I beg to report on operations of the 44th Georgia in Gettysburg town July 1
through 3 where we were engaged in commemorating the 154th anniversary of
the Great Battle. It was, indeed, an impressive event that attracted
scores of Confederates and Union enthusiasts – and horses -- from all parts.
be plying his organizational and strategic operational expertise to command
headquarters; accompanying the group was the equally newly minted Captain,
Art Mallette, under whose watchful eye and commanding comportment shall
lead the 44th into battle. Also present for duty were Sgt. Ken Doran, Cpl.
Jim Marshall, and Privates “Uncle” Billy Ringel, David Bond, Andrew Lolli,
and Bo O’Brien, as well as Yours Truly. Lady Michale Ringle graced the
camp with her presence. Additionally, Mrs. Devita O’Brien and the lovely,
talented and scholarly Brie O’Brien brightened our camp when they paid a
Rows of tents and swirls of campfire smoke filled the spacious fields that
served as home to the event. Confederate and Union troops were separated
by an undulating dirt road. The 44th set up a company street between the
proud bookends of our Battle and Georgia state flags.
# # #
Following morning victuals on Saturday, Major Van Buskirk called a company
meeting to address several matters of the 44th bylaws. The activity is as
· Pursuant to the proposed change in the bylaw article on
participation, as advertised in advance, Pvt. Lolli moved the issue and
Cpl. Lordi seconded. The vote was unanimous to adopt.
The bylaws were modified and the meeting was concluded.
# # #
The weather throughout the three days was hot with brilliant but intense
sun. Saturday’s battle was rescheduled from mid to late afternoon,
allowing the unit to keep the camp tidy and take occasional trips to the
sutlers. In late morning, the battalion was taken out for drill. We were
taught how to maneuver from a left-facing battle line to right without
becoming inverted. It was clumsy at first, but after multiple attempts,
our battalion seemed to grasp the essentials.
It was a lazy afternoon and most of our time was spent under the company
fly drinking water to stay cool. Shade was at a premium, and as the sun
made its heavenly arc, so changed the shade and so did we move our chairs
to follow. Around half-past two o’clock, dark and threating clouds
grumbled at us, the arrival of a forecasted storm. It came in a hurry and
with a vengeance. It would be understated to call the rains torrential and
the wind heavy. Many a canvas, unable to hold its ground, was bowled over.
Some tentage, like Capt. Mallette’s fly, was so exposed it yielded to the
overpowering force of nature which rent it from its moorings and left the
fly dangling limp. Meanwhile, some brave souls, Yours Truly included, held
the poles of the company fly to keep it from a similar fate and that of
tents in other companies that were driven asunder.
Soon, the storm blew over. The sun emerged with the same intensity. All
were accounted for, uniforms drenched but not worse for wear. Surprisingly,
the ground remained mud less and very passable. Marching to the scene of
battle would not be a problem.
Some drying out was possible by first call. The 44th fell in with several
other Second Battalion units and we were designated Third Company. We
marched up the dirt road toward the grand stand where onlookers came to
watch the festivities. The battalion’s Lieutenant Colonel deployed us in a
battle line and as the enemy came to our front, we marched forward. Capt.
Mallette directed our company firing by rank, file and independently. The
battle raged as we alternated advancing and falling back, all the time
firing and keeping it hot on the Yankees. Our lines held steady, sometimes
advancing at the oblique to counter new enemy movements. Doubtless the
enemy had the greater numbers for as we appeared to drive off one regiment
of Bluebellies, they were able to put more reinforcements into line. After
about 20 minutes of firing and the barrels of our muskets blazingly hot, a
regiment of Yankees appeared on our left flank. Unable to contain their
units on our front and left, the Captain gave the order to fall back and
reform on the battalion colors, which we did with precision. After a final
volley, it was decided to yield the field to the Yankees and return for
Our return march to camp allowed us to pass the grand stand where we were
applauded by the visitors and many in our unit responded with waves and
raised hats in appreciation.
Back in camp we suppered on chili and corn on the cob courtesy of Mrs.
Yours Truly. There also was a very tasty onion bread from the Sergeant of
which we ate heartily. When all had their fill and had cleaned up, we
settled in for a quiet evening of cigars and reminiscing over the day’s
events and past battles.
