There were two big deals for people interested in history-heavy Civil War events this weekend. Out in the Shenandoah, a march/living history/reenactment for historic preservation drew several hundred serious reenactors to Port Republic/Cross Keys. On the other side of the state, the annual training session of the National Civil War Field Music School was held at the ever-improving Pamplin Park historic site south of Petersburg.
It was a shame the events were on the same weekend. I'd committed to help the school several years ago, and so went there as overall military commander. I got a lot of help from the 3rd U.S. Regulars, who opted to support the school also. Jim Tate was the adjutant (who does a lot of work at an event like this, including remember the proper forms for dress parade at high noon on a blazing hot Virginia day). Paul Stier served as first sergeant, had the whole thing up and running smoothly, including overseeing the night guard mount the infantry reenactors run to provide security. Jason Eckhart ran the infantry company during its various drills -- including "rope drill" and something most reenactors never get to do, skirmishing by the bugle -- and he also organized the drummer company for its instruction in infantry procedures. Jackson Dixon did that for the buglers on Saturday; he had to leave Sunday morning and Jay Callaham, one of the bugler instructors, doubled up as their infantry instructor.
Lots going on. The musicians improved tremendously under the concentrated focus of all the instruction. The infantry company, made up of a core of 3rd US guys and reenacting fathers and a smattering from other units, went through a variety of drill for the weekend both at the inspiration of the first sergeant and officers and also at the request of the men, who quickly figured out they had a huge resource available and took advantage of it. There is a lot of enthusiasm for expanding this part of the event next year and offering soldierly schooling separately from the musical instruction. More as it evolves.
There should be event photos up before too long. I took dozens, and had help from Heather Faust, one of the school's organizers, taking others, but due to a technical glitch due entirely to my stupidity -- no photos from me. Lots of other folks were clicking away, though, so we'll have something directly.
There's often something odd at events that can evolve into "signature moments" everyone remembers. This year we had two: The first game of rounders, the predecessor game to baseball, in which one reenactor was bitten by another player. ("Rounders was an American attempt to make cricket have any point at all.") (OK, it wasn't a deliberate bite, someone's finger connected with someone else's orthodontic braces during an exciting moment at second base, and no blood was shed, but we're calling it a bite because it's funnier.) The second was the skunk that magically appeared at the barn Sunday while we were lunching a hundred yards away. It seemed young and/or confused and we gave it a wide berth to get over to the drilling areas while one of the Pamplin Park staff kept an eye on it and called in for reinforcements. Next year a couple of the musicians who will be returning have indicated we'll have a special regimental flag for the music school formal parades that will feature a skunk.
When we all left a short time later, the skunk was still fine and still under observation, but had taken up quarters in someone's wedge tent, which delayed at least one departure. Park staff opted for a wait-and-see attitude rather than going for a more drastic judgment that the skunk wouldn't have liked.
It was a good weekend. There are, however, 60 or so people who will not be able to get fifers playing "Frog in the Well" out of their heads for the next two weeks. That's a link to the Camp Chase Fife & Drum playing the song just so all the rest of you can now also have it in your heads.