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