Fort Monroe Living History and Encampment

12 June 2016

Mon Capitan,

I am proud to report that another great event is now under the 2nd US Cavalry, Co A’s belt for 2016.  We had a very small showing, but it was a pleasant, albeit hot, weekend.  Trooper Riggleman, Trooper Thomas, a guest appearance from Trooper Rivas, LTC Mize (Narrator) and myself rounded out the unit.  Vehicle breakdowns, schedule conflicts, and medical conditions dropped our numbers down to only four horses.  In addition, horse issues prevented Trooper Riggleman from riding in our three demonstrations on Saturday. However we were plussed up on the ground by Trooper Brandon, a cross dress cavalryman from the 14th VA, who came with Trooper Rivas. We did two demonstrations on Sunday and were gone before the afternoon thunderstorms.

Our camp was about a mile from the fort and demonstration field.  Riding through the old fort entrance was a neat experience, as we proceeded over a moat and through the wall.  The fort itself is like a pristine park, with plenty of shade provided by 100+ year old oak trees and lots of green grass.  Our demonstrations were tight (with only three/four horses it had to be). LTC Mize showed his metal by narrating all our demos in the intense Virginia heat.  He was, of course, assisted by the lovely ladies of Miss Megan and Mrs Ginny.  Everyone we talked to loved our demonstrations and the fact that we were there.

Even though we had a very small group and the heat was a bit excessive (90+°F), we had a great time.  The Park Service did an outstanding job preparing the camp for us with water, hay, firewood, a port-a-john, and shade for the horses. My hats off to Ranger Aaron Firth (the only Park Ranger at the Fort) for his willingness to work with us and allow horses back in Fort Monroe after 50 years.

I want to thank everyone who came to this event and supported the Old Second.  All helped out and pulled their weight including team Mize who pitched in at camp and in the demos. From setting up and tearing down to picket watch and poop patrol, I really appreciated the help! Despite some earlier concern, manure was not an issue and one 20 minute daily sweep of the fort was all that was required to keep the lawn clean for visitors.

The best way to describe last weekend at Fort Monroe: Great friends, good humor, good ground and a love for horses and history!

I have the honor to be your most obedient servant!

Lieutenant Mark Sopko
2nd US Cavalry, Co A/9th VA Cavalry, Co D

Yorktown Living History After Action Report


Mon Capitan,

I have the honor to report another successful event. 29 April - 1 May the Second US Cavalry, Company A positioned itself at Yorktown Virginia and provided provost guard and reconnaissance support to General McClellan on his campaign to defeat the rebellion. Even with the threat of heavy rains, our small contingent stayed dry until the very end. 

Yours truly arrived Friday to set up camp and had a fire, picket line, water, and hay ready for the late arrivals.  Corporal Harry, Trooper Amy, New Recruit Trooper Tony and Amy’s Mom Pattie arrived late Friday evening. 

The weather held off as we conducted our usual, and busy Living History weekend at Yorktown.  Trooper Dave, Mike, Brad and Marci arrived on Saturday morning rounding out our line to 7 horses.  In addition, we had narrative support from the lovely Miss Megan (with assistance from her gracious mother, Mrs. Ginny). Ms. Jan blessed our camp with her excellent baked goods, ensuring we would not go hungry (or lose any weight). The wounded Trooper Will made a guest appearance bringing with him, Trooper Mike and his father all the way from Atlanta. Our new recruit, Tony, was a great help in camp, ran at the heads, and went on the trail ride.

We had a surprising number of spectators, even though this event was held early and not on a holiday as years past.  That may have been due to a Motorcycle Poker Run having a station in the Yorktown Parking lot. Weapons inspection, drill, two demos (excellently lead by Corporal Harry), running at the heads, a trail ride and the BBQ dinner that evening made for a busy and productive Saturday. 

The weather on Sunday was more ominous, and a warning of imminent thunderstorms kept all in camp ready to evacuate.  With reduced numbers (Corporal Harry, Troopers Mike, Dave, Amy and I) the first demonstration went well. We made a rain call before the second demonstration and loaded our trailers just as the heavens opened up.  All made it safety back to their home stations.

We stayed safe and had a pleasant weekend!

I have the honor to be your most humble servant,



Lieutenant Mark Sopko

Second US Cavalry, Company A


Sailor's Creek After Action Report

"Never a Complaint", Don stivers



The Don Stivers print "Never a Complaint," which depicts the "Old Second" on campaign during the Mormon Expedition, does a pretty good job of capturing the weather at Sailor's Creek this year and the last.  That said, it was an honor to camp and ride on the actual field of battle and a pleasure to do so with a group of uncomplaining and helpful troopers.  Proximity in time to the Namozine Church event and cold, windy weather conspired to limit our numbers to five mounted and one dismount on the field.  We were reinforced by two narrators and a Bureau of Military Information specialist, who did their best to make us look like a full company.  While our numbers were a little disappointing the energy of those that came out made up for it and the spectators who braved the gale force winds appreciated our demonstration.  After the demonstration we rode the battlefield and toured the newly restored Hillsman House, which served as a Union Officers' hospital after the battle.  We also toured the new museum at the Visitor's Center, which has an excellent depiction of the Army of Northern Virginia's movements in its last weeks.  As a bonus a van full of blind guests arrived just as we finished the ride and they had an opportunity to experience the horses, tack, and weaponry up close and personal.

