Thompson’s Independent Battery C, PA Vol. Lt. Artillery
2012 After Action Report of Captain Gary V. Hoover
Headquarters, Indpt. Battery C, Penna. Vol. Lt. Artillery Bellefonte, Penna.
2012 provided another good and very active campaigning season. Battery C celebrated the second year of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War by attending four 1862 battle commemorations: Cross keys/Port Republic–June 9th and 10th, Cedar Mountain–August 9-12, Second Bull Run—August 25th and 26th, Antietam—September 15th. Of the four events attended, only Cross Keys/Port Republic was not a battle in which Thompson’s Independent Battery C participated.
As usual, the year began with a great deal of research to identify a good mix of activities for the campaigning season and a lot of behind the scenes work to get us registered for selected events and the battery equipment ready for the field. Ordnance Sergeant Tom Shultz and 1st Lieutenant Eric Stahley particularly distinguished themselves by their service in the latter functions. Ordnance Sergeant Schultz remained in service as the battery treasurer and did good service registering us for events in a timely and efficient manner.
Overall, a survey of possible events at the beginning of the year disclosed a generally disappointing picture for the 1862 Sesquicentennial. No large 1862 commemorative events within travel distance could be identified—even for the landmark 1862 battles. Several of the larger actions fought by Battery C were either not scheduled to be commemorated at all, or were to be observed only in a very modest way. We worked hard to contact event organizers for Battery C 1862 battles to offer participation and to encourage them to stretch a bit. We were successful for Cedar Mountain but not for Rappahannock Station and Thoroughfare Gap. We also worked hard to get into Fredericksburg, but were ultimately foiled by the poor communication and management of the event organizers and their mis-handling of our application.
We welcomed the Schulden Family as new members and said a reluctant goodbye to Privates Adam and Tim Bentz, who retired from the unit. We also learned that 1st Sergeant Bill Stout was scheduled to be called to active duty in Afghanistan in the fall.
The campaigning season started a little later in the year compared to the past but then became very active. Our first event was the Wyalusing School educational program May 3rd. Many thanks to 1st Lieutenant Eric Stahley, Sergeant Rick Sprout, and Privates Bob Cain and Sue Sprout are due. Battery C covered five educational stations: Overview of the Light Artillery and its Equipment by the battery commander, Hands-On Training on the Mountain Howitzer by 1st Lt. Stahley, Marching and Close Order Drill by Sgt. Sprout, Making do in the Field by Pvt. Sprout—who was in civilian guise for the occasion, and a new program, Civil War food, which was developed and presented by Pvt. Bob Cain. The weather was sunny and all stations were well received by the students and teachers. We had the school district superintendant fire a shot and got some press in the local paper. We received a generous donation to fund battery operations and were invited back in 2013. Two rounds and two primers were expended.
Our next assignment was at the Dill Tavern in Dillsburg. I insert here the report of Corporal Steve Turkel:
Saturday morning, May 12, at 8 Dave, Keith, John, and Steve positioned the mountain howitzer at the far end of a newly-mown lawn on the Dill’s Tavern property owned by the Northern York County Historical & Preservation Society (NYCHPS) and cracked off the first of 8 rounds and 8 primers expended. The event, “Public Tyme and Pickle Fest,” had two venues several blocks apart in Dillsburg, PA. The event on the tavern grounds included a wood shop and smithy, an antique steam tractor, and a Carlisle/AHEC-like assortment of military living historians–French & Indian War (no froggies or redcoats, but plenty of injuns and one buckskin-clad colonist), a lone Spanish-American warrior, a squad of WWII infantrymen portraying the famed 45th Infantry (Thunderbird) Division, two Civil War infantrymen with an interesting display of rifles and carbines from the period, and us. Keith set up a display of artillery shells and two different types of fuze wrench that attracted the interest of quite a few people. He had to interrupt his explanations several times to join us in firing the mountain. Attendance at the event had tapered off by 4 pm when we struck camp and loaded the gun back into the trailer. Our group departed shortly after 4:30 pm. The event sponsors provided a nice lunch including soup, sandwiches, soft drinks, chips, salads and later in the afternoon offered home-made ice cream and cake. According to Dave, we made contact with five interested families and provided them with our web address.
May 19th and 20th found Battery C stationed at Carlisle, PA and performing living history and artillery demonstrations at the Army Heritage Education Center (AHEC). On May 19th, Privates Anton Schulden and Eric Schulden, father and son, took the Oath of Enlistment at the morning formation. An order was read from General H.J. Hunt, Chief of Artillery, admonishing each battery in the Army of the Potomac not to waste ammunition by hasty aiming and too rapid a rate of fire.
