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Table of Contents
  Turkeyville Event - June
  Mattawan School Day - June
  Coldwater Civil War Days - June
  Camp Houk Revisited, Oceana County - May
  Second Annual Brian Haack Memorial Artillery Match - May
  Mansfield, Ohio Civil War to WWII Show and Sale - May
  Kalamazoo Living History Show and Sale - March

Turkeyville Event - June

John towed the 20 pounder trailer over to Camp Turkeyville on Thursday and parked it for the day; several reenactors were setting up and John picked out our campsite.

On Friday morning, he towed the 6 pounder trailer over, arriving at 9am.

For the next 4 hours, he off loaded the camp equipment, guns and set up three tents.

Around 2 pm, Jim Ednie arrived and Mark Pangburn stopped by for a little while.

Jim and Dena Miller brought their camper and got a campsite in the modern camping area. Jacob got on site as soon as he got off work.  They all helped put up the dining flies...

...organized the battery’s kitchen and put the mess equipment in place.

They then unloaded the limbers and put the guns in line.  Bethany Hoover came in and put up a fly.  Mike McLaughlin arrived, then Steve Bjorklund, Brandon Johnson and Justin Woods.

Bethany Hoover came in and put up a fly.  Mike McLaughlin arrived, then Steve Bjorklund, Brandon Johnson and Justin Woods.

Jon Liebrandt put up his tent. After supper, Scott, Tanya, and Lydia Johnson pulled in, bringing Dakota Rogers and Patrick Wallace.

A reenactor meeting was held to discuss scenarios for the weekend. The Captain decided  the guns were going in the earthworks so Scott hitched them up and towed them to the works.  The men placed them on the same platforms as we used last year, with the Hughes gun covering the left flank of the ditches.

Photo courtesy of Mina Collins - Ziggi’s Battery

Dave Goodwin was the last to arrive and got his tent up before dark. We had a total of 10 A tents, a dog-tent, a civilian fly and both kitchen flies up for this event. 
After everyone got settled in, we all sat around enjoying the cooler evening air and good conversation.

When the Captain walked out of his tent about 6:30 am Saturday, he found several of the men already up making coffee.

In short order, several privates were washing and slicing potatoes and onions.

Once that was done, the pan was put on the Merrimac stove to cook.

Bacon was laid out in the big pan and put on, too. Scrambled eggs were  the last onto the heat, as the potatoes finished cooking and were pulled off the stove top.

Dena Miller brought her home canned pears and soon everyone was enjoying a hearty meal.

After eating, we cleaned up the cookware...

...and made a water run.

The men were assembled and counted off into two detachments.

The NCOs marched the men over to our guns.

Polishing materials were distributed and with the application of elbow grease, the 6 pounder...

...and Hughes Gun were soon gleaming in the sunshine.

At 10 am, the flag raising ceremony took place; our cannoneers were formed up.  Privates Goodwin and B. Johnson played their fifes, joined by Pvt. Christian Parker who fell in with our men for the day. The musicians marched around the combined Union and Confederate infantry and artillery troops, and then played the National Anthem as the flag was raised over the fortification.

Mrs. Miller and Mrs Johnson came out to watch.

After the ceremony, the men were free for a couple hours.  They visited sutlers, talked with friends and attended some of the other activities on the program. John and Jacob began preparations for lunch -  BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, ham & beans and “Fried Onions with Parmezan cheese” (recipe found in “The Art of Cookery made Easy and Refined” by John Mollard, published 1802).
Luke and Patrick peeled and sliced the Vidalia onions, Jim Miller was the batter maker and dipper.

John dropped the raw batter dipped onions into the hot oil.

Jacob was the fry master.

Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery


Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery


Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery

After that repast, we had a while before the battle began at 4 pm, so we talked with spectators as they toured the camps.  Dave played several tunes on his violin and fife.

At 3:45 pm, the bugler blew Assembly and Captain Hughes had the NCOs form up their detachments.

Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery

“Albert” King and “Emilio” Lewis arrived earlier in the afternoon, so they, along with Private Ednie, filled out Corporal Lewis’s detachment on the Hughes gun.

Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery

Sgt. Liebrandt commanded the 6 pounder with a detachment consisting of Privates Goodwin, Bjorklund, Wallace, L. Johnson, and Parker.

Corporal Johnson gunned the 20 pounder with Privates Miller, B. Johnson, McLaughlin, Rogers, and Woods

This year, there was a new element to the battle - the addition of aerial bursts that appeared, to the public, to be exploding over the heads of the enemy.

The scenario was the Battle of Hemp Bales in Lexington, Missouri in 1862.

Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery

Originally, the attacking Confederates assaulted Union earthworks by rolling water soaked bales of hemp forward, using them as cover, until the Confederates were able to capture the fortifications.

Our Rebels used straw bales...no hemp was available.

But we stood to our guns well...

...and were able to bombard the Rebels...

...as they tried to take the works.

Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery

Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery

Teamwork to keep the gun firing

Near the end of the battle, several of our cannoneers defended the guns using side arms...

...and repeating rifles.

Nonetheless, the works were lost to the Yankee forces.

Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery

After the battle, the men returned to camp and quickly shed their coats to cool off.

Photo by Mina Collins- Ziggi’s Battery

The skies were cloudy and threatened rain, but the temperatures hit the mid 80s. This was the first really warm, humid weather that we experienced this year and the cannoneers were not used to the combination.

Music, icy lemonade and the shade under the tent flies was much appreciated.

About 5 PM, Cornwell’s provided a light supper of turkey sandwiches, water and chips.Some of our men went to the ice cream shop and got a cool treat for dessert. Highland Games were a new feature on Saturday evening. Several reenactors wore kilts and took turns throwing a 19 pound stone for distance, a 12 pound hammer throw, the caber toss and other feats of strength.

It was a bit entertaining, and lasted until  dusk. Most of us just sat and watched as the competitors worked at the games. After a long and tiring day, most of us turned in around 11 pm; some slept well (ear plugs are great), others were kept awake by the whine of mosquitoes near their ears.

Sunday morning arrived and the cannoneers were up by 7 am.

Breakfast of sausages and buckwheat pancakes filled the artillerymen.

After cleaning up, Scott  towed the 6 and 20 pounders out of the fortifications to the other end of the field. We had lost three cannoneers, so we decided to put the Hughes gun near camp for display.  Afterwards, several Battery members attended the church service.

When that was done, the bugler called the men back into the detachments...

...and we went down to the guns for drill.

After drill, we returned to camp for a quick lunch of cold cuts and watermelon.

At 1: 45 pm, we reformed our detachments and marched to the guns.  As we passed the infantry, we heard a couple of exclamations that they were impressed by artillerymen who were “marching.”  A period style townball game was being played adjacent to our position.

I think some of the ballplayers were a little concerned that we would send them a “fast ball” or two. At 2 pm, as the ball players were exiting the field, the Confederates who were now in Fort Blakely (Mobil, AL 1864) cut loose with a mass cannon fire. That sped the ball players along!

We soon replied and kept up a counter battery fire for several minutes. Eventually, some Rebel infantry came out and advanced on our position.

The Union Infantry then moved to engage the Rebels, and soon found themselves facing threats from three sides.

The Federal Commander then had our guns oblique to the left and engage one group of infantry, while they split their forces to counter the other two groups of enemy.

At 3:30 pm, John brought his trailer into camp and started striking tents. After the camp equipment was loaded, the trailers were taken down to the guns were and they were loaded as well. Scott loaded the 20 pounder on his tandem trailer and took it to his home, to be ready for the trip to Camp Grayling next month. The 6 pounder & Hughes gun went into John’s trailer and he towed that to his house, then returned to pick-up the Battery’s trailer and returned that to its parking spot.

