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The Damn Yankee

Newsletter of the 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry

February, 2001 Issue

Message from the Editor

Our newsletter this month is jam-packed with contributions, so I won't waste much space on comments - let's just move on to the news…

Meeting/Drill Schedule

The schedule for our winter drills is as follows:

Sunday, February 18, 2 PM

Sunday, March 11, 2 PM

All drill dates are held at the Oakes Rd. Facility located at:

4450 Oakes Road

Brecksville, Ohio 44141

Camp of Instruction: April 22-23

The February meeting will include some special features for possible new recruits, so if you know anyone interested, please invite them to attend. The March meeting will include some discussion of our upcoming vote on this year's events, so please bring event ideas with you. Our vote will be held at the April Camp of Instruction.

"Field Craft" Notes
by Lt. Guy

Gentlemen, it is my great hope that this article finds you well and happy. It is with great pride that I can count myself among you fighting men and civilian women. I would like to bring up a subject that might be appropriate during this winter drill season. No, it isn't about commitment - I have said more than enough about that in past articles. No it isn't about drilling - that is the First Sergeant's job now. I want to talk about…

Going to the toilet.

Yes, you read correctly - the toilet. I also want to talk about those other nasty realities of reenacting we sometimes forget about (or want to forget about). There is a certain amount of dirtiness in this hobby. We usually don't take showers all weekend, we sleep outside (or at best a tent) with the bugs and animals (except those "motel militia"), and we sweat most of the time. Maybe in our warm homes we might want to think about how we can maintain some sanitation while staying pretty authentic.

First, the toilet: in a normal reenactment, you get port-o-johns. They are hot, stinky devices. If you are planning to visit one of these for an extended journey - you might want to strip out of your sack coat and other equipment. You might want to time your journey in the morning when it is cooler and the awful creatures may have been cleaned out. Check for supplies. By late Saturday or early Sunday, paper may be out. Unless there is a magazine stand nearby, you might bring a roll of your favorite brand and hide it away in your tent or gear. While you may not need it, would want to leave home without it?

Next is hand cleaning: many places have gotten the hint and have port-o-sinks or at least a bottle of the cleaner you don't need water with. However, unless you want to risk illness the rest of the week, buy one of
those little bottles and hide it with you.

This has been a little tongue in cheek - but hides a deeper reality. A reenactment is different than home, so you need to be prepared. Practice buttoning and unbuttoning (you know where). Warn your friends about how your breath will be if they visit on Sunday. How many pairs of drawers will you bring - if any? Do you have a loved one willing to check your hair for critters when you get home?

Again - use or not use this information as you see fit during this time of rest. Soon we will be called upon to defend our way of life against the rebels. Are you prepared?

Until then, I remain your most humble servant

Lt. J. Guy

Drill Bits

By 1st Sgt. McClory

Continuing my winter series of notes on drill, this month I'll type a few lines regarding the command "parade rest". Parade rest is one of a handful of commands which, whenever it is given at a reenactment, there's usually a lot of shuffling, some embarrassed looks, and the battalion eventually ends up with the men two or three (or even more) different positions, suspiciously eyeing one another, probably thinking "what are those idiots doing?". This confusion comes about because there is no single "official" position for parade rest. Hardee and Casey describe the command only as a kind of afterthought, and each used a different position. Judging by Civil War-era photos, there were probably as many as a half-dozen commonly used positions for parade rest. So, this leads to a situation where each unit has to kind of "pick their poison" and simply adhere to a parade rest position of their choice. Within the 41st, we use the position defined within Casey's: the rifle is held across the body, with the heel of the butt near the right foot, the barrel on the left, the lock to the rear. The left hand should be above the right, grasping the rifle near the upper band. The muzzle of the rifle should be in the center of your body, held tight to your chest. Your right foot should be in a "tee" position to the rear of your left, somewhat like what we do for an about face. While this is difficult to imagine and describe in text, it's pretty easy to do in practice. The important things to remember are that when the word "rest" is spoken, you carry your right foot back behind your left, and you turn the rifle on it's butt so that the barrel ends up on your left side. Then you can glare at the fellows in the next company with an air of superiority, and make them feel nervous for a change.

1st Sgt. Daniel McClory

Grand Army of the… Retired?
By Pvt. M. Clay

As I recently entered my 30’s I pondered how long it would be before I see wrinkles and gray hair in the mirror. I wondered when I would have to start telling the public, "Well, we try to portray the 41st as closely as we can - even though I’m not 5 foot nothing, 120 pounds and 18 years old any more". Casually flipping through my copy of the regimental history, I discovered something interesting in the roster - a private way older than he should be at the time of enlistment!

Curious, I started counting and found several private soldiers in their 40’s. At first I intended to list all of them, but a list of 89 names would make the newsletter a little too long! Instead here’s the tally of privates, in their 40’s, by company:

A—3, B—9, C—7, D—9, E—6, F—17, G—7, H—12, I—5, K—14.

Keep in mind there were several privates with no age recorded and many were 39 at the time of enlistment. I didn’t count anyone above the rank of corporal, but as for corporals there were four: Able P. Roscow (a musician), age 42, Co. D; John Quiggle, age 44, Co. G; Joseph Beard, age 40, Co. K; James Miller (a wagoner), age 45, Co. K.

With all these older fellows in the ranks it would seem that the junior officers and NCO’s would have a lot of older men too, but surprisingly, the vast majority were teenagers and men in their early 20’s. Today it’s hard to imagine an 18-year-old kid being saluted and called "sir" by a 45-year-old man. The oldest man in the regiment was a musician killed at the battle of Stones River—Sylvester Winchester, age 53. The next oldest in the contest (including staff and field officers, surgeons, chaplains, etc.) is a tie, Charles Venoah of Co. D and John Price of Co. E, both privates and both 48 years young. So if the wrinkles have road mapped your brow or a little snow has appeared on the roof don’t fret, you are still an accurate representation of a soldier of the 41st OVI (just not an average representation of one). With these new revelations I feel (as I hope you do) a little better about my impression of a Yankee private in the years to come. Now it’s just the belly in my "blue belly" impression I’m worried about!