We were camped close to our gun this year and on a level piece of ground in a high traffic area. We had a solid gun crew to perform demonstrations for the public each day and, as usual, used the event as an opportunity for drill. The Battery was drilled in loading and firing and also in maneuver and recognition of different ammunition types. Artificer Keith Kuhn had added greatly over the past year to his display collection of Civil War artillery fuses, shells and equipments. Many members of the public benefitted from visiting him and learning more about those important aspects of light artillery.
This year the AHEC artillery demonstration was themed: “Artillery Through the Ages.” A 17th Century Falchonette and an 18th Century Revolutionary War field piece joined Battery D, 1st PA’s 3” Ordnance Rifle and our 10 pdr. Parrott—the artillery line up giving a demonstration each day. The soldiers cooked for themselves during the weekend, but received excellent instructions from the Battery’s Commissary. The weather was hot and sunny during the days and cold at night.
On May 24th Battery C presented a fine school program at Shippensburg, PA. The following after action report was submitted by Corporal Steve Turkel:
Dean, Katie, Eric Stahley, Gary, and I conducted our annual artillery demonstration at Shippensburg Middle School today, Thursday, 24 May. Eric hauled the 10-pound Parrott Rifle down from its berth near the junction of US 11 and I-81 and arrived about one-hour prior to the 0730 start of the school program. It was the school’s eleventh annual Civil War Day and all went according to plan with the exception of President Lincoln who failed to show or provide the school with advance notice of his absence. We positioned the gun facing south, as instructed in prior years, but after a morning of firing two rounds per class (5 classes) we were instructed to reverse the direction of our fire in the afternoon and reduce our rate of fire to one round per class (3 classes) in order to spare the peace and quiet of a 90-year old neighbor across the highway from the school. We also placed the gun closer than usual to the parking lot fearing that we would become mired in the wet lawn. This proximity to the lot resulted in repeated, but short, series of honks from a car’s alarm system. The Civil War Day Coordinator, James (Jamie) Richardson, expressed his appreciation for our participation and assured us that we are on the program for next year. He presented us with a check for $750, one-hundred dollars more than last year. I will mail the check to our acting Treasurer, Tom Shultz, within the next several days. After cleaning and stowing gun and limber, we departed Shippensburg at 1530 hrs.
Total rounds expended: 13
Total primers expended: 13
The annual Civil War program for Foot of Ten School in Duncansville, PA was presented on June 1st. The piece displayed was the General Tom Thumb, a 12 Pdr. Mountain Howitzer. The demonstration crew consisted of Corporal Jamie Zacharda and Private Bob Cain and me. Battery C was one of several presenting units and spoke to four groups of students. The weather threatened rain from the start but it did not arrive until early afternoon and only affected the presentation to the last group.
Battery C participated in the 1862 Valley Campaign event: 150th Anniversary Battle of Cross Keys/Port Republic held at the Cedar Creek Battlefield in Middletown, VA on June 9 and 10th. Arriving on the field on June 8th at 6:15 PM, we found the camp area unprepared and with very high grass. 1st Lt. Stahley and Cpl. Steve Turkel went foraging and returned with some sort of unrecognizable reaper device still in its original crate. I understand it is commonly called a “weed eater” by the locals. It soon made short work of the high grass in our camp, a few others, and in the artillery park. Although I fear some farm in the valley will sorely miss it at harvest time.
The weather was hot and sunny during the day and cool at night-beautiful Shenandoah Valley weather. Our part in the Battle of Cross Keys was in support of a section of Maryland Artillery. Our assigned area of operation was a poor one for artillery, owing to the limited observation and firing range it offered. Infantry support, while courageous, was weak and was soon overwhelmed by superior Confederate forces. Our gun remained stationary and covered the advance of the two Maryland artillery pieces, which, upon going forward, were surprised by the sudden appearance of enemy infantry in front before they could come into action. Both of those guns were lost. Thompson’s Battery covered the successful withdrawal of their limbers and then remained in action for a few minutes until the end of the battle, having driven off to the left front a superior force of infantry by a determined show of force. The lost guns were then recovered and all brought successfully off the field.
Eight rounds and eight primers expended.
At Port Republic the next day, we were one of three guns posted on high ground and fired on enemy batteries posted at 500 to 600 yards and then upon advancing enemy infantry until compelled to withdraw by strong infantry forces that again greatly outnumbered our infantry. Our guns were also outnumbered two to one by enemy artillery during the contest. But due to the poor placement of the CSA batteries, half their number was masked by intervening high ground and so could not effectively fire directly upon us. Thus, the contest with the other three was more equal and actually gave a slight advantage to the US guns firing with careful aim from higher ground– our guns inflicting heavy loss upon the foe. During this battle, our detachment was reinforced by Private Dave Thompson of Battery M, 2nd US, who served the piece with skill and dedication.
