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Subject: The Black Plume November 2009

The Black Plume

The 1st Virginia Cavalry, Company D

The Washington Rifles Newsletter

November, 2009

Number 11; Volume 1


Last Event of the Season

The 5th Annual Skirmish at Zollicoffer

Bluff City, Tennessee

November 6, 7 and 8, 2009

            The Skirmish at Zollicoffer is the last reenactment on the Washington Rifles schedule for 2009. This year’s event will be the fifth annual event and our rifle company has been part of the event every year since its conception. Each of the past five years it has been our last reenactment of the season.

            The motto for the event is a “reenactor’s reenactment” and each year it has lived up to this motto. The event is sponsored by the 61st Tennessee/79th New York Company K and the James Keeling Camp 52 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Our friend, John “Pappy” Hawthorne and Rob Turner are in charge of the events operation, planning and schedule. Pappy plans and coordinates the battle sequence.

            Battles are scheduled for 2:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday with the usual amenities including one meal provided for the reenactors. The Skirmish at Zollicoffer is a well run event and always a pleasure to attend. “The Plume” hopes to see everyone there.

            At this years event Monte hopes to meet with the membership to make final plans about this years Christmas dinner. Also we will discuss plans for a business meeting in January and a tentative schedule for a training weekend in the spring of 2010.


The Battle at Fort Sanders

October 16, 17 and 19, 2009

            The 3rd weekend in October the 1st Virginia Company D made the trip to Knoxville to participate in the reenactment at Fort Sanders on a farm about 11 miles east of the city. Last season troopers Ryan Halsey and Shawn Sturgill attended the event and returned with a glowing report on how great the event was. As a group we, based on their recommendation, voted the event on our schedule. It was everything they said it was and more. Fort Sanders will stand out as one of the top events of the season.

            Last year our national event was the Battle of Chickamauga. While everyone would have to say it was a good event we saw all the things that are negative about our hobby there. There was infighting between commanders and the Corps. Reenactors were divided and required to be with this group or that group. Not everyone was allowed to take part in all the events. As veterans we know these things happen from time to time and while we do not like it we learn to live with it.

Well everything that the organizers at Chickamauga desired to be The Battle at Fort Sanders was. The battlefield was perfect with no power poles or modern buildings in sight. It offered a variety of terrain to fight in with woods and open field. The huge crowd that turned out to view the battle could see it all from their spot on the hill and all the reenactors were all used with equal effect. The officers in charge of the event did a great job of organizing and coordinating the battle sequence. There were plenty of Union forces and both sides burned a lot of powder.

We were placed with two companies from Georgia to form the 1st of three Confederate Brigades. We fought as infantry both days. We fought from both a single battle line as skirmishers and a double line as part of the brigade. We marched in a double column and in a column of fours. We did several maneuvers as part of the brigade under fire in front of the spectators.

The earthen fort was everything Shawn and Ryan said it was. Located on a high hill it was the focal point of the Confederate attack both days. With a twenty foot high wall and a ten foot ditch in front the fort was challenging to say the least. However several of our unit made it to the top only to be killed or captured.

After the battle the “dead” remained on the field as the spectators were allowed on the field to view the carnage around the fort. The first day after the “resurrection” I met Dennis Boggs in the persona of Abraham Lincoln touring the battle scene. There were tears in his eyes and he told me that it was the most moving thing he had ever seen at a reenactment.

The weather was cold. The ground was wet. There was mud everywhere. But the action was hot and the reenactment was fantastic. It is a whole year until we can go back to this farm outside Knoxville and do it again but “The Plume” speaks for everyone attending this year in saying, “We can hardly wait.”


The Rhea County Spartans


During the American Civil War, Rhea County (pronounced ray) was one of the few counties in eastern Tennessee that was sympathetic to the Confederate cause. The county raised seven companies to the Southern army, but only one for the Union.

In the summer of 1862, the women of Rhea County created the only female cavalry company raised on either side during the Civil War. These women were frustrated because their gender prevented them from enlisting in the Confederate Army. They wanted to be a part of the struggle for Southern independence, so they created an army of their own.

