WVRA School of the Soldier

May 24, 2010 - 1 Comment

by Jim Barnes

The town of Rowlesburg, WV played host to the annual WVRA School of the soldier again this year, on the weekend of May 1st. This was a small event with probably no more than fifteen to a side. There was a small spectated reenactment of the Battle of Rowlesburg on Saturday, which was probably more accurate than usual according to the number of combatants, since both sides fought nearly the entire affair as skirmishers. I have always thought that battle lines of no more than twenty riflemen must look strange to the average spectator. With small numbers, skirmish drill makes more obvious sense.

We actually spent a good deal more time drilling than we did in the battle. This should be the case with this type of event, of course. Even experienced reenactors gather a good deal of rust in the off-season. I haven’t gotten that hot and tired at an event for a while, but I feel that it was time and effort well spent.

That evening the town put on an impressive dinner as part of the event and featured featured a historian who gave a power point presentation on the military objectives of the Confederate attack on the town, which was of course, the B&O Railroad bridge and viatduct located here. The presentation illustrated why Lee and his officers saw this area as a prime target for such a raid. Had the raid been successful in its objectives, the Northern war effort could have suffered.

The Town of Rowlesburg helped the WVRA sponsor the event in return for putting on the battle. Once again we were treated to a sumptuous breakfast at the VFW in town. This meal is in and of itself, enough justify the trip over the mountain.  Many small communities are eager to have such events in order to create interest in their communities, but Rowlesburg does a particularly fine job.  My hat is off to them. Now I can hardly wait for the WWII event in June!

Comments (1)

Mike Momot

May 24th, 2010 at 8:49 am    


Hi Jim,
How’s retirement you old warhorse? Rowlesburg is great by any campaign. It was rather warm in our neck of the woods too and I can only feel for those of you in wool garb. This brings back to mind Reading, for me. You know how my weekend concluded there!

I enjoy the rush of a mass of humanity in battle though the small skirmish is also very realistic, especially the ambush, the hunt for a sniper, or the scouting patrol. This is harder for some of the public to follow however, and isn’t as glamorous. This is especially noted at WWII events where Hollywood has John Wayne and the likes storming the beachheads in a charge of glory. Ask any veteran and I’m sure they will tell you it is many times days of boredom followed by twenty minutes to an hour of shear terror and pure hell during a firefight, ambush, or artillery barrage. House to house is the worst I can tell you from my training.

The men of yesterday were real men indeed and you really don’t appreciate what they must have been through until you put those wool uniforms on. They lived in those wretched things and couldn’t just take them off when the public was out of view. They were a tough breed.

This sounds like it was a very good event and well thought out. I think the downfall of some events I have visited as a spectator was trying to employ less than 50 reenactors as a battalion in force. You are better served to focus on a small unit battle such as a platoon or undermanned company. I always noted this in the television series Combat, which I loved and still do. They portrayed a platoon but were actually of squad size and a small one at that. It just doesn’t come off as believable. I’ve been employed in command of a platoon sized force with my lieutenant and it is no easy task but manageble when you are well trained and have good NCO’s. Your posts stimulate good thought Barnsey! Sounds like this event focused on realistic deployment rather than to make it something it is not for the sake of show. Top marks to the respective units here and always two thumbs up and a high five for Rowlesburg!

Wish I could make the June event at Rowlesburg but I do look forward to our next event in Reading and your continued posts.

Comrade Medic Misha, 193rd Rifle Division

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