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8-15-2011:   "On to Richmond" Woodbury, CT. AAR

Greetings and I trust everyone made it home safely. Before I get into the event it self, I would just like to say that I have a whole new level of respect for Dave, Pete and now Mark. That was a drive and a half, that you guys have been doing this is amazing. I would also like to thank you for feeding us, we did eat good.

Gary, Sam and I arrived at the field around 6 on Friday. The location was a nice flat field with corn on all sides. Once I got to camp, I found out that we 3 members from the 20th Mass that would be falling in with us. We spent that night getting to know them and for them to get to know us. Later I was informed that I would be having members of the 12th Mass falling in with us also. Our numbers for Saturday morning roll call was 19 rifles. Anyway, Gary, Sam and I didn't have tents for the weekend so we slept out under the stars, the weather wasn't to bad, except for the dew on Saturday morning.

After breakfast, and the normal Officers call. It was time to do some drill and get everyone working together. I was surprised that things went rather smoothly, having 3 different units folded into one like that. Later we formed up for Inspection by Pres. Lincoln. Now the Brigade that we were with is the New England Brigade, so of course all of the units were Mass., Conn., NH, Vermont. So when Pres Lincoln got to me, he asked if I was a Conn unit, so the look on his face when I told him, ' No Sir, I'm the 138th Penn Vol, from a small Boro in Penn, that you may not have heard of, Gettysburg', the look on his face was funny as hell.

Ok, so after the inspection, the commander calls just the Right wing company commands over, we were 7th company, so we were in the left wing. So after the inspection, per the schedule I received, we had 45 mins until the tactical. I come to find out, that it was just to be the right wing going out and not all of us. So we got to watch a small re-enactment, which most of us have not been able to do. So we had enough down time, to eat, relax or go to the sutlers and hang with Pete.

We we formed up for the battle that afternoon, I was asked by out Brigade commander how was with giving commands. Now this questions did strike me as odd. So I asked what did he want me to do. he wanted me to take my company and another company out for skirmish. So I ended up having about 30 or so rifles out on skirmish at the start of the battle. And yes, they were impressed. For only having 15 mins to explain to most of them that had never done the drill, it didn't go to bad. The battle it self was pretty good, they did Balls Bluff. Everyone had a good time.

Once back in camp, it was time for more relaxing, of course we then found out about the 5pm Dress Parade. First time for that, but as one of the other Captains put it so well, 'That's army BS for ya'.

We ended up pulling out later that day, since there was major rain moving in and the forecast called for rain all day on Sunday. All in all it was a good event, and since it's only held every two years, something to keep on the radar for 2013. We made many new friends and got a chance to work with different units.

James Aronhalt
Capt 138th Penn Vol Co. B

7-26-2011:   150th Bull Run/Manassas AAR

Well I trust that those of you who were out there this past weekend made it home safe and got to spend time relaxing last night. I'll not go into how hot it was over the weekend, unless you've been in the back of a cave, you all ready know.

Friday was the normal routine of arriving setting up and getting everyone as they got in and saying hello to all of our friends in the Brigade. At officers call, I was told that wake would be at 6am and be ready to be on line at 8:30.

Saturday, began with a red sun rising over the camps and everyone was moving be that. After a great breakfast cooked by Crp Crapper ( sounds bad I know ) and help from Don ( The Professor ), it was time to do a little drill. After doing 'To the Right of Company and to the Rear', 'Front', ' Left turn into Line', I was informed from Col Hensen that it should be 'Left Wheel into Line', well he out ranks me, so we did it his way. We then sat under the fly to drink water and or Gatorade, and more of the same. For the first part of the battle we to be the 27th NY ( I think that's who we were ). At this point for those of you who didn't make it, while we were waiting in the staging area, there were at least 4 people that went down from the heat, that gives you an idea. Once we got out on the field, we could tell it was a mess. We moved into the position that we were suppose to be at only to find other Brigades there and the Reb unit we were suppose to engage was no were to be found, so we spent the first part of the battle standing in the sun waiting to find out what we were suppose to do.

The Battle part 2, for the second half of the battle, we were the reserve of the 11NY, this time we got to engage the rebs, and then it was time to retreat across the field. To be fair, for the number of people on the field, and the size of the field, it was to many for a small area, so I can understand the screw up. With the heat, smoke and total confusion everyone did a great job out there on the field.

It was soon over and time to head back to camp to cool down and relax. By the time we returned, Robin and plenty of cold water ready to go around for everyone. As we all got cooled down, we could see some people were packing up and getting out, at this point the CT squad decided to head for cooler climates also. We found out from Bear, who was with the 5th NY for the weekend, that the 5th NY and the National Regiment pulled out to the man. So there were a lot less around for Sunday.

