44th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Co. C.
The Johnson Guards
Near Gettysburg town
I beg to report on operations of the 44th Georgia August 19 – 21 at Gettysburg for our Fall event with the National Park Service. As always the unit enjoyed the experience of our living history and musket firing demonstrations on the Great Battlefield before enthusiastic visitors.
Captain VanBuskirk and many of the troops arrived Friday afternoon at Spangler Spring setting up camp with a company street. By Saturday morning’s roll call we had a better than expected turnout. In addition to the Captain our ranks included Lt. Art Mallette, First Sgt. Rick Sassor, Second Sgt. Ken Doran, newly promoted Ordinance Sgt. Kurt Haywood, Corporal “Uncle Billy” Ringel, and Privates John Lucas, Clark R. VanBuskirk, Gerald Mayers, Ben Lanza, Keith VanBuskirk, Jr., Beau O’Brien, Drummer Boy Will Lanza, and Yours Truly. Our camp also was graced with the presence of Mrs. Betty VanBuskirk, Mrs. Michale Ringel, Mrs. Davida O’Brien and Miss Briana and Miss Shaina O’Brien.
The weekend weather alternated between clear skies, sunny and hot throughout Saturday and bucketing downpours on Sunday. While the torrential rains threatened cancellation of our Sunday demonstrations, the ever-persevering 44th Georgia made it a point to carry on with our demonstrations and engage the visitors who braved it to the Great Battlefield.
And the weather did not dampen the number of visitors to our camp and musket firing. Good and enthusiastic crowds were on hand both days.
The Company gave a good accounting of itself, conducting firing demonstrations smartly with solid precision. Many volleys went off as one solid shot. This included a firing order – Fire by drum -- in which the troops held their volley until a third drum roll by Drummer Will Lanza. Only once was there a near misfire during our final volley on Sunday. It seemed that after the Lieutenant gave the fire by drum order, there came a rumble, a gaseous growling if you will, from the right flank of our line that some mistook for the first drum roll. The unit, however, maintained its presence of mind, and thanks to a sudden upwind breeze quickly realized the source of the rumble was not Will’s drum.
Following Sunday morning’s firing demonstration, we learned an amazing coincidence. It seemed that among the people watching the firing was a woman whose great, great, great grandfather was Lewis Lester, Jr., a private in the actual 44th Georgia Company C. Ironically, performing the load in nine count for the crowd was Pvt. Lucas who honors Pvt. Lester.
I would be amiss were I not to note a splendid Saturday dinner that consisted of a most tasty pork stew courtesy of Mrs. Mary Doran and cooked by Sgt. Ken. It was accompanied by a spicy corn bread. Sunday’s breakfast, also cooked by Sgt. Ken, was equally grand. The unit was treated to bacon, eggs, succulent sausage gravy and grits surprisingly cooked well. While the grits received a few accolades, I must make a clean breast of the technique applied in the cooking. It is my usual approach to cook grits from scratch using wild, wickedly untamed grits. In the eternal battle of grits versus mankind, this has left me frequently on the losing side due to under boiling or negative grit karma. For Sunday’s breakfast, I used a different, domesticated grit genetically engineered to cook in five minutes. It was a shameful act on my part, but they tasted good.
Now I also must report on an unusual streak of luck exhibited by our Drummer Boy, Will, who amazed the camp with his suspiciously successful card playing. Will routed all comers playing Black Jack winning hands almost uninterrupted. Saturday, Miss Briana, Miss Shaina and their Nan fell prey to Will’s lucky streak, as did Yours Truly. In fact, sensing a nefarious intent and there may not be any chance in this game of chance since he always dealt, I halted the proceedings to shuffle the deck. It did not work. Will kept right on piling up victorious hands. The win streak continued on Sunday with Miss Briana the victim.
By noon the rain halted and the sun reheated the camp along with the field for our demonstrations. Following the last event, we returned to break camp. It did not take long to pack our equipment as well as the Captain’s War Wagon. When all was set in place, Sgt. Kirk led us in a final prayer and we were dismissed.
The next event is the Cold Spring Village at Cape May NJ, Sept. 16 through 18. Please tell the Captain if you plan to attend.
Submitted With My Compliments,
Cpl Mike Lordi