A Report of Our January Meeting
Leadership, Events, Spring Muster Discussed
by John Homer
The Eighth held a meeting at Kim Shaw's office as announced and several topics were dealt with. Captain Steele opened the meeting and explained that we needed to consider a joint company for the next season as our numbers at recent events were less than those required for a full company. He proposed that we coordinate with the Third Michigan Co. C. He stressed that this was not intended to dissolve the 8th but by combining our numbers we could field a larger, more authentic sized company that would provide a better time for all. Terry McKinch pointed out our historical friendship with the 3rd going back over 135 years and that we had been falling in together since the 8th Co. C was formed. Sergeant Steele said that mainly he thought we should formalize our relationship, combining command structure at events and co-coordinating our event schedule. After some discussion a motion was made to follow this course and passed overwhelmingly.
Capt. Steele then moved on to the subject of elections. He stated that he had to decline a position for the upcoming year due to his uncertainty concerning being able to attend the events and having the time to fulfill his duties. The closing of the Sears store he had been working at and the generally poor economic conditions made him unwilling to make a commitment he couldn't keep. Sergeant Steele then stated that health concerns and work also caused him to decline a position for this year, although he intended to attend as many events as he could and intends to act as a Veterans Reserve and not take the field unless his health permitted it. He mentioned his bad knees and the partial deafness that he had experienced this fall as his major concerns. He then suggested that we appoint a sergeant and two corporals for the next year. Someone asked why we werent going to have an officer and we discussed who was qualified and whether we needed one. Terry reminded us that the first rule of the 8th was that you had to work your way up from the ranks and only those who had held the rank of 1st Sergeant were qualified. No one who had was interested in doing an officer impression and it was pointed out that the 3rd had an able officer that we could fall in under. The Election process was completed and Ed Dowd was elected Sergeant with John Homer and Mark Elkins elected to 1st and 2nd corporal as determined by the votes received for each.
Sergeant Dowd then chaired the meeting and took on the subject of the event schedule and after discussion it was determined to make it tentative pending the 3rd having its meeting and co-coordinating the schedule with them. The schedule will be posted on our website and listed in the newsletter. The schedule was agreed on with the main addition being the Caseville event. This is part of the 3rds annual schedule and has been attended by some of the 8th as well, though never listed as an event before. Gayle Steele spoke glowingly of his experiences at Caseville.
Three national events were picked this year. Antietam is expected to be the premier event this year. The 135th event was one of the best in living memory and this, the 140th, is on the same site with the same hosts. Perryville was also included as it is expected to be attended by the Cumberland Guard this year and is reputed to be a fine event. Gayle mentioned that his wife Pat had an ancestor who fought at Perryville and they were looking forward to it. The third was Blue Springs at Moshiem Tennessee. They have lost their corporate sponsor (Walmart) and we expect it to be scaled back this year. However we received an invitation and need to have our application in by the end of June. It should still be a good event. It is on the original battlefield and the community is extremely friendly and supportive.
The Spring Muster location is also a problem. We received a letter from Crossroads Village informing us of a substantial increase in the rental fee and insurance requirements. We have done volunteer work for the village, at the Civil War Days, providing firing squads for various ceremonies and marching in parades and on this basis we asked Kim Shaw to enter into negotiations with them to see if we could obtain a better deal. If this falls through we are exploring alternative sites such as the Armory in Alma and will advise everyone as soon as we can if there is a change. In the meantime anyone with an alternative site or suggestion should contact Sergeant Dowd or Corporals Homer and Elkins.
Finally, membership was discussed. The hobby in general has experienced a decline in participation this year, attributed to economic conditions and the expansion of other areas of re-enacting. The hobby generally experiences an increase in participation when a new movie comes out. Gods and Generals is in production now but we cant count on that. We encourage everyone to actively recruit those who express an interest. Don't leave it to others. Of course you can and should pass on their names to our leaders but follow up on them yourself also. When the first person they speak to shows an interest in them it helps impress them with what a great group of guys we are.