After a good lunch, provided by Robin, or our Mother Hen, and more drinking and relaxing, we got things going for a late dinner of Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and corn on the Cobb, if you didn't get enough to eat, that was your own fault. It was soon time to start the Saturday night poker game, and to break in the newest piece of camp equipment supplied my Don The Professor Freeman, our great crafted round table that fits perfectly in the center of the fly, and at the right height! We were joined by Sherri, or her new name, Puppy Girl for an evening of good poker and good time with good Friends. During the game, Kent and gotten over come by the heat, we told him to take it easy, so it was a good thing Sherri was there, she soon had him in proper care, and he was able to join later. By midnight we were all done in and ready for bed.

Sunday was a repeat of the day before, the weather was a little cooler.. While we were in the staging area, I didn't see anyone drop out so that was a good sign. With there being less people on the field, I guess there was maybe 5 or 6K out there, everything went much better. We were engaged for the entire time and doing a lot of movement on the field. The event organizers did a great job of passing out water and plenty of ice, on both days. Sunday's battle was much, much better than the day before.

Now here is where it goes down hill. Kent wasn't up to going out on Sunday, so I had asked if he and Robin would get everyone's tent broken down, so it would be ready when we got back. After relaxing and drinking up on water and such, we went to get the vehicles to leave. Kent, Don and I were in the same area of the parking lot, after 2 hours, that's right 2 hours of sitting and going no where, we finally made it back to camp. When we got there everyone had left, so we found Robin sitting under the fly waiting for us. Between Kent, Don, John ( Now know as Bobby Louie ) and I got Kent and Robins stuff packed up and the Fly down and put away, We did sit and talk for and hour or so to let the rest of the traffic die down before heading home our self's.

A big thank you to Kent and Robin for everything they did this weekend, and to Don for the Great table and for the help you gave Kent. Almost forgot, on Sunday the Professor became Cookie, he did a great job cooking breakfast for us. All in all it was a great weekend, one not to be forgotten.

James Aronhalt
Capt 138th Penn Vol Co. B

7-13-2011:   Rose Hill Manor AAR

Well after the deluge that swept through Frederick on Friday afternoon the rest of the weekend was to be hot, humid and sunny. I waited the storm out here in my office and then went over to the site when the rain died out at 4:30. I had a message via wireless telegraph that parts of downtown Frederick were under water. Well that wouldn’t be an issue where we were as I set us in a nice tree covered area about 50 yards or so from the Rosehill house. We were also close to the wood pile (Which was really dry!), the hay bales and the big coolers they had stored for our free ice. We were allowed to just wonder over and take what you need as desired. I found this to be particularly nice! I did the usual set Terri & Lyndsey’s A frame up in about 5 minutes by myself and another 20 or so to set up my dog???? Don’t ask.

There was a local PA unit right next to us and the 93rd PA weren’t too far off. One other group who I have never seen before rounded out the Federals to about 30 rifles, 3 Generals (Yup 3) and a few officers. To be honest though, I believe 2 of those Generals were on site for the living history demonstrations. The rebs had something very similar and totaled out at about 30 or 40 rifles. While I am at it, here is something I was very impressed with for the event. This was in my mind anyway, the typical low key small event and wasn’t expecting much. Farby battles and reasonable impressions, but somehow fun. While there was a pretty serious farby element, Rosehill did a great job for the spectators and there were a lot of them. They had demonstrations tents, sutlers for spectators & reenactors alike, decent food, a great area for a dance and so on. It really was, surprisingly good. I was very impressed with the variety of the living history tents and displays. The medical area was very good and not a “Zombie” fest as some would do. Straight forward intelligent medical displays. Chris S’s brother and his group had an excellent display for telegraph and Signal Corps demonstrations. I learned quite a lot from him Chris!

I think it is safe to say that while some reenactors just scare the crap out of me with their horrible impressions, the event in of itself was quite good and we really enjoyed ourselves.

I won’t go into the details of each days battle but simply give an overview of what we as unit wanted to do and how we did it. The only thing I’ll mention of the battles (which were pretty decent actually, not great, but fun) was the Rebs apparently enjoyed the shade a lot more than we did. In fact a guy in my office who was there on Sunday just told me the announcer said the following; “Now the Confederates will make another attempt and charge the fort………well it appears they don’t want to leave that shade so I guess not.”