Almost all of the “sidesaddle soldiers,” as they were called, had fathers or brothers in the Confederate Army. The unit was made up of young women in their teens and twenties from the Washington community. They were all from prominent families in the area.

Mary McDonald, one of the oldest of the group, was elected captain and Caroline McDonald, her sister-in-law, became first lieutenant. They named their unit the Rhea County Spartans.

At first, the girls were content with visiting their sweethearts and relatives among the three Confederate companies stationed in the area, and presenting them with gifts of food and clothing.

In the summer of 1863, Union General Ambrose Burnside’s IX Corps entered eastern Tennessee, but the lady soldiers continued to hold secret meetings. Rural churches in the Washington area were their most common gathering places. Although no records exist to confirm it, the Spartans probably engaged in a little spying for the Confederate forces.

In December 1864, Federal troops finally gained control of Rhea County, which they held for the remainder of the war. Among the Union forces active in the region was the 6th Tennessee Mounted Infantry. Formed in Chattanooga, this unit was a regiment of a few genuine Unionists plus an assortment of draft dodgers and deserters. Its primary purpose was to combat a group of Confederate bushwhackers who still plagued eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia.

Captain John Walker of the 6th Tennessee, a Rhea County farmer, had dodged the Confederate recruitment officers until the Union forces gained the upper hand. In the spring of 1865, he acquired a reputation for harshness toward Southern sympathizers, using his authority to pay them back for whatever slights he suffered when the Rebels controlled the area.

One of Walker’s first acts was to order the arrest of the Rhea County Spartans. He persuaded his commander, Lt. Colonel George Gowin to go along with his plan. On April 5, 1865, as Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was making its final desperate march toward Appomattox, Walker sent out his men to round up the girls. Being a native of the county, he knew who the Spartans were and where to find them.

Walker sent First Lieutenant William Gothard to Washington, where the Spartans’ officers lived, to arrest the women and to report with them by noon the following day at the home of William Thomison, a former Confederate soldier and the father of Spartans’ lieutenant, Rhoda Thomison.

Other officers were dispatched to the countryside around Smith's Crossroads and Dunwoody’s Mill to apprehend the other members of the unit. A few of the Spartans managed to elude their pursuers, but 16 were arrested and brought before Walker

When they learned that they were to be sent to Chattanooga, the prisoners of war were worried. Mary McDonald, captain of the Spartans, wrote a note to Walker, urging him to allow Gothard to accompany them. They knew Gothard, and would feel comfortable traveling with him, but Gowin ordered Walker to go with them.

Gothard escorted 7 of the female Rebels the 5 miles to Smith's Cross Roads, where Walker lived. The Union soldiers rode, while the women walked. At the Cross Roads, they were joined by 6 more Spartans. All 13 then began the long march to Bell's Landing on the Tennessee River. It was dark and rainy, and the women frequently stumbled through unseen puddles. Just before they arrived at the landing, 3 more prisoners joined them.

The women were made to wait on the flooded riverbank. Finally, their transportation arrived—a crude little steamboat called the “USS Chattanooga.” Clearly not meant to carry passengers, the Chattanooga had only one small room suitable for the ladies—an area normally used as a dining room. The table and chairs were removed, and the 16 exhausted young women crowded inside. Exhausted by their 10-mile hike, the Spartans dropped to the floor and were soon asleep.

When the boat reached the wharf in Chattanooga, Walker marched his prisoners to the provost marshal’s office. Captain Seth Moe, assistant adjutant, immediately sent for his commander, Major General James Steedman.

Steedman reprimanded Walker for wasting his time with such foolishness. The general commanded the women to take the oath of allegiance to the Union, and they complied. Moe then took the ladies to the Central House Hotel, where they were allowed to freshen up and eat a good meal, at the expense of the Union Army.

After the women had been fed, Moe escorted them back to the Chattanooga for the trip back to Rhea County. Steedman had ordered Walker to escort the women to their homes, but he abandoned them at the landing to make their way back as best they could.