Everyone is mentioned in dispatches this time around since our numbers were few.  Corporal Harry drove all the way from the frontier and ably led the drill on Saturday because we didn't have the size to warrant an officer.  Lt. Sopko provided his usual humor and positive waves to what could have been a wretched day if we had let it.  Trooper Brad Thomas did a superb job with logistics and camp selection: it was a great location and everything went smoothly with the park officials due to his hard work.  Huzzah!  Trooper Sam Womack was his usual helpful self and kept things in order in camp and on the picket line.  As our resident authentic trooper owing to his size and age he got to exercise his riding skills when Coco went "Red" and he handled it with the skill and patience that are becoming his hallmarks.  Bravo.  Our dismount, Trooper Tony Blanco, ably provided a third of our dismounted firepower and was a huge help in camp and on the horse line.  Dave Mize and Mike Riggleman provided their expertise in narrating the demonstration and patiently teaching the finer points of Sharp's Carbine maintenance.  Lastly, Chappie took some excellent photos and assisted with spectators in and around camp.  Good Bureau of Military Information official that he is, he also reconned the camp area a day early sent a spot report to us that was timely and accurate.

In the spirit of the "third time being a charm," I think Sailor's Creek deserves some consideration as a larger scale event for the unit next year.  The ground is excellent and the camp area comfortable (when it isn't snowing or blowing tents down).  It offers space for drill and is on the ground of a pivotal battle, so it would be a good place for mounted training in addition to demonstrations.  As the event is new to both the organizers and participants I expect some evolution in how it works and there is some talk of a tactical being added to the mix.

Our next events are Yorktown and the fist Morgan's Raid, both of which occur the last weekend in April.  I hope to see you on the field in the near future.

Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant,
Scott E. Womack
Captain, Commanding
2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A/9th Virginia Company D

The Battle of Namozine After Action Report

Scott E. Womack
Captain, Commanding
2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A/9th Virginia Cavalry Company D
9 April 2016


Our first event of the year is complete and it was a great success in spite of everything Mother Nature could throw at us.  Ten stalwarts of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A and two reinforcements from the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry braved the early spring weather and an enemy with intimate knowledge of the ground just as the original troopers did in 1865, with similar results.  The Saturday morning tactical, which took place in rainy but warm weather, consisted of a running fight from the Appomattox River to Namozine Church.  When I say "running fight" I mean it in a literal sense for much of it.  Although we were prepared for all kinds of trickery the fighting was pretty direct, which played to our strengths: speed, aggressiveness, and discipline.

The battles on Saturday and Sunday were recreations of the actual battle and both sides stayed on script, except for Red and I who decided to take a tour of the field at a gallop on Sunday at the opening charge.  As in the original battle the Federal Cavalry arrogantly charged a line of dismounted cavalry and was repulsed.  After this we dismounted and a lengthy dismounted battle ensued, with the horses safely screened behind a tree line.  At the end of the dismounted fight we remounted and engaged in a series of charges and counter charges with sabers.  The battle ended with a wheeling flank attack on the again dismounted Confederates, who were either killed or captured.

Did I mention weather?  After the rain we had some warm and humid weather to get nice and sweaty Saturday afternoon, followed by gale force winds and temperatures that fell into the 30'sF that night.  Lieutenant Sopko discovered that canvas will, indeed, tear in high winds and his tent was a victim of the storm.  Colt Romberger, one of our 17th Pennsylvania volunteers, discovered that tents are warmer when they blow down and serve as additional blankets.

Mentioned in dispatches are Hank Happy, who kept us well fed as always and is one of the most selfless people I know.  Also Corporal Harry, who devised a more efficient and effective way to collect meal fees for the cook.  Chaplain Charlie (not to be confused with Charlie Chaplin) stepped up to the plate to lead a moving church service in the old Namozine Church and Trooper Tony helped out by leading the singing with me.  Trooper Sam quietly and efficiently did all the work that Trooper Rebecca normally handles while I am out playing officer, which is to say managing our horses, weapons, and camp gear.  Huzzah to you all.

Truly, though, you are all mentioned in dispatches because the event was full of positive waves and free of negativity.  Everyone was helpful in keeping the camp going and offering the right humor at the right time.  Several Confederates came over to our fire  and stayed much longer than usual because it was a very convivial atmosphere.  This was a great way to start the season and I look forward to more opportunities this year.

Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant,
Scott E. Womack
Captain, Commanding
2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A/9th Virginia Cavalry Company D