Monday, October 15, 2012

Wickham Park NEB Event

Greetings All;

Below, please find my Engineer's Report for the NEB Wickham Park Event.

Respectfully;

Ian McKay, BG, CE, CS (acting), for Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant

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Lt. Gen. US Grant
Commander;
All Union Armies

Brig. Gen. M. Burbank
Commander
New England Brigade

Major D. Erickson
Commandant (acting)
U. S. Corps of Topographical Engineers

      Marc Bassos
      Event Coordinator

Engineers in Attendance:

Brig. Gen. of Engrs. (by brevet) Ian McKay;
      Lt. Col. J. Duarte (by brevet);
Capt. N. Reicke (detached to artillery);
Captain G. Webster (by brevet);
      Corp. M. Grossman (Pioneer -- detached to 25th Reg.);
      Corp. N. Carl (Pioneer);
Lady H. Webster (artist);
Lady M. Mathews , (teamster).

Honored Sirs:

I beg your kind indulgence to receive my Engineering Report for the subject event.  My carriage arrived at the Union site at Wickham Park in the city of Manchester, CT, at the approximate time of 3:00 P.M.   The weather was very wet, and it was raining.   We were the first to arrive on the NEB Staff and were shown the Union  Camp Area by Marc Bassos.  I decided upon the Union Staff Line for camp set-up and told the NEB Adjutant of the decision which he approved.  Lt. Col. Duarte arrived shortly after and we then proceeded to set up the Engineering Field Office in the rain.  Captain Webster and Lady Webster arrived later in the day and proceeded to set up their portion of the camp.  Marc Bassos was kind enough to designate one of his staff to assist the Engineers in setting up the field Office. As soon as the field office was set up and everything covered against the presumed overnight rain we left for an inn and supper on the edge of the village.


 On Saturday Morning we arrived back in camp and began the task of preparing the field office for business, laying out the displays, and sending the map set to the Brigade Staff Office for their use.  The Maps included the following :

      -- One Map of the Wickham Park Area showing the positions of all the camps and facilities (JLM);
      -- One topographical map of the Wickham Park Area (JLM);
      -- One map of the Battle of Fredericksburg (JLM);
      -- One map of the Federal Pontoon Bridges and Artillery set up covering those bridges (JLM);
      -- One map of Wickham Park (GW);
      -- One map of the Park Battlefield (Antietam -GW).
      -- On Sunday Corp. Carl finished a map of the park and submitted such for approval.  The above maps were all approved.

      Duplicate maps were also provided for any battalion CDR's. and general Staff use.

      -- Lt. Col. Duarte made up and submitted a requisition for materials needed for the construction of some "infernal devices" (torpedos) for the defense of the Federal Camp.  This was also approved and sent forward.

Later in the morning LT. Geoff McLean, USN of the Naval Landing Party arrived to set up as a portion of Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant's Staff,  He and one of his staff set up camp next to the engineers.

       At 11:OO A.M. I announced a Full Dress Ceremony to be attended by all the Topog Members.  The Brigade Commander could not attend the ceremony but Mac Bassos was able to Attend.   The ceremony was the breveting of two of the Engineering Officers; Lt. Col. J. Duarte, and Captain G. Webster..  A Letter and Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to Lady Webster for her civilian diligence and efforts on the part of the topogs.  With the sincerest thanks and appreciation to the engineers from Ian MCKay the NETE Commander the ceremony was brought to a close.

During the morning I was privileged to meet with the NEB Provost Officer and I was most flattered to receive from him a very nice token of his regard which was a large size masonic patch for use on the uniform or accouterments.  I gave him my extreme thanks for his thoughtfulness, and I will use it on my map case for identification. My thanks again for such a very nice and appropriate gift.

Throughout the morning, large numbers of  local spectators moved through the Federal Camp and the Engineers and Naval Attache were kept busy answering questions and explaining the displays.  I worked on a local map drawing and  the rough outline for this report.  Brig. General M. Burbank visited the field Office and was kind enough to add my name to the NEB Staff in lieu of Lt. Gen. Grant who could not be at the event.  He also gave over, for my perusal, the battle plan of the attack at Antietam.  At one o' clock Marc Bassos arrived to take me to the Antietam Battle field as he had promised.  Mr. Bassos had honored me by asking me to join with Gen. R. E. Lee in narrating the battle of the day to the spectator line.  I left the field office in the capable hands of Lt. Col. Duarte.  Capt. Webster and Corp. Carl had earlier made a re-con. of the park and were busy  putting the results down on paper.

Marc Bassos and I arrived at the battlefield and I had the honor of narrating to a large number of spectators the battle as it was being fought, and some facts about the weapons in use by the armies of the civil war.  The battle was conducted on a long hill which was open meadowland bounded on both sides by  a heavy forest.  The Battle of Antietam Creek began with the Union and Confederate Artillery both on the field and conducting the opening of the battle with an artillery duel;  then the skirmishers entered the field to search out the location and size of the enemy.  Finally the two armies clashed in Volley fire finally degenerating into individual fire as the battle became general .  The tactics executed on the field by both armies was excellent.  Mr. Bassos returned me to the camp following the skirmish and we spent the rest of the afternoon with the spectators again going over the weapons, instrumentation, and models  of the Civil War Period.  At six o' clock Lady Mathews returned for me and we moved to the inn and a delicious supper, and then to bed for a good sleep.

We were back in camp the following morning at  an early hour, and readied the site once again for the spectators.  At one o'clock again Marc Bassos picked me up and took me to the  Fredericksburg battlefield where I was again honored to be asked to narrate the battle to a large number of spectators.  In this battle scene there were several topographical similarities between the park and the actual battle.  There was a steep hill from the bottomland to the crest and near the crest of the hill was a long stone wall.  So the battle took on a unusual similarity to the actual battle and both sides played their parts very well.  The union battle-line advanced again a hail of rifle and cannon fire in a direct assault up the hill and was stopped twice eventually ending with the complete annihilation of the Union forces even down to the last shooter, a doctor with his pistol firing weakly toward the stone wall until at last he too was silenced.  Both armies formed up and left the field, and the Union and Confederate Forces were marched past both of the spectator lines who cheered and clapped as the soldiers marched by.  I was taken back to camp for a short period of final discussion with the spectators before beginning to breaking down the camp.  As usual, spectators came up to the field office until the very last minute to discuss the displays.  Not until the actual materials were removed from the tables were all of the engineers finally able to join the breakup of the camp and the stowage of materials in the vehicles for transport home.

I am very pleased to be able to praise most highly Mr. Marc Bassos and his most diligent staff for this event.  Even though the weather was very bad at the beginning these people carried on to the best of their ability, and provided a very good beginning to the event.  The NEB to which I am honored to belong immediately picked up on this preparation and a Federal Camp blossomed in the rain.  The event was very well attended and very well carried out. The event staff were constantly in motion answering questions and request all through the event from beginning to end.   In conclusion I would be most pleased to say that any event hosted by Mr. Marc Bassos I would be most pleased to attend and to be involved in any situation asked of myself or the Topog Engr. Unit to assist in it's development and result.  Ladies Webster and Mathews were of great assistance in the breakdown of the engineering camp and for that assistance I am most grateful.. Mr. Carl and his son Nate were of great assistance as well.

Your Most Diligent, and Admiring Servant;

Very Respectfully;

Ian McKay, Brig. Gen. of Engineers (by brevet);
Chief Engineer, Chief of Staff (acting);
Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant's Military and Personal Staffs
and
Cdr. -- Northeast Topographical Engineers (NETE)


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