HORSE SOLDIER

VOICE OF THE SIXTH OHIO VOLUNTEER CAVALRY

Volume 1, Issue 12                                                                                                                                                            Fall,  2003


MAGNOLIA WAYNESBURG HUNT

     Several intrepid members of the Sixth Ohio braved inclement weather on March 29 to explore a different form of equestrian reenactment.  Soggy skies and plummeting temperatures may have thinned the field and discouraged spectators, but the boys in blue held their own with the riders in red as our Lieutenant, Sergeant, and Bugler proved you can follow the hounds at speed and still maintain rank structure.  The sight of the hunt as it returned was truly a timeless experience!

     Once the hounds were kenneled, the Sixth claimed the field.  Sergeant Markijohn explained the role of the Civil War cavalry as Lieutenant Hopes and his rank, now bolstered with reinforcements from Pittsburgh, performed maneuvers.  After a rousing saber spat, the riders of the hunt were recruited and armed (with hotdog sticks and a polo mallet), and introduced to the fray.  One or two elegant Thoroughbreds seemed to take offence at the “violence”, but the mule and the polo pony were game!!

 

SPRING TRAINING 2003

     Spring training for the 6th O.V.C. was hosted this year at the lovely Vance Farm near Columbus, OH.  While the weather over the weekend of April 11-13 was brisk, we did manage to avoid significant snowfall this year.  The ranks were filled with newer troopers and green horses, while many of the most experienced veterans were unable to attend, making for a most interesting Saturday morning.  By Sunday afternoon, however, even the rankest of the broncs (ahem) was responding well to the drilling, and the ear-to-ear grin on Trooper Mungo’s face as his mount ran away with him proved that he’d been bitten by the cavalry bug!

 

 

MORT KUNSTLER SIGNING

     The 9th Kentucky Cavalry (a.k.a. 6th Ohio) was spotted in the heart of Cincinnati, Ohio on April 25.    The small Confederate force made its appearance to support Mort Kunstler, as the artist unveiled his new painting of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan.  The troopers, commanded by General Morgan himself, patrolled the gardens of the Cincinnati Museum for several hours, giving explanations and demonstrations of cavalry tactics to history buffs and horse-crazy kids.  Afterwards, the unit was invited into the museum to meet Mr. Kunstler and view his display, and to visit the Civil War exhibit, which included General Morgan’s frock coat, saddle, and sidearms.

     The Raiders were again sighted that afternoon in the vicinity of Montgomery, Ohio.  General Morgan, apparently inspired by the content of the painting, paraded his small troop down the streets of Montgomery past throngs of spectators.  Citizens waved and small children pranced alongside, following until the troop reached the historic church, where skirmishers entered the building to capture several prominent figures in the town.  When faced with hanging from the nearest stoplight, the town mayor hastily pled fealty to the Confederacy.  Mr. Kunstler and the other captives were also quickly freed, and the troop exited town with their saddlebags loaded with the fruits of the harvest.

 

MEMORIAL DAY PARADE

     The Sixth Ohio was represented in Monroe, OH on May 26, as a small contingent in the Memorial Day parade.

 

POMEROY RAID

     Due to inclement weather (read: extensive flooding!), the Morgan’s Raid work weekend scheduled for June 6-7 was rescheduled.  Instead, a representative force took advantage of opportunities to promote the event.  A raid was staged on the town of Pomeroy Friday morning.  The local drive-through bank was robbed on horseback of all its post-it pads and Confederate bills.  The fabric store and shoe store were liberated of a few items for the General’s comfort, and apparently a flagon of beer and a local maiden were only saved by the timely arrival of the local Federal Militia.  In the evening, a historical plaque was unveiled in Wilkesville.

 

BATTLE OF LOUDOUN HEIGHTS

     The United States Volunteers straggled into northern Virginia on June 20, converging in the hills above Harper’s Ferry, WV on land consecrated by the troops of Jackson, Sheridan, Merritt, and Mosby.  The Union cavalry parked their war wagons with the hope that they could be freed from the mud on Sunday, and set up camp in an old cow barn, fully aware that a Confederate force of undetermined strength lay beyond the next rise.  Small parties rode out through the afternoon to scout the ground and assess the Rebel assets, but as in the Union army, reinforcements continued to arrive through the rainy evening.  By dark it became evident that the 6th Ohio’s own Lieutenant Hopes would be in command of the Federal Cavalry.

