1st Regt Illinois Vol. Light Artillery – Battery H
It is the end of the season and officially, the final horn has been blown for the last event of the year. It is hard to believe that another year has passed by. Many clay pigeons and ceramic tile were sent to the grounds in shards. And there were those that continued to mock the marksman after surviving the five minutes. So let’s take a brief look back and recap the successes and not so great standings of the Battery. It must be reported that the official goal, having fun and being safe, was reached.
April 23-24 Loami Illinois
This was the first of the five Western Region Skirmishes. It is held just outside of Springfield Illinois and hosted by the 114th Illinois. It is always a fun skirmish but there was a conflict of dates and only the Commander and Scott H. made the trip down south. The Commander took first place in 25 yard revolver, first place in 50 yard revolver and first place revolver aggregate. He also took First place at 25 yard smoothbore, first place 50 yard Carbine and 2nd place Smoothbore aggregate.
Scott and the Commander were picked for smoothbore and ended in 3rd place team.
April 23rd. Zerko Relic show – Wheaton Ill
While Scott H and the Commander were representing the Battery down near Springfield, Jon Mazur, Bob Brown, John Thatcher (JT) and Steve Renner with a cameo appearance by Scott Camp who drove to Farmer John’s house and brought the cannon back home for the summer, represented the battery at the Zerko Relic show. As in the past, The Battery put out a small display and helped check firearms that people were bringing in. Special thanks to Scott Camp and Bob Brown for the use of their vehicles to move the cannon around.
Spring Nationals May 18 – 22 Winchester VA.
The Commander, Stan, JT, Steve L and Jon Mazur made plans to attend. But JT had to bow out due to breaking his leg. (He is doing much better now.) Wyatt filled in for JT and did well.
Stan and the Commander competed in several individual events. The Commander took first place in 100 yard Breechloader, third place in 100 yard musket, and musket aggregate.
Friday started with Revolver Team competition. There were several gremlins lurking around from last fall. As the members of the Revolver team were in the middle of loading for the first event, the bench collapsed sending ammo, revolvers, and caps to the ground. They had to stop the match to fix the bench. The Battery ended up in 8th place in class A-2.
The next event was smoothbore team. The Battery ended in 20th or last place in Class A-2
Spencer team matches were next. The Battery had a good chance but the gremlins again struck. Stan’s spencer was malfunctioning prior to the match and attempts to solve the issue failed. The Battery finished in second place, 45 seconds behind the first place 46th Illinois.
Mortar team was next and the Battery took 7th place. At first things did not look good for the first shot fell almost 100 feet short but adjustments were quickly made bring the Battery the medal.
Saturday was the Carbine team event. Though short shooters, the Battery had obtained the needed bodies to make a full eight-person team. That is until it started to rain Friday night which chased two of the extra shooters away. So with only six people on the line the Battery did the best they could. The Battery finished 21st in Class A-3
Sunday was the musket team event. It was overcast with a mix of light rain. A hat off to Dan Davis of the 46th Ill who was top shooter with 20 hits. The Battery came in 15th in Class A-3, only about 50 seconds out from a medal.
Nationals are also known for the cooking of Stan and the Commander and Mazur buying cherry pies to top off their meals.
As for the other National tradition, the contest between Stan and the Commander to see who can hit the most targets. The Commander out shot Stan in every event, giving Stan another defeat.
Harpers Ferry: Harpers Ferry is a special place for many of us and it became more special to the Commander and Deirdre. For slightly after 5PM, the Commander got down on one knee and asked Deirdre to be his Number One. She said yes.
Sandyford Skirmish: June 24 – 26 Streator Ill.
This is the annual Frank V Matuszek Memorial Skirmish which the Battery hosts. The weather was good but due to back to back to back weekends of skirmishing the numbers of participants were lower than expected. The Battery did okay and also received a check from the Western Region to help with the costs.
4th of July Parade Brookfield Illinois:
The Battery marched in this parade for the fee of $150. Scott H. and family attended, with Stan and the Commander marched. Scott H. daughter dressed as a private to help fill out the Color Guard. Special thank you to her for if she didn't the $150 would not be in the Battery treasury.
Grayling Long-Range Match July 30-31, Grayling MI.
The Battery attended the Long-Range artillery match hosted by Loomis’ Battery. Last year the Battery experienced a major disappointment, getting a projectile stuck in the barrel. This year, things were different. All projectiles made it down the barrel but only one hit the target. It was a learning experience and the crew discussed some changes for next year. The big change is that they would like to purchase new projectiles from Tim Scanlan of Fort Shenandoah. The cost is on the high side but several individuals have promised to donate funds to cover the cost of the needed projectiles.
Stan brought the mortar out from Virginia and the mortar crew attempted to drop at least one ball within 20 feet of the target pole which was 350 yards away. Try as they might, there was a very brisk cross wind making it difficult.
Over all those that attended had fun. Stan made dinner and breakfast for the crew. Oh, and everyone was safe and came home uninjured. Special thanks to Bob Brown who used his vehicle to pull the cannon to and from the match.