Mattawan School Day - June

Jon Liebrandt arrived at John’s house at 8:15 am and climbed into the truck.  John towed the gun trailer over to Galesburg where they picked up Scott and “Luke” Johnson along with Dakota Rogers. They headed to Mattawan Middle School arriving around 9:20 am. Jeff Hattendorph, the eighth grade teacher who has organized Civil War Day for the past 9 years, directed us to our position for the day.

We off loaded both the 6 pounder. and limber, set up some tables, put out the projectile display, the Hughes gun and our guidon.

At 10:20 the first of six groups of students arrived.

John told a little about Robinson’s Battery and how a cannon was manned.

As he described each position on the gun detachment...

...one of our cannoneers...

...then would take that position.
We then loaded and fired the gun which the students thought was pretty awesome.

Scott talked a bit about the Hughes Gun and its design.

John then described the various projectiles on display.  The students were allowed to examine the guns and display items, as well as, talk with our cannoneers.

We followed this pattern, with a few changes, for the next two classes.  Around noon,  the school fed us grilled hot dogs, chips and a drink.

We had a chance to talk with the other two Civil War presenters, long time acquaintances Steve Rossio and Mike Culp. Then we finished the last three classes.

At 2:20 pm, the students headed back to their classrooms to catch their buses.

We loaded up and before long we were headed home, too. The day was beautiful,  a perfect spring day of sunshine and warmth that almost seemed a little hot to us in the wool, but no one really complained. The teachers all seemed to like our presentation; most of the students thought it was pretty cool too.

Robinson’s Battery had a chance to expose 250 students to living history - who knows, maybe we’ll gain a future recruit or two from our day at Mattawan Middle School.

Coldwater Civil War Days - June

On Friday morning John met Jacob in Marshall and then drove to Coldwater’s Heritage Park, arriving at 9 am.  Bill Smith at the Command Post tent advised that they would be camping in the same location as the last few years. John and Jacob off loaded the Hughes gun and 6 pounder at the gun line and then moved the vehicles to camp to unload the battery equipment and camp goods.

By locating the Camp kitchen out of the center, they made a clear path that allowed others to drive in and unload their tentage.

Jim Ednie arrived a bit after noon and later Mike McLaughlin came.

Justin Woods arrived and then the Johnson's truck pulled in after 7 pm, bringing Scott, Josh and Lydia. Dakota Rogers and Patrick Wallace (a friend of Lydia’s) rode with them.

As Scott and Lydia put up their tents, Dakota and Patrick moved into a spare tent.

Jacob built up a fire.  John and he started baking pies - apple, peach and blueberry).  Supper was put on to heat.    

When most of the cannoneers had arrrived, chicken gumbo and rice was served.

Just as many of the artillerymen were about to turn in, Steve Bjorklund and his friend, Amber Baker, arrived.

They set up Steve’s A tent and Amber elected to sleep in the mess tent. With everyone  settled, the men turned in for the night.

As the battery men awoke and gathered around the fire...

...they were put to work...

...preparing the morning meal.

The fried potatoes with onions, eggs and bacon made a good start to the day.

Our 20 pounder was not present due to a lack of tow capable vehicles. So after breakfast, Capt. Hughes assembled the men into two detachments under Cpl Johnson on the 6 pounder and Cpl. Lewis. on the Hughes gun.

The corporals took their detachments out for drill.

They worked the cannoneers...

...until they were refreshed in their duties.

The men were released for the rest of the morning; some stayed near the cannon to talk with spectators who came to look at the cannons.  There was great interest in both the Hughes gun and the targets we used at the Brian Haack Match.  Capt. Hughes was chief of artillery for this event.  As other guns came in, they were placed in line to form a 4 gun battery.

Brats and fried onions with peppers was served for lunch.

At 1:30 pm, the cannoneers were assembled and posted on the guns.

At 2 pm, the battle began.

We opened fire...

...in response to a rebel bombardment.

