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Brian Haack Memorial Artillery Shoot - July
Leslie Cornerstone Opening - June
Galesburg Parade - June
Sandy Pines Event - June
Turkeyville - June
Philip Wilking Grave Dedication - June
Coldwater - May
Kalamazoo Living History -March

Brian Haack Memorial Artillery Shoot - July

On a foggy Sunday morning John Hughes, Jon Liebrandt, Scott, Brandon and Joshua Johnson towed the Hughes gun to Marshall and transferred it to Fred’s vehicle. They then headed to Port Huron, Michigan to participate in the Brian Haack Memorial Artillery Match at the Blue Water Sportsman’s Club.

The drive took 2 and a half hours and they arrived around 10:15 am.  They off loaded the gun and aligned it with the other two known reproduction Hughes guns in existence.

Brian Haack’s Hughes gun is now owned by Norm Gibson.    

Bobby Hubbard owns this Hughes gun.

We positioned the gun and prepped the rounds we would be using.

After a brief meeting to lay out the course of fire, we loaded our first round and prepared to fire.  Note the targets way off in the distance.

Fred had created a new peep sight blade for our sight, and John set it to the height of the post sight that had been used at last year‘s practice.

Fred was gunner, so he sighted the gun.

The range was “hot” so we opened fire at our target set at 200 yards.

The first shot impacted the target at 6 o’clock, cutting the V ring! We soon reloaded...

...and continued to fire the 12 rounds for the match. The best ten of twelve scores are counted.

It was a thrill to see all three Hughes guns competing.

At one point, all three guns were made ready...

...and fired on command. It was awesome to see these guns fired...

...and hit their targets at the same time.

Photo by Mike Zankowsky

During the match, Linda Haack, Brian’s widow, was invited to fire each of the Hughes guns in his honor. He had made parts of each gun.

Once we had fired the 12 shots at the bullseye, we shot at 15 gallon water filled plastic barrels. Fred aimed at the first one...

...we fired...

...and got a hit!

So we continued to shoot at the water jugs and barrels. Both John and Scott tried their aim, shooting several rounds at the barrels.

Once the match was over, we went downrange and recovered a few of the rounds.

You can see the rifling on the shot where it engaged the driving band.

Our cannoneers posed by the target.

Our final score for the match was 50-5 V’s.  All 12 shots hit the target and only one was outside the circle.

This score wasn’t enough to win the match over all - Norm’s Parrott shot a score of 50-9 V’s - but of the three Hughes guns on the field, we placed first. 

Afterwards we enjoyed a hot dog and chips for lunch and had a chance to talk with some old friends. We then loaded the gun on to the trailer for the trip home. Thanks to Norm and Bobby Hubbard for organizing this artillery match. We look forward to putting this match on next year’s schedule.  

Leslie Cornerstone Opening - June

The cannoneers reached Leslie around 2:45 pm and found that a side street had been blocked off; the gun and limber were off-loaded and made ready.

The G.A.R. building, built in 1903, is a handsome building...

...and is now the Leslie Area Historical Museum.

Another photo of the beautiful interior

Tim Howery, who had a great-great-grand uncle in the original Battery, invited us to participate in the ceremonial opening of a time capsule...

...entombed beneath the cornerstone.

By 4 pm, a good sized crowd had gathered and the ceremony began.

The cannon was loaded.

Corporal Johnson supervised.

The mayor of Leslie gave his opening remarks...

...and Robinson's Battery fired a salute.

Tim presented some history of the Leslie GAR Hall, and the man for whom it was named. Then the stone was chiseled free.

It's a bigger job than you might think.

Finally, the stone was out.

Tim received the time capsule...

He showed it to the crowd while the Sweet Adelines sang some patriotic songs...

...and the Battery fired another salute.

Once inside, Tim donned gloves and slowly opened the box.

He carefully removed the documents...

...and showed some of them to the attendees.

He read a short description of each item and then placed it on the table as the crowd watched intently.  He will be examining each item more thoroughly in the upcoming months.

Program Cover

History from the program

Each attendee received a commemorative badge.  This was a unique and fascinating event for the Battery.  Thanks to Tim Howery for the opportunity to participate.

Galesburg Parade - June

At 10 AM, Scott had the 20 pound Parrott loaded on the flatbed trailer...

