille at 6 am, then Captain Patchen ordered his battery to fall in.

We marched out to form a square on the parade ground.

Lt. Hughes's section formed on the right of the line.

About 300 Union artillerymen listened as the Colonel and others spoke about the artillery reserve and our role.

After formation and breakfast were over,  the men were again free for the day as our Division was only going to be in the 6 pm battle. The men posed...

...or a few photographs...

...and then headed back to sutlers or lounged in camp in the shade.

Photo by Dena Miller

At 4 pm, the orders to mount-up were heard, and Scott brought around his truck to hitch on to the limber and cannon. 

Photo by Dena Miller

Some of the boys wanted to ride the limber.

It was exciting to see and hear 30 guns pulled along through the camps out to the field.

We took equipment...

...and readied...

...our gun in front of the crowds...

...as the infantry maneuvered in the distance.

Waves of them were in the distance...

...as we readied...

...and began firing.

The fight was on!

Cavalry entered the field.

Our response!

Sgt. Goodwin was detached to serve on one of the Napoleons as their No. 4 became a real casualty when a priming wire flew back and hooked the back of his hand.

At the end, the drivers hitched up and towed the guns back to camp.

At our camp, we found that the State House Ladies...

...had supper waiting for the grateful men.

Reveille was at 6 am followed by breakfast. The limber chest was restocked with charges and the men were released until noon.

By 9 am the temperature was already into the mid 90s, so the men were encouraged to drink lots of water and we had our lemonade crock filled frequently. 

Our Battery (Patchen’s Battery) consisted of our 6 pd bronze gun, a iron 6 pd gun, a 3” ordnance rifle, a 12 pd field howitzer and two 12 pound Napoleons.

At 12 o'clock the drivers hitched up the guns and towed them past the Federal HQ, cavalry camps and part of the Union infantry camp out to a large open meadow.

Limber riders - beats walking!

After the entire 1st Division Artillery was assembled in one long line, we waited for the infantry to march into position.

The crew patiently waiting...

We were ordered to load...

...and open fire.

Even though the wind was blowing the smoke right back into our faces...

...our section fire was one of the best!

Pvt. J. Hughes was No. 1.

Pvt. J. Johnson worked No. 2 position.

Pvt. B. Johnson served on No. 3.

Pvt. Lewis fired the gun as No. 4.

After ninety minutes, the battle was over and the men took the guns back to camp. Lt. Hughes and both Pvts. Johnson rode the limber back. Our activities, being done for the day, most of the men gathered under the fly, Pvt.  B. Johnson was caught “cutting the cheese.” Supper was again provided by the State House Ladies. Lt. Hughes had an image taken by one of the several tintypists operating there.

As darkness fell, some of the men dressed up and walked down to the sutler area to see the Grande Ball and perhaps take a tour of the dance floor with some lovely Southern belles. Lt. Hughes noticed that they returned to camp in short order. Apparently the dance floor was full with a wall of people 10 deep were standing around the edges, so they decided that the effort wasn't worth the experience. It didn't take long for everyone to turn in for the night. Jimmy and Nancy left so they could be back to work in Georgia on Monday.

Reveille was at 6 am and Captain Patchen marched the men out for a morning formation.

 Lt. J. Jagaer
Cpt. J. Patchen
Lt. J. Hughes

Artillery Division Officers and Staff
Col. R. Dennis received the Military Order of St. Barbara during the formation. And it was quite interesting to see the protocol that the soldiers went through during the morning reports, etc. After we marched back to camp, some of the men went to visit church services that were taking place in various camps.

Lt. Hughes, Cpl. Johnson and Pvt. Lewis went back to see an interesting wagon that they had seen in the cavalry camp.

While they were there, Gen. George Custer rode by.

After the  Lt. picked up his image...

...they went back to camp and started packing up things in preparation for the breaking of camp later. At 2:30 pm, the cannoneers mounted up...

...and were towed to a position between the two grandstands, near the Angle for the Pickett's charge scenario.  Sgt. Goodwin was reduced in rank to private (a little too eagerly) and served on the gun detachment.

Across the field, we could see about 50 Confederate cannon...

at us!

The Union infantry marched out...

...and took position to our front.

The artillery duel began.

The cannon ceased firing...

...as the Rebel infantry marched across the open fields...

...into the firepower of the Union infantry.

Gettysburg townspeople came to watch the battle from a nearby hill.
Photo by Dena Miller

With the battle over...

...and the Confederacy retreating...

...the artillerymen limbered up as a rain began to fall; by the time we got back to camp, it was pouring.

Of course, the rain turned all the dust and soft ground into mud; we had to unlimber the gun and drag it to a grassy area so that Scott could get his truck moving, then we hitched it back on to get back to camp. As the men were breaking camp in the rain, John brought up the trailer and we loaded it with wet canvas.

As we were tearing down, we noticed no one was moving in the line of vehicles trying to exit through the single lane road out. Assuming the road was impassable with the mud, we were not eager to spending several more hours in line. Scott mentioned that he had seen a gun trailer drive into a corner of the artillery camp, but had not returned so he sent Brandon out to reconnoiter.  He found a wide lane that opened on to a driveway which then exited onto a two lane road…

...John verified that we could get the trailer out that way and so we saddled up and went out. We found ourselves heading to Route 15 and once on that road, we exited to the Toll road and drove to Somerset, Pennsylvania where we had reservations for the night arriving at 11:30 pm. That shower sure felt great!

Up by 8 am we ate a good breakfast and then drove on; we saw several trailers with cannon through out the day, all heading west. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful arriving back in Battle Creek around 5:30 pm. Overall, it was a good trip; a good reenactment. There were some things that detracted from the experience, but those will soon be forgotten or turned into lore. Our members stepped up and represented Robinson’s Battery well, and the Lt. was very proud of them for doing this event. Truly we all “Saw the Elephant.”

Robinson’s Battery thanks our sponsors who donated money so that we could be a part of this historic event.We appreciate it very much!