Sunday morning brought a new battle, this one involving my ongoing brawl
with grits. Having awoken early, I had my pot of water sufficiently boiled
to catch the grits using the element of surprise. As is their nature when
provoked, the grits clumped in a defensive position on the pot’s bottom. I
responded with vigorous agitation via the long spoon, which separated but a
few leaving the bulk tenaciously holding their lower position. Being a
veteran of such engagements, I knew the only way to break their line was
with cold steel. Thus, I lay down my spoon and fixed spatulas. Decorum
would not permit me to describe the ghastly events that followed my spatula
assault, suffice to say the grits’ clump was demolished with few unboiled
The rest of breakfast was pretty good.
The attack on Sunday was set for the middle afternoon. This again gave the
boys time to resupply our rounds and caps, stack more firewood, police the
camp and take an occasional trip to the upper town. Once more the heat and
need for shade kept the unit strategically positioning and re-positioning
our chairs under the company fly.
Battalion and marched up the dirt road. This time, the battalion formed
battle lines in front and to the right of the viewing crowd’s grand
stand. When the order was given to march, we moved to the enemy’s front through a
series of obliques and wheels. Our formation held tight, much to the
satisfaction of the Sergeant Major who led us into position.
We poured on fire on the Yankees and pushed them back. The enemy showed
little appetite for pushing us back, but instead kept to a secured position
challenging us to continue our advance. We did so while firing and
reloading on the march. Operationally speaking, being the aggressor in
this engagement meant we would take more casualties, and it proved to be
true. Colleagues fell to Yankee fire more rapidly than we could move
replacements into position. I too took a hit and had to limp off the field.
too well that another day’s action was needed to drive the Yankees out,
this time for good. The battle would be decided tomorrow.
Back in camp we were treated to a wonderful chicken and vegetable dinner
courtesy of Mrs. Mary Doran. A few ears of corn were left from the day
before, complementing Mrs. Mary’s culinary creation. Once more we passed
the evening with walks to the sutlers and conversing under the company fly.
Monday, July 3 was to be the climax of the event. It started out, however,
with a surprise as we learned it was Cpl. Jim’s birthday. Such milestones
could not go unrecorded, and after some debate as to how the moment should
be commemorated, it was decided that an appropriate gesture would be to
prepare a birthday cake. Not any birthday cake, mind you, but something
special; something that would stand the test of time, emblazon itself
forever in the unit’s history and adequately express our love and
appreciation for the Corporal.
While the Corporal was off tending to matters with the Major, Pvt. Bo stood
guard and provided a shield from prying eyes enabling Yours Truly to
manufacture the birthday device. I found a pile of evidence that the
cavalry had passed through and scooped up a mess of the equine memorabilia.
The inglorious ingredient was then paddled delicately into a cake. Sgt.
Ken provided a candle and someone added a stomped out cigar butt for
When Cpl. Jim returned to the company fly we proudly presented him with the
cake, candle, cigar and all accompanied by a chorus of “Happy Birthday to
You.” Although the Corporal accepted this beau geste with a touch of
modesty, the ceremony mercifully ended quickly as the cake and contents
were immediately dispatched to a trash bin well away from the company
First call for the battle came early in the afternoon and once again we
trudged up the dirt road. This time, we were led under a large tent next
to the viewer stands and told to wait. Ice was passed to help us stay
cool. It was then that our cannons opened up, blasting sequentially. Yankee
cannon returned this compliment, and soon both sides were engaged in a
Then the order was given for us to move out. We were put into battle
lines, this time battalion was placed directly in the center of the action
facing the enemy and our backs to the crowd. A row of Yankee pickets
positioned themselves behind a fence along a dip in the field and the bulk
of the enemy was tightly packed in a strong defensive position some forty
Forward march came the order and we headed directly to the enemy position
stopping occasionally to straighten our lines and to fire. The enemy
pickets were gone by time we reached the fence, which we tore apart to
continue our forward progress, all the time firing and reloading. At this
point, many Confederates had fallen, but we were determined to drive the
Yankees out. Tightening our lines we made one last charge to break the
enemy. The Yankee fire was hot and true and soon only a hand full of our
boys was still in the fight. Not one was able to get within 15 yards of
the enemy. Our attack stalled and we were ordered to withdraw. We would
fight them another time, another place.
of policing. We struck our tents and broke camp. Sgt. Ken was called on
to lead the unit in a parting prayer. We acknowledge with an “Amen” and
The next event is the fall Gettysburg event at Spangler’s Spring August 19
and 20. Please let the Major know if you will be attending.