Friday, August 3, 2012

Engineering Report - Sprague, CT, Event 07/29/11

Lt. General U. S. Grant
All Federal Armies

Brig. Gen. M. Burbank
New England Brigade

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

Most Esteemed Gentlemen;

--Engineers In Attendance:

--Major James Duarte;
--2nd Lt. Greg Webster;
--Lady M. Mathews.

--Engineers Excused:

--Capt. W. Lafleur;
--Capt. Germain;
--Lady Germain;

I beg your kind indulgence to make my Chief Engineer's Report for the subject event.  My teamster and I arrived at the River Park in Sprague, CT on Wednesday last to review the planned encampment site and choose an area to set up.  This was to be a time-line event and so the CW Engineering Field Office would need to be offset from the other locations to some small degree.  A brief sketch of the park was dawn and a location decided upon and we made our way home.  We again arrived at about 2:00 P.M. on Friday to set up the CW encampment.  We set up only the fly and tables as there was some concern about security arrangements for the event.  On Saturday we arrived early in the morning, (before 8:00 A.M.) and set up the office and displays.  The displays consisted of weapons, instrumentation, maps, and accouterments.

The visitor numbers were light on Saturday all day (about one and one half dozen people).  The reason appeared to be that the bulk of the town's anniversary was centered on a park area about one half mile away, and the advertised shuttle bus did not run often.  However, the location under the trees was quite pleasant and the consistent breeze down the river was a real pleasure in the heat of the day.  During the morning, I had drawn up a more specific sketch-map of the park and 2nd Lt. Greg Webster joined me in the after noon.  I gave him my sketch of the park with the instruction to make a more detailed recon. of the area and upgrade the sketch to a regular map of the area.  At about five o'clock, after Lt. Webster had left, I was invited to a late afternoon meal put together by Mr. Steve Topliff.  He served a very sumptuous Venison Stew and fresh baked rolls.  The meal was welcome and delicious.

The required hours of attendance at the event was concluded at 5:00 P.M. and I was picked up at 6:00 P.M. and taken to a nice local inn for a good night's rest.

Sunday morning's return to the encampment found Major Duarte had already arrived and had pulled away last night's table coverings and the tables were again ready to receive the displays which had been put in the car for security over the evening hours.  Major Duarte was just back from a brief visit to Fort Jefferson to review it's progress of construction, and taking measurements for the planned new weapons that would arm the large fortification.  Sunday was slightly  cooler than Saturday, but the river breezes were, throughout the day, somewhat less freshening.  The great bridge which was just a few paces from the encampment was very well constructed, and more than suitable for all variety of military vehicles.  During the day on Sunday, I was pleased to make a detailed sketch of the bridge.  The river was the Shetucket River, and it was interesting to note that the river edge was much wider than the stream running through it.  The reason was revealed by a local resident who told us of a large dam upriver.  When that dam releases the rainwater from the Spring rains the river is considerably higher that during the Summer.  We will have to visit that area to make sketches of the upriver dam and the area surrounding it.  Sunday's visitor's were slightly more numerous, about three dozen people.  However, the people who visited the encampment seemed more interested in what was on display than the normal visitor public, and they were as a result, a real pleasure to talk with.

Mr. Topliff served all another delicious repast as a late breakfast of venison hash, which was very like a British Shepard's Pie missing only the crisp topping of mashed potatoes.  This time the engineers had been warned and were able to contribute a can of beans and some dinner rolls to the feast. The food was again very delicious.

The river near the bridge was said to be fordable, except for the steep bank on the far side.  On the near side of the river there was a road down to the river-edge where boats could be put in the water, as well as removed.  Just beyond the bridge downriver, began a large pond, created by a second dam downstream about two or three miles at the town of Occum.  Upstream from the River Park the river ran through a narrow wooded valley and then it spreads out at the Scotland Historical Farm where several reenactment events and Scottish musters have been held in the past, not too far from the small town of Scotland, CT.  I will be drawing a vicinity map which will encompass all the places mentioned here around this area, as it seems very interesting and quite beautiful in its summer foliage.

At three P.M. the event was concluded and my teamster arrived on the dot, to pull down the tent and pack up all the gear.  Major Duarte Lady Mathews, and I were busy for about an hour breaking down the camp and field office, and were then off back to the New London area and good meal of  barbecued pork ribs (baby back) from one of the best barbecue restaurants in the state.

Were the Topographical Engineers asked again to be a part of  such an event, I should be most pleased to consider the invitation seriously.  It was a "laid back" event, and one which was most enjoyable over all.

Your Most Humble and Enduring 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

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