Steedman wrote to Major General George Thomas at Nashville, recommending that the 6th Tennessee Mounted Infantry “be replaced with good cavalry.” Union Colonel Lewis Merrill told Thomas that “the Sixth Tennessee and First Georgia are simply cowardly thieves—useless, except to keep a community embroiled and encourage guerrillas by running whenever attacked.”

The war ended, and the Spartans disbanded. The members returned to the conventional role of 19th-century women. A few weeks later, Walker was discharged from the Union Army, but he served in a few appointed offices during Reconstruction.

By the time their story was told in the “Confederate Veteran” magazine in 1911, the All-Girl Rhea County Spartans had been forgotten. Only three of them were then still living: Captain Mary McDonald, Third Lieutenant Rhoda Thomison and Mary McDonald.


The Battle of Aiken
Thanks for your interest in the Battle of Aiken. For three days, re-enactors eat, sleep, live and fight in a painfully re-created version of the world in 1865. The Civil War battle has grown from a few hundred men with muskets to a full-blown Civil War festival. In addition to battle re-enactments, there is authentic 19th-century military encampment and reproductions of medical facilities.

February 19-21, 2010: Confederate Park, 1210 Powell Pond Rd. Battle re-enactment 2 p.m. each day. Period church service 11 a.m. Sunday. Advance admission: $10 adults, $5 students. $12 adults, $5 students at the gate. Contact: (803) 642-2500

Captain Baker is planning on an early business meeting to plan for this reenactment in Aiken. As of now we are scheduled for January 3, 2010 at the Washington County Library.


Websites and Contacts of the Month

At the reenactment at Saltville we were entertained by a fine period minstrel band “The Butternut Brigade”. To contact the band about future performance or to contact the band about appearing at your event email Robby Spencer at

Adjutant Wayne Jones of the Brigadier General Bee Camp Number 1575 gave “The Plume” this website where information can be found about the Battle of Aiken, The site in now under construction but check back to keep updated on plans for the even next February.

Our website has been updated with new pictures and our schedule for 2009. Changes and updates can be found almost daily. Check it out at:

            The Plume” would also recommend the site of our campaigner arm of the 1st Va. Co. D, the Wampus Cats Mess. This is a new site address that “The Plume” received from The Cats webmaster, Shawn Sturgill.

If you are looking for more information on becoming a reenactor or would like to receive information about joining the Washington Rifles contact Captain Monte Baker at

To contact “The Plume” or to send an article you wish included in the next issue send email to

Several members of the 1st Virginia Company D are members of Captain John F. McElhenny Camp 840 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. To explore your opportunity to join this camp or another SCV camp in your area go to On the site you can find many pictures of reenactors and reenactments in our local area.


Message from Captain Baker

“The Plume” has had a recent interview with Captain Baker. He reported that The Washington Rifles website is getting on average 3 first time hits per day and 23% of those repeat their contact. Some of those that have contacted Monte are:

1. Mike Snyder with the 1st Virginia Infantry, Company C out of Washington State and Mr. Snyder says that some of his group may attempt to come across country to fight with us next summer.

2. Elizabeth Webster from Minneapolis-St. Paul a living historians that does tin type images.

3. Georginia Goldsmith from Wisconsin who also does tin type images.

4. The 14th Alabama out of Atlanta, Georgia.

5. Kate Berger with the 8th Arizona Infantry from Arizona.

6. Derek Bowers with the 5th North Carolina Infantry out of Statesville, North Carolina.

7. A group of living historians from Tazewell, Virginia called the Nancy Harts.

8. Janice Caldwell a living historian with the Southern Confederate Heritage Association.

9. Debra Keinert, Geannine Keinert and Jenna Theissen living historians from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

These are only a few of the many contacts made with Captain Baker that demonstrate the growing interest in the Washington Rifles and the desire of other groups to find out more about or unique family organization. As is apparent from this list of some of the people are contacting our website from coast to coast.