...and in line  for the Galesburg, Michigan parade.

Cannoneers filled their haversacks with candy and brochures...

...while waiting for the parade to start at 11 am.

Finally the parade started...

...and began the route through town.

There was quite a crowd near the main intersection.  Kids scrambled for the candy tossed their direction; many brochures were handed out to the spectators.

Spectators were sparse near the end of the parade so the cannoneers mounted the trailer and rode awhile.

Upon reentering the downtown area, the artillerymen dismounted and walked along side the trailer. By this time, the walking, wool and warming temperature raised a sweat on the men's brows. 
By noon, we were back at the starting point and the cannoneers had lunch, unhitched the 20 pounder's trailer, drove to Battle Creek, hitched up John's truck to the 6 pounder trailer and headed to Leslie, Michigan for the next event of the day.

Sandy Pines Event - June

On Friday John towed the 6 pounder over to the Sandy Pines Resort in Hopkins, Michigan arriving around 1:30 pm. Once the Battery’s camp location was established, he started setting up camp in the very warm afternoon. Due to the commitments of other battery members, John was the only one able to get away for set up on Friday, but he persevered and by 4:30, the camp looked like this.

Continuing on, John finished setting up and had the Hughes gun & 6 pounder off loaded by the time Steve arrived around 6pm. Steve dug the fire pit and they were about to unload the limber when Scott, Lydia and Dakota arrived to help and set up their tents.

Mike arrived around 7 pm during supper preparation. By then, it was almost dark. Although we enjoyed beef with noodles accompanied by garlic toast, we told the spectators that we were cooking mule.  As dark as this picture is, it could be anything :-).

With full bellies and a complete camp, the cannoneers sat around talking and enjoying the cooler temperatures until 11:30pm and then turned in for the night.

John was up by 6 am and started the fire as the others awoke and started preparing breakfast.

After breakfast, the cannoneers polished the gun barrels while John set up a display of the various shot used by the artillery.

Corp. Johnson then started drilling the men on the gun.

Some spectators drove in on golf carts to walk around through the camps and talk to the reenactors.

After drilling the men...

...the corporal ordered the gun moved to the baseball diamond...

...for the artillery demonstration and reenactment in the afternoon.

After the demonstration, there was a short break before the battle, so the men took some time to relax.

At 2 pm, the rebels opened fire on the four gun Union artillery battery.

Capt. Hughes’ section sprang to the guns...

...loaded, then opened fire.

After several rounds, the guns were shut down so that the Union infantry could take the field and fight the “Johnnies.” 
A good number of spectators watched the fighting, and then came to our camp to see a medical demonstration and talk with the cannoneers. At 5:30 pm, the Resort provided a pulled pork supper and two hours later, there was a period dance.

At 9 pm, the guns were hitched to vehicles and towed about a quarter mile to a dam and  placed to shoot over the lake there.

We waited for darkness to fall...

...and then loaded the cannon.

Some spectators were out in their boats watching from the business end.

Once darkness fell, the gun was fired for the enjoyment of the crowd.


Even the after sparks are awe inspiring!

And again...truly, these were mighty weapons. 
After the night firing, the men and guns returned to camp.  The men tried to cool down before turning in.

On Sunday morning the men were up at 6:30 AM and prepared breakfast. Once the meal was eaten, the skies darkened and a rain storm swept through the camp, getting everything thoroughly wet.  [Be careful what you wish for...]

Fortunately the rain moved on and by 11 am the sun came out and a light breeze dried off the canvas and boxes. The afternoon schedule was earlier than Saturday.

The guns were taken back to the ball diamond.

Another demonstration...

...and battle...

...were held.  The medical demonstration continued but the battle was over by 2 pm.   The men took the 6 pounder to a car wash near camp to thoroughly clean the bore and sponges. We had the trailer packed up and guns loaded by 4:30 pm and headed home. Thanks to everyone who helped with this part of the event.

Turkeyville - June

John towed the gun trailer over to Camp Turkeyville, arriving at 9 am Once the campsite was located, he unloaded the tentage and the smaller boxes and then set-up his new tent, the old tent and the mess tent. Mark arrived and the two of them unloaded the heavier boxes. Steve arrived and lent a hand. As they were about to start setting up the flies, Fred arrived and both flies and the Sibley were put up despite the strong gusts of wind. After that, Steve dug the fire pit as the camp equipment was put in order. Jacob and Jim arrived and set up their tents.