Ten rounds and ten primers were fired in the battle.
I can attest to the courage, efficiency and attention to detail of our gun detachment. All displaying great coolness while exposed to a severe fire of the enemy. The Battery’s Commissary, under the direction of Patricia Hogan, kept us well fed and hydrated—anticipating and providing for all hot weather hazards. Each person that participated in the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic was presented with a fine Valley Campaign medal by the event organizers.
The Battery participated in the National Civil War Museum’s Family Fun Day on June 16th by providing public education and demonstrations.
Private Dean Auchenbach submitted the following after action report:
Thanks to all who helped with Family Fun Day at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg on Saturday June 16th. In attendance was John Contic, Tony and Eric Schulden, Rick and Sue Sprout and and Kim, Nick and I.
We used the mountain howitzer and did two firing demonstrations. We used four rounds and four primers.
Kim did her children’s games, I did the recruiting station with kids and Nick, Eric, Tony and I played Civil War base ball with the kids.
Overall a good day and nice weather.
July 6th to the 8th we were on station at Gettysburg, PA. I was called to the command of a larger, five-gun unit, “Battery B”, of which Thompson’s battery was part. Direct command of Battery C was ably and efficiently exercised by 1st Lt. Eric Stahley. All of “Battery B” performed well from those volunteers that participated in the Friday evening firing out on the field, through to the last battle and departure on Sunday. The “Battery D” commander had outstanding support from the officers, NCOs, private soldiers and the Thompson’s Battery C Commissary during the entire weekend. 1st Sergeant Doug Smutco, of Battery B, 1st NJ Lt. Artillery, was flawless in the performance of his duties as 1st Sergeant of “Battery B.“
First Lieutenant Eric Stahley submitted the following after action report for Thompson’s Battery:
Thompson’s Battery participated in the 149th reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 6,7,8, 2012. Though the weather was extremely hot and humid, we participated in two of the battles conducted over the weekend. Our Battery was commanded by Capt. Hoover, who had 5 guns under his command. A 6th gun from out west was unable to attend due to the widespread power outages occurring in their area. Thompsons’ was paired with our old friends from Gettysburg, Hampton’s Battery. Both units conducted themselves admirably in the performance of their duties over the weekend.
The Artillery Camp for the weekend was named in memory of the late Cpl. Jim Anderson of our unit, and we had the distinct honor of forming the color guard to raise and lower the flag during the Brigade formations. Capt. Jim Lynch presented our unit with a sign depicting “CAMP ANDERSON” on it. Hopefully, we can present this to Jim’s family at the Antietam event.
We had a reporter from the Gettysburg Times embedded within the Artillery Reserve units for the weekend. This gave our Unit the opportunity to promote our battery as well as the hobby in general. The reporter talked to Gary, Stumpy, and Billy, and was pleased with the amount of information provided.
Gun deployment went smoothly on both days, thanks to the capable administrative ability of our Battery Commander and 1st Sgt. Smutco. The artillery did not get to expend the amount of rounds that we would have liked, due to the ever existing condition of infantry congregating too close to the front of the guns to make repeated hot and heavy fire possible. If memory serves me correctly, we expended under 10 rounds per battle. On Saturday we were posted in the general vicinity of a stone wall, directly out from the end of the Artillery camp. Sunday’s battle position was located right along the bleachers, giving the spectators the opportunity to watch how we drill and to observe our fire procedures during the battle.
Capt. Hoover and myself had the singular honor of giving a proper sendoff to our own 1st Sgt. Stout at the Sunday Brigade formation, by presenting him with a rock from the Antietam battlefield, a copy of “The Class of 1848” By John C. Waugh signed by the brigade, and some phone cards, with the express instructions by Capt. Hoover to keep safe and return the rock (along with himself) stateside at Uncle Sam’s earliest convenience. It was also announced at that time that 1st Sgt. Stout was receiving a battlefield brevet promotion to Captain and was directed to take command of Thompson’s while on station at Gettysburg.
The meals in camp were of their usual outstanding quality, drawing stray Artillerymen in from all around to partake in a piece of fried chicken and some green bean salad. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the cooks again for all that they provide for us, on and off the field.
We were fortunate enough to have mail call on Sunday morning, allowing our soldiers the opportunity to get news from home prior to deploying for the battle on Sunday.