Message from Justin Conner

Washington Rifles,

            Well I guess the re-enacting season is coming to an end again as you all get ready to attend Zollicoffer next month, and the Christmas dinner in December. I hope you all enjoyed this season. I wish I could have been there with you. I have been very busy. I have finally arrived in Iraq after 7 months of extensive training. I will be returning in April to kick off the next season with you all full speed ahead. I just wanted to stop by and say hello to you all and see how everyone was getting along. I haven't talked to many of you in about 7 or 8 moths. I hope all is well with all of you and I will see you all when I return. Carry on the defense of our State Sovereignty and our homes against the Yankee invader. Make him sorry he stepped foot in the South!


                                                                                      Justin Connor


Death of a Real Son

Frank Elmer Dickerson Sr., 84, of Fincastle, Va., passed away on Wednesday, October 14, 2009. Frank was born in Montgomery County on September 17, 1925. Frank met the love of his life, Isobel Simpson, when he came back from World War II and was visiting the children's home he was raised in. It was love at first sight. He married her on December 24, 1946, in Roanoke, Va. He served our country proudly in WWII and the Korean War in the United States Navy as a sea-bee. Frank was very proud and honored to be a member of the Sons of the Confederacy [Sons of Confederate Veterans] and an actual son of a confederate soldier. Frank enjoyed life and loved his family and church, but especially his boys. He also loved fishing, hunting, gardening and yard work, anything outdoors. Frank is survived by his loving wife of almost 63 years, Isobel Dickerson; his sons, David Dickerson and Dennis Dickerson and his wife, Rose, of Roanoke; his grandchildren, Chad Dickerson and his wife, Christina, of Maryland, Leah Hunger and her husband, Shawn, of Virginia Beach, Brooke Perry and her husband, Kevin, of Buchanan, and David Lee Dickerson, of Roanoke; his special sister-inlaw, Audrey Kelly, of Mill Creek; also many nieces, nephews and close friends. Frank was preceded in death by his parents; son, Frank E. Dickerson Jr.; brother, Byron West; and sister, Irene Brown. Friends are welcome to call Friday, October 16, 2009, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Rader Funeral Home, 630 Roanoke Road, Daleville. A funeral service celebrating Frank's life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 17, 2009, at the Mill Creek Baptist Church. Officiating will be Pastor Randy Daniels. Interment will follow in Mill Creek Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family wishes all memorial contributions be made to the American Heart Association, 4504 Starkey Rd. SW, Roanoke, Va. 24014 or the American Diabetes Association, 530 E. Main St., Suite 200, Richmond, Va. 23219 in Frank's memory. Arrangements are entrusted to Rader Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 630 Roanoke Rd., Daleville, Va., 540-992-1212. "Serving Every Family as if Our Very Own"


Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer

This Tennessee-born newspaper editor and Whig politician fought in the Seminole War as a first lieutenant, held various offices in Tennessee and served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1853-59). Although a staunch supporter of states' rights, he worked to avoid a confrontation between North and South and attended the 1861 peace conference in Washington.
        Felix Zollicoffer was made a brigadier general in the Tennessee state forces following the fall of Fort Sumter, transferred into Confederate service, with the same rank, on July 9, 1861, and given command of the District of East Tennessee, Department Number 2, on August 1, with the assignment to "preserve peace, protect the railroad, and repel invasion." This was a difficult task since eastern Tennessee was generally not a slaveholding area and was unsympathetic to the Confederate cause.
        Zollicoffer moved his forces into southeastern Kentucky in late 1861 before being superseded by General G.B. Crittenden on December 8. Zollicoffer was then given command of the Ist Brigade of the district. His rash move across the Cumberland River forced the rebels to give battle, at a disadvantage, at Mill Springs on January 18, 1862.
        While studying the field he came across another officer on the same mission. He told that officer not to fire on his own men. But the other man was Colonel Speed S. Fry of the 4th Kentucky, a Union regiment. After riding away and being fired upon, Fry, realizing his mistake, turned and shot the Confederate. Also fired upon by some other Federals, Zollicoffer fell dead.