By 4 pm, the camp was established and supper preparation was underway. Taylor came into camp as did Scott and "Luke" around 6:30 pm. There was concern about the strength of the firing platforms, so John had the 20 pounder run out on one of them to test the strength. No problem, the 2-1/4” green wood barely bowed when the gun was placed in the middle.

Two chickens were spitted, given a dry rub and placed in the tin kitchen to roast. As they finished, they were basted with a maple-bourbon BBQ sauce.

As a pot of baked beans warmed,  two pies (apple and blueberry) baked in the Dutch oven. When the pies were done, biscuits were baked. By 10 pm, everything was done and the hungry men sat down to a well deserved supper. The night turned chilly, so the wool uniforms and cooking fire felt quite nice. A full moon provided abundant light.

Saturday AM, Bob Mueller arrived, as did Sgt. Liebrand jus in time for a breakfast, of eggs, bacon and fried taters with onions,

The guns were looking pretty in the early light.

The Captain towed our guns into place and put the boys to drilling. He then assumed command of the Union Artillery consisting of four guns.

The Hughes Gun went Rebel.

The Captain detailed two men (and later, Silas) to don their gray uniforms and serve as crew for the Hughes Gun on the Confederate side of the entrenchments.

Before lunch, the Battery had young D.J. McLane fall in...

...the Capt. assigned him duty as guidon bearer.

The battle was a little known skirmish in Arkansas during 1864 in which Union General A.J.Smith engaged a force of Confederates in a set of earthworks.  Due to the high grass and slope of the land, the Union infantry could not see the earthworks; only a flag pole and blockhouse were visible.

The Union guns were lightly crewed, but the cannoneers were able to serve each piece in a safe manner.

Dave Goodwin joined the Infantry musicians for the battle.

 As the Infantry advanced cautiously, a hidden mountain howitzer and several pickets lying in rifle pits opened fire causing them to fall back on the Company.

Jim provided support with his Spencer repeater.

The gun was repositioned.

Once the Infantry Officers realized that there were rebels in the fort...

...the artillery was directed...

...to open fire.  Note the smoke through the vent on the previous image which is dissipating on this image.

Responding artillery fire came from inside the fort. The Federal Infantry tried to flank around the blockhouse, but were surprised to find a mountain howitzer inside the block house and reconsidered that approach. Finally the Federals took the fort and drove the rebels away.

When the battle was over, the hot and tired artillerymen returned to camp.  After a little rest and several draughts of lemonade, they went to a restaurant for supper and spent the rest of the evening chatting while the sun set and temperatures cooled. accompanied by a fresh fruit salad.
On Sunday morning, the men cooked up a favorite breakfast of German toast, sausages
accompanied by a fresh fruit salad.

They then moved the guns across the field and set them in place on the firing platforms in the fortifications.

Because we lost several men over night and gained one, Capt. Hughes placed the Hughes gun on display; the men who had been rebels the day before, donned blue.

It was a bit different to serve on the guns with limited places for the detachment to stand...

...as firing from the set locations while on planking was something most of our men hadn't done before.

After a drill to familiarize the men with the limitations they would encounter, they took a short lunch break. At 1: 40 pm, the cannoneers formed up, marched to their respective guns and awaited the command to load.

Just before 2 pm, Capt. Hughes gave that command and opened fire on the massed Rebel lines across the field.

The Confederate forces would advance, stop and fire...

...then advance again until they reached the rifle pits.

The Federal guns stopped firing and then the rebels charged the works.

Several of the cannoneers were shot; others hid below the breastworks while a few fired over the logs with their side arms. The Rebel onslaught was too much and they retook the fort. With the battle over, the trailers were brought to camp, tentage taken down, everything repacked and the guns loaded for the trip home. Thanks to everyone that could help with this task, it certainly makes things easier to have a lot of help.

Grave Dedication - Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit - June

Mark and John left Battle Creek early morning.  After collecting Jacob in Marshall, they towed the trailer over to Detroit. On arrival at Woodmere Cemetery around 10 am, the cannoneers were pleased to find signage directing them to the grave site of Pvt. Phillip Wilking, who was a blacksmith in the original Robinson's Battery during the Civil War. Erik, Kris and Deb arrived about the same time.  The men got out and reconnoitered for a good location to place the cannon.