Sunday we were loaded up and on the road shortly after 5PM, with no major problems occurring getting vehicles in and out of camp. Ice was plentiful for the duration of the event, and the price was not excessive. Showers were available for a nominal fee at the YWCA in town. The AR medical Corps set up a first aid station and provided all with cold water and Gatorade during the event, for which we were most appreciative. At registration on the way in, Capt. Hoover registered 11 battery members for the 150th event to take place next year, along with two guns. If you have not already registered and want to attend, please send a check to Tom for 25 dollars for the registration fee.
Overall, this year’s event was not a bad event. It seemed that attendance from the reenactors as well as spectators was down from previous years, probably due to the extreme weather conditions. We had the heat and humidity to contend with, however, there was a minimal amount of bureaucratic BS that you normally associate with attending an event in Gettysburg.
Lt. Eric Stahley, Commanding
On Saturday, July 14th, the Battery was set up by invitation of the Centre County Historical Society at the Bryce Jordan Center of Penn State University in support of an appearance by The Civil War Road Show. The Battery’s participation was ably coordinated and managed by Private Bob Cain, who overlooked no detail to make the event successful. Many thanks are due to Private Cain and also to 1st Sergeant Bill Stout, Sergeant Rick Sprout, Artificer Keith Kuhn and Private Dean Auchenbach for their excellent work at this event. The Battery engaged the public for about four hours providing historical education and performing demonstrations on the General Tom Thumb mountain howitzer, Artificer Kuhn presented and explained a fine display of shells and fuses and the Centre County Historical Society was highly complimentary of the Battery’s work—which resulted in a donation of $350 to the Battery’s general fund.
August 9th to the 12th found Battery C on the Cedar Mountain Battlefield below Culpeper, VA in very hot and steamy weather. In the early evening hours of August 9th—just as it did exactly 150 years ago—the Battery fought and won a duel with an opposing Confederate Battery (Carpenter’s Battery represented Pegram’s Battery). The action took place in the actual wheat field that was the scene of decisive action in the 1862 Battle of Cedar Mountain. It was where Crawford’s Brigade had actually broken through Confederate lines and the battle was only retrieved for the south by the personal intervention of Stonewall Jackson in the combat brandishing his sword and rallying his troops. Battery C had the last shot after the enemy had fallen silent, thus ending the two-battery battle for that day—just as it did 150 years ago. About 200 people were present for the night fire, and a program honoring ancestors. The spectators included many of Captain Thompson’s descendants, which were having a family reunion in Culpeper. Battery C went into camp at the edge of the west woods and alongside the old Culpeper Road.
August 10 was a quiet day on the battlefield. The thunderstorms of the previous night dissolved into a light rain and then ended shortly after daybreak. Lon Lacey, Board member of the Friends of Cedar Mountain, also a US infantry man and coordinator of the event, conducted a morning battlefield tour for the Thompson Descendants. There were representatives of thirty families and multiple generations of Captain Thompson’s descendents present, including Guilliard Thompson, the Captain’s oldest living descendant. It was certainly a pleasure to see so many of our old friends again.
The visit by the Thompson Family included a great surprise and treat for Battery C. They brought Captain Thompson’s Colt revolver—serial number 62371—and the presentation sword given to him by the men of Battery C! We all got to handle and examine these wonderful historical artifacts. To hold in one’s hands the same revolver the Captain may have used to shoot his way out of the woods at 2nd Manassas was a thrill words can’t describe. I was permitted to hook the Captain’s sword on my belt and carry his revolver in my holster during the morning tour.
During the early afternoon, Lon Lacey took us, with several Thompson Descendants, to the site of Pegram’s Battery, which was the CSA unit Thompson’s Battery “knocked to pieces” on the evening of August 9, 1862. Lon told us the site, which was on a rock shelf along the old Culpeper Road, was identified by lifetime local resident Dan Shackleford, now in his eighties, who had learned battlefield particulars from senior local residents in his youth. Dan grew up on the battlefield in the reconstructed Hudson House and walked the battlefield before many of the more modern changes were made to it.
We next attempted to find the exact position of Thompson’s Battery using the Captain’s range estimation of 600 yards. From a careful read of the Captain’s report, along with those of other officers present and a look at old maps supplied by Lon, we became convinced that Battery C’s, going into action to the right against Pegram’s Battery, as reported by Captain Thompson, could only happened from a direction of travel that was perpendicular to Pegram’s front facing–most likely from the Winston Farm Lane, and not from the nearby and intersecting Culpeper Road. Coming off the Winston Lane would position Battery C heading for high ground directly opposite Pegram’s Battery and at about the right range. It would also put Battery C on the left of Hall’s 2nd Maine Battery, as reported by Major Davis Tillson, 2nd Division Chief of Artillery, who directed the placement of the two batteries. Hall’s Battery, therefore, had to have been set up in the lower ground across the old Culpeper Road from Captain Thompson. Apparently, Captain Thompson deployed the battery before quite reaching the crest of the high ground because his report notes “a rise in ground” in front, which prevented the use of his two flat-shooting Parrots, while allowing the field howitzers to lob shells onto Pegram with devastating effect.