Bluff City, Tennessee

Bluff City experienced several name changes before incorporating on July 1, 1887 under its current name. The town was originally known as Choate’s Ford, and later took the name Middletown. After the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad was built, crossing the Holston River at the town site, the name Union was adopted. During the American Civil War it was called Zollicoffer, but became Union again from the end of the war until 1887. [3]


Important Dates for 2010

“The Plume” has received some dates for local reenactments and living histories for next year. For now these should be considered preliminary as they could possibly change but we will try to keep our readers informed as best we can. “The Plume” will add dates as they come on line.

Lee Jackson Dinner; Wise, Va.January 9, 2010

Battle of Aiken – February 19, 20 and 21, 2010

Washington Rifles Training Weekend – March, 2010

Tazewell, Virginia – April 16, 17 and 18, 2010

East Tennessee Campaign – May1 and 2, 2010

Elkhorn City, Kentucky – May 29 and 30, 2010

Clinch River Days, St. Paul, Va.June 5, 2010

Battle of Jonesville, Jonesville, Va. June 12 and 13. 2010

Christmas in July, West Jefferson, NC – July 3 and 4, 2010

The Battle of the Burg, Gatlinburg, Tenn. – July 2, 3 and 4, 2010


Sutler of the Month

T P & H Trading Company

T P & H Trading Company has been involved in Civil War sutlery since 1990. Started as a part time business while Tim pursued his career in the law enforcement field, the sutlery was originally a general line dealer specializing in antique goods. In 1993 Tim retired from his first career and has pursued his interest in Civil War goods full time ever since. In 1995 Tim felt that the representation of hat makers for CW use was under represented, and started making hats. Self taught, Tim had the opportunity to study extensively a private collection of period hats, and acquired a period hat that he dissected literally fiber by fiber to determine what "secrets" our antecedents may have used. Tim also relies heavily on photographic evidence as a basis and guideline for styles.

One advantage that Tim enjoys is his background in woodworking which makes it possible for him to create his own hat blocks. This is a decided "plus" for Tim's customers who may require some special item not normally available.

Tim pursues his business wholeheartedly, and with the principals of "Trust, Pride and Honesty" at the forefront. Always interacting with his customers courteously and with respect, Tim hopes you will consider him when making your next hat purchase.

All hats are pulled on blocks made By Tim with the styles dictated by actual period hats and photographic evidence.  Each hat is made of 100% fur felt, and is finished out with a hand-cut, wide, leather sweatband depending on the style. The sweatband is handsewn to the hat at the rate of 8 stitches to the inch, set very close to the edge of the leather. The hat is then fully-lined with either 100% cotton or 100% silk material. Brim-edge welting is done in the offset manner (common to the period) using cotton/rayon grosgrain ribbon. The crown ribbon is of the same material. Brim width and shaping may be at the customers choice within certain limits.


Colt Revolvers

From 1848 0n, Samuel Colt produced several successful cap-and-ball revolver models for US forces, the most famous Civil War types being the .36-caliber Model 1851 and 1861 ‘Navy’ weapons and the .44-caliber Model 1860 ‘Army’ weapon. The US war department bought more than 100,000 examples of the Model 1860, which became the official US Army pistol. Although it often had a navel battle scene engraved on its cylinder it be forever known as the ‘Army Colt’.


Third Annual Tri-State Lee/Jackson Dinner

Family Reunion

January 9, 2010 from 6:00pm to 9:30pm

Mosby’s Restaurant; Wise, Virginia

The 3rd annual Tri-State Lee/Jackson Day Family Reunion will be held at Mosby’s. Many local reenactment groups and event sponsors will be present to provide information about next seasons events. T-shirts will be available and door prizes will be passed out to lucky winners. This is a free event. Those in attendance must only pay for their dinner.

Many of us can remember a time when Lee/Jackson Day was a legal holiday in Virginia. The citizens of the great Commonwealth of Virginia choose to celebrate the lives of two of her most noble sons on that day each year. Robert Edward Lee was born on January 19, 1807 and Thomas Jonathon Jackson was born on January 21, 1824.