Attendance at the meeting was less than expected and Corporal Homer was assigned to contact those who didn't show up. A motion was passed to ask inactive members to pay 5$ per year to help defray mailing costs. Inactive members were identified as those who don't make at least two Max Effort Events.
The meeting was adjourned with three huzzahs for Scott and Gayle Steele in recognition of their service to the 8th.
Fire On The Water
A Novel Of The Civil War At Sea
By David Poyer
Hardback 25$, also available at Genesee District Libraries
This was a good book. The author wrote of the last relief attempt for Fort Sumter and the uncertain times that followed as a weakly defended capitol seemed in danger of falling to the rebels. Mr. Poyer captured the intensity, political infighting and cross purposes of the actions of the time. He also illuminated the hard choices that faced officers from the southern states. The facts and the details were presented in a way that gave you the sense that you were contemporary with the actions described. Obviously the author had done significant research on the subject. I liked the fact that he wrote using stylistic forms of 19th century writing and for the most part used traditional themes. The inclusion of a woman who was sexually abused as a child was at odds with the character of the book but that seems to be what it takes to sell books these days. In any event, it was well done.
The events schedule FOR 2002 can be found on the EVENTS page.
Ed Plagiaris's Diary
In Camp January 15th
During the Civil War as today, alcohol was used as an escape from the unpleasant and sometimes intolerable job of being a soldier. Since there were no modern technologies used to determine drunkenness in the 19th century, it was perception that was most commonly cited for a persons state of intoxication. According to the Union Army Courts Martial manual, there are 10 degrees of drunkenness:
1. Slightly drunk
2. In liquor, but not drunk
3. Intoxicated, but not drunk
4. Drunk, but not too drunk for duty
5. On a spree
6. Drunk and disorderly
7. Too drunk to do his duty
8. Habitually drunk
9. Staggeringly drunk
10. Beastly drunk
In addition, to the official degrees of drunkenness, the Official Records contains a wonderful army of descriptive phrases such as jovial drunk, helpless drunk, crazy drunk, just plain drunk, and not staggering drunk, but too drunk to issue commands.
Submitted by Pvt. Tom Townsend
Editor's note: Apparently Mr. Plagiaris used his diary to copy down things he has read and attribute them to himself, this entry was actually taken from the 6th Ohio Vol. Inf. Newsletter, April 1995.
Cumberland Guard Meeting
I attended this meeting with Jim Church and Adam Bender of the Third Michigan. We met in Clio at 6 a.m. and made the long journey to Indianapolis. The trip down was uneventful, though not boring as we entertained Adam with our impressions of a carload of 12 year olds (Hey! I forgot to go at the gas station! Oopps) and otherwise demonstrated the wit our gatherings are famous for.
Colonel Shackelford opened the meeting with a review of the 2001 season. It was a good year overall. We won the tactical at Hastings for the 6th year in a row. It sounded like the Atlanta Campaign was a good event, although attendance was very low due to false rumors on the Internet. The problem of how unfounded rumors can derail an event was discussed as a something we have to address in the coming year. It is important to make sure that what you hear is from an official source before repeating it and to check with them if it needs clarification before you relay it to others.
We then discussed the schedule for 2002. The following events were adopted:
Billy Creek, Indiana June 7th-9th - Col. Shackelford will not be overall union commander this year as was rumored but he urged that we attend the event anyways. The events coordinators have decided to rotate command and he feels that we should turn out to show there are no hard feelings and to support an event that has been good to the Cumberland Guard in the past and is an important local event for some of the Indiana units.
Anderson, Indiana, 4th of July Parade - This kicks off at 12:01 a.m. and is billed as the first parade of the day in the nation. In the past it has been a lot of fun. Col. Shackelford invited us to come down and camp in his back yard if we want to attend.
Hastings, Michigan July 19th-21st Union troops will be camping in the woods this year. The battle will be in the area where the sutlers set up in 2001. The tactical is going to be done differently this year. Apparently units will be marched over a course and tested in different scenarios. It sounds similar to Holly though details are still sketchy.
