Monday, August 5, 2013

Topographical Engineers After Action Report, Look Park, August , 2013

>>>> Topographical Engineers After Action Report, <<<< 

Look Park, Florence, Mass, Aug. 2013

Lt. General U. S. Grant;
All Federal Armies

Colonel Paul Kenworthy
Commanding Officer
New England Brigade

Major Steve Doucette, 
Commander (Acting)
New England Brigade

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

Respected Sirs;

I beg your indulgence to receive my Engineering Report for the above named encampment and battles.

My staff and I arrived at the Union Camp at Look Park on Friday evening at about 6:30 P.M. after a day long trip by carriage from Fort Trumbull, in New London, CT, my current military base assignment.

We set up the Topographical Engineering Field Office according to a previous encampment design and settled in for the evening.  My personal staff and I were the recipients of a very kind invitation to stay with friends in the small town nearby, and we did so after a delicious seafood supper at a local inn.

The next morning I arrived in camp to find Major Webster and his lovely wife already awake and preparing Breakfast.  Officer’s call was announced and Major Webster took the call and gained the information for the day.  The Major and I then conferred about the maps that he had prepared and already issued to the acting brigade Commander, Major Steve Doucette, and then I went to the Commander and asked to speak with him about his needs / desires for the use of the Topog. Engrs.

The Commander seemed very eager to provide the engineers with his desires for both of the days prospective skirmishes.  First, he asked for a two lane pontoon bridge be laid up stream from the existing bridge.  Apparently there was some suspicion that the bridge had either been mined, or destabilized in some unknown manner.  For the second day, he asked that the end of the battle field be armed with cheavoux de frize to provide a barrier against a massive assault on the Union camp by the enemy. The engineers were very motivated by the Commander’s enthusiasm in putting the Topographical Engineering Unit to work.

After the meeting with the Commander, I was pleased to draw up a plan for the two pontoon bridges, together with a set of listings for the required materials and pontoons to construct the bridge together with the telegraph message requesting that six pontoons and all relative equipment be sent from the engineering Pontoon train waiting just South of the village of Florence.  Major Webster undertook to write up the plan and materials needed for the requested field fortifications. The materials for the cheavoux de frize arrived almost immediately and Major Webster with his set-up team immediately went to work setting up the field fortifications.  I then undertook to draw a map of the Union Camp to add to the event portfolio.

Major Webster and I had set up a display of some of the instrumentation, weapons, maps, plans, and materials used by the engineers in the field.  Of particular interest, was Major Webster’s excellent reproductions of the “black maps” that he produced on site with the help of the bright sun and some chemically soaked drawing papers.  They were quite good and provided an easy way to replicate important maps and plans for the guidance of the Brigade’s Command Staff at the battle site or the encampment.

I was very much honored by the Event Organizer to narrate the battles that were planned for the weekend, and I did so, being supplied with transportations to and from the battle sites. 

On Saturday evening my personal staff and I retired to the Florence village for a very delicious supper and rest at the provided home.  Sunday morning dawn early and we were back in camp before 8:00 A.M.  My tasks for the day were pretty much involved with narration at each of the battles that had been planned, and talking with the spectators who came by and who were interested in the Engineering Field Office and the displayed materials.  I was very pleased to meet with Lt. Charles Veit who Commands the Naval Landing Party.  This unit took part in the battles in support of the Union Infantry and the artillery.  Their naval displays were said to be excellent and many spectators visited their encampment.  I was also pleased to be able to talk with Captain Reicke of the Ninth Mass. Artillery, and he was engaged for a short period in discussion with spectators in explanation of the engineering displays while I was in the period of narration on the battle field.  

Major Webster accomplished a detailed and exhaustive field Reconnaissance and drew a rough sketch map of  the Pines Theatre Battle Area.  He will be preparing a finished map of the area from the sketch map later in the month to add to the Engineer's Map portfolio.

Major Webster also reports that he has received positive feedback and comments from the Union Infantry Units regarding the establishment and use of field fortifications, which obviously included the Cheveax de Fraise and the Frazee applications.  Both units liked having these devices, which in their view, made the battlefield much more authentic in both looks and usage.  They both evidenced an interest in continuing to use these portable fortification devices in coming future events that do not include mounted soldiers.

I am also most pleased to introduce all to the newest of our members in the Topographical Engineers, Mr. Fred Goodhue.  Fred is 64 years of age, lives in Williamsburg, Mass. and has been a long time reenactor of the WWII period and he is now interested in stepping back in time with us.  “Welcome Aboard Fred,” it is great to have you with us, and we are looking forward to working with you in the future.    

I was pleased to see that the Brigade Commander made good use of the maps and plans provided to him.  Further, I was pleased that the Look Park Event ran so well for the Engineers.  It was a most enjoyable event and if invited, the engineers will be pleased to attend once again.

Your Most Obedient and Diligent Servant;

Respectfully Submitted;

Ian McKay, BG, CE, U. S. Corps of Topographical Engineers       

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