The 2010 dinner is open to everyone and anyone who wishes to attend. However seating at the restaurant is limited. Last year over 230 attended the event. The evening will begin at 6:00 pm with a social hour. Dinner will follow at 7:00. After dinner those attending will receive information about upcoming events, reenactments, presentations and dedications. There will also be a guest speaker, live music and door prizes. The information provided will allow each group to develop their schedule for 2010. Period clothing is optional.

If you wish to attend conformations are requested by January 2, 2010. This will allow the restaurant owners to have the proper amount of food prepared. For more information about the event or to reserve your spot at the event contact:

David Chaltus, 606-633-5559 or

Richard Brown, 606-633-0475 or


November 8, 1861

The USS San Jacinto, under command of Captain Charles Wilkes, stops at Havana, Cuba and finds two Confederate commissioners, James Mason and John Slidell, awaiting passage to Europe on the British packet Trent. As the Trent sails into open waters in the Old Bahama Channel, the San Jacinto forced the British vessel to stop. Wilkes arrested Mason and Slidell and sailed to the US navel base at Hampton Roads, Virginia with the two commissioners under armed guard. The Trent returned to England with the families of the two commissioners on board. This international incident brought the US and Great Brittan on the brink of war.


Harriet Tubman

Born a slave named Araminta in Maryland, she escaped to the North in 1849 and working with the Underground Railroad helped over 300 slaves escape to freedom in the North or Canada. Tubman nursed Union soldiers in South Carolina during the Civil War and also operated behind Confederate lines as a spy.



Message from Terry Hunt

 The Second battle for Saltville that is on December 19th and 20th is going to be called Battle for Saltville, Christmas 1864.The battle is also going to be portrayed as close as we can get it to the original one. The event will be held on the actual dates of the battle on the 145th anniversary of the battle. We can all hope the weather is better than it was for those boys in gray and blue a century and a half ago. This is event is not on the Washington Rifles schedule but does give us the opportunity to take part in a truly historic event, This will be a free event for reenactors but those participating will be ask to take part in a living history.

In His Own Words

H. K. Edgerton

When (Civil War Confederate ) General Beaureguard decided they needed another flag, he chose the cross of St. Andrew for these reasons. Most Southerners, in fact, did not want to do away with the stars and stripes because they didn't feel they had done anything wrong. They thought it was the north who was eradicating the Constitution."

Slaves "were given a new pair of pants and a new pair of shoes every day, and he thinks this white man was cruel! [Black slaves] had the same medical facilities that the white man had. … You look at most of the slave pictures … they are not raggedy and torn. They lived better than most! … Most of them looked better than most of the white folks around and lived better than most of the free world!"

"It was the wealthy African leaders who sold the poorer Africans to the slave traders. Blacks want to speak of their African heritage, when it was their heritage who sold them out to slavery. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for blacks today to follow the Muslim religion, and Muslims practice slavery today. But no one wants to talk about that."

A Soldier’s Journal

October 13, 1864 laoded on the steam cars in petersburg headed west our company is the only unit of the first virginia on the train it is raining and cold

October 15, 1864 left the train cars at morris town tennessee in a driving rain storm it is cold received rations of sows belly and meal to make how cake we made a meal as quickly as possible and begin marching west

October 16, 1864 arrived at corry town on the outskirts of knoxville just after dawn it rained all the way it is very cold set up camp as best we could it was a hard march on men more acostemed to riding horses we have plenty of firewood and a local union sympithizer gladely furnished us with 3 fine hams and several loaves of freshly baked bread you canot imagine how good real food tastes to a starving man if we are here to take knoxville I am afraid we are in for a tough fight   

