It may seem hard to believe, but just two weeks ago today, the first boots from the 2nd Kentucky were on the ground at Mississinewa 1812. While it may seem like an eternity ago or having just ended, Mississinewa 1812 proved to be a resounding culmination for the 2018 season.
The groundwork for Mississinewa did not start only on Thursday, October 11th. Preparations have been ongoing in their own way since the event first started 31 years ago. Likewise, members from the 2nd Kentucky have been working at the site since the first brisk work days in the spring of this year alongside the Mississinewa Battlefield Society to foster a number of site improvements. In similar fashion, the 2nd and brethren units of the Left Wing mustered in February at Fort Wayne for a winter muster under the command of Major Lundgren, 7th USI. Major Lundgren’s lessons were built upon at Cragfont in April (loving remembered as ‘Rainfont’) where the 2nd and brethren came under the tutelage of Colonel Abolt, 7th USI, Colonel Bennett, 1st USI, Colonel Sheets, 2nd Kentucky, and Sergeant Major Lanham, 7th USI. Many of the evolution in battalion drill that were taught on Saturday at Mississinewa were built upon the lessons of Mississinewas past, Fort Wayne and Cragfont.
Mississinewa 2018 properly started with a quartering detail the Saturday prior. Under the sage leadership of Quartermaster Sergeant Nelson, a quartering detail laid out the Left Wing camp in the valley, where the 2nd was joined by the White River Guard and Linigle’s Company, Ohio Militia for the first time. As with any first-time endeavor, there were lessons learned and retained for future years. It was certainly exciting to have the Wing encamped together – the aligned kitchen and mess areas made for plenty of social contact. Likewise, the 2nd’s kitchen was fronted towards the main traffic flow along US Parade, which provided for countless opportunities for engagement and interpretation.
The 2nd’s traditional ‘set-up’ day commenced Sunday the 7th. Elements of the 2nd and the White River Guard flew canvas, socialized and prepared camps. Those present from the 2nd also loaded cartridges for the weekend that afternoon. Captain Stern kindly made a run for nourishment (and refreshments!); the day came to an end with plenty of cartridges in the larder and plenty of canvas up.
As members and friends of the 2nd began to move in for the weekend on Thursday the 11st, a special piece of ‘Mississinewa Magic’ again took place. In the span of a few days, a section of river front and fields turned into a bustling village seemingly in the blink of an eye. Under the watchful eye of QM Sgt. Nelson, arriving elements of the Left Wing were guided to their spots in the new layout; extra hands were always available to assist those arriving as needed. As morning gave way to afternoon and in turn evening, camps came to life with the sounds of campfires, renewed acquaintances, laughter and conversation. The 2nd finished loading out cartridges for the weekend as dusk gave way to night. Many thanks to all those who lent a hand.
Friday began as it usually does, too early. Those present mustered for coffee, and in turn, parade. With only one battle for the school day, Friday traditionally lends itself for preparations and this year was no exception. Unfortunately, Mother Nature opted not to cooperate with the best laid plans and a sustaining rain fell through late afternoon and into the evening. The weather did not stifle the efforts of Mrs. Stern, who graced the unit’s mess with her wonderful venison stew – for some, the highlight of the event’s culinary calendar. After dinner, the Left Wing officers gathered for a mess organized by Captain Milton before attending an officer’s call in Col. Abolt’s camp. After the officer’s call, camps slowly went to sleep, preparing for a ‘rich, full day’ upon the morrow.
Any Saturday at Mississinewa can only be described as ‘packed’. This year was no exception. The day began with reveille at 6:00 am. The now-traditional Morning Patrol, which was abated into the morning only, moved out before 7:00 am. While the weather did take its toll on the numbers, those hearty enough to make the trek on both sides showed their esprit de corps in soldiering on. The day’s schedule began with Morning Colors, after which individual commands were left to drill before the day’s first battle. After the first battle and dinner in camp, our brethren in the White River Guard held a camp memorial to celebrate the life of Sgt. Maj. Michael Schmidt, a founding member of the Guard and dear friend and brother of the 2nd Kentucky. Mrs. Schmidt and her family joined the Left Wing in the Guard’s camp and remember the memory of our departed friend.
Battalion Drill was held prior to the afternoon battle on Saturday. Col. Abolt and Col. Bennett provided training in evolution of the company and battalion in maneuvering around obstacles and into a line of battle from a column and back again. In a surprising change, Maj. Lundgren, Adjutant, fell into ranks with the 2nd as Cpl. Lundgren. A special thanks to Maj./Cpl. Lundgren for his guidance during the training.
After the afternoon battle Saturday, the American Army marched thru Rivertown as is tradition to Evening Colors. After the parade was formed and rolls called, an especially moving moment occurred as Mrs. Schmidt received a flag flown over the Alamo and a parcel of earth from the sacred site. Mr. Gary Foreman of the 2nd arranged the special tribute for the Schmidt family; Captain Schoening of the White River Guard assisted in the presentation. Anyone who knew Mike can say without a doubt that one of his consuming passions was the story of the Alamo.
As afternoon gave way to evening Saturday, the 2nd’s traditional pot-luck / carry-in dinner was held. A likeness of the Commander graced the head of the serving tables. Many thanks to everyone that contributed to the dinner. After dinner, the evenings doings began. A good time was had by all.
Sunday began with a respite – reveille at 7:00 am. The American Army mustered for morning colors at 9:00 am, at which the 2nd’s own Sgt. William Noack was recognized by the Commander and honored with 3 rousing cheers. After Morning Colors, breakfast was served. A very special thanks to Mrs. Stern, Mess Sgt. Keith Harmon and all those that assisted all weekend long in sustaining the mess and preparing meals. After breakfast, divine services were held at 9:45 am. The day’s first battle was at 11:00 am and followed closely by a second battled at 1:30 pm. As is tradition, Evening Colors were held immediately after the day’s second battle.
After the parade was formed and rolls were called, the commander read aloud Lt. Col. John B. Campbell’s letter relinquishing command after the completion of the Mississinewa Campaign in 1812. Those stirring words were followed by the calling of the names of the fallen from the Mississinewa Campaign and those from the preceding year since the Army last formed. The command remembered Sgt. Maj. Schmidt, who passed on September 22nd, and Mr. Daniel B. Eagan Jr, Crown Forces, who passed unexpectedly Sunday after being evacuated from Mississinewa 1812 to Fort Wayne. The Command Staff of the 2nd offered the unit’s condolences to the Crown Forces command on Sunday and offer the unit’s continued sympathies to the Eagan family, friends and our comrades in the Crown Forces during their time of mourning and grief.
Following dismissal from the Evening Parade, the American Army dispersed for the final time. The dismissal marked the close to a, for some, emotionally charged event marked by both joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, hope and grief. As the sun drew closer to the western horizon and the canvas village disappeared for another year, farewells were bid and plans made for the coming season. In proper 2nd Kentucky form, no one was left to break camp by themselves; rather, bodies and helping hands remained until each piece of canvas and every pole was secured for transport and every possible was stowed.
This being a true and faithful account of the campaign upon the R. Mississinewa,
I remain, YH&OS,
Lt. T.P., Wagner
2nd Regt Kent Volunteers