Sir,

 

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.

  On hand were the newly minted Major Clark J. Van Buskirk, who forthwith will

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

visit.

 

 

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

follows:

 

·         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

them tomorrow.

 

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

survivors.

 

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.

 

 As with the previous day, our unit fell in with other units of the Second

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.

 The firing continued behind us, but not for long.  As it faded, I knew all

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

sentimentality.

 

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

street.

 

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

cannonade duel.

  

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

yards beyond.

 

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.

 

 Upon our return to camp we stored our equipment and went about the last bit

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

headed out.

 

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.

 

 Submitted With My Compliments,

 Cpl. Mike Lordi