During the afternoon of the 10th we bid a fond farewell to the Thompson Family, The Battery remained in camp and spoke to about a dozen visitors that came out to the battlefield that day. The weather was mostly overcast and while slowly clearing was still threatening. There was rain again that night—an impressive thunderstorm, with several close lightning flashes that were visible even with closed eyes.
Saturday, August 11th dawned bright and clear and a bit cooler. The 23rd Virginia Infantry joined us in doing living history on site. The Union ranks were strengthened by two infantry men who also did a fine job enlightening and informing the public. The weather was sunny and many more visitors came to our camp. We did gun demonstrations, talks on light artillery and had a narrated display of shells and fuses. We worked closely with Lon Lacy, who was conducting tours. We also gave some artillery instruction to the two US infantrymen, who enjoyed the opportunity greatly. It was a pleasure instructing them and their love of history was apparent to all. After dinner, we visited Orange, VA for ice cream. The weather had cleared and we had a great campfire under an ancient oak tree, with the snake rail fence of the old Culpeper road in the background and a starry sky overhead—it made you just sit back and sigh.
On Sunday, August 12th we slept in a little longer, ate a leisurely breakfast, broke camp, and were on the roll home by 10:35 AM. We left our campsite better than we found it, having filled in several ground hog holes and cleaned up some spectator trash.
The participating battery members, including Private Dave Thompson of Battery M, deserve the highest praise for their outstanding work. Overall, the battery spoke with 70-75 members of the public, plus many members of the Thompson Family. In the battle and subsequent demonstrations, the gun was served well and safely, with the expenditure of twelve rounds and twelve primers. The gun and limber were touched up and put into the trailer with the gun well cleaned and lubricated. Patty Hogan is to be particularly commended for her dedication to, and support of, Battery C. She provided the usual feast at each meal and endured an exceptionally long trip to the site, joining us in the wee hours of August 10th and finding the campsite on unfamiliar ground and in total darkness (We found her asleep in the front seat of her car that morning). Her breakfast pie, especially, was a big hit and its adoption as a battery standard menu item is recommended by all of us.
Lon Lacey was great to work with and his enthusiasm for Civil War History and the Cedar Mountain Battlefield were inspirational. His work to set up the August 9th night fire, in particular, resulted in a perfect showcase for Battery C under the eyes of the Thompson Descendents and the ability to re-create its actual role in the battle. The Friends of Cedar Mountain—especially Lon—deserve thanks for coordinating and publicizing the event in general and for making a $100 donation to Battery C to help with the cost of powder and primers. Dan Shackleford provided us with water and firewood, which he prepared and delivered to us personally. He has done much to preserve and improve the battlefield and is a fine gentleman.
In summary, the event provided a unique opportunity to participate in a historical 1862 Sesquicentennial event on the actual battlefield and to commemorate Battery C’s first major engagement by recreating the part it actually played 150 years to the day and almost to the hour later and in close proximity to the actually site.
WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THREE PARTICIPATING US INFANTRYMEN, BATTERY C HAD THE HONOR OF REPRESENTING THE ENTIRE US FORCE THAT WAS PRESENT AT THE BATTLE OF CEDAR MOUNTAIN AUGUST 9th 1862 DURING THE BATTLE’S SESQUICENTENNIAL OBSERVANCE.
The Cedar Mountain event also allowed us to enjoy camping on the battlefield, to have great fellowship, to make new friends, to host the Thompson Family, to examine unique Battery C artifacts and to discover, we think, the actual position of Battery C at the Battle of Cedar Mountain. Lastly, our work at the event added important Battery C-related documents to the historical records of the Friends of Cedar Mountain and helped result in excellent and widespread publicity for the battlefield and the Friends efforts to preserve it.
Battery C next celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the battle of Second Bull Run by attending a living history in Manassas, VA on August 25th and 26th that was sponsored in grand style by the City of Manassas. We arrived Friday afternoon and set up in very hot and sunny weather. Our station was the front lawn of the Manassas Museum on Prince William Street. We took the Battery’s Mountain Howitzer and fielded an under strength crew. The weekend was generally hot until Sunday and the off and on again rain we experienced was an annoyance. Lt. Stahley and Corporal Turkel pulled the Mountain Howitzer in the military parade on Saturday morning and we did firings and demonstrations throughout the weekend in coordination with Battery M, 4th US, which was also on site. With the exception of a few infantry men, the two batteries were the only combat units present–the rest being general officers and civilians. We had numerous people in attendance for the demonstrations and did some good public education and explained the role of Thompson’s Battery in the battle several times to an attentive audience.
