Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
School of Instruction
April 4, 2009
Haddam Meadows State Park
Dear Nutmeg Friends,
It was a pleasant spring day at the Haddam Meadows, even though it was early on the calendar for our annual drill. We all arrived around 8.00 o'clock, and found that the fires were ready for morning coffe, compliments of our own Pyro. Everyone was converging in quick time, and we ended up with a fine bunch of boys from the Nutmeg State for the School of Instruction. Not only were there a good showing from the bloody old Eighth, but a fine compliment from the 14CV, and a great contingent from the 28th Mass. Co. K. There were friends here from as near as Haddam, and as far as North Carolina. Bully to you all for coming and enjoying !
The coffee and some oatmeal was put on, and enjoyed. There was a slight chance of some rain, so that the first little sprinkle that came prompted us all to action to accomplish the most in the least time. It is our blessing that the rest of the day was sunny, yet quite windy. All in three years.
We organized a company front, and numbered 26 rifles. We proceeded to review the principles of the School of the Soldier, including the position, the dress, the facings, and the Manual of Arms. We did have several fresh fish in the ranks, and they were seamlessly absorbed by the men, and were guided and pushed around in the tradition of the army.
We proceeded to the School of the Company, with firing instruction, foot work, and all the safety aspects of the process. It is imperitive that everyone in the ranks is on the same page during these drills, such that when they are under fire, it is all second nature, and that all are safe. We fired by company, rank, and file. We drilled the oblique firing and all were clicking well. We About Faced, and got all the boys in tune with the drill.
We worked very thoroughly on stacking and taking arms, and rotated all the boys through the process such that they could all stack in ten seconds or less.
Then, giving the boys the choice to march with or without arms, they went without. We reviewed the advance to the front in line, and worked on wheels from the halt and on the move. We worked on left and right turns, and described the difference depending on the side of the guide, for wheels, and turns.
We marched by the right flank to the right, and made the maneuvers to come into line to the left, the front, and the right. We marched by the left flank, and repeated the evolutions. We repeated and repeated the combinations to the point where the boys were actually ready for any contingency. It was sublime.
We broke for dinner, and most got a little from the haversacks, and passed some good times and great conversations. We got to the point where we all needed to get back to work.
The company was broken down into little squads, and each NCO was given some privates. This was a chance for the NCOs to practice and demonstrate their knowledge and leadership skills. This was a great time for the NCOs to fine tune the practices of the old and new soldiers, and to trade lessons learned between squads.
After a time, we pulled everyone together once more, and conducted a Skirmish Drill. The drill went very well, although we were not perfect, it was a great learning and practicing experience. The sight of our good sized company in skirmish line extending across the meadows was indeed very impressive, and worthy of the best reviews. We deployed by the file and the flanks. We advanced and retreated in skirmish line. We wheeled in skirmish line, and that was indeed a great experience.
We took an afternoon break, then went into a guard mount and posting and relief sequence so that all the Sergeants and Corporals were given instruction in the posting and relieving of sentinals. This was repeated three times through so that all got their chances to do the work.
Soon after that, we got everyone back into company line, cleared our weapons, and thanked everyone for their contributions and comraderie. We broke ranks, and sent everyone back to their homes, to be called up for the next rendezvous, and travel to the seat of war.
I was so very pleased that all of our friends determined to support this camp. If it is not for all of us getting together and working together, then there sorts of events will only be a few boys staring at each othere and talking of the drill. I humbly appreciate all the contributions of all to make this a mutually beneficial event. Lets make it even bigger with even more friends next time !
You obedient servant,
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Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.