Jackson, Michigan August 23rd-25th Plans are in the works for the battle to be on the hill where spectators usually sit. It will probably be billed as Culps Hill and Mayres Heights. Sutlers and civilian camp maybe re-arranged to accommodate the changes.
Antietam 140th, Maryland September 13th-15th This is in the same location with the same host and promises to be even better than the 135th we attended with such success. We expect to field 3 battalions at this event.
Perryville 140th, Kentucky October 4th-6th - This is on the site of the original battle and we will fight in the original positions. It is proposed that we pitch camp where the fight ends on Saturday night. The roads leading into the event are narrow and winding so be prepared. Additionally, it can get cold at night and for some reason it was stressed that the county is dry. Also be sure that you put Cumberland Guard on your registration along with your unit designation to be sure we are camped together. This is a yearly event that the Cumberland Guard doesnt regularly attend and it is necessary to minimize confusion. This is hosted by the North-South Alliance.
Other events were also discussed. A proposal to attend Shiloh got a good laugh. Hartford City has an event October 18th-20th but that is to close to Perryville to make a blue ribbon event. Fort Wayne in Detroit, Michigan will have events April 13th-14th and June 23rd-24th that will be Union only and probably consist of drill, demonstrations and a ball. Col. Shackelford suggested we plan on attending Gettysburg in 2003.
Col. Shackelford proposed that we make improving authenticity our goal for 2002. Various ways to do this were discussed. We should work on doing more 1st person. Setting aside a time period of an hour or more before the battle or in the evening to do 1st person and stay in it for the whole time was recommended. Participate in authentic activities. The Atlanta event was sited as an example. Before the battle the Guard formed and marched out of camp with their dinner (lunch wasnt used yet) in their haversacks. They stopped and ate on the line of march in order to have a more authentic feel for what campaigning was like.
After putting into the hat for the halls rent we said a brief farewell and headed home. The weather deteriorated on the trip home, making the trip more fatiguing but we proudly endured the ordeal for our comrades on this Saturday so that we could march shoulder to shoulder to victory after victory in the coming year.
The Battle of Blue Springs 2001
Gayle Steele, Ed Dowd, Dean Lamphere, Pappy, Kim Shaw, John Homer and the mysterious J were present at this event. Pat and Moira represented the 8th Mi. Medical. We fell in with the 1st Tenn. And had the last company street in union camp. As usual we camped without tents. The nights were cold and the days pleasant. The people put on quite a spread for us with Saturday breakfast served by the Ruritarians, dinner by KFC and a fantastic Sunday brunch by the Church of Brown Springs that was at the top of the hill to the south.
The Saturday battle went well with the 8th sustaining 80% casualties. Gayle served as 1st sergeant for the company and seemed to miss commands and go do his own thing, staying at shoulder when we went to right-shoulder shift, marching on when we halted, and so on. He apologized repeatedly for this which we thought unnecessary as his behavior didnt seem unusual to us and we told him so. He said he'd been having trouble with his hearing since Friday on the way down. He learned after the event that he'd gone deaf in one ear from Sudden Deafness Syndrome. Ed Dowd surprised us by not having heat stroke and while his health seemed better he was rushed to the hospital for an emergency hernia operation later that week. It went well and he is looking forward to next year with renewed energies.
We met some members of the 79th who talked, among other things, about archeological digs they had done at 79th camps in Tennessee. They had found a kepi with Michigan insignia and some odd shriveled up things they eventually identified as coconut husks imported from the Pacific by N.Y. merchants and sent to the 79th as a delicacy. Kim and I immediately saw the possibilities in this. Here was historical evidence for a scenario where an officer pranced along with a private banging coconut shells together to make the sound of hoof beats ala Monty Python.
We did better on Sunday, suffering 100% losses during the action. Moira was a local media star, her picture appeared on the front page of the local paper and the subject of considerable filming by a local video crew. After the battle we gathered by the marker for the battlefield and said our farewells.