Saturday evening the Battery was honored by a visit from Thompson Descendant Nancy Nyitrai. A tasty dinner was served and afterwards Nancy received training on the Mountain Howitzer—firing it with both lanyard and linstock. It was a fine visit that was enjoyed by everyone. Virginia’s Civil War History Mobile was on site and we all took the opportunity to visit it. The museum was also open to reenactors for free. Because of the deteriorating weather on Sunday, the Battery and the other participating units were released by the event staff and we were on the road home a little after three o’clock.
This event has no precedent for the care, cordiality and resources lavished upon participating reenactors by the event sponsor: firewood, straw, ice and cold bottled water were available free and conveniently on site in unlimited quantities, each reenactor received $10 per day (total of $30) in scrip which was negotiable at the on-site sutler and at participating merchants and businesses nearby. An excellent lunch was provided free on Saturday and Sunday. Each unit was permitted to determine its own schedule for demonstrations. There was a ball Saturday evening—though none of us attended. Event staff frequently came by to see if anything was needed and were friendly and interested. Lastly, the battery received a $500 bounty in hand before leaving on Sunday.
Special thanks are due to Lt. Stahley and Jen Stahley for providing excellent food for the weekend. They refused payment for doing so. Lt. Stahley towed the gun down and back with his own vehicle and, again, refused reimbursement.
All cannoneers performed their duties with skill and to perfection. Because of the weather, only eleven rounds were expended and approximately seven primers, as some rounds were fired by quick match and linstock and some primers were fired without rounds to demonstrate them. The sponge on the worm proved to be too loose in the barrel to adequately service the piece and will have to be corrected. The sponge on the rammer had a better seal—but could still be improved. We used the stove in the small trailer for cooking with great success and it also allowed us to leave the museum lawn in the same condition we found it.
This event was enjoyed by all and proved to be very profitable for the Battery C General fund.
Thompson’s Battery was deployed at Sharpsburg, Maryland for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. The event took place just a few miles north of the actual battlefield. I was again placed in command of a six-gun battery designated “Battery D” to which Thompson’s Battery C was assigned. Thompson’s Battery and volunteers from the other units of “Battery D” participated in the Friday tactical representing the fight in the Cornfield, where Captain Thompson’s men fought with such great bravery and effect in September of 1862. The weather for the weekend was hot and dry and the roads to and from the event’s battle sites soon became covered with a talcum powder fine layer of red dust that rose in a cloud with any movement and gave us all a reminder of the dust raised by marching armies during the Civil War. Reading the dust clouds to determine the size of a unit too far away or otherwise out of direct sight was an important skill in the 1860’s.
We had a visit from Corporal Jim Anderson’s family and were able to honor Jim’s wishes by scattering his ashes via artillery at a special formation and then presenting the Camp Anderson sign from Gettysburg to the family.
The night illumination out on the field to honor the slain at the 1862 Battle of Antietam was very moving. As the candles were lit they caused the paper bags in which they were placed to glow. Hundreds of such bags arranged in several large blocks gave testimony to the sacrifice of America’s bloodiest day. They shined all the brighter as twilight faded into darkness. All who saw them became very quiet.
Battery C and all the units of the larger “Battery D” performed as the seasoned veterans that, in fact, they are and upheld with distinction their duty to honor the soldiers of 1862. Each person that participated in the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Antietam was presented with a handsome Maryland Campaign medal by the event organizers.
First Lieutenant Eric Stahley, in command of Thompson’s Battery, submitted the following report:
Thompson’s had the honor of taking the field this past weekend to participate in the 150th anniversary reenactment of the battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg, Maryland. We participated in a total of four battles over a period of three days: One tactical on Friday (the Cornfield), two Battles Saturday (Dunker Church and the Bloody Lane), a night fire on Saturday evening, and a battle on Sunday (Burnside Bridge). Since we had a Section of guns composed entirely of our battery, Section drills were practiced relating to movement of the piece, and controlling rate of fire between the individual guns.
Special consideration was given to our unit on Saturday afternoon when we had the honor of fulfilling one of the last wishes of our dear departed friend and comrade, Cpl. Jim Anderson, by conducting a ceremonial firing and honor guard in order to give Jim a proper sendoff by spreading his ashes as close to the Antietam Battlefield as possible.