Waconda Civil War Days: July 9-10: Waconda Illinois
This was the first time the battery attended this two day event. One of the main purposes of the Battery is the preservation of history. This is done by competing in skirmishes and putting on displays like we do at the Wheaton Show. Waconda Civil War Days was another event that helped the battery fulfills this purpose. Steve Renner spearheaded this event. With the help of Dan Davis of the 46th Illinois, the battery set up several period tents while other members brought display items, and such to show people. In addition to that the cannon and gattling gun were also displayed.
Saturday was the busier of the two days. It was reported that many people swarmed to the gattling gun. Once there, they were educated on the battery and what the battery is about. Jon Mazur kept busy getting children of all ages to dress up and have their picture take next to the cannon or gattling gun. The battery did not participate in the battle reenactment for that is not their thing, but JT did step in or should we say lay down, as a wounded solider. He was operated on and made a complete recovery. Sunday’s crowd was smaller. Jon Mazur had other plans but the Commander was able to fill in. This was a fun event and new contacts were made. The battery would like to do this event again if possible. Again thanks to Bob for hauling the cannon and JT for the pulling the gattling gun. Also to everyone else who brought things to share.
Bristol Skirmish: July 16 -17 - Bristol WI
The Battery sent a contingency to this skirmish. It was another friendship skirmish for both ACWSA and the N-SSA members. The results were not too good or at least not worth bragging about. There were a few glitches like the Boy Scouts failing to show up causing the host team to do a burger run to Mc Donald’s for Saturday Lunch. Then Sunday there was the threat of heavy rains so the host team cancelled all of the Sunday events. This was a first in Skirmish history. Many people were not happy but not much one can do when the host team starts to break down the target frames and put target materials away. The kicker was that the sun was shining an hour later.
Sandy II Skirmish: August 20-21 – Streator Ill
The turnout for this skirmish was slightly better for the 46th Illinois than the Battery’s skirmish in June. The main reason was that there were not several skirmishes in a short period of time. There were the typical fare of events, both individuals and team. The difference was the addition of breechloader team on Sunday. It was a smoothly ran shoot and the food offered was very satisfying. The Commander won several individuals awards. He cannot remember what he won but he believes it was in revolver and smoothbore. The teams did about the same, ending up in the middle of the pack. The good thing was during breechloader team event was that JT discovered an issue with his spencer. This allowed him to discover this then versus on the line at Fall Nationals.
Bristol II Skirmish: September 17-18 – Bristol WI
This was the last of the five Western Region Skirmishes and the last friendship skirmish of the year. In the opinion of the Commander, this was one of the poorest ran skirmish that he had experienced. Lacking a schedule of events and time table of events, many of the shooters arrived late for events or missed them completely. The host team ran both team and individual matches at the same time. This meant that shooters had to pick between team matches or individual matches. They could not compete in both. Team targeting was incomplete and each team was responsible for finding something to color the water in the bottle targets. Everything from ketchup, mustard and suntan lotion was used to make the targets visible at 50 yards. JT, Scott H, Jon Mazur, Bob Brown and the Commander were there to represent the team.
Sunday was a little better but mostly because they were more prepared. JT had brought white paint for the bottles and the day only held one team event. On the positive side of things, several of the events were interesting. The teams had to hit targets in a predesigned order. The birds on the pigeon board were half black and half orange. The orange birds had to be hit first and then the black birds. Another event had the teams hit 10 different targets starting with the largest being a one gallon jug and working to the smallest, which was a moskeet.
Fall Nationals: October 5-9 - Winchester VA
Injuries continued to plague the Battery. This time Steve Renner hurt his hand making him unable to neither pick up a cap nor hold a musket or carbine. So the Battery entered this 5 day shooting event down one member. Luckily it would affect only the musket and carbine teams. Stan arrived early, set up his tent and then went home. The Commander and JT arrived on Monday and did some sightseeing prior starting the matches. Scott H, Mazur, and Steve L were all present by late Wednesday. Mazur and Steve L. went to the Bull run National Battlefield Park while JT and the Commander visited Sharpsburg and the mountain passes that Lee tried to hold to prevent the Union forces from there. They also had to visit Happer’s Ferry for they had to leave that Monday morning.
The Commander, Stan and Scott H. shot in several individual events. Only the commander came close to placing in the winner’s column. The Commander seemed to correct an issue that was haunting him and his smoothbore “Bela”. He scored a 91-1X just one point shy of a medal.
Friday is always a busy day. Four team events are fired filling the entire day from 7 AM to 5 PM. The first team event was revolver. This time the Battery checked the loading bench to make sure it was sound and secure. In the spring, the bench collapsed. JT, Mazur, Stan and the Commander stepped up to the line and waited for the horn. Stan was consistent in the match with 2 hits each event while JT started off good but cooled. The Commander started cool and then heated up. Mazur filled in the rest of a final time of 256.6 giving them Second Place in Class A-2.
