Submitted by Scott E. Womack, Captain, Commanding 2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A/9th Virginia Cavalry Company D
September 23, 2015
The First Battle of Waynesboro is over and in spite of overwhelming odds and some horse issues it was a great success. My thanks to the twelve mounted troopers and one civilian who came out to support a new event that the organizer assures me will remain cavalry-centric in future years. With only one battle per day we had time for some battle drills and individual trooper skills, making it a combined mounted training/battle reenactment event. Look for a discussion of this event at our Winter Meeting to gauge the unit's interest in our continued involvement in it and ways to improve it.
Saturday brought us scattered showers but these not impede our drill or the battle. We did lose two troopers to horse issues, so we entered the battle with ten mounted and one cannon in support. Our enemy, ably commanded by Bill Scott, consisted of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry, 4th Virginia Cavalry, 14th Virginia Cavalry, 49th Virginia Infantry, and two cannon. We had them right where we wanted them with the odds at about 10:80. As in the actual battle the Union cavalry, which included elements of the Old Second, was caught off guard and forced to fight a retrograde action, starting dismounted then remounting for a pistol skirmish and finishing with a saber melee. The arrival of a body of Confederate Infantry on our flank signaled it was time to skedaddle (then as now).
Sunday's weather was much improved, enabling us to run at heads and go over jumps after church call. That afternoon's battle was a reprise of Saturday's, as having ten of us chase eighty Confederates off the field would have stretched even my imagination. One additional feature was our very own Lieutenant Sopko's reenactment of the event for which Lieutenant George N. Bliss of the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry was awarded the Medal of Honor. Seeing an opportunity to blunt the Confederate's advance, Lieutenant Bliss gathered a group of troopers and led a charge on the enemy line. About halfway through the charge the troopers following the intrepid Lieutenant decided that discretion was the better part of valor and halted, calling out to their fearless leader to do the same. Whether out of rashness or because he was hard of hearing, Lieutenant Bliss charged the Confederates alone and had his horse shot out from under him. He was captured, finished the war in Libby Prison, and was awarded the Medal of Honor thirty years after the war.
Logistics for the event went smoothly for the most part, with ample food, water, shade, and conveniently located latrines. The company street was correct and the camp FARB-free during visiting hours. Hay was a bit short thanks to the unexpected arrival of a unit that did not pre-register, but our troopers brought enough to make up the difference for our mounts and the organizer acquired more on Sunday.
Conspicuously absent was Trooper Joe Womack, who repeatedly failed to respond to his Commander's calls of “Joe!” whenever some tedious, difficult, or nasty task was at hand. The fact that he is a “Rat” at the Virginia Military Institute and spends his days doing tedious, difficult, and nasty tasks in no way excuses him.
Mentioned in dispatches is Trooper Brianna Chazin, who bravely worked with a recalcitrant mount until it became obvious it wasn't going to happen this weekend. Huzzah, Brianna! Also each and every trooper in the company who kept things positive and pitched in to help with cooking and cleaning duties. Thanks to the above the event was a success.
Lastly and most importantly, please keep Charlie and Jeannie Doutt in your thoughts and prayers. Jeannie is having some significant health issues and they both need all the support we can muster.
I look forward to our next opportunity to ride at Fort Branch.
Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant
Scott E. Womack
2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A/9th Virginia Cavalry Company D
-Horses, like people, can just have bad days. The difference is they can't tell you about it in words but can and will "act out."
-Always bring spare hay and draw the entire weekend's hay ration upon arrival at an event.
-Numbers matter, but attitude, discipline, and speed of execution make them matter less.
-Hitting an apple with a saber is harder than it looks.