The cannoneers stood to their guns...

... and served them well...

...but soon the Union infantry was forced to fall back and the Rebel infantry turned their attention toward capturing the battery.

As the infantry advanced, several cannoneers, who had revolvers, put up a spirited defense.  As the revolver cylinders emptied, the Rebels shot down the cannoneers and overran the cannons. Several Rebels stopped to started to strip the dead or wounded of shoes, watches and other goods that caught their eyes.

With the battle over, the men were released for the afternoon. The sponsors of the event hosted a hog roast  at 5 pm.

Reenactors were encouraged to bring a dish to pass. John almost forgot that he was going to make a southwestern corn dish and at 4:45 pm built up the fire to heat the corn & peppers. It was done about 5:15. Fortunately, the hungry lines of reenactors were still there and most of the corn was devoured.

After dinner, the huge tent was cleared of furniture; the Ruffwater String band set up for the dance.   Lydia Johnson and Amber changed into their dresses and headed up the hill to the dance.  A couple of the Battery cannoneers also participated, while the rest either remained in camp or went to watch the dance and enjoy the music.

At 9:45 pm, the cannoneers returned to the guns.

They fired a couple rounds for the night firing demonstration. Again, the sound of the guns echoed down the chain of lakes like rolling thunder.

Around 7:30 am, the fire was built up and sausages put over the hot fire to cook, and pancakes were mixed and fried for breakfast. The men were free to attend church at 10 am, as many of us started getting things put in place for packing up later. The Battery’s roster was reinforced with the arrival of Justin Stange (Ziggy’s Battery), Alice (Albert) King, and  Emily (Emillio) Lewis.

Cpl. Lewis put them on his gun detachment...

...and ran them...

...through some drill.

Lunch was cold cuts...

...and the men rested until they were called up to serve the guns for battle.

The infantry was set as they had been during the opening on Saturday.

Shortly after the opening shots...

Col. Mattox called for Capt. Hughes...

...and directed him to take the Hughes gun, move it in the advance of the Union infantry, taking position and firing to keep the Rebels from advancing too rapidly.

Cpl. Lewis received his orders from Capt. Hughes and quickly got his detachment to put on the ropes and move the gun forward, ahead of the infantry.

When they got to an opening in the split rail fence...

...they stopped and fired a couple rounds.  They then was ordered to cover the Infantry’s left flank in order to stop the Rebels from flanking in that direction.

The remaining guns in the Battery continued to fire as this action took place.

As the Yankee infantry advanced away from the Hughes gun, the cannoneers came under heavy fire.  As the cannoneers emptied their revolvers, Capt Hughes sent Pvt McLaughlin over to them with a Spencer Repeating Carbine to provide additional fire support.

Between the fire, defense provided by the Hughes Gun, and the pressure from the Union infantry, the Rebel forces were forced to retreat from the field.
After the battle, the men returned to camp; a few stayed with the guns to answer questions from the public.  At 3:30 pm, the trailer and vehicles were allowed into camp, and the breaking of camp began. By 5:30, everything was packed, the guns loaded and everyone headed home.   

Camp Houk Revisited, Oceana County - May

John towed the 6 pounder trailer over to Scott’s house and picked up him, Lydia “Luke” Johnson and Dakota Rogers at 9:30 am, then continuing  north to Hart, Michigan, taking Polk road east. With a few minutes to spare before we were to be at Camp Houk, we stopped in Elbridge and parked in the lot between the church and one room school, and went across the road to the cemetery. There we located the Evans family plot and found the resting places of Abraham Evans and his wife, Mary. These are ancestors of one of our present Battery members, Chuck TenBrink.

Abraham served in our original battery as a teamster early in the war, and Mary went from Michigan to Corinth, Mississippi to be with her husband just in time to be in Corinth when it was attacked on October 3, 1862. She volunteered to work as a nurse at the Corona College which had been turned into a hospital.