Smoothbore team was at 11 AM just after the artillery meeting and saw Scott H join the revolver team members to shoot smooth bore. The 29th Wis needed an extra shooter and Steve L was “farmed out” to them for the event. Both JT and the Commander started off very fast with Scott not very far behind. Mazur stepped up the next two events while Stan seemed to be having problems finding his impact area. He did find it by the third event. The Commander lost it at the 50 yard event but top-shooter, JT, and Stan were on target and both Scott and Mazur both got one. All four events were completed giving them a good chance at a medal. The end time was 488.4 and a solid 4th place in Class A-3.
The Spencer team was next. Scott H stepped out and the four stood in. The plan was to wrestle the 1st place from the 46th Illinois, but it was in jeopardy from the start. JT thought he had fixed his spencer while Stan was still waiting on a part for his from the Spring. With some parts swapping, Stan was able to get his Spencer to fire each time versus every other time. The Commander had placed a new sight on his spencer and had been to the range only once since. The result was not good. Only one event was completed and the Battery came in last. Only three teams competed but only one team walked away with a medal, the 46th.
Friday ended with the mortar matches. The Battery had both tubes out. Prior to the match, JT and others had fired all the mortar balls hoping to find 8 balls that would group better than those in the past. As always judging impact, long or short, was the bane of the event. The end results were not bad but not good enough to place in the top 10. Stan and his crew came in 21st while Scott and his crew came in 32nd.
Early Saturday morning the rain had started. Prior to all of this the weekend was a mixed bag but dry. There was hope the advancing hurricane would not cause more rain than wanted. The rain started at 4 AM and continued until 5 PM, meaning the entire Carbine Match was shot in the rain. Being two shooters short, the Battery was able to find an extra shooter giving them less of a handicap. The Commander had a very fast start while JT was not far behind. Between the two of them, they hit 16 targets. The extra shooter did hit one target but it would be the only target he would hit. The next event, Scott went 7 for 7 hitting almost half the targets. Others started hitting as well completing the next three events. The 100 yard event the team left one but when the smoke cleared the Battery had finished with 1284.7 seconds. Good enough for a 5th place in Class A-3.
Musket team was fired on Sunday and with only six members on the line, the odds for placing were very poor. At times there were glimpses of hope while other times one just knew it was hopeless. Scott H had a good run but the Commander had one of his best shoots ever, ending up with 25 hits. But shooting two people short was too much for the team. The total time of 1503.3 placed them in 26th in Class A-3
As for what ended up being cooked over the fire, on Wednesday, Stan made burgers, fresh baked buns and homemade chips. Thursday was the trip to Golden Coral. Friday Stan opened several cans of baked beans and threw in some diced up hotdogs. On Saturday, the Commander threw together a nice pork pot-roast. Being that the Commander had inched over the hill by turning 50 several days before, it was only appropriate that Stan make him a birthday cake in a Dutch oven. He also made the Commander wear a festive hat.
After being beaten badly by the Commander last Spring Nationals, Stan promised a tighter race. He vowed to practice and not be embarrassed. With his Spencer being broken and unable to fix it due to the lack of the proper parts, he knew his would be a tough task. And it was. Stan failed to practice and the Commander had one of his better skirmishes in several years. Not to mention that there were several target rich environments. The result was that Stan lost. The good news was that it was not by as many as in the Spring.
Dues for the 2017 Season.
Members should have received an invoice for the 2017 season. We hope that everyone had fun and will sign up for another year. For those wishing to just join the Battery, the fee is $10. This allows you to join in all the display but none of the N-SSA events. If you want to compete in the N-SSA the total fee is $100. The $10 for the Battery; $10 for the Western Region fee, and $80 for the N-SSA national fee. Please send the dues to Bob Brown by Nov 25. The due date to the N-SSA is Dec 1st.
There are several events that their dates are set in stone. And then there are those that are still pending. The best that can be done for now is to speculate on those that are not set in stone and guess that they well be held close to the weekend they were last year.
Spring Nationals – This skirmish is always held on the third Friday – Sunday in May. That makes the date for the skirmish May 17-21.
Sandyford Skirmish – This is planned for June 23-25th, the last full weekend in June.
Fall Nationals – Like the Spring Nationals, this skirmish is held the first Friday – Sunday on October. That means Oct 4-8.
Wheaton Civil War Relic Show – This event will be held on April 29th and Sept 23rd. This is from their website so it is solid.
Brookfield 4th of July Parade – This should be happening on the actual date, July 4th. Pending approval from the Battery.
Tentative or Possible dates:
The following events and dates still need to be confirmed. These dates are speculation for many of the events happen around the same weekend. Again these dates are a speculation. More details to follow once confirmed.
Springfield Loami Skirmish: April 23-24
Bristol Skirmish I: July 15-16
Long Range Artillery match: July29-30
Waukanda Civilwar days: July 22-23
Sandyford Skirmish II: Aug 26-27
Bristol Skirmish II: September 16-17
Again these dates are an educated speculation and still need to be confirmed. They are here because some people are close to picking their vacation days off. Again, there will be more information on these events to follow as soon as available.