View Full Version : September 22-24, 2006, “Retreat From Fisher's Hill”, Elmira, NY area

07-15-2006, 11:24 AM
September 22-24, 2006, “Retreat From Fisher's Hill”, Elmira, NY area – Sponsored by the Potomac Legion’s Living History Guild, the next “Death March” event will be held in late September 2006 and will again feature opposing forces skirmishing along six miles of anachronism-free countryside. This edition of the “Death March” will be held in the same area as the Death March VII (2005) just south of Elmira. The 2005 Death March was a small but exceedingly well-run event that was well worth broader support. This will probably never be a “large” (battalion on battalion) event, but 40 to 50 men per side is certainly reasonable and would make a fine time; registration is limited to 50 per side. Contact: Doug Oakes, oldsoldier51@yahoo.com.

Death March 2005 AAR: www.columbiarifles.org/AA...hmarch.htm

“Retreat from Fisher’s Hill”
South of Elmira, New York
September 22-24, 2006

WELLBSBURG, N.Y. – Sponsored by the Potomac Legion’s Living History Guild, including the CR’s own Doug Oakes, this year’s “Death March” will portray portions of the Confederate retreat from the battle of Fisher’s Hill (September 23, 1864) in the Shenandoah Valley. Specifically, the actions of the Rebel rear guard near Hawkinsville, Mount Jackson, and New Market on September 24, 1864 are the settings for this event. The 2005 “Death March” was a small but very enjoyable, extremely well-organized event.

This is the Columbia Rifles’ 2006 outing as Confederates; the Rebel portrayal will be the 45th VA. CRs can also attend as Federals, who will portray the 114th New York of the Nineteenth Corps. The Rebel contingent will be commanded by the CR’s own Dave Berndt, something2say@prodigy.net, while the Yanks will be commanded by Doug Oakes, oldsoldier51@yahoo.com.

This year’s march route is six miles long and traverses some moderately hilly terrain in the vicinity of Comfort Hill, south of Elmira, N.Y., mostly through woods and fields; most of the march route is free of anachronisms. Skirmishing between the Union and Confederate contingents will highlight the march. The PL’s 1st Maine Cavalry will have about six mounted Yank cavalrymen in attendance, which will make the Confederates’ march lively. The march will end on Saturday afternoon, and activities are planned for the first half of Sunday morning; the event will end late on Sunday morning.

Confederate uniform and kit requirements for CRs are:

• Jacket: Jeancloth Richmond Depot Type 2 (RD2) shell jacket, Tait jacket, North Carolina jacket, Confederate frock coat, or civilian sack coat.
• Trousers: Richmond Depot jeancloth or civilian is preferred; Federal kersey trousers are acceptable if it is all you have.
• Shirts: Civilian shirt or CS issue is strongly encouraged. NO Federal-issue domet flannel shirts.
• Hats & Caps: Either a quality civilian hat or Confederate forage cap.
• Canteen: Confederate tin drum canteen is preferred. Wood drum canteens and Federal canteens are acceptable. .
• Waistbelt: CS belt preferred (roller buckle belts preferred; Georgia frame, English imports, and fork-tongue are also good). US belt is acceptable if it’s all you have. No “CS” plates (these were rare in the ANV and were more common in the Army of Tennessee).
• Bayonet Scabbard: Sewn or two-rivet CS pattern is preferred.
• Haversack: White canvas haversack or U.S. tarred black.
• Shelter: Consider avoiding shelter altogether. If foul weather is forecast then bring a shelter half (even though shelter halves were not a CS-issue item). Some tent flys may be provided for the CS contingent if the weather will be poor.
• Baggage: Blanket rolls are preferred. CS knapsacks and English knapsacks are acceptable. Federal knapsacks are discouraged but can be used if you insist.
• Blankets: Civilian blankets, carpets, and CS issue blankets are preferred. US blankets are acceptable.
• Long Arms: Richmond, M1861, M1863, or M1864 Springfield, or 1853 Enfield rifle-musket is preferred

