Silas' Mud March
27-28 April 2002
Recreating a march and outpost of the Chattanooga Campaign
ARMY OF TENN.,
Chattanooga Valley, November 23, 1863.
Division commanders will have their commands provided with three days cooked rations.
By command of Lieutenant-General Hardee.
Do all reenactments seem the same?
Not this one. Join the hearty soldiers who are doing something very different: a weekend campaign at the NCWC MudIver reenactment near Estacada, Oregon.
A temporary outpost will be manned Friday night a few miles from the usual reenactment site. Saturday morning, the participants will march through a quagmire of mud to the reenactment battlefield. Upon arriving, the participants will dig rifle pits and fortify their position on the battlefield. Then, they will create a period outpost and remain on the battlefield for the duration of the reenactment.
Between battles, first person will be the order of the weekend. Provision of rations, mail call, picketing, and drill will occur at various times. Active pickets will be posted throughout the weekend.
At the commencement of battles, the soldiers will remain in the outpost until pushed from their rifle pits by superior numbers or tactics. (Merely because Union troops receive orders to start a battle on the battlefield does not mean they can saunter onto it.) Accordingly, participants will be required to bring more rounds than typically brought to reenactments.
Why the Chattanooga Campaign?
Location, location, location. The geography around Estacada bears some resemblance to that around Chattanooga. Aspects of the actual campaign have been adapted to fit the geography of the MudIver reenactment. For a satelite photo of the park, click here.
What's the scenario?
The campaigners will portray the 18th/26th Tennessee of Brown's Brigade as it marched from the right of Bragg's army to the left. On the historic march, the brigade passed Lookout Mountain and Moccasin Point. These locations constituted the extreme left wing of Bragg's Army of Tennessee. A series of outposts manned by the infantry extended the Lookout Mountain defenses for ten miles to the left. One of the several outposts manned by the 18th/26th Tennessee was composed of thirty soldiers was created near Wauhatchie. In the days leading up to the Battle of Lookout Mountain, the 18th/26th had several skirmishes with the enemy. Being several miles from Lookout Mountain and being on the extreme left flank of the army, the unit was not engaged in the actual battle for the mountain. However, the unit was involved in substantial skirmishing during the battle and for a time was severed from the rest of Bragg's army as Hooker's Federals took Lookout Mountain. Click here for greater detail about the scenario. (Not yet linked.)
Where will I sleep?
Comfortable quarters can be created on the battlefield with resourceful use of rails and canvas. To emulate the soldiers in the actual campaign, tents will not be used. (Some regiments stationed at the foot of Lookout Mountain lacked any canvas protection from the weather.) The 44th Tennessee fly will be brought to the event, but individuals are encouraged to bring their own shelter halves to guarantee some shelter. For warmth, spooning and creative use of firepits is recommended.
But I'm a Yankee. Can I participate?
Yes and no. Although the weekend scenario is from a Confederate perspective, the march is nondenominational. Blue suits are welcome to participate in the march. Once we approach the field, blue suits will only be allowed by scenario, i.e., trading between pickets, prisoner, and et cetera.
Tell me more about the march.
The march occurs entirely on dirt trails - there are no macadamized roads - and is approximately three to four miles long. The bulk of the march occurs in lush forest on backcountry roads.
The goal is to start the Civil War experience Friday night and keep it going until Sunday afternoon. Substantially more time has been allotted for the march than it will actually take, so don't worry about missing the first battle.
Last year, twenty people marched. There was an even number of blue and gray suits with a sprinkling of Tiger stripes for good measure.
How do I get to the Friday night outpost?
Participants are encouraged to shuttle themselves to the camping place, but a shuttle will make occasion rounds Friday evening. A last chance shuttle will occur Saturday morning and will leave the parking lot closest to the sutlers at 0700 sharp. Then the shuttle will proceed to the drop off zone. If you miss the shuttles or wait until the last second for a ride, you may be out of luck. Therefore, soldiers are encouraged to shuttle themselves to the marked drop off zone.
But what should I bring?
Campaigners are encouraged to bring some dry firewood to the camp site as no wood will be provided on site. For information about what to bring when on campaign, visit the WCWA links page for articles about campaign camping.
Since we will be creating a period rifle pit, something with which to dig - and later refill - the rifle pit.
Noncamping participants are encouraged to bring blanket rolls, knapsack, or whatever to experience the look and feel of a soldier on campaign. If you can pretend that you are back in the 1860's, you can also pretend you camped out both nights. (You may know you did not sleep in the elements Friday night, but anyone seeing you may believe you did.) All participants are encouraged to bring precooked rations. This means bacon, hardtack, johnny cakes, dried apples or other similar items - unless you like marching with an empty stomach.
What gear should I bring?
The participants are encouraged to look like Western troops. For an idea of clothing and gear, click here. No one will be turned away because their kit is "C&C" style. This side-show-of-the-big-show is about camping, marching and fighting, not thread counting.
But I can't do everything. Do I have to stay on the battlefield?
No. Everyone is expected to give one hundred percent of what they can give. If you cannot do the march, that's okay. If you cannot remain on the field the entire weekend, that's okay. If you cannot sleep outdoors, that's okay. We all have our physical and family limitations. The key is to participate as much as you can. If you are mentally unsure about how much you can do, you can always take a timeout and return to the regular world for your creature comforts without penalty. You may find that you can do more than you thought you could do.
Marchers must preregister with Silas. The march is free of cost. The purpose of this registration is to give me an idea when people will need a shuttle to the campsite. Preregistration for the march is not registration for the reenactment. No person may attend the march unless said person is an NCWC, WCWA, or member of some other recognized organization. Membership cards will be checked, so bring them.
Please indicate in your email whether you are an NCWC, WCWA, NCWA, or other club member; whether you will be camping overnight or hoping for a shuttle; a very approximate time when you expect to arrive at McIver Park, whether you want to receive a food ration during the weekend (nominal cost here, folks), and whether you intend to try remaining on the battlefield for the weekend. Your emails will help with plans.
In an effort to make the shuttle process easier, click here to see who has preregistered. To add your name to the list, send me an email. If you and a pard are marching but another member of your unit is not, twist his arm to see if he will shuttle you.
There is a nominal fee to receive rations. Registgration is limited so act now!
Any questions? Don't ask the event coordinator. He's too busy and is not involved in the march. Don't ask the park rangers at the front gate about this because they are not involved in the march. Address your questions to me, Silas. My message phone is 206/682-7566. Email messages are preferred over phone messages.
Click here for a five day Estacada weather forecast. Click here for a detailed local weather forecast.
Click here for general information about the reenactment.
So, where is Estacada, Oregon? Searchable map with directions.
What else are you doing Saturday morning? Stretch your legs and be a soldier. Enlist today for the march. Those who do not march will wish they had.