Finding a suitable open area, the gun was off-loaded from the trailer. Fortunately there were a couple of the cemetery groundskeepers at the site, and one of them had a John Deere Gator.

Permission was soon obtained to hitch the gun to the Gator  for towing up a rather steep embankment to the firing location.

With the cannon and implements in place by 10:30 am, the men sorted out who was going to do what, so that we could fire 3 rounds. Jacob combined No. #1 & #2; Mark took No. # 3 & #4, while Erik ran powder and assisted Mark with the primers.

Meanwhile Capt. Hughes place a wreath for Robinson's Battery.

The men lined up to march into position.

The combined soldiers from the Sgt. John S. Cosby camp 427 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War...

...and our Battery marched in to begin the ceremony.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, the S.U.V's chaplain opened with a prayer, then the Camp Commander Rick Danes opened by thanking the Director of the cemetery for allowing us to perform this ceremony. Rick then introduced Capt. Hughes to the audience.

John gave a short biography of Phillip Wilking describing his service with the original Battery during the war and his life in the Detroit area after the war.

After Capt. Hughes' remarks, Rick began the ceremony, which was based on the service conducted in 1917 by the members of the Grand Army of the Republic when they dedicated the grave of one of their fellow Civil War veterans.

This ceremony contains symbolic elements including a wreath of evergreen symbolizing undying love for the soldier buried there; a white rose symbolizing purity to encourage future generations to emulate the unselfish devotion of even the least of our heroes; and lastly a laurel wreath symbolizing victory.

As the Camp commander explained these items, a camp officer placed that item on the grave. When the ceremony ended, in a traditional Victorian custom, the public was invited to sprinkle flower petals on the grave.

With that finished, a rifle squad fired three rounds from their muskets (well, one was a Henry) and....

...Robinson's Battery fired the first round from the cannon in honor of Phillip Wilking.

The bugler, not knowing that we were to fire additional rounds, blew Taps.

Capt. Hughes knowing that Taps signified the end of the ceremony, immediately ordered the cannoneers to cease fire and secure the gun.

The SUV camp set up a refreshment table with cake, cold tea & lemonade for all.  This was especially welcome on a hot sunny day when dressed in wools.

While participants and guests enjoyed refreshments in the shade of a nice old tree, others took photos of their friends next to the cannon. This was the first time a cannon had been fired in Woodmere Cemetery.

By 12:30pm, the gator towed the gun back to the trailer, where we loaded it back up for the trip home. (It was suggested that the Battery budget be stretched for one of these handy tow vehicles.)

Although this headstone dedication seems like a long way to go to fire the gun just once...

...it is a worthwhile activity to honor those men who volunteered to serve their country...

...and the Battery that we presume to represent.

Coldwater - May

Friday morning John and Jacob arrived at Heritage Park, found our camping area (same as last year), and off loaded the guns and limbers. All winter, everyone was waiting for the weather like we had for this event - sunny and warm into the low 80s during the day with a cool night that didn’t drop below 55 degrees. The two men started setting up the camp.  A couple months ago, John had revamped the ridgepole and uprights for the flies, so this event was the test for that.  We found a couple things that needed revamping, but we were able to get them up regardless.

Across the company street, several men took advantage of the shade trees and nestled in their A tents for the coolness. The Hughes Gun was displayed next to the Captain’s tent.

Jim Ednie arrived around lunch time as did Fred who towed the 20 pounder; it was off loaded and placed into battery with the 6 pounder.

The weather started to cool a bit...

,,,so everyone wanted to get into uniform once the tentage was up.

Scott, Taylor and...

...new recruit, Luke, arrived around 6 pm and set up their tents.

John spent the afternoon baking two pies in the new Dutch oven: rhubarb and blueberry - "RB" for Robinson's Battery.

Shortly after dark, Justin Woods arrived and spent the weekend in a shebang. Saturday morning, Jacob was up and had the fire going as the Captain opened his tent flaps at 6:30am.

As each cannoneer got up, he joined preparation of a hearty breakfast.

After breakfast and clean-up, Capt. Hughes, Sgt. Chapman and Cpl. Johnson attended the Officer's Meeting to learn how the guns were to be used during the day’s fight.