Overall, the unit fired approximately 80 rounds from our Section of guns over the course of the weekend. I would like to commend the NCOs, gunners, and gun crews for performing their duties above and beyond expectations on and off the field this weekend. Thanks also to our unit Commander, Capt. Hoover, who once again was brevetted to command of a 6 gun battery for the weekend comprising 4 individual units. Your knowledge of the hobby and gun movement is unparalleled.
Our unit was fortunate enough to have three guests assigned to us on detached service this weekend. Mr. Dennis Heisey, who has many years of artillery experience under his belt, and Mr. Roy Bohn who Capt. Hoover recruited from Bellefonte to lend his experience to the cause. Our third guest was Miss Taylor Zacharda, daughter of our own Cpl. “Stumpy” Zacharda, who did a fine job helping to guard the limbers and keep her Dad out of trouble. Hopefully, we will see more of these fine individuals in camp in the future. Our ranks were also bolstered by Mr. John Elbro, who has returned to us from detached service in the Royal Artillery. He enjoyed his time “across the pond” so much, he figured he’d find a colonist to marry just so that he can continue to stay in the states and blow stuff up with us.
My report would be incomplete if I did not mention the wonderful job that our cooks did this weekend. The food was exemplary, as usual. The meal of bangers and mash that we had on Saturday night was the talk of the entire Brigade. I find it hard to believe you will ever be able to prepare such a feast again, so I would suggest that these food items be permanently removed from the rotation and never served again, lest any other preparation of said items tarnish the memory of such a superb meal.
Immediately following Sunday’s battle, camp was struck in good order, guns were cleaned and stored for transport, and we were on the move shortly after 5PM on Sunday.
Lt. Eric C. Stahley, Commanding
On Saturday, September 30th, a gun detachment of Battery C and a mountain howitzer, the General Tom Thumb, was deployed at Port Royal, PA, in support of Battery B, 3rd PA and placed on the left flank of a generally north-south line of artillery, supported by infantry on the right only. As the detachment’s left, and therefore the left of the entire line, was totally unsupported by infantry and was adjacent to heavy brush, it was of great concern and the detachment was, by my order, initially deployed to defend the flank. While Battery B with three rifled guns and the infantry engaged the enemy, which had made it appearance with one piece and a larger force of infantry, in front.
Our detachment was about to move down an overgrown trail so as to obtain a better line of sight, possibly flank the enemy’s line, inflict damage and better guard the flank, when it was ordered to advance to the front—the order thus leaving the flank undefended. As feared, enemy skirmishers soon after discovered the undefended flank and got into the rear of the line. As no infantry support was provided to the left flank, the enemy concentrated a force against it from the front and after several devastating shots were fired at the enemy, the detachment was forced to withdraw under great pressure. Privates Dean and Nick Auchenbach courageously sacrificed themselves to allow time for the gun to be withdrawn some distance before being finally overrun. This battle was the first for Private Katelyn Goodling, who performed all assigned duties well and with efficiency.
As this event commemorated an important anniversary of the Port Royal Community, there was a parade in the afternoon. The Battery C detachment pulled the General Tom Thumb and its limber by hand through a two-mile parade through the town to the great delight and frequent applause of the citizens along the route. Battery C was later presented with a trophy for its participation, which was entrusted to the care of the Battery C Artificer, Private Keith Kuhn.
Battery C was posted south of Middletown, VA on October 20th and 21st for the 148th Anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Cedar Creek. I was once again ordered by the Artillery Reserve Commander, Major Dennis to assume command of a six-gun battery, which was designated “Battery C.” Accordingly, First Lieutenant Eric Stahley assumed command of Thompson’s Battery C and performed with his usual bravery, skill and attention to detail. The weather for this October’s event was blue skies and warm days followed by cool and clear skies at night—making the 2012 Cedar Creek the last bite of summer. Some years it has been known to be the first slap of winter.
Thompson’s Battery, and all of the units in the larger “Battery C,” distinguished themselves especially in the Saturday battle by advancing to the line of trees beyond the Heater House in perfect coordination with the other guns of the larger battery. At the end of the battle, we occupied a position well in advance of the expectations of higher command.
At the Sunday battle, the left section of the large “Battery C” was thrown forward in support of the infantry advance while the center and right sections occupied the ridge behind the Heater House delivering well aimed and destructive fire unto the enemy.
I should here mention that on the preceding Saturday evening we were witness to–and greatly enjoyed–a stupendous battle of the bands. An undoubtedly Confederate Rock and Roll/Country Band had stealthily occupied a position on the left flank of the US Artillery Camp and assaulted the ears with the most outlandish and jarring noise imaginable. This attack was promptly replied to by the accomplished musicians of the United States Volunteers which, marching up the road from the infantry camp, took station directly in front of the enemy and played thunderously until the offenders were silenced and driven from the field. The USV Band, on that evening, covered themselves with glory and earned the cheers and applause of all the Boys in Blue.
