Saint Joseph, Mo
St. Joe April 17-19, 2009 - After Action Report
On the back of Shoal Creek, the 9th again had the chance to test the fortunes of
war at the St. Joe Missouri event. Haven’t ever been to a reenactment this close
to a casino. However, the draw of the all-you-can-eat buffet and Blackjack
proved an impossible lure for me. A little off-putting when you could see the
casino and its neon smokestack from where we were some 200 yards distant, but we
knew going in. Also, is was not an entirely perfect location as you could toss a
rock and hit the softball diamond and related flotsam and jetsam incident to its
maintenance. But, by a provident cut of the cards, the weekend proved quite
enjoyable, as we battled and bested Mother Nature, ate well, and were treated to
the rare occurrence of being outnumbered by our brothers in Blue.
Our robotic mascot Rebel Chicken of Defiance seemed the hit of the weekend, as
he danced and squawked and allowed onlookers to choke his neck all weekend long.
I might note that your humble correspondent/chicken caretaker, dropped the ball
and left him outside on my table through the early Saturday morning drenching,
but he recovered without a missed step.
I might note that Captain Burnos displayed some of his handiwork with
woodworking -- a nifty table which folds up into a square carrying case, chairs,
boxes, and the like.
Friday night --
Getting in to St. Joe, near and apparently on “the Terribles” casino grounds,
was easy out of Topeka, I-70 to I-435 north to I-29, to I-229, then a particular
exit into St. Joe, then look for the signs. About 1:40 out of Topeka. I got in
about 6:30. Soon to arrive was Mr. Staab, and later Mr. Visser. Set up was
quick and easy -- you could run your vehicle right into your camp. The 9th set
up between the 1st MO on the left and the 3rd MO on the right. Our Chicken of
Defiance oversaw operations. I broke in my new folding table for the event.
Present for the 9th Texas were Chris Visser who was the major and therefore
commanding officer for the reb army this weekend, new man Aaron Staab, from
Meriden, and your faithful correspondent fell in as a private.
No one from Battalion staff was present. Major Looney had planned to attend, but
a last second personal commitment kept him away.
Present in the Battalion were part of the 3rd MO under Captain Girdner and parts
of the 1st MO under Captain Burnos. Captain Broski’s men of the 10th MO were
also present but did artillery. In addition, Elliott’s Scouts were present in
strength, some dismounted, some mounted. Terry’s Texas Rangers were present but
they galvanized as federal cav. The 1st N.C. cav was also present. Did I miss
I also note the presence of two men from the newly-formed 4th Ark. who fell in
with the 3rd MO. Good men and fun to reenact with.
While our camp remained fairly dry, I was told that the federal camp was quite
Present for the Yanks were the Muddy River Battalion under Col. James Crofutt
(see the AAR for Shoal Creek 2009); the 165th NY (who also do a Wheats’ Tigers
Zouave impression); the Fremont Pathfinders who did cav.; the 1st NY Light
artillery. Who did I miss?
We had perhaps 200 to 250 reenactors overall. Not high by reeanacting
standards, but high on the list for satisfaction and fun, I think.
Sutlers were Del Warren and other lesser sutlers, none who I can name. There
were some food venders. Sutler’s row was about 1/4 mile from our camp, so no
long hikes this weekend. No beer garden (I hope this situation is remedied as
the season progresses).
Wood, albeit in large chunks and some quite green, was plentiful, especially
after we were replenished once. We had a couple of water buffalos close by as
well as porta-johns. If you wanted clean, warm porcelain, however, it was a
short walk to the casino’s restrooms. No food was provided but the town was
close by as well as a quite good casino buffet which I went to twice. I was told
that there is an excellent cajun restaurant in town, but we failed to make it.
There was fair foot traffic through the camps, and I managed to corner a few for
my usual prattle. Both battles played to appreciative crowds.
Friday night on setting up, I chanced to meet a pretty, young graduate student
from Mizzou taking pictures. Upon our conversation, I learned that she and i had
a common connection, my brother, who had participated in a photo workshop at
which her photos were presented for critique. She and several photo mates were
present the entire weekend, snapping shots the whole while. I have been promised
a link to their photos when they are posted.
Saturday am --
No complaints on Friday night, it appearing to be good weather for sleeping, but
we did have reports of rain coming. Must have been Mother Nature finally
catching up with us from Shoal Creek as she let loose early Saturday morning.
She rained a bit, then let up, and those early risers in the 1st MO were up and
about (and noisy); then she really let loose and rained for several hours
forcing everyone back under canvas. All survived dry, and that was the worst of
it. It actually got quite warm on Saturday -- temperatures warmed to low 70’s by
4 p.m. or so.
Mr. Staab kept our and the 1st MO’s campfire going through the night and wet
early morning. He took a long nap the next day to pay for that.
Saturday morning came and we drilled for a couple of hours, including “by
company into line,” “on the right by files into line,” “skirmish” drill, and “by
the left of companies, forward into line, etc.” We did well in drill at St. Joe
but it is always good to drill every weekend and to spend at least a couple of
hours at it until this becomes second nature. Col. Amend has promised more
battalion drill at Jeff City.
With respect, however, we carried on a little too long in drill in an attempt to
please some Irish filmmakers who were on-site to do a history of the St. Joe
area, not just the Civil War aspect, but the whole deal. We did a “scene” over
and over again, to no gain for us, as we had no interest in this film.
Saturday was a bit of a contrast, starting out with pouring rain, but ending in
a quite a good campfire with the 3rd MO boys of which more later.
Saturday battle --
The weather was still overcast but dry.
We formed up in three companies, including Elliott’s Scouts. The 9th fell in
with the 1st and all were under the capable command of Mr. Visser as major who
did an excellent job, made us proud, and is a good advertisement for the 9th.