     The Horsemen in blue rose at daybreak, prepared to take and hold the heights into the next afternoon if necessary.  The cavalry of approximately 19 riders formed into two companies, with the 6th Ohio and the 1st Vermont forming Company B led by Sergeant Markijohn, and troopers from the 2nd US, New Jersey, and 17th Pennsylvania forming Company A.  The entire Union Cavalry greeted the overcast morning with a determined assault on the muddy hills above, to claim a small knoll overlooking both Federal and Confederate camps.  While our arrival was uncontested, it was witnessed, and Rebel troops very rapidly began to test our resolve to hold the ground.  Colonel Dana Heim chose to use dismounted cavalry in his initial defense, preferring to obscure the strength of his infantry from the scouting Rebels (which, later in the day, proved to be very fortunate!!)

     The remainder of the morning was spent with the two cavalry companies alternating positions—one unit providing dismounted pickets and mounted videttes, supported by the hidden infantry, the other unit scouting and engaging the enemy at the base of the hill in some very aggressive fire and saber fighting!

     The afternoon began with Company A on a foraging mission and company B defending the hill with their numbers depleted by several small missions.  The infantry was sent to scout and defend the base of the hill.  Sensing our weakened defenses, the Rebel fighters ascended the rear of the hill silently, sneaking through the underbrush, to surprise and overwhelm the pickets in the woods.  However the horsemen from Ohio and Vermont rallied quickly to reform and maintain the defense until mounted and infantry support could arrive.  The powerful defense by the Berdan’s Sharpshooters turned the tide and crushed the Confederate attack (“Where did all them @#$*% tree frogs come from?!”)

     Saturday’s activities came to a climax when word arrived that the Confederate army had been spotted standing down, and a plan of attack was hastily executed.  Company A circled around to the Rebel right flank, Company B to the Rebel left flank, with the Union infantry serving to distract any Confederate action.  As the engagement panned out, Company B hit the Rebel Cavalry first, eventually placing themselves between the grey horsemen and their camp.  This seemed to alert the Rebs that something was up, and they charged through our line and back into their camp, where they soon found themselves squeezed between both Union companies.

     With the Confederate fighters essentially routed, Colonel Heim must have felt the hill was secured, and allowed the cavalry to return to our dry barn to hay and water the tired horses.  However, Mother Nature decided that no one should hold those heights, and loosed a barrage of her own.  With the muddy hills turned slick and soupy, Sunday’s activities were cancelled, and the Union Cavalry was allowed the luxury of a leisurely breakfast with plenty of time to visit as we all sloshed our gear back to our vehicles.

 

TALL SHIPS

     Kudos to Trooper Vance and his lovely wife, who attended the Tall Ships Festival July 12-13 to promote our event!

 

WORK WEEKEND RESCHEDULED

     July 26 turned out to be a much dryer weekend than early June, so the rescheduled work weekend was much more successful.  Troopers with heavy machinery and big, powerful tools (Uh, Uh, Uh!!!) converged near Dexter, OH at a big field with a heavy growth of brush at one end.  The orders were, ”Clear out the brush around that house!”  The response was, “There’s a house in there?”  As it turned out, not only a house, but a large barn and several outbuildings were revealed once the vines and weeds were removed.

     Workmen were rewarded with several tasty meals courtesy of enthusiastic local citizens, and a dry place to spend the night.  But even the chlorine in that swimming pool was not enough to cure the poison ivy!!

 

BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG

     A few members of the Sixth Ohio were sited in the Federal Ranks at Gettysburg.  The heavy summer schedule and the rescheduling of the reenactment had both apparently taken their toll on the company, but those who attended reported that fun was had by all.

 

PHOTO CREDITS

     All photography in this issue was provided courtesy of Carl Staub, who has trudged with us over many a rugged road (and damp campsite!) 

 

 

MORGAN’S RAID

 

 

 

     Eight hundred steel-shod hooves rang on the paved streets, echoed by the rolling thunder of the cannons.  Bugle calls directed every maneuver.  After 140 years, John Hunt Morgan once again paraded the glory of his troops through the heart of Wilkesville, Ohio.

 

     The Morgan’s Raid Reenactment commenced Wednesday September 3 in Wilkesville, Ohio with a gathering of the troops, registration, vet checks, trailer unloading, and parking.  The town hovered between two time periods, as fully accoutered Confederate horsemen traveled the streets between cars and horse trailers, and women in hoop skirts mingled with crowds in shorts and tennis shoes.  By evening, however, the last of the trailers had left town.  The troops, well fed by the people of Wilkesville, settled in for the night among scattered picket lines and campfires, hoping the evening’s dampness would get no wetter.

     Thursday morning began with a sequence of bugle calls, first brigade, then battalion—First Call, Reveille, Stable Call, Breakfast Call. After a filling meal provided at the Community Center, camp was broken and the brigades formed.  Hundreds of horses from across the country fell in together, with a minimum of fuss and confusion, and accomplished one of  the most impressive cavalry dress parade in reenacting history.  Four abreast, dressed in grey and butternut and every shade in between, the battalions of Basil Duke and Stovepipe Johnson were awesome as they rode beneath the fluttering banner of their Commanding General and his staff.