I had not done Bayonet drill in 2 years since the “Daigle Incident” and certainly had never been the drill instructor for it. Though, it didn’t take long before the boys had it down and unknowns to them had a large group of spectators watching from the side. We then went from Bayonet drill to some learning examples of how to load while kneeling and laying down. This was then followed by some basic marching and then we let Ed & Don take over for the manual of arms. We then prepared for the battle to which afterwards we were swarmed with spectators. EVERYONE was on it and we had many conversations with lots of folks. Good stuff. After a some down time everyone but me & Lyndsey (I wasn’t feeling too good and was very tired) caravanned over to May’s Restaurant for crabs. After 3 hours they returned and started to gear up for the Saturday night poker tournament. Gary’s hot little friend Julie (?) came back with them and showed us all the pictures she took. We should see several on the web page soon. The poker went til midnight or so with pretty much no one losing! It wasn’t long before I was being serenaded by the sounds of Route15 and motorcycles screaming past at 1000 mph.

Sunday was much of the same. We did Bayonet drill again and added a few more items to the list of moves. Again the boys were excellent. Chris’s friend Tony who joined us for battle on Sat had not been around when we did it the day before, but he too had it down I no time. BTW – I expect and hope Tony is one of our new recruits. He said he really enjoyed himself and we hope to see him again. The Captain then put us through Skirmish drill. We defiantly got our exercise in for that and then fished up with Ed & Don running the manual of arms and some basic marching. You guys were excellent, great job. We will certainly have 2 more very qualified Corporals come next season showing the value of the Certification Process. This was then again followed by the battle, to which I carried the 138th colors and the swarm of spectators who invaded our camp.

The only real mistake I think made over the weekend was simple one but one I want you all to think about. We are in no means a Campaigner unit. We are a family friendly Mainstream unit, but I think we are far more progressive than most. We do some very simple things to make us stand far out in front of most, like constant defarbing, good company streets, keeping farby coffee cups, doughnut trays and so on out of view. When units around tend to not care and I see things like folks out of uniform en masse and sitting in lawn chairs with beer holders I tend to get very annoyed. Well the mistake I made was while everyone was at Mays, Lyndsey got out of her dress and was in her Horseback riding attire. She asked me if she should change back. I looked around and say “Nah, don’t worry about it, no one here would care in the slightest” That to me is a big mistake. Put the blinders on and forget what everyone else is doing and do it right. Heck I even found myself straightening the friggin wood pile on 3 occasions (I wonder who got me to care about that) to make it look proper. And guess what, the spectators (and there were LOTS of them) spent an awful lot of time in our camp and almost none in the others. We gained another possible 2 recruits from this event as a result and I commend all of you and a job well done!

Next up 150th Manassas!

Yours in Service
1st Sgt D. Coleman
138th PVI Co. B
Federal Volunteer Brigade

7-3-2011:   Ellicott City AAR

Terri & I were out of town and thus missed Saturday. We decided to show up Sunday and “Test” the guards. We were both spies for the confederacy, Terri being from Alexandria & I from Leesburg Virginia. My job was to scout the town and locate all infantry, cavalry & artillery support. I was then to report back to General Longstreet who was waiting for me back at my plantation in Leesburg. Terri, dressed as a common civilian and had General Lee’s “Special Order 191” which outlined his attack plans on Maryland. She was to deliver this Order to General McClaws, who was waiting for her in Frederick Town Maryland. A copy of these same orders were discovered by a Union soldier a few days later which sparked the Battle of Antietam.

While waiting in a local tavern trying to gather intelligence it appears I drank a full bottle of Old Jack Lauer’s’ Tea Bagging Whiskey and forgot what I was in town to do. While stumbling near the railroad station I was immediately approached by Sgt Chris “Bear” Aronhalt and Captain James Aronhalt. To which it wasn’t long before I was stripped of my pack, gear and rifle. They then proceeded to throw me in the “pit” until they could decide what to do with me. As far as they could tell, however, I was just a Private wearing a 23rd PA Birney Zouave uniform who simply got drunk waiting for the train back to Philadelphia City. They first thought I was either AWOL or a deserter and thus decided to throw a Reb prisoner they had been holding in with me who went by the name of Alabama Pete. We wrestled for a bit but were both too slow and drunk to do anything about it. I then informed Alabama Pete of my true identity and asked for any information he may have learned while he was held prisoner before they shipped him off to Ft Delaware. He had little information and the guards were keeping a close eye on us.