The field on which we fought was a little bit of a challenge, it being quite
rough plowed farm ground partly overgrown to begin with, then being cut up by
all the horse’s hooves, then add to that the various puddles of water which
Mother Nature left us from her early Saturday morning rains. Quite a soupy mess.
But the infantry is tough, yes?
The calvary went in first and there was lots of that. Then the infantry went in
as the artillery began to boom. We went in as a column of companies, then went
into by company into line to form our battle line. Then we went into a skirmish
line, but we were badly out-numbered (tables finally turned, eh?). I went down
early with a stomach wound. I was told thereafter that the battle for us became
a little less than authentic, as due to casualties, we had only some ten of us
left and we were still pursuing the yanks.
I thought upon taking a hit that I would rise quite wet and muddy, but ‘tho as
time progressed as I lay there I could feel the moisture seeping in at my head,
shoulders, and butt, I remained remarkably dry and mud-free.
The wagon train -- previously advertised as being one of the main draws to this
event as a change of pace-- was a little bit of a let down as it was simply a
horse drawn wagon which went out a little ways onto the field, but never really
played a major role in the battle after that. I was told after the battle by one
of the Mizzou journalism students that she was imbedded in the wagon during the
After the battle, Mr. Staab and I went shopping and we were generally moving in
the direction of sutler’s row along with a mass of other reenactors and
spectators when we noticed a commotion behind us. It was a couple of yank
artillerymen carrying a large metal chest, perhaps off the caisson. In any
event, they were right on us and telling us to move, move. Aaron and I didn’t
realize that they were behind us and were, inexplicably coming right our way,
and we got out of the way as fast as we could. Apparently not fast enough as
some words were exchanged. I apologize for that, but not for not moving fast
Saturday p.m. --
Many of us spent quite a nice time at the 3rd’s neighboring campfire. Some
refreshments were passed, and tales told. Some yanks happened by and stayed a
spell. One of the 3rd’s veterans of old brought out an apparent 3rd MO tradition
-- i.e. to “kiss the claw.” This was a leather-bound bottle of spirits (some
apple, and spices in there?) to which a mummified old claw, of uncertain origin
(one said it was his old mammy’s hand) was affixed by a leather thong. The
tradition was to kiss the claw, then take a drink.
Later, Captain Girdner reprised his nautically-themed discourse on whales, and
the deep, and harpoons, and etc., brought off for no discernable purpose, but
with great spirit and aplomb. You have to see this to realize how incredibly
funny it was. As it was last year at Brownville NE. I did my usual part, I am
told, by nodding off and almost falling out of my chair.
By all accounts, a good time was had by all, and campfire broke up bit by bit as
the hour progressed. Some of our brothers in the 1st had already got to bed.
There was a dance on Saturday night. I had heard the live entertainment did not
come through for one reason or another, but some CD’s were obtained from Del and
played on a boombox, to the apparent satisfaction of an enthusiastic group of
dancers, some military, some civilian.
Word has it that a body was found over near the federal camp. A real body. No
idea what came of that except that the local constabulary roped off the area.
Messrs. Visser and Staab did the all you can eat breakfast buffet at the casino.
I was apparently dead to the world. In fact, by one account, I slept like a log
in my A, Mr. Visser sharing the same. No Sgt. Major Sutton was around to rouse
Sunday morning and some drill on stacking arms. Got into a bit of a discussion
with Lt. Bearden of the 1st concerning what the rule was for placement of the
right gun butt in relation to that soldier’s foot. No formal drill otherwise. A
church service was held in the federal camp and Mr. Staab attended. I also heard
a comment from Lt. Bearden of the 1st of coyotes getting close on Saturday
night, but I heard nothing.
Temperatures on Sunday were much colder, likely mid- to lower 40’s, and windy,
greatcoat weather, but things warmed up later when the sun came out to make the
battle quite comfortable.
Sunday battle --
In what some said was a first in the history of Civil War reenacting, the
federals gave us one company to increase our numbers, the 165th New York (who
also do a Wheat’s Tigers impression), a game lot, and we were happy to have them
and they fought well.
We formed up (without the usual hurry up and wait, I might note) and moved out
and were anticipating our signal to go in. In front of us, however, was our own
cavalry, apparently doing nothing. Major Visser seized the opportunity to move
them into action, and ordered our “flying artillery” to proceed out onto the
field behind the cav. and commence to fire over them. That must have done the
trick as they dismounted and then we went in to do our part.
Although we were routed on Saturday, we won on Sunday when we charged pell mell
and took the federal guns after driving the federal infantry from the field.
Col. Croufitt was good enough to agree to surrender with several of his
artillerymen and we marched them, hands high, back along the line of the
spectators, to great applause! At the tail end of that, one yank went down,
having twisted his ankle, but he seemed ok.
Getting out --
The battle commenced at 1:30, was over at 2, and I was back on the road by 2:50
with all my gear. Getting out was absolutely no trouble. Now that is real
It was a good, little event, not less than promised, and close to home. We were
outnumbered by the federals, so that counts as a special thing. Mr. Visser
proved again a good leader of men and armies. No one got hurt, we were all well
fed, and there was good camaraderie amongst the men of the Battalion companies.
I have no real complaints.
Come on you 9th soldiers who have not tasted gunpowder yet this season -- you
are missing all the fun!
Homie did not attend, so, Mr. Downey, it is still on you!
BTW, check yourself, boys, if you haven’t already as Captain Burnos reported a
tick, fully imbedded.
9th Texas Reg’t of Infantry
1st Missouri Battalion
P.S. Yes, although I forgot to mention it in the Shoal Creek AAR, it did snow
there, albeit, just flurries, and nothing stuck. Just want to document the fact
-- Missouri, mid-April, reenactment.