Federal uniform and kit requirements for CRs are:

• Jacket: Fatigue blouse is required.
• Shirts: Domet-flannel Federal-issue shirt is strongly encouraged. Civilian shirts and waistcoats are also acceptable.
• Caps: Forage cap is required.
• Canteen: Smoothside or bullseye body is acceptable; with a cotton strap.
• Waistbelt: US brass with brass keeper. Leather keepers are discouraged.
• Scabbard: Seven-rivet pattern is required.
• Shelter: Bring a shelter half. The camps will represent a late-war campaign bivouacs and will have minimal canvas.
• Baggage: Double-bag knapsacks are preferred; blanket rolls are also acceptable.
• Overcoats: Greatcoats are allowed but will add extra weight to your pack, although men of the Army of the Shenandoah did have overcoats by mid-September 1864.
• Long Arms: M1861, M1863, or M1864 Springfield rifle musket is preferred; 1853 Enfield is acceptable. No smoothbores.

Applicable to everyone regardless of Loyalty Affiliation:

• Miscellaneous: The event portrays veterans during a very rough, long campaign. Clothing should be dirty and worn. Bring all other appropriate items: gum blanket, haversack, mess furniture, &c.
• Ammunition: Bring 60 rounds of ammunition.
• Rations: The event hosts are issuing period-correct uncooked rations at this event—opportunities for cooking bacon in the dark exist. If you bring any rations at all—and it is preferred that you do not—make it just a couple of crackers or corn bread and coffee.

Registration closes when the spaces are full. Contact Doug Oakes for a registration form (available by e-mail) and other info. Registration includes issuance of uncooked rations. CR contact for this event is Doug Oakes at oldsoldier51@yahoo.com, (607) 734-0458

I'll be there again. This time the Federal infantry and Cavalry is chasing the Rebs.

07-15-2006, 11:25 AM
Historical Background:

The relative quiet of September 1, 1864 was broken by the movement of Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah which would ultimately put the US Nineteenth Corps on a collision course with Early’s Second Corps, Army of the Valley. Both the 114th New York Volunteer Infantry and the 45th Virginia Infantry had been badly bloodied prior to the retreat from Rude’s Hill. The 114th NY lost most heavily at the Battle of Opequon and by September 20th, and according to Beecher’s regimental history, the regiment was slightly larger than a company. The 45th fared no better, serving in a brigade whose senior officer was a captain.

Sep 22nd 1864

“The tattered army spent the night of the September 22 at Mount Jackson as Early tried to recover from his second defeat in three days. The Confederates had lost 1,200 men at Fisher’s Hill. On September 23 the 45th Virginia with Wharton’s Division was positioned on Rude’s Hill to protect the rear of Early’s column that was making its way toward New Market. Sheridan did not attack but instead began to shell the Southern position with his artillery. Wharton withdrew after the army had passed and joined Early just south of New Market. Early continued his retreat until he reached Brown’s Gap, where he was joined by troops of Kershaw’s Division. Sheridan camped near Harrisonburg and did not pursue Early any farther.”

45th Virginia Regimental History

Read the complete history at:


Sep 23rd 1864

“Thomas Devin’s’ cavalry brigade... was presently pursuing the enemy...Wright’s and Emory’s commands would trail the cavalry...Averall followed orders, finding Devin engaged with the gray infantry north of Mount Jackson. Neither cavalry officer pressed an attack on the two Confederate Divisions of Wharton & Ramseur. Eventually the skirmish trickled to a close, and the horsemen encamped on the ground. The Union infantry never reached Devin & Averell, halting for the night at Edinburg.”

