Artillery is in a man’s blood.
As a young man I served my nation in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. My military occupational specialty was 0811, basic artilleryman. We were also called gun-bunnies and other nicknames. As an 0811 I also trained to drive ammunition. Each howitzer has a truck and trailer following it. The bed and trailer are full of artillery shells and powder to propel those rounds down range to perforate our enemies in a very violent and decisive way. If you haven’t 6×6’ed with a couple of tons of artillery shells bouncing around in the bed of your truck, you are missing out.
There is a famous quote attributed to Fredrick the Great…
“Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl.”
I also like the quote by Marine General “Mad Dog” Mattis. Armies all over the world understand how artillery changes the battle. This quote was given to the Iraqi tribal leadership…
No more needs to be said about that.
So when given the opportunity to participate with the artillery, I was all in.
The comradery and friendship of reenacting is only enhanced by the fun of bringing a little piece of history to the spectators. Call it very elaborate theater, call it extreme hobbying, call it what you like, its fun.
That’s me with my hand up.
Once the artillery pieces are placed in the field someone has to keep an eye on the piece, both for safety and to keep kids from climbing on these very expensive implements. The gents of Hopkins Battery use this time to picnic on the battlefield. This prevents the task of “watching the piece” from becoming duty. It also takes care of eating lunch and watching the piece in a very period sort of way.
Me on the left. A great time.
After the picnic we then begin the action.
Our pieces in the field.
I understand some of our friends took pictures of us during the battle. If I get any others I’ll add them to another post.
That’s us there with David in red standing over our howitzer
We gave the public two of the best battles I’ve ever been to. At least an hour of fighting with maneuvering and loud bangs the audience comes to enjoy. I even fought hand-to-hand with Sam Brumley on Sunday. Sam is the son of one of the corpsman who served Fox Battery when I was in the Marines in the 1980s. He was also in the 10th Kansas Company A reenacting group and we all watched Sam grow up in the hobby.The script called for him to “win” our encounter. I told him he was not allowed to tell anyone that he “bested” a Marine on the United States Marine Corps’ Birthday. I think that only encouraged him more to post it on Facebook. He didn’t use any names so technically he only told half the story.This reenactment also had more “young ladies” than I’d seen in 10 years of reenacting. We felt it was imperative that young Blake go to the dance that evening. He was reluctant but we forced convinced him it was in his best interest. We coated him in Bay Rum (Art of Manliness), a period aftershave, and began his training in 19th century dance etiquette. He’s a sharp boy and I’m sure he will undoubtedly use these skills on the ladies of this century. We arrived a little early and staked out a good spot on the side of the dance floor. We had him scope out the ladies and he picked a few that fancied his tastes.
We told him how to cut in on another man with the confidence and how to be the first in line to dance with the ladies of his choice. When he was ready, a dance had just ended and we told him to “go!” and he shot out of the chair like a bullet from a gun. We had a great time coaching him and I know he had a fine time with the ladies.
Civil War musicians start their day an hour before the soldiers so Blake was mostly tuckered out after a dozen dances. As we left, we told him a total class move was to go to the lady the fancied him the most and thank her for a fine time. Just then the two that he fancied most walked up behind us. Blake turned and they stopped dead in their tracks with partial sentences hanging in the air. They composed themselves and passed us. Then Blake went to Emma, a blonde in a yellow dress, and offered his gentlemanly salutation and like a new man walked out of there with his head held high. I don’t think his feet were actually touching the ground from the confidence he exuded. Mission accomplished. It was a fine evening indeed.