     Roughly seven miles down the road, the Raiders approached Dexter, Ohio, where a small band of militia made a determined stand in the shadow of an old farm house.  They were able to resist the onslaught of the dismounted second brigade, but collapsed rapidly at the flanking maneuver of the first brigade, who charged onto the battlefield with pistols blazing, much to the delight of hundreds of school children watching on the hillside.

 

 

     A bearded grandfather and his small grandson take potshots at the passing troops.  Then the ladies of the house pass out pies to the ranks, shared back and forth as the column traveled.  This worked well with pumpkin—it was tougher with cherry…

 

     Jim and Jennifer Sheets and their family provided a welcome respite for all, with shade, water, and a sustaining meal.  In return, General Morgan left the Sheets’ fine horses unmolested—on the contrary, several of the troops’ wounded mounts were left in their generous care.

 

Just one more hill…

 

     The remainder of the afternoon was scenic, but rugged and grueling. The countryside provided for some fantastic views of southern Ohio and the rain soaked trails provided for some excitement, but not as much as the smooth pavement did for the trotting 2nd battalion. Skidding horses was not expected nor desired.  Troops dismounted to provide a walking break for all. A half-mile ahead rose a hill that, though tough for the remounted steeds, was a killer for the artillery and wagons. Troopers rested, some snoozing, at a small church beyond the crest, as they waited for the artillery to cross that hill. Local children filled canteens and shared cookies, crackers, cakes, and anything else they had.  Horses and riders had left the Sheets farm rested and refreshed, but straggled wearily into the Hall Farm. Riders picketed their worn-out mounts on the forested hillside and collapsed on the grass for a delicious meal of roast pig and corn.  Dennis Harlow of the 7th Virginia and Chris Cook of the 1st North Carolina put in hours of overtime resetting and shoeing by the lights of two pick-ups.

     Morgan’s Raid proved to be educational to both riders and teamsters alike as horsemen unaccustomed to riding their mounts so long and hard experienced the difficulties of their 19th century counterparts.  Galls were tended, tack readjusted, and teams switched to cope with the demands of the rugged ride.  The armies of the Civil War used six-horse teams to pull their cannons when they could—now we know why.  Even pick-up trucks were pressed into service when our Confederate division needed more horsepower.

     Friday afternoon, Morgan’s Raiders again found themselves harassed by the Ohio Militia.  As they crested the hill above the Pickens’ Farm, gunfire was heard.  General Morgan and his staff were seen overlooking the battlefield from the shade of an old barn as dismounted troopers slowly pushed the Militia back down the hill toward their cannons.  A second mounted brigade soon made short work of capturing the infantry cannons, but when the bold militiamen refused the terms of surrender, the battle raged anew.

 

     .7 miles to camp…thank goodness there were busses!!

 

     Friday evening, the column arrived in Chester in time to change shirts and attend the ball.  Every costume shop in southern Ohio had been stripped of Civil War-type fashions, so there were plenty of eager belles to welcome the weary troopers to the dance.  Chester Fire hall also welcomed the troops with a delicious meal.  Chester Courthouse, recently restored to its full historical glory, was filled with period displays, crowned by the presence of General J. H. Morgan’s frock coat, saddle, weapons, and personal effects.  The Troops of the 2nd Virginia claimed General Morgan’s (reproduction) coat at auction, on the condition that he must continue to wear it through Sunday (ensuring he could not turn Federal with the rest of his unit).   Rumor has it that Summerfields”s Tavern in Chester was equally welcoming to the raiders!

     Saturday morning, the riders of the 6th Ohio took their turn as scouts, guiding the column into its final camp in Bashan.  Again, Ohio Militia was on hand to harass the troops as they arrived, but they were dispatched so quickly that the 6th never got the chance to save the day!!

 

     Weapons of choice, boys…

 

     Later in the afternoon, Federal Cavalry finally caught up with the column, as Colonel Craig Beachler’s galvanized troops donned their Federal jackets for a thrilling battle scenario, impressive if for no other reason than the sheer number of mounted troopers involved!  An initial charge of Federal Sabers against Confederate pistols was followed quickly by a rally to the top of the hill, where those Federal Troopers not shot out of the saddle regrouped to fight dismounted.  This was then followed by a rousing saber melee, where the Rebels proved that they did, in fact have sabers.

     While Saturday evening passed quietly in good fellowship around the water tank and grassy field, fighting recommenced in the wee hours, both at the battlefield and in Pomeroy.  A small skirmish in a tavern in town reportedly brought down a rain of plaster, while the firefight just outside the camps in Bashan brought down the wrath of a local citizen on the commanding officers.   While the interrupted fight would have to be called a draw, federal infantry apparently awoke to find their parrot rifle repositioned.

