Thursday, July 4, 2013

Report on Actions at Gettysburg, June 27-30, 2013

Members of the 78th prior to Pickett's Charge.
Photo by Mike Huston and edited by J.M.Wasko.


I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of our organization in the series of battles at this past weekend’s reenactment of the Gettysburg campaign, July 1-3 1863. The soldiers of our organization performed valiantly with Capt. A. Hooks, Cpl. Harkleroad, Pvts. Meinert, Hawk, Stasiak, M. Hooks, Berger, Huston, and myself as 2nd Sgt. Although getting around the massive site was difficult and limited by the extent of shuttles that the event offered, once settled into our company street things settled down. We fell in with men of the 63rd PVI, 23rd OH, and 69th NY and had an aggregate of 46 men at our largest in our fittingly sized company. 

Despite our and assuredly Federal command’s best efforts, the scenarios in which we engaged were initially lacking in the weekend. Troop movements seemed confused in the first day’s battle, when we portrayed the 56th PVI to fire the opening infantry volley of the battle. Later, in a scenario reenacting Culp’s Hill, it became apparent that Confederate and Federal units were having difficulty reacting historically and appropriately to each other’s pressure. Nevertheless, as the 17th CT, we enjoyed initially pushing the Confederates from the field, as we did when portraying the 28th MA of the Irish Brigade in the Wheatfield on the second day, even if there was seemingly excessive downtime prior to our being put into action. This is easily overlooked though, since units might historically have been held in reserve and engaged. In this way, the number of reenactors, around 10,000, perhaps allowed for a more authentic experience, as we only portrayed one historical unit per scenario rather than ‘switching hats’ to return to the field in another unit’s stead. Engagements were able to proceed for hours without our being involved for a fraction of the time if at all, such as during the night of the second day when, as we camped on the stone wall near the angle, we could hear those forces on Culp’s Hill fighting into the late evening. I am happy to report that the company seemed to enjoy this experience despite short rainstorms and its time as the 14th CT, defending Cemetery Ridge against Pickett’s Charge on the final day. It was certainly a landmark moment, like the 150th Anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg generally, for all of us.

Col. Buffington personally and admirably rallied, led, instructed, and oversaw our men on multiple occasions throughout the campaign, and it was excellent to have him back in the field commanding.
On behalf of the soldiers, I would like to thank the civilians supporting the 78th PVI for their letters of support to our men, and gifts of food, candy, and supplies that were delivered in the field by Mr. & Mrs. Henry; a special thanks to them for that and the McLean family for their fantastic and heartfelt contributions. 

I hope that despite the setbacks of the event and that some members did not take part in all scenarios, everyone enjoyed themselves. I apologize for my own failings as I realized them as a Sgt of a larger company and the greater responsibilities that come with it, and look forward to studying in advance of our next campaign to correct this, as I am certain we all aim to improve the company’s drill performance.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
J.M. Wasko, 
Co. F, 78th PVI, Commanding.