Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Lacy House NPS Living History
June 13-14, 2009
Fredericksburg Spotsylvania National Battlefield
Let me send your way some interesting accounts of the trials of your friends in the recent exercises of the war.
We did make our way to the Falmouth side of the Rappahannock on Friday night, and got to the Lacy House, also known to the sesech owner as Chatham Manor.
We were indeed portraying the Eighth Conn. Vols. and it was better than we expected since the NPS put us under the trees to the right of the front of the mansion, just where we wanted to be. This is certainly the very first time in so many years that we were able to camp, sleep, and dream, on the very ground documented that the old Eighth rested their heads. We had in attendance our member descendants of the original heros and patriots that were there before us. History has been so kind to us as to bring us to the place, and tell us the story.
Saturday morning brought a morning report to myself, portraying Capt. Henry Hoyt, Co. A. Col. Harland had been promoted to brigade, Lt.Col. Appleman had been wounded at Antietam, and Major Ward had taken seriously ill prior to the battle. That left Capt. Hoyt in command of the regiment, and I was pleased to take the part.
Our own Lt. Buffington pitched in as my Adjutant, in an interesting roll reversal. He was all up to it, and served in a very compelling manner. He wrote and posted a safeguard on the house, and all were obliged to observe it. Such are the army regulations and the articles of war.
The morning brought the need to shake out the cobwebs in the companies, and our first formation sized up the hoard. Company drill followed a Guard Mount that posted guards at the color line, and the Mansion front door. Lt. Jones saw to the whole guard, and as always, served the detail well. The weather was very warm and quite thick, and the efforts to conduct the daily routine was a duty. Everyone present still pitched in with a vigor only our battalion can deliver.
The Eighth conducted public demonstrations two times a day, and included a summary history of the Eighth, and maneuver and firings, including fire by battalion, fire by rank, and fire by file. The whole of the demonstrations were concluded by a bayonet charge. This brought some need to exercise the troops in the manner of a charge, closing ranks, keeping elbow to elbow, and exactly how to double quick in the ranks. It seems that the concept of the line of battle eludes many more veterans then one would expect.
I drilled the boys in the extreme heat on double quick, charge bayonet, and staying in line of battle until they were almost melted. It was the proposal to get it right and end the drill. It seems that they would perform to end the drill, but it was observed that the next chance to break ranks in the charge was all too frequent. I personally take it as a mission to train the boys to stay in line, and thus create a bigger intimidation than if they all break and run towards the enemy. Scary versus Stupid.
Our NPS hosts were so kind and hospitable that it was a pleasure to work with them. Many of our number were treated to personalized tours of the house and history. The volunteers there are truly an asset to the park. Our ranger knew that we were not used to the Virginia heat, and laid in several bushels of ice and drink to revive us later Saturday afternoon.
Late Saturday, we conducted a formal dress parade, and our adjutant performed flawlessly. He published orders that included the scheduling of auction of deceased soldiers personal effects, and the orders for the coming day.
Saturday night in camp, late after all were asleep, the wind picked up, and the sky ignited. The word was passed to batten down the hatches, and so we all did. The thunder, lightning, and torrents soon arrived, but were gladly short lived. In a matter of half an hour, it was over, and the temperature dropped.
Sunday morning, we dried out our camps, and got our line established for the day. We needed to go as a single company, and mounted a light guard for the mansion.
Mid morning, we assembled the battalion, and marched them the the rear, or river side of the mansion in full gear. There we conducted a full inspection. We announced the historic orders of August years ago, that the personal effects of the Eighth were to be packed in the knapsacks, and the knapsacks collected for shipment to Washington city for the duration of the Maryland campaign. Little did any of them know that it would be a full year or more before theri knapsacks would be retrieved from Washington's warehouses and restored to their owners.
We repeated the two demonstrations and made all the public pleased with the efforts. We had great attendance and an attentive audience at each time. Questions were fielded and answered by our men and all were pleased to provide such knowledge as we can.
We packed up the trains after the last demonstration, and headed out again. It took our Nutmeggers 12 hours to arrive, and a11 hours to return. But it was all worth the single opportunity to camp on the actual ground of the old Eighth. We have never had this privelege before, and were honored with the experience.
I must simply conclude and repeat that this indeed was a singular honor and privelege bestowed upon us from the NPS, acknowledged and supported by all our friends from the USV3R, and the attending public. I am personally so grateful, for all the officers and men of the USV3R to portray the 8CV in this effort. We were so blessed to experience this dream, and you all made it possible. May our kind Lord allow us to do it again and again.
Your humble servant,
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Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.