First Lieutenant Stahley submitted the following report for Thompson’s Battery C:
Thompson’s Battery participated in the 148th anniversary event held at Cedar Creek October 20/21, 2012. We had a new recruit with us for her second event with the battery, Ms. Kaitlyn Goodling (sorry if I butchered the spelling). Although Private Goodling did not perform her customary new recruit duties of erecting the dining fly by herself, she still proved to be an able and competent cannoneer, and would make a fine addition to our jaunty crew should she wish to enlist for a full 3 year term.
Friday night we went to our customary Chinese restaurant in Winchester, where Triple Delight was consumed in quantity, however, no appearance by the regional fire department was warranted. It made for an unusually subdued and incident free meal, at least more so than is customary for our unit.
We were supposed to have 2 guns with our unit this weekend, but due to unforeseen circumstances, Sgt. Shultz had to remain on detached service in Hazleton. This would prove to be fortuitous in Saturday’s battle, as a full complement of cannoneers was necessary to move our gun, in conjunction with our neighbors Battery “M”, from our usual spot on the rise overlooking the Heater House to a position in front of the Heater house, almost 400 feet from our original starting point.
Sunday’s Battle was pretty much the same as always, stationary on the hill banging away at the Rebs.
I would be remiss If I did not mention that our own Capt. Hoover was again elevated to battery command, performing his job with the utmost professionalism and efficiency that we have come to expect from such an able commander.
The gun crews performed admirably as well. It was a joy to see members of our unit rotate in and out of gun positions during Sunday’s battle. Each member performing the duties assigned to them with the skill of seasoned veterans. The performance of your duties brings credit to yourselves and our unit. I tip my hat to each and every one of you for a fine job well done.
It also goes without saying that the cooks outdid themselves this weekend with the meals. Even though it was decided to permanently remove the bangers and mash from the rotation after the last event, they surprised us and brought them back, only to outdo themselves. The bangers and mash meal was spectacular! It was like there was a party in my mouth and everyone was invited. Please, please, please, for the love of God, never serve this meal selection in camp again. I will now be able to die a happy man, having eaten such a wonderful meal. My only regret, and it is a minor regret, is that Billy was not around to taste the heavenly delight served up on tin plates and supped upon that evening in camp. It will be a shame that he will never get to look into the face of God by eating so much as a tiny morsel of those bangers and mash. It is a sure sign that the meal was excellent when I saw Private Elbro weeping inconsolably over his empty plate at the end of the evening repast.
My only concern for the weekend is that I must be getting soft as the years roll on. At no time during the entire weekend did I hear any NCO mention word one about mutiny or sticking a shiv in the battery Lt. Perhaps it is because the battery 1st Sgt. is on detached duty overseas, and was not able to stir the rabble as he has done so skilfully in the past. Rest assured I will renew my efforts try to reinvigorate that sense of loathing and hatred in the ranks prior to Sgt. Stout’s return.
Yours in Service,
Lt. Eric C. Stahley, Commanding
Thompson’s Independent Battery C finished the 2012 Campaigning Season on November 17th with the Remembrance Day Parade in Gettysburg, PA. The weather was sunny and reasonably warm. Battery C had another fine turnout of the members making for a very impressive formation for the Remembrance Day Parade. Our Battery was given the honor of leading the Artillery, which was at the front of the combat formations for the parade. All participants marched well. After the parade, we had a formation at the Thompson’s Battery C Monument in the Peach Orchard to honor Captain Thompson and his men and later, another formation to honor the men of the CSA Fluvanna Light Artillery—our CSA alter ego– at their commemorative plaque on the ridge near the Daniel Lady Farm. Privates Keith Kuhn and Katelyn Goodling represented the unit at the Ball that evening and the battery’s officers attended the Artillery Reserve meeting the following morning.
In closing this report for 2012, I want to once again thank and commend all members of Thompson’s Independent Battery C for their outstanding support, for their many contributions to the battery’s success this year, and for their skill, hard work and dedication. I want to also thank the Thompson family for its support, inspiration and warm friendship. I owe a great debt and many thanks to the Commander, Adjutant and staff of the Artillery Reserve, the other artillery units that participated throughout the year in good comradeship with us and to our families and the many people and organizations that supported, funded and encouraged us.
Gary V. Hoover, Capt. Commanding,
Thompson’ Independent Battery C, PA Vol. Lt. Artillery