A guard detail on patrol also picked up Terri as she had no pass. A simple search and they soon discovered General Lee’s orders. It didn’t take long for the Captain to figure we were working together and my situation became quite dangerous. After further interrogation, they knew I was a either a spy of Confederate sympathizer. I offered to sell the Captain information in return for my release. I finally got my discharge for 5 cents and a brass button, which turned out to be my own. At least I was free and made it back to Leesburg to report to General Longstreet safely. Terri somehow escaped (without the letter). I think she showed a little “neckline” and her ankles ;-)

The folks at Ellicott City did a great job and the town is awesome for this type of event. They fed us and the boys got to sleep in the roundhouse on REAL BEDS. They also got to partake in the Ghost Tour on Saturday night. Gary had his Melodeon set up right in front of the main building and was joined by a man with a banjo. They were excellent and garnered a lot of attention. I also should make a quick note and thank the new guys who talked to the spectators at great length and did a great job. Your hard work has earned us some new recruits and some better educated spectators! Keep it up!

We should absolutely make it a point to do this event each year.

Yours in Service
1st Sgt D. Coleman
138th PVI Co. B
Federal Volunteer Brigade

6-13-2011:   Camp Geiger AAR

To All,

I was happy with the turnout for our unit for this weekend; I think we were one of the best represented groups there. It is great to see that a little forecast of 50% rain didn't scare the majority of you away, like it did in other groups, and I think for those who came we had some of the best temperatures for reenacting. I kept hearing it around the camp, "Isn't it nice out." We also had a good group of people. I hope that Don's sons can join us in the future; they did a great job in the field and I was very impressed with them as people. Don you should be proud of yourself, your raised some nice children. Pete your friend was always open to a good conversation and I love the fact that he knows how to cook almost anything over a camp fire. Apple pie and Ice Cream, how creative is that!!??? We saw his nice legs on Saturday night too. He got the pleasure of experiencing how hard it is to sleep at a reenactment.

I really felt the weekend was a great balance between: What we are all there for reenacting and just hanging out to unwinding from a long month of hard work and letting loose. Friday night we had meeting where Andy gave us some useful information about some of the units from the area. What a great line for talking to spectators, "Did you know that one of the men from the area received the Medal of Honor?" Talking about spectators, I am impressed with how much our unit has opened up to talking to them and making all who pass by feel comfortable to come into camp and ask questions.. I feel this is one of the things that make our unit stick out in people’s minds and I think will help us recruit. Everyone was excellent with thinking of passing out our information. Gary, you are a natural sales man. You need to pass on your secret as to what you say to interest people in our group. Everyone was also very friendly to all that joined us on the field. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them joined us.

Personally, I feel we had some of the best well run battles I have seen in a long time. James you are getting better every event I see you lead us. You are great at giving us a heads up as to what is going to happen before they command it and using your sword to keep us in line. I can't believe how well you did with all of the new recruits and people joining from other units. You are also dong a great job at keeping everyone safe with aiming high and stepping up. One day I will feel comfortable stepping up on the right foot. One Day. I feel the battle was a great way to show how hard-core units and units like ours can easily complement each other. The hard-cores slept in the field, building up the trenches and graves. Yes, I said graves. They dug me a grave and carried me to it. I heard they also “sniper shot" and harassed each other throughout the event into the evening. One thing I noticed is how much better the field was, it was cleared out more and people stated their wasn't as much poison ivy as last year. It was great the hard-core's were there all dirty under their shebang’s fighting when the reinforcements came up to relieve them. Also, after the battle instead of having all the dead just stand up, they put up a white flag and had people from each unit come and bring back the wounded. This makes so much more sense to me though it may not work on a large field like Cedar Creek. I think everyone will agree the guy who walked back looking all dazed and confused was a sight to see. I think our unit took some good hits too and I liked how people actually stayed still if they were supposed to be dead. Dustin crawled up to the enemy breast works on Sunday and was begging for water only to have the order called for him to be shot. He apparently took a very authentic head shot and flew back so well that many of the confederates were shouting “Great Hit” and “Did you see that hit that Yank just took”. Good Job Dustin!

Saturday, James made sure we didn't miss any potential recruits with his spy glass. Saturday night came with a welcome Guest. Who is that in the distance bringing an instant cocktail hour? Sami! He had veggie and fruit trays with a nice baby keg of good beer. Needless to say, all were happy. Robin and Kent brought a cake to celebrate Andy's birthday with crickets and all. The night was complete when we all gathered around for poker on two bales of hay with a blanket. We introduced a lot of new people to gambling and the joy of just sitting around and talking in between hands. Everyone was happy until an unexpected shark entered the game and started winning all the hands, Garrett! Then even though he was forced to go to bed he ended the night on a good note by putting it all in and winning. James was distraught by the fact that whenever he thought he had a good hand, Garrett would magically win. I guess teaching him the evils of gambling didn't work. It worked on Lyndsey, she only won one hand. So Garrett now goes by the name of “The Kid”.