After pausing for a few minutes and placing a wreath in their honor, we got back into the truck and drove a couple miles to Camp Houk.

The 6 pounder was off loaded...

...and towed by a modern team...

...to a clearing in the woods.

The limber was then pulled out of the trailer...

...and taken to the gun and positioned.

With the gun placed, we walked back to the main clearing where the Hart High School Band was playing patriotic music.

A small crowd had gathered.

The President was there, (now I’m not sure just who is holding up whom, but it looks like they have both had a little too much “lemonade”).

A stage, decorated in bunting, was brought in for the ceremony.

At 2 pm, the ceremony began with veterans from the VFW raising the flag.

The band played the National Anthem.

The Hon. Walter Urick made introductions and started the program.

Tom Jenkins of the Sons of Union Veterans spoke about the history of the Grand Army of the Republic and associated veteran's organizations. (Robinson’s Battery worked with Tom for the grave dedication of Pvt John Sinclair in Traverse City in 2009.)

President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address.

Paul Erickson, a local and the current owner of Camp Houk, gave the history of the formation of Oceana County, the local towns, the inhabitants and the importance that Camp Houk had had in Civil War Veteran’s reunions.

Captain Hughes had been invited to say a few words about Robinson’s Battery.

He announced, "At least one of the original cannoneers of Robinson’s Battery came from this area and was a member of the Joe Hooker camp of the Grand Army of the Republic in Hart. He most likely attended veteran’s reunions at this very location. Abraham Evans, a teamster in the Battery, is buried in Elbridge Cemetery only a couple miles from here. So it is fitting that we modern reenactors render a cannon salute to not only Abraham’s service, but to all the veterans of the Civil War that came here in reunions.

We are about to fire an original 6 pound field gun, which is also a civil war veteran, having been cast in 1861 and accepted in federal service. Unfortunately, we do not know this gun's war time history, but you are welcome to come up to the gun after the salutes are concluded and touch a piece of history, examine the dents, marks and other indicators that show that this gun has seen service in the war.'

The gun was loaded and fired three times. After each shot, the crowd applauded.  After the program ended, we took some time to walk around and see the horse trough used by the veterans to water their stock.

This was the spring where they drew their drinking water.

The Boy Scouts still use the spring for their drinking water; several people took drinks including the Captain who found it quite cool and with a good taste (no ill effects either).

The Reunions Creek flowed past creating a very pleasant view.

With the guns loaded, we headed home, detouring in Plainwell for ice cream, and arriving back in BC around 7:30 pm.

Outside of the Program

Inside of the Program

Second Annual Brian Haack Memorial Artillery Match - May

A little before 6 am, Scott and Brandon Johnson arrived at John’s house.  They headed  to Marshall, picked up Jacob, then towed the Hughes gun to Port Huron in spotty rain. The event was held at the Bluewater Sportsman’s Club.  Upon arrival, around 8:30 am, they off loaded the gun and put it near the firing line with other cannon. Although cloudy, the rain had stopped.

Around 9:15, the cannoneers gathered to assign shooting positions and relays.

Robinson’s Battery, known as Terrill’s Dismounted Dragoons when wearing gray, took the right side of the line, positioning the gun and equipment. The targets were 200 yards away.

The guns were all loaded and brought to the “ready.”

On the command of “fire," the guns were fired in honor of Brian Haack, who had been involved in the manufacturing of most of the cannon on the field.

We were then given one hour to fire 12 rounds...

...and the 10 best counted for score.

John acted as gunner...

...and our rounds were hitting the target every time.

Finally the hour was over...

...and we were allowed to go down range...

Pretty impressive shooting!

Once the targets were scored, we went to the backstop to look for fired rounds.  These little projectiles really plowed up the soft dirt.

Jacob reached into some of the holes...

...and recovered a few of the shot, which had been buried about 18” deep.

We earned second place, behind Norm Gibson’s gun which fired 50-9V’s.

A second relay fired while we had lunch.

