Archive for August 3rd, 2008

03
Aug
08

Boscobel Civil War Reenactment: Artillery

During the American Civil War artillery fire accounted for about eighty percent of all casualties on the battlefield.  Massed infantry formations were no match for grapeshot rounds that amounted to shotgun like blasts of golf ball sized shot.  In addition to grapeshot, shells that exploded in the air or bounced along the ground were also used.

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Here artillerymen load in preparation for a shot.

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While asking around about these replica cannons I learned that they do work, and that they cost about fifty thousand dollars each.

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Artillery soldiers distinguished themselves from infantry and cavalry with red shirts, and red piping on their hats and uniforms.

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As I said, these cannons do work.

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Of course after seeing all the cannons in this battery fire, it is easier to understand the meaning of the “fog of war” which hampers movement and understanding of your enemies whereabouts during a battle.

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03
Aug
08

Boscobel Civil War Reenactment: Cavalry

In 1861 my ancestor Henry Gleason answered President Lincoln’s first call and volunteered for the ninety day militia as part of the 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.  The ninety days would be up before the unit could be brought together, shipped east and fight.  After the First Battle of Bull Run, Union leadership realized the war might take longer than ninety days.  The 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry became regular army with more volunteers called.  My great-great-great grandfather Salem Gleason joined his brother in the newly named 4th Wisconsin Infantry. 

The 4th Wisconsin shipped east by rail to join the Army of the Potomac, but was later transferred to Ben Butler’s command as part of the invasion of New Orleans.  The 4th Wisconsin embarked from Baltimore, Maryland aboard the USS Constitution and set sail for New Orleans.  In an abortive attempt to take Vicksburg in 1862 the 4th Wisconsin distinguished itself in a rear guard action, allowing the rest of the army to safely return to New Orleans.  Because of that action the 4th Wisconsin was given horses and their designation was changed to 4th Wisconsin Mounted Infantry.

Later in 1863, after having gone up against Bedford Forest twice and stopping him twice, the 4th Wisconsin Mounted infantry was officially recognized as the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry.  Late in 1864, while on a scouting mission, Captain Henry Gleason was shot and wounded by a rebel sharpshooter.  Henry survived the wounds and seemed on the road to recovery until about a month after the war ended when Henry contacted dysentery and died in a hospital near Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he is buried.  His brother Salem survived the war and moved into Wisconsin where he married and later pioneered the town of Gleason, Wisconsin.

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The cavalry horses here are part of the reenactment at Boscobel.  They belong to the 8th Illinois Cavalry.

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This Cavalryman’s favorite weapon would be the Colt 44 caliber.

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A saber was also included.

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As well as a Sharpes or Spencer carbine.

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The troopers of the 8th Illinois gladly discussed the importance and history of cavalry in the Civil War, making the tour of their camp interesting and informative.

03
Aug
08

Boscobel Civil War Reenactment: Battle of Malvern Hill

Wisconsin sent roughly 90,000 soldiers to fight in the American Civil War — the costliest war in American History.  Over 600,000 soldiers died in that war.  My fascination with the American Civil War has been lifelong and this past weekend I witnessed a reenactment of a Civil War battle in Boscobel, Wisconsin.  The reenactment of the Battle of Malvern Hill took about an hour.  Before the battle we toured the camp and talked with the soldiers, officers, and doctors who put on a well choreographed show.

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I’m working on identifying the types of artillery used, but these are functioning replicas of Civil War cannons.

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These Civil War enthusiasts have setup their camp using gear authentic to the era.

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The tents for these camps covered the grounds at Boscobel’s Kronshage Park.

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You never know who will step off the pages of history.  Maybe even Robert E Lee himself,

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and the Army of Northern Virginia.

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At the Battle of Malvern Hill, well positioned Union Artillery covered McClellan’s withdrawal during the Peninsular Campaign of 1862. 

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McClellan had been hoodwinked into thinking he was being attacked by a much larger force and the truth was he greatly outnumbered the Confederate forces in the area.  One good solid push may have gained a Union victory, but McClellan lost his nerve and withdrew.

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Tomorrow there will be scenes from the reenactment.




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