Sunday started with us singing Happy Birthday to Garrett as his birthday is tomorrow. This was followed by Kent and Robin making sure we had enough sugar (Donuts) and caffeine to last the day. Thank-you. I don't think I would have made it to the battle or home.

Throughout the weekend Dustin became a little worried when I and Lyndsey were taking care of a baby most of the weekend to give the mom a break; you would think the thing was contagious. I personally liked Dustin’s reaction when I had it sneak up from behind and peek around his head. Dustin almost fell out of his chair he was so surprised. We all had a good laugh. It seems all went well except for my chair collapsing three times. You would think we would have stopped sitting in it. I never said we were smart.

I hope everyone had a good time. I personally was exhausted and stressed when I got there from staying up until 11:00 for two weeks straight with Garrett for exams. But strangely felt rested and relaxed when I left the event. I hope the weekend did the same for others. Well, I guess that's it. I am sure I forgot some things, but thanks to everyone for a GREAT weekend!

Private Terri Coleman
138th PVI Co. B
Federal Volunteer Brigade

4-2-2011:   Company Drill

I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone who made this past weekends’ drill. It went very well and it was good to knock off some rust. I also wanted to thank Gary Schwartz for getting us the Rosehill location. Speaking of Gary, he has had 138th PA business cards made up and if you didn’t get any, see Gary, Captain Aronhalt or myself and get some. We want everyone to have at least 10 – 20 cards on them to give to people you talk to during the course of the season. The cards look great and it’s a step further in making us look like a well run professional organization that will attract new members.

I also wanted to quickly retouch on a few items we discussed during drill. We want constructive interaction with spectators every chance we get. Thus we will have some form of a “Cheat sheet” made up for each event that quickly describes whatever battle or concept we are doing along with a few facts about our units history. Finally this sheet will include a brief concept of what to talk to spectators about or things to show them. For example, tell them 2 soldiers shared a dog tent and 4 would use an A frame if they even had it or “yea the wool is hot, but actually back then it was made from better material and breathed better” and so on. Certainly not everyone is a salesman or comfortable talking to spectators, but we want educated answers and for us not to treat them like they are bugs to be avoided. Every spectator is a potential recruit plus our goal as reenactors is to leave them with a better understanding of our Nations’ history that they won’t get anywhere else. If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know or better yet, do what I was trained to do when I worked at Disney World “I don’t know but I will find someone who does.”

Major Cobb taught us at the NCO/Officer school a few weeks back that the Regiment will be actively seeking input into what makes us better reenactors, what makes for better events, and what expectations do we have. We want that on the company level as well. Do not hesitate to approach us after a battle or event with any questions or ideas you may have. Always be thinking to yourself, what can make this a better experience for me, my family, friends whoever. Why am I doing this and how can it be better?

This is going to be a great 150th anniversary kick off year and we have lots already in the works to make it memorable. I greatly look forward to seeing each of you in the field soon.

Your Obedient Servant
1st Sgt D. Coleman
138th PA Co. B
Federal Volunteer Brigade

3-31-2011:  138th to Arms! "On to Richmond!" Three River Park - Judson Ave. Woodbury, CT.

After two successful events in 2007 & 2009, Second Connecticut will once again host our reenactment event on August 13-14th, 2011, in historic Woodbury CT. Event site is conveniently located in Western Connecticut and is easily accessible via Exit 15 on I-84. We expect over 600 reenactors from greater New England and points south.

The event itself will be held on the 75+ acres of beautiful Three Rivers Park. This reenactment will have several features not usually found at events including trenches and several unique and elaborate battle scenarios. Additionally, many of the premier sutlers will be on site. Ample and convenient reenactor parking will be available as well. Food vendor will be on site.

The camp layout will be garrison style with formal company streets and all of the amenities like wood, water and hay (for horses). We encourage all units to attend, as this is an event that will accommodate all levels of reenacting. Civilians, cadets, special impressions, etc., are all welcomed. The civilian town of Unity will be on site. Along with formal Union and Confederate camps, there is also limited space for those who wish to go campaign style.

Both the town of Woodbury and the Second Connecticut contributed considerable resources so as to ensure that this event will be a first-rate event. Along with the 150TH Anniversary cycle upon us, we expect a very high spectator attendance. This will also provide an excellent opportunity for CT based units to recruit new members. Since this is one of the few Civil War reenactments in CT this year, we encourage all of our reenacting brothers (and sisters) to take advantage of this unique event.

For more information please visit the event website:
Early registration by May 31st is $5, after May 31st to July 25th is $10, walk on are $15 This is a nice laid back event and we can go campaign style if we want.

Thank you and regards,
Corporal David Stepeck
138th PVI Co. B