Pg 132, From Winchester to Cedar Creek, Jeffery D Wert

...The butternuts spent the day around Mount Jackson, regrouping, waiting for stragglers to return. The Southerners were unquestionably demoralized –“I don’t see why they [the Yankees] don’t go home and leave us alone” Virginia gunner Robin Berkely confided to his diary –“That’s all we ask”—

Robin Berkely, Virginia Gunner

Pg 133, From Winchester to Cedar Creek, Jeffery D Wert

Sep 24th 1864

....was a day of movement. The Yankees departed from Edinburg at daybreak, the infantry of Wright and Emory striding along the side of the Pike as the artillery and wagons rumbled on it..... About 10 o’clock the Federals cleared Mount Jackson and halted before the Confederates on Rude’s Hill. Sheridan probed with a few artillery rounds, before sending Devin’s Brigade (Cavalry) along the river to turn the Southern right flank..... Blue bloused infantry skirmishers then filed across a bridge to engage the Rebels...Early ordered a withdrawal of the infantry...The odd numbered brigades ( Possibly meant to be regiments ?) in each division went first, retiring a mile up the turnpike and redeploying. Bugles then sounded and the even numbered Brigades (regiments?) relinquished their hold on Rude’s filing back to refashion their own two miles further south...every movement made slowly and deliberately and with perfect order....the gray coats retreated through New Market to tenth Legion Church...
“It was a grand sight...and I never expect to see the like again” Robin Berkely, Virginia Gunner

Page 132, From Winchester to Cedar Creek, Jeffery D Wert

....fording a deep rapid stream, called Mill Stream, ...swept across a wide field, entered a strip of timber and emerging on the other side, discovered the enemy was fleeing....It was the fortune of the 114th to be detailed as skirmishers during that afternoon’s chase and the men really enjoyed the sport. The gray backs made a halt behind every wall and fence, but our boys, as soon as they exchanged a few shots with them to learn their whereabouts, ran forward on a charge, upon which the Johnnies ludicrously scampered off for another line of defense...in such a manner the army traversed ten miles of undulating fenceless country... At sundown, the rebels made a determined stand behind a stone wall. As it was growing dark and the troops were extremely weary from marching and fighting... the pursuit ceased and the army rested....

Page 437, Record of the 114th Regiment NYSV, Dr. Harris A Beecher

The Federals dogged the Confederate rear....“This advance was one of the most magnificent sights of the war. From the tops of the hills we could see the enemy’s long lines of battle stretching across the valley and moving away from us. Passing over cleared fields or plowed field their lines could hardly be distinguished from the ground, save by the flashing of their musket barrels in the sun. Before their lines of battle were their skirmish lines, which were continually attacked by our cavalry skirmishers. Behind the Cavalry skirmish line was an infantry line of skirmishers, and when the first line was checked, the second immediately came up and the enemy moved on.”

Chaplain Alanson Haines, of the 15th New Jersey.
Page 134, From Winchester to Cedar Creek, Jeffery D Wert
Official Records


Vol 43, Part I, Official Records

US –

Pg 75 – Itinerary, 19th Corps, 1st Division, 1st Brigade
Pg 89-106 Itinerary Cavalry Corps
Pg 279-284 Emory, Corps Commander
Pg 287 Dwight, Division Commander
Pg 311 Beal, Brigade Commander
Pg 475-76 Devin, Cavalry Commander

CS –
Pg 1027-1028 Report, Jedediah Hotchkiss
Pg 574-575 Journal, Jedediah Hotchkiss
Pg 595-598 Inspector General Reports (Smith & Patton’s Brigades)

Additional Reading

Record of the 114th NYSV, Dr Harris H. Beecher. Norwich: J. F. Hubbard, Jr., 1866.

History of the One Hundred and Fourteenth Regiment New York State Volunteers. By Elias P. Pellet. Norwich, New York, 1866.

45th Virginia Infantry , J.L. Scott, Published: Lynchburg, Va. : H.E. Howard, c1989.

From Winchester to Cedar Creek, Jeffrey D. Wert
The Shenandoah Valley 1861-1865, The Destruction of the Granary of the Confederacy, Michael G. Mahon

Defend the Valley, A Shenandoah Family in the Civil War, Margarita Barton Colt

Winchester Divided, The Civil War Diaries of Julia Chase & Laura Lee, Michael G. Mahon
Good Federal's wanted!

I'll be there again. This time the Federal infantry and Cavalry is chasing the Rebs.