After Action Report
River's Bridge 2009
by Ed Harrelson

Gentlemen and Iron Scouts,

I will keep my comments brief and recommend you read Brad's comments, below. 

Members of the Iron Scouts fell in with others from the PLHA (Palmetto Living History Association - Palmetto Battalion) to portray Company C, 47th Georgia Infantry.  Many thanks to Neill, Mac, Dan, and Joel for joining me at "the Bridge."  We had some attrition before we left home, Henry had family commitments, Ron had a fever, and Bert had had enough camping that week, having been in the field the preceding five days.  You were missed boys, as we had a great time.  Friday, Dan, Joel and I arrived around eleven, arranged our gear and loaner equipment.   We humped it into camp with an overcoat and a couple of blankets apiece.  We left the car fortified, and carried some extra soldiers in a bucket.  Our first order of business was to start a fire from coals from the adjoining fires.  Then we commenced catching up and quietly laughing at one another's jokes until around one am.  It was a chilly night, and Dan, Joel and I snuggled up to the fire.  Only one of the PLHA guys caught fire that night, but he was quickly extinguished.  (There's a reason we have a captain who is a professional fireman!)

Mac arrived in the morning.  We got to see Neill's 10 year old son Thomas, who was a trooper throughout the whole weekend, even taking a confederate catnap in the sun during the midday.

Neill prepared a rousing pot of corn meal slop for breakfast.  Most of the troops were disgusted, though I was strangely fond of it.  Must have been the can of sweetened milk and the brown sugar he added.  If you could keep the slop down, it kept you from wanting anything else to eat.  Later in the day, after we had worked for a while, there was a ration call.  Someone found a smokehouse with bacon, and the troops were issued side meat.  We cooked our bacon and I decided to fry up the corn slop from breakfast.  It tasted better fried....but we know that everything tastes better with bacon grease.

Saturday saw the rebuilding of the works protecting the Salkehatchie Rivers Bridge crossing.  The works had not been manned for at least two years.  The head logs and supports were rotten.  We cleared brush from the facade'.  We moved the abatis well to the front, at Joel's suggestion, to put our obstacle in the way of the Union troops while keeping them well in range of our rifle-muskets.  The rifle pit on the far left was improved, had head logs installed, and was later joined with the trench system.  The North State Rifles took the far right of the line, the PLHA infantry took the center and the Iron Scouts cav took the far left.  The day was filled with cutting down trees, digging, improving the steps within the sandy trenches with boards to keep them from collapsing.  When the Yanks finally came across the river and swamp, they were met with an impenetrable front of piled sand.  We took pleasure in firing on the Yanks trying to hide in the thin trees to our front.  Someone should tell them that a 300 pound Yank cannot hide behind a 50 pound tree!

Saturday evening was great.  Neill made a rice pudding with apples and brown sugar.  It tasted great, but there was a hint of scorching, which almost never happens with Rosebud at the tiller.  We ate our fill and washed it down with fresh libations.  One point worth mentioning, apparently women camping alone (in any time period) are ill-tempered and overly frustrated.  While looking for extra firewood, we asked some ladies camping in houses nearby whether the huge stack of firewood was theirs or "community" firewood.  We were firmly told (off) that it was theirs, they brought it from home!  It was at least a cord of wood, so I cannot imagine how many trips they made just carting firewood.  So if you hear, "It's ours, we brought it from home!" You'll know the reference. 

We did find firewood and we did stay warm.  Dan and Mac eventually decided they could sleep without any blankets or away from the fire.  Both reconsidered.  Mac disappeared sometime around two in the morning, having been carried off by wolves and placed in a sleeping bag.  Dan found his blankets.  I was warm by the fire, but I continue to be amazed at how hard ground is to lie on.  At times it has seemed much softer.  Three o'clock comes early and by then my hips can't take anymore.

Sunday we spent lounging.  We eventually built a traverse on the right side of the trenches.  We plugged away at the Yanks for a while when they demonstrated to our front.  The greater number of Yanks attacked on the Confederate far right.  It may be that the battle was scripted for them to push the defenders out of their trenches on that side, but I can't help but think it was in part because the participants outside of the immersion area spent no time improving their ditches.  Several of our troops were pulled from our works to form a skirmish line to screen the Confederate withdrawal.  Unlike the actual battle, the Palmetto Battalion suffered a complete rout as the bulletproof Federals advanced.  It was pretty much a "Right-about, Skedaddle."  Thus ended the Confederate opposition to Sherman's march prior to his reaching Columbia.

A few lighter notes...  We saw Jack Ungaro and Maurice Ungaro.  Maurice briefly told us about N'rella's attending the inauguration (she didn't have no ticket so she had to ride on top o de church bus, and her hair was all messed up, then they went to a mall, but she dinnant see no stores or nuthin').  We hope to spend more time with them a Resaca.  Also, on Sunday, I took Dan and Joel by the old cavalry campsite at Rivers Bridge state park.  We visited the site of the original Den of Iniquity.  Also, I believe, the site of the first Cobra Party (I can't remember, because I was drinking Heiniken.)  One of them asked about the history of the first Cobra party.  I am not sure I know the details.  I will ask either Grand Snake Crawley, his slitheryness Henry, or Captain taNeill to illuminate these new initiates. 

With begrudging respect, I am,

Your humble servant,

Edward L. Harrrlson

From: Brad Malone
Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2009 4:59 PM
Subject: River's Bridge


I just wanted to thank everyone for their hard work and participation at RB. The NCOs’ (Beau, David Chinnis, Ed, Bryant, and Dave Hunter) did an excellent job and made everything flow smoothly. Thanks Neill for handling the rations. I hope that you got all of your money back.

This was my first time, in 20 years, serving as a company officer (I have always been an NCO) and I appreciate the patience and help from everyone.  I apologize for having to leave the event early. My wife and daughter were on a mother daughter weekend in TN., and the transmission went out on her car.

I don't have everyone's email who participated, so please forward this to the guys in the NSR and the Iron scouts. I look forward to seeing everyone at Resaca in May.

Brad Malone

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