When the last relay was over, we moved to the 300 yard range and set-up.

The skies cleared and we enjoyed a very nice afternoon for shooting.

Again 12 rounds were fired in an hour’s time for the match.

John had to experiment with the sight settings because we had not fired this distance before.  Our first shot hit the target, although it was low.  We kept making adjustments until we were pretty good on elevation.

Despite one complete miss, we still did pretty well, placing 3rd at this distance.

In addition to the plaque above, we received an award for last year’s match in which Fred Chapman was gunner.

Mansfield, Ohio, Civil War to WWII Show and Sale - May

On May 1, John, Jacob and Dave headed to Mansfield, Ohio for the Civil War to WWII Relic & Artillery Show.  There were the obligatory stops at Tony Packos in Toledo and Camp Perry to peruse the CMP North store (to no one's surprise, a couple of items were purchased). Continuing south, they eventually arrived at the Richland County Fairgrounds and set up their tables in the artillery barn.

The displays looked great again this year.

With the displays done  and the buildings closed, John, Jacob and Dave headed to the to a conveniently placed Bob Evans along with  Jason Claag, Steve Cameron and his family. A beautiful spring weekend was in store for the show.  On Saturday morning, we were up at 6 am but had to restrain Dave from playing Reveille on his bugle in the halls. After breakfast, we finished pricing items. We were commissioned to sell Chuck Peterson’s Civil war equipment, so the remaining items added. When the doors opened to the public at 9 am, only a few peoplecame into the artillery building, but by 11am, the flood gates opened and crowds swept through the barn; most of Chuck's stuff sold during that time.

Dave had other obligations on Saturday.

He played  his fife...

...with the Camp Chase Fife & Drum band in several performances.

Jacob and John spelled each other so each could check out the other displays - 600 tables in several buildings of militaria from pre-Revolutionary war to WWII.  Like Kalamazoo,  we had an opportunity to talk with friends we hadn’t seen in months.

Outback made supper, and then John and Jacob headed for the motel's hot tub and pool to relax leg and back muscles from standing most of the day on hard floors. On Sunday we arrived at the barn at 8 am as the doors were opening for the dealers.
There were several WW2 group that had impressive displays.

The German army was occupied a barn...

...which transported visitors back in time...

...some 70 years.

The Russian Army was across the road.

As with the March show, Sunday attendance and sales were noticeably less than on Saturday, but we did well.  At 3pm, the show was over; we packed much less than brought and headed home.

Kalamazoo Living History Show and Sale - March

On March 13, John and Jacob arrived at the Kalamazoo Living History Show at 7pm and started to unload the sale items.

Scott and Lydia Johnson arrived shortly after, helped set up tables and arrange the items for sale.  They worked until 10pm when the building closed for the night.

John and Jacob arrived Saturday morning when the building opened for the dealers.

The Johnsons arrived about the same time.  The table displayss were finished and everyone had a little time to look at other dealer's goods before the doors opened to the public.

By 8:30am there was a long line of people waiting at the door.  Some Battery members attended the show, including Mike McLaughlin....

...Steve Bjorklung and Brandon Johnson...

... Justin Woods and Dakota Rogers...

Jacob Lewis, Silas Chapman, Fred Chapman  and Dave Goodwin...

...Jacob Lewis with Jim Ednie...    

... Taylor Stevens...

...Jon Liebrandt...

...Chuck Peterson and Mark Pangborn

A steady throng stopped at the tables; many old friends and acquaintances stopped to say hello and catch up on news. 
A number of people took our recruiting brochures, and a few seemed interested in learning more about Robinson’s Battery.

On Sunday morning Battery members arrived at 8am.

We continued with the same activities as the day before.

As usual, the crowd was lighter on Sunday, and sales were less. The show ended at 3 PM. Overall, we had a good weekend, the weather cooperated and the first event of 2015 was successful. Thanks to everyone that helped unload, watch tables and load back up. Your help is much appreciated.