Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gibson Ranch After Action Report

Quick Note:
I do Civil War Reenacting. (if you don't know what that is, shoot me an email at I dress as a male cannonner "Red" with the 3rd US Mounted Artillery. The following is the "After Action Report" I wrote for the club newsletter. For more information, visit

Gibson After Action Report

After a relaxing leave, I received a call to arms paired with a strong suggestion that I appear in light of the numbers attending. I set out for the rendezvous, encountering Madame A also on trek for the front having heard rumors of her son being sighted in that area. Madame's carriage being faster than my feet, I hitched a ride. Twas almost a pain in my heart and a tear in my eye to see all my fellow comrades in arms after such a long absence--reunited at last! One I did not recognize was the new Cookie, though there are elements of familiarity with that face...with the food. It will come to me in time, I am sure. After all, as one in the Secret Fraternity of Clerkhood, information is MY bread and butter.
The Colonel, being an officer with a head high above the clouds, no doubt did not notice that the battle for the green hills of Gibson Valley took place under a sweltering sun. We below did our best to provide subtle hints, such as perspiring copiously, panting loudly, and falling stricken to the ground before rounds even left gun chambers. I confess, the only reason our gun seemed to be safe was the ever-present haze of sulphurous canon smoke that hung over our knoll. Some chose to attribute this to First Sgt. F's generous firing drill; others to the serendipity of having Pvt. M. "Reverend" W. on our crew, though that could also be attributed to the crafty First Sergeant. All this soldier knows is that there was shade.

The Gray Cavalry saw a gun that apPEARED to be alone and defenseless. This was, however a cunning trap set by our dashing, cool-headed commander (he was parked under the leafiest tree on the north bank of the river). Charging down the hill, pistol blasting, he shamed the Lieutenant into bravery as well. The Lieutenant always did have a rather high self preservation streak that needs to be removed. The Cavalry, perhaps with the misguided notion that the raging artillery team would be close behind, kicked up their heels and scurried back across the river. Their mounts then followed.

Our valour in the face of the insurgents and the heat must have touched a heart string somewhere, for a breeze struck up during our much-earned siesta. Upon returning to the gun, we were joined by a new cannoneer. Having not run the transfer paperwork myself, I was naturally curious as to his identity. I put all my natural subtlety as clerk in to action. "Who are you, where have you come from, and in God's name why are you HERE?" I received a completely unsolicited "Bug off, stripey". This did not fill me with joy and goodwill. Many of you will remember a certain Cpl. F that joined Our Lord some years back, leaving the lovely Widow F. Then, a brother appeared from nowhere to take his place not only in her affections, but in the saddle as well. This Cpl has been absent all while a similar-visaged man has been sauntering around in Lieutenant bars. And now another brother F appearing as a cannoneer? I submit that something officially fishy is taking place; therefore, I will investigate with all the resources at my disposal and inform the commandment of my findings. That said, I do feel the Corporal has a firm understanding now of the proper procedure with which to present rounds to be loaded. Taking such a duty so lightly as to include skipping is not to be tolerated.

We returned from a successful skirmish to find Pvt R in a flurry of food. I found much to my dismay that the 3rd US Artillery, Schnieder's Battery was to host a diplomatic envoy from our South-most counterparts, James River Artillery. And they were bringing their womenfolk with them. No half-measures there! Pvt. Mel volunteered to fetch the envoy in the ambulance, and with our only other option the limber and cassion, we agreed. We hoped the obvious signals would be correctly misinterpreted. A well-placed bribe lured the Fort Point Garrison Brass Band to our camp, who proceeded to serenade the southern sailors. Such was the call of the sirens, that our very own unit was drawn to listen. Pvt.s T and L held out long enough to bring wash water, but then they too were lost.
Much like any glimpse of something Divine, details of the evening are hazy, save two key points. I'm not sure where Pvt R came by those six apple pies, but as long as they keep coming, I don't think anyone cares. The company was so pleasant, the conversation so delectable that the future course of the war does not concern me as much as whether such a gathering can be had again.

Morning brought to the forefront such important issues as: would there be enough eggs? (there would) who shot Big Guy? (a horse of the black ones) and was the state of the Captain's soul such that it would behoove him to attend Church Call? (it was, so it would) I also realized at this time that, somewhat to my clerk-y surprise, there was no one left to hunt down for ration money. I would like to send my gratitude to all those attending for stepping up to the plate and not making me chase you in that heat.

Captain G conspired with First Sergeant F to provide a demonstration of our military prowess by fielding a gun with full crew and shooting at nothing. After a consultation between corporals past, present, and possibly future, Cpl A angled the gun towards some shifty looking barn-like structures in the far distance. They weren't moving at the moment, but hell, have we ever taken chances? Our first shot was a sighting shot. We decided this after me made it. We shifted left, then fired again...or rather tried to. We tried to fire roughly 4 more times. By the time our primer-impaired cannon actually went off, we were of the opinion that distant metal barns held no threat, as they hadn't moved at all from our barrage.

We were told that Sunday was cooler. They say if you tell anybody something often enough they will believe it, and Command was certainly doing its damnedest to test that theory. Being a student of human nature myself, I don't entirely agree with the control group they used, but it did get the rest of the soldiers semi mobile. This was just dandy because it gave the Rebels something to shoot at other than myself--a mobile shield against pesky confederate lead. This appeared to be working rather well....until halfway through the first skirmish. Upon the clear front, I swept my eyes around the knoll, and spied movement where there shouldn't be. After discharging, I made pointing motions, and a sound similar to "ooga ooga! the enemy!!" Ignored by the rest of the crew, I concentrated my efforts on Cpl. F, who heard the certain girlish tone to my voice when I become frantic. After alerting command, the Captain again plunged down the hill into the melee. Even with no trusty Lieutenant to guard his back this time, he emerged victorious and unscathed...the gun was saved!!

I end my report of the Battles of Gibson Ranch, Gibson River, and Gibson Hills with a hearty Hoorah!! No casualties were taken from the elite 3rd--either from enemy fire, the heat, or friendly fire. Our men -- skilled. Our Commander -- fearless. Our horses -- fast, and our our food -- hearty! I look forward to our next engagement and hope to see many more uniforms, with strong soldiers to fill them.

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