HORSE SOLDIER

VOICE OF THE SIXTH OHIO VOLUNTEER CAVALRY

Volume 1, Issue 10                                                                                                                                                                                               Fall,  2002


ZOAR HARVEST FESTIVAL

     The Sixth Ohio Voluntary Cavalry returned in early August to the rustic streets of Zoar, Ohio.  The smoke and shouts of the Battle of the Ohio-Erie Canal had long settled, and the battlefield was overgrown with summer’s lush grasses.  April’s training grounds were equally unrecognizable, our quiet encampment in the snow now bustling with tents and “wagons”.  But a military presence was again required to protect the citizens from rebel raiders as they celebrated their annual harvest festival, so the 6th O.V.C. and the 51st O.V.I. joined forces to police the streets of the small town.

     The cavalry was able to field almost two ranks at this event, with the young Trooper Markijohn making the third man, second rank, under the ever-watchful eye of the Sergeant in Command.  Trooper Waldrip also brought a new recruit, as his remount “Sailor” was drilled in many of the demands of his new calling.

     The ladies of the Sixth also made a very respectable showing, gracing our encampment in their lovely summer frocks.  Gratitude is extended especially to Madame Waldrip for the magnificent company guidon she has stitched for our unit, carried proudly through streets and river by Trooper Oakley.

 

MORGAN’S RAID

     The test ride for the Morgan’s Raid event planned in September of 2003 was by report a great success.  The 6th O.V.C. and the 2nd U.S.C. were both well represented.  The weather was fair, if hot, and horses and riders took the three day ride without undue stress.  Riders were able to practice living campaign style, and refine their Confederate impressions, and the group leaders were able to assess potential snags for the upcoming event.  The pieces are falling into place for a great reenactment in 2003!!

140th ANTIETAM

          September 12-15 marked the reenactment of the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, featuring the Battles of the Cornfield, Bloody Lane, and A.P. Hill’s assault to drive back the advancing Federal Army.

     The boys of the 6th mustered on the field on Thursday and set up camp in the woods to the right of the cavalry parade grounds. Friday began with normal camp life and intense inspections.  Drilling commenced with the 2nd U.S. acting as company A. The 6th Ohio along with a number of other smaller regiments fell in to make up company B under the command of Lieutenant Hopes.  As is often the case finding an adequate field to drill was a difficult task but was achieved.

     The afternoon battle of Fox’s Gap found the Cavalry on the extreme right of the union lines.  In a recently harvested corn field, the boys in blue fought as a dismounted skirmish line while the artillery was “brought up” piece by piece.  The fighting was as hot as the September sun, and as the artillery arrived in position to take on the oncoming horde, the cavalry pushed further to the right. When enemy cavalry came into sight all troopers remounted and formed to cover the advancing infantry. Some of the dustiest charges in history were made that afternoon but thanks to the protection of the cavalry, the infantry overwhelmed the defenders and took Fox’s Gap.

     Very early on the following morning, the troops of the 6th Ohio decided to join the dismounted boys and participate in the battle of the cornfield.  After a prolonged inspection the Cavalry was placed on the left to protect the artillery positioned there. The artillery opened up all along the lines as both sides tried to soften the enemy positions.  The Union left could not have been much softer.  The confederates advanced against our left and the dismounted troops advanced in front of the guns to greet them. The fighting was hot but it was the only small arms fire anywhere on the field.  Elsewhere, the artillery was still playing its game.  It wasn’t possible to hold the left without further infantry support.  The support never came.  The guns were lost.

     The fighting had begun in strength across the field but the day was done for gallant horse soldiers, or so they thought.  As they were marching to the rear, the commanding general saw a hole right in the middle that would cause great trouble.  He searched the area for any men that could fill it.  The only troops available were those same fellows.  With his orders the cavalry boys once again went into some very hot action.  The fighting raged until cartridge rounds had been exhausted and more infantry came forward. It was a heck of a fight for our newest trooper, Jim Anderson, to see the elephant.

     Later in the day, the confederates were scheduled to demonstrate the cavalry movements and tactics.  The Union commander of the cavalry knew that if his forces were anywhere nearby, the rebs couldn’t help it but engage them in battle.  Riding to a field nearby the rebs proved the commander correct. They are so predictable.