Arriving back to camp, the men were assembled and formed into two reduced detachments.

Bob Mueller arrived and three men (Cpl. Justin Stanage, Chris and Dakota Lombard) from the 21st Indiana Battery fell in with us.

The cannoneers went out and began drilling on the guns.

After lunch, the cannoneers prepared for the battle.

And promptly at 2 pm...

...the Ball was opened.

After the battle, the sponsors provided the evening meal.  Before the night firing, some of the battery members attended the dance, while others...

...played catch...

...with a period ball.

As the skies darkened...

...the cannoneers posted on the gun...

...and fired three rounds.

The echo of the cannon fire was really great; the sound waves rolled out over the lakes and continued for several seconds after the discharge.

With our duty over for the night, our men gathered around the campfire and talked, told stories, and lies...

Sunday morning arrived and the cannoneers enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes, sausages, fried polenta and sweet rolls. Trust us, they're in there!

Three of our men had to leave on Saturday, but our ranks were gladdened...

...to have Sgt. Liebrandt join us for drill.

Fred stepped in to serve on the gun.

After a quick lunch break was taken, the Captain marched the men up to the infantry camp for pay call.

General Grant was in attendance...

...and observed as each man received his pay...

...sometimes questioning the men...

...about their opinion of army life, or other issues.

Pvt. Chapman was asked if he had been in the army a long time; he replied that yes, and that he had served under Grant in Mexico back in ’48. Whereas the General closely scrutinized Pvt. Luke Johnson, and asked the Captain certain questions.

The Captain answered that the new recruit had stated that he was “over 16” when mustered in.

Once paid, the men marched back to camp and prepared for the battle. The men who had revolvers loaded them and the artillerymen assembled atop the hill behind the artillery line.

A cannon was captured but the Union infantry attacked the Confederate pickets holding the captured cannon.  Our redlegs augmented the muskets and recaptured our cannon.

With implements, the guns were loaded and the men commenced a counter-battery fire with the rebel artillery as the infantry skirmished. 
At 3 pm the event closed.  Trailers came in as the camps were broken and packed up. Thanks for the help that each man gave over the weekend.  With everyone pitching in and doing what needs to be done, things are more enjoyable for everyone. Thank you to the boys from Ziggy’s Battery who served on our pieces; it was great to have you there.

Kalamazoo Living History - March

Jacob and John arrived at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds Friday night and found the Battery's tables;  Robinson's Battery was located in the center of the Main Hall again this year.  Shortly after they started unloading, Alice arrived and helped with the set-up. Scott also came over to help.  By 9:30 pm, the three tables were covered with items...

...and there was some time to do a little reconnoitering of the other rooms and vendors before the doors were locked at 10 pm.

John and Jacob arrived at 7 am Saturday and did some last minute arranging of the tables. They also picked up some things for the Battery and did some early shopping. Scott arrived a bit later as did Alice and Fred.

At 9 am, the doors opened to the public. At first attendance was slow, but as the day progressed, the aisles filled with people, many in period dress - pirates, Native Americans, cowboys, Civil War soldiers even a Sheikh!

Many people stopped to view our displays and to talk about the various cannon projectiles placed near our 2013 trophy from the Grayling matches. Several old friends and acquaintances stopped to talk. A number of people took brochures after talking about joining Robinson's Battery.  Sgt. Liebrandt arrived to give some relief to the members at the tables.

About 10:30 am, Betty arrived carrying a large white box.  Unbeknownst to John, she had posted on Facebook that the Captain would soon be having a birthday, and that there would be cake at the Battery's table for all friends who were attending!

Sure enough! Several of the dealers sang "Happy Birthday," too. (It was GOOD cake.)

Many people enjoyed the cake as they browsed the tables.

By 5 pm, the crowds thinned and the show ended for the day.

On Sunday, dealers could enter at 8 am, so John and Jacob were there as the doors opened. Scott and Fred arrived before the 9 am public opening.

These two lovely ladies were in period dress.

As usual on Sunday, the crowd was much lighter, although still a good turn out.  New recruit, Taylor Stevens, stopped in to purchase a vest for his uniform.  The show ended at 4 pm; soon the displays were packed and loaded. Thanks to everyone able to help out. The show was a good start for our 2014 season.