Yorktown Living History After Action Review, 13-14 April 2019

Dragoons and Friends of Dragoons,

Thanks to the outstanding efforts of four mounted and five dismounted troopers the living history event at Yorktown Battlefield National Park was a success, with an interesting twist.

Saturday began and ended with rain, but Providence smiled on us and we were able to complete two demonstrations and welcome a steady stream of visitors to camp. Due to the low participation by mounted troopers I called an "audible" and we changed up our demonstration from the standard all-Federal drill to a "compare and contrast" event with two of us riding as the 9th VA Co D and two as 2nd U.S. Co A. Our able narrators, Dave Mize and Mike Riggleman, adapted their presentations to the new situation with aplomb and both the crowd and Park Rangers appeared pleased with the results.

Did I mention rain? Sunday was supposed to be clear but no plan survives contact with reality and rain was again part of the scenario. Again, our demonstrations occurred more or less on time and we got two of them in that day as well, with plenty of visitors in camp.

Mentioned in dispatches are everyone who came out to support this event: Trooper Sopko, for putting it all together and keeping the positive waves going. Trooper Crispin, for consistently caring for our mounts and setting the standard for horsemanship. Trooper Beames, for coming out on short notice to round out our impression to a mighty four. Troopers Dave Mize and Mike Riggleman for staying alert to constant changes and adapting their narrations to the situation. Troopers Will Drewry and Dave and Mike Langston for providing some authentic hardware and insightful commentary on weaponry of the era. Though our numbers were few the energy and attention of these made the event a success.  Huzzah!

As with Fort Monroe and the unplanned bonfire, this event provided a bit of excitement thanks to Dutch, who tried to desert the Cavalry and join the Coast Guard. After a relaxing evening discussing everything BUT contemporary politics we retired a bit after midnight.  With only three troopers remaining in camp overnight a picket watch was not in the cards. I was awakened a half hour later by Junior, Rebecca's mount for the weekend, expressing his displeasure at something. Since this is something he does early and often I grumbled at him but got up to check it out anyway, only to discover that there were now but two horses on the line. Dutch somehow got off his lead and disappeared.  I alerted Trooper Sopko and a search of the immediate area revealed...no Dutch. At this point a 911 call was in order, and the dispatcher immediately noted that the U.S. Coast Guard Station, approximately two miles from our camp, had reported a horse running through the gate recently. Needless to say, Dutch was the culprit and Trooper Sopko was able to return him to his post by about 2:00 AM. I would pay money to have seen the expression on the gate guard's face as a horse raced past...

Lesson learned? Sometimes the best laid plans of the Trooper go awry with horses. Dutch was properly secured with a functional lead on a proper picket line. The picket watch system works when enough troopers are on duty to keep eyes on the line, although in this situation, it might have been a case of just watching hooves fade into the darkness. 

As a good reminder, the safety SOP notes that anyone with a horse in camp needs to have at least one member of his or her party or a designated representative near the picket line to deal with issues like this. If you are staying away from the picket line please remember to find someone staying in camp to act as your agent or plan on staying near the line yourself so you can help react to predicaments like this.

So, with this much excitement in two out of three events so far why not come out and join the fun?

Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant,

Scott E. Womack

Captain, Commanding

2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A/9th Virginia Cavalry Company D

Fort Monroe Living History After Action Report 30-31 March 2019


The first event of the 2019 campaign season is history and it did not disappoint. The weather on Saturday was fine, if a little windy (more about that later) but the organizers cancelled Sunday's demonstrations due to an approaching storm front. We spent about an hour and a half on Saturday morning doing drill and then performed two demonstrations that afternoon. We had plenty of time to ride around the fort, both inside the historic part and on the grounds outside. If I say so myself, the drill looked really sharp and I appreciate everyone's ability to manage their mounts and look soldierly in the saddle.

Lessons learned. No plan survives contact with reality and two safely issues raised their heads at this event, not related to horses if you can believe it. Here they are:

Fire safety: The unit Safety SOP states: "Campfires will be supervised at all times or extinguished. A bucket of water will be available near the fire." Unfortunately one of our Troopers, who shall remain nameless in writing but whose name will certainly come up around the campfire conversations to come, assumed that "supervised" meant "slept next to" and the wind combined with a well built blaze started a small fire. Luckily, quick thinking by Corporal Thomas stopped the conflagration before there was any damage or injuries. The takeaway is that "supervised" means "awake and tending the fire." I added a clause to the effect that the last person awake on nights we do not have picket watch must extinguish the fire.

Carbine misfires: Yours truly was called out for opening my breach too quickly after the inevitable Sharp's misfire. At NPS events the wait time is 10 seconds, so I will add verbiage to that effect on Captain's Orders for NPS events. I'll consult the Sharp's oracles about whether nor not this should be standard practice in any event and update you as needed.

Mentioned in dispatches: Everyone really pulled their weight at this event and I really appreciate it. Here are some standouts:

-Corporal Thomas for saving the night and reacting to the fire situation in a calm, collected manner. So much so that I didn't even wake up.

-Trooper Sopko for putting the whole thing together and coordinating the thousand details that make an event successful so I can take credit for it all.

-Trooper Amos Moloney and Trooper Rebecca Crispin for getting their partners, Tilly and Finnegan, back into the hobby in good form.

-Trooper Will Drewry for bringing eggs, friendship bread, and for serving as Camp Provost.

-Trooper Joe "LT2B" (Lieutenant To Be) Womack for entertaining the crowds and having a good sense of humor.

-Jan Chayt for sending us tasty friendship bread that added to our breakfast.

-Trooper Dave Mize for his expert and entertaining narration.

-Trooper Mike Riggleman for serving as a dismounted demonstrator, horse holder, and armorer.

-Corporal Harry Moloney and Trooper Mike Scholl for their steady performance and excellent horsemanship.

Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant,

Scott E. Womack

Captain, Commanding

2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A/9th Virginia Cavalry Company D