     When the battle of Bloody Lane was in full action, the cavalry watched from the ridgeline and then from a field on the left of the union lines.  The confederate cavalry was spied in the rear of the confederate lines.  Once again the U.S. cavalry commander knew there was going to be an unscheduled fight in this field.  A detachment of company B, under the command of the sergeant, was sent forward to scout the ground.  The sergeant made sure he was seen by the rebs and moved his detachment back within the ranks.  Once again the rebs did not disappoint us. They came to the field, formed ranks as if to charge, but then to everyone’s surprise they left the field.  It didn’t take long to find why.  Amongst all the fighting down along the bloody lane, the rebs managed to find a canon and turn it towards the horses. After one shot the artillery crews returned to their main objective but the effects of that one blast were well known.  Score one for the rebs.  The confederates returned to the field and advanced.  The union cavalry held their positions.  After all this was an unscheduled demonstration.  The rebs advanced at a trot but still the union boys held their ground.  The rebs advanced at a full charge.  At this, the union commander decided that they best defend themselves and ordered them to meet the charge.  What fun!

     That night, scouting reports came that a major frontal advance was on its way.   This advance would affect Northern and Southern forces alike.  A torrential rainstorm was predicted to arrive sometime after midnight.  The cavalry lost some well needed troops, but the following morning they still fielded a respectable force.  The rain was not as severe as predicted so the opposing forces again met on the battlefield. After much fun was had, both sides gave cheers to the foe and everyone went on their way home.

     Based on C-Span video coverage, the Cavalries had a ball, and the 6th O.V.C. gave as good as it got!!!

 

 

PERRYVILLE

     Perryville, Kentucky saw vigorous fighting in early October, as Union and Confederate troops followed Hurricane Lilly onto the actual Perryville battlefield on October 4-6.  Three battles were fought through the course of the weekend, with the Confederate infantry chasing the Union army over a wooden fence, through a cornfield, and up and over the hill on Saturday afternoon (Maney’s Battle), only to pack up and retreat during the night when they were uncertain of their ability to hold the ground they had so impressively gained.  This allowed the Federal troops to retake the ground, and both sides to claim victory at the site.  One witness described the battle as “pretty cool” as she watched the oncoming Confederate ranks against the broken Union ranks.  “The dark blue uniforms were easy to spot and it was spooky watching them break up into small groups or even as individuals when they were fleeing the cornfield while behind them the Confederates maintained a solid grey line as they mowed down the cornstalks.  It gave me the chills…”  The fact that their were 240 Confederate cavalrymen against 60 Union cavalrymen may have made some difference, although with Troopers Noble and Vance from the 6th O.V.C. fighting under the Federal standard, surely the Confederates felt outnumbered!

     The night air over the battlefield was also haunted with sounds from the past.  A stirring buglers octet was followed by the distant lilting notes of the bagpipe, lusty song drifting from the campfires, and rowdy tall tales of several legendary characters!

 

 

CEDAR CREEK

     The 6th O.V.C.  took the field of battle one last time in 2002, braving both Confederate weaponry and sniper fire to fight the Battle of Cedar Creek near Winchester, Virginia on October 18-20.  Although heavy rains were forecast, the weather was brisk but dry as the Federal Cavalry set up picket lines in a quiet hollow near a small stream.  However, great coats and horse blankets are warm, and both troopers and mounts settled in quickly for a peaceful Friday night.  Suddenly, a horrible squealing and clattering rent the night, and the expression of abject terror on one small horse’s face was memorable as he survived his first experience with a train.

     Saturday’s activities began with drilling and a rather aggressive combined Union/Confederate Cavalry demonstration, followed closely by battle.  As the infantry slogged it out in sight of the spectators near the highway, the cavalry fought a rather disjointed engagement to protect U.S. artillery near the Federal camp.  While the Federal Cavalry officially succeeded in outfighting the foe, the Rebels definitely won the horse race!

     The ladies fair of the Sixth Ohio put on a fine showing Saturday evening, with a private sidesaddle demonstration, and good representation at the ball.  Several younger members of our group appeared to thoroughly enjoy the evening’s activities.  Complements also go to the cooks!

     Sunday morning broke very early, with battle at dawn as the Confederate Army attacked the Federals at their breakfast.  The 2nd U.S. and one lone intrepid trooper from the 6th O.V.C. joined the fight dismounted, but failed to keep the C.S.A. from overrunning the U.S. camp.  The bugle calls and commands in the darkness, the flashes of fire, and the two armies at hand-to-hand fighting silhouetted against the dark sky was most impressive.