     Sunday morning started quietly, with church services and a small ceremony recognizing all those whose hard work had made this event possible, and passing the torch for battlefield preservation.  Then Boots and Saddles was blown around 1:00 in preparation for the Battle of Buffington Island, on the very land where General J. H. Morgan’s brother Richard Morgan was captured in 1863.

 

     “The boom of cannons.  The Confederate teams rush onto the field to unlimber and engage at long range.  Hauser commands, ‘Dismount to fight on foot.  Action front!’  The entire 2nd Brigade (all the Reb cavalry left) dismounts and advances, firing as skirmishers, while the led horses join the teams and wagon in a sheltered hollow.  The Federal militia and infantry grudgingly give way.  Bodies and wounded, crawling, men dot the field.  A Federal Cavalry Company, with Col. Beachler at the front waving his revolver, weaves through the crumbling Blue lines to protect their guns and charges!  ‘Withdraw, firing!’  Capt. Treat, in charge of the Secesh afoot, sees danger coming, points and commands, ‘Wheel the line back from this man!’  A second Federal cav. company  slams into the flank for the men hedging back.  ‘Retreat!  Save yourselves!’  Rebs fall in piles, moaning and crawling or lying still.  General Morgan and his staff see disaster compounded as a third Yankee company rides down from the rear to capture the teams and led horses!  Hauser and Mike Graff jerk the canvas from the wagon bows, a wall of flame followed by a billowing cloud of smoke erupts over the side, and the cavalrymen flee back.  Quickly reformed, the Federals charge again and, aided by another company, overcome the last resistance of Morgan’s Men and capture all but one horse-holder, who gallops away leading his linked charges.”-----Jim Rowe-Co. H/4th VA September 9, 2003

 

     Colonel Beachler’s 2nd Battalion, under Captain Tom Hopes, formed on top of a hill to the left of the battlefield.  As Morgan’s Confederate cavalry engaged the Federal militia and then two companies of Federal Cavalry, Hopes’ Battalion attacks from behind, scattering the horse-holders, then charging across the creek to capture the Rebel cannons and the General’s hat.

 

     Once the battle scenario was completed, Federal and Confederate cavalry galloped to opposite sides to the battlefield, eliciting a spontaneous ovation from the thrilled spectators, to prepare for a spectacular demonstration of saber use and a final dress parade.

 

Many thanks again to all who made this event possible:

To all of the horsemen and women who came to participate in the Raid—cavalry, artillery, and teamsters!

To the infantry who came to harass us!

To the citizens of Ohio who worked so hard to prepare for us and feed us and welcome us to their lands!

To Darrell and Bob and all who worked to put this event together!

 

 

THE VACANT CHAIR

 

 

     The members of the Sixth Ohio were greatly saddened in June at the loss of their comrade, Garry Noble.  Garry passed away June 11 after an extended illness

     Garry has been riding with the troopers of the Sixth since 1999, first on “Jim”, then on “Magic”.  Despite his failing health, his attendance at unit activities has been exceptional, and his participation has benefited all:

  “He was loyal, dedicated, and a true student to history. He was a good horseman and fine soldier.  He did more with half of a single lung than many of us healthy folks did with two…He never complained and never let on just how ill he was.  He answered every boots and saddle, fought every dismounted battle, charged across every field and made everyone that served with him proud.  He attended every event last year and fully participated in our spring training in early April.  He rode with us in the raid in Montgomery, OH on April 25… Even though he had a hard time getting up in the saddle, he refused any help and climbed aboard his fine steed, Magic, and opened a big can of ass whoop on the citizens of that small southwestern Ohio town just as John Hunt Morgan did 140 years ago

      Like all of the members of the 6th, he worked hard on preparing for Morgan's Raid even though in his heart, he knew he would not be able to participate.  He literally lived for every event, cherished every special moment and looked forward to his next.  He battled the odds.  Years ago, his doctors said he only had 6 months to live.  We can all draw inspiration from that.”---Darrell Markijohn, Adjutant-Co. B/6th OH  June 11. 2003

      Members of the unit attended his casket in uniform during calling hours on June 13, and troopers are wearing embroidered black armbands in his honor 

     Our deepest condolences to his wife and children.  He will be sorely missed.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

December 6-7                                   Zoar, OH

Christmas at Zoar

 

EDITOR’S NOTE

Remember to check the new web page at www.6th-ohio-cavalry.org .There hasn’t been much action on the chat page, but the guest book’s been hopping, and so has the photo album!!

 

Also, any corrections, additions, or reminiscences are always welcome—especially Morgan’s Raid.  My own perspective was somewhat limited—please feel free to pass along any tales you would like to share!!!

 

Trooper Mick

                                    angelcroft@zoominternet.net