     By Sunday afternoon, we had apparently scared a large portion of the Rebel cavalry right off the battlefield, evening our numbers somewhat.  A drill demonstration was followed by a very aggressive dismounted fight and a rousing mix-up on the hilltop during which Trooper Hinterlang and his mare learned what a full charge in the revolver sounds like, and Trooper Vance blew smoke rings.

     It was good to have Corporal Poustie back among us!

 

 

CHRISTMAS AT ZOAR

   The jingle of sleigh bells and the ring of shod hooves on paved roads again echoed through Zoar, Ohio as the 6th O.V.C. and the 51st O.V.I. assured the safety of the citizens celebrating their annual winter festival.  Approximately two ranks of Ohio’s (and Ontario’s) finest paraded the streets of Zoar escorting the “war wagon” hitched to a team of Belgians.  Festival goers were treated to guided tours of local historic buildings, wagon rides, cider, cookies, and crafts, and the holiday music of an organ grinder.  The Sixth provided their own entertainment with impromptu caroling around the campfire, accompanied by the drummers of the 51st, and the rusty guitar and fiddle of Trooper and Mrs. Hinterlang.  However, the greatest triumph of the day was clearly the ambush and rout of the 51st O.V.I. by the boys of the Sixth and their arsenal of snowballs!

     The afternoon’s activities were followed by fellowship and fine dining at the Zoar tavern, with pleasant conversation into the evening as one by one children and troopers drifted off. The hardiest of the troopers remained with the picket lines through the cold night, while the rest of the troop was obliged to guard the honor of their ladies and families at the nearby stagecoach inn.

     One side note—Trooper John Hinterlang has forever discarded the alias Woo C. Boi, proving his manhood by carrying not only The General, but also her loving spouse!

 

 

 

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

 

February                                 Canton, Ohio

Winter meeting—date to be announced

 

April                                        to be announced

Spring training—date to be announced

 

 

 

CIVILIAN’S CORNER

Bonnets, Hats, and Caps

 

     Part of the fun of creating a persona is trying to get into her imaginary head, to figure out what she would have thought, done, or worn.  Clothing is probably the simplest example of this—how old was she, what kind of dress would she have worn, could she afford bright colors and big prints, or was she thrifty in a durable, dark-colored garment?  And what would she have worn on her head…       Bonnets are probably the most obvious of period headwear, and while styles changed frequently, 1860s bonnets were generally worn high above the face, tied with broad ribbons, and trimmed lavishly with ribbon, lace and flowers under the brim.  Such ornate arrangements make a lovely impression for a stylish visitor to camp, but would not survive long on a lady forced to follow the cavalry.

 

      Slat bonnets, made simply of unadorned fabric with a flexible cardboard brim, are a less fashionable but far more functional option apparently quite common for everyday wear.  The long curtain of a slat bonnet protects the bodice from the elements, and would probably be made longer on a homespun work bonnet than on a calico bonnet intended for church or town.

      Fashionable hats of the period were apparently becoming taller in the crown and narrower or nonexistent in the brim, but common sense says a wide-brimmed straw hat would still be the most functional hat for working the fields or gardening.  These hats are seen on sutler’s row, which may or may not support their authenticity.

     Caps worn by the age groups represented in the 6th Ohio would generally have been dark, primarily ornamental affairs worn to the back of the head to frame the face, trimmed with gathered lace (while these can be stunning with a ball gown, they probably would be tough to justify around the campfire).  Women over 65, however, were generally seen in light or white caps, which were rarely adorned, and typically covered the entire head.

     According to Juanita Leisch in Who Wore What, it is not true that all proper women wore something on their heads at all times.  She sites photographic evidence that most women did not wear head coverings indoors, and did not always wear headwear outdoors.     

 

Miss Margaret

Civilian Alter Ego

 

Leisch, Juanita.  Who Wore What:  Women’s Wear 1861-1865.  Gettysburg, PA:  Thomas Publications, 1995 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE

Please forgive the long wait for this issue—between Santa Clause and the Birthday Fairy, your editor has been rather overwhelmed for the past few months.  I hope you enjoy this issue, and I hope all had a wonderful holiday season.  It’s been great riding with you this year!!

Trooper Mick

                                    angelcroft@zoominternet.net