October 17, 1864 we were up well before dawn captan baker sent sargent meade to bring us to the line for orders we were places with 2 companys of georgia infantry in what is called the first brigade after a quick breakfast of what was left from last nights meal we joind our comrads from georgia and begin to march in a colomn of fours west toward knoxville the yankee papers say that knoxville is the best defended town in north america a little after mid day we came to a stop in a a patch of woods near a small strem thank the lord it has quit raining but it is still cold we heard cannon and musketery north and east of our position the brigade was called to a battle line and we marched up the hill through the woods to a fine meadow field when we had traveled only a short distance our brigade came under fire from a large number of yankees hidden unsean in the woods on our left flank we left wheeled under fire and begin to return fire we advanced on their position and our charge pushing them back mutch of the fightng was hand to hand it was a bitter fight our brigade had them on the run but our officers stopped us at the edge of the woods as the yankees disapeared over the hill to our front more brigade appeared on our right flank and finally the major from georgia ordered us forward when we reched the top of the hill we saw in our front a huge earthen fort with 15 foot vertcal walls between us and them was a killing field litered with obsticals to impeade our progress we charged through a terrible rain on mini balls grade cannister and solid shot on nearing the fort we found if surrounded by a ditch 10 feet deep on entering the ditch there was no way out many a soldier lost his life in the cold muddy bottom of that ditch after two charges the attack was called off and we retreated to the woods where we layed in the cold and waited developments I believe if we had not been stoped earlier in the day we could have followed the retreating union force right into the fort and taken it instead we are laying in the tennesse mud cold and hungrey the washington rifles lost many a good man today

October 18, 1864 we were pulled from our place in line shortly after dawn and were replaced by second brigade made up of north carolina infantery it was a cold night there was a big frost we marched north along a circular path through woods and pasture to a patch of woods near an abandoned farm house captain baker put out pickets our rations were some horse meat from one of the union horses killed in yesterdays battle just after mid day our brigade received orders we set out through a patch of woods in a westerly direction toward the union fort we came to a pasture field in sight of the fort and found it defended by a brigade of union troops behind a rail fence the brigade was called to a battle line and we engaged the enemy after a fight of about 30 minutes the boys in blue were forced to retreat leaving several dead and wounded  as we waited in our battle line our artillary was brough up to shell the fort in our front it was a grand exchage but had little effect on the union works when the order came to come to the line every man dreaded the attack we had to make with our battle flag flying we made two brave attempts to take the fort for the second time in two days both times we were repulsed there was much hand to hand fighting along the walls and much death in that terrible ditch at leghth after what seemed to be hours we were ordered to withdraw to the ridge line in our rear today as every day I am proud to be a washington rifle our officers and men fought bravely as did the men in our brigade from georgia there will be another day and anouther battlefield we will taste victory and we will earn our independence the war goes on and we are of high spirit no group of men could have done more this day 

October 19, 1864 returned to morris town it is warmer and we have received good rations it is said we will soon be moving east by train to a town called zollicoffer before the war it was called union  if the rumors we hear are true we will not have long to heal our wounds as union troops are said to heading that way I hope it is some of those boys in that cursed fort the 1st virginia company d has some pay back for them

A Message From Shawn Sturgill

I am now making various items such as haversacks (Confederate and
Federal) knapsacks, various types of belts, undershirts, correct arsenal
packs (10 cartridges,12 caps), ground clothes, tent flies, etc. Prices vary from
item to item depending on cost of materials, difficulty of labor, etc. Anyone
interested in an item can email me at (“The Plume inspected a ground cloth and haversack at Fort Sanders and found them both well made. They were both priced at a competitive amount.)
Shawn Sturgill

A Closing Message from “The Plume”

 I hope the readers will enjoy this issue of “The Black Plume”, The Washington Rifles Monthly Newsletter. I have sent it out a few days before the next event on November 6-8 where we will be part of the reenactment The Skirmish at Zollicoffer near Bluff City, Tennessee. While at this event we will plan our Christmas Dinner and our business meeting in January and February.  It is certainly our hope that all of our members that can attend will attend as many events as possible. Also men and women from other reenactment groups are welcome to join us for our events. We can all learn and have fun together. Always remember this is a hobby first. Come when you can. Reenacting must be fun first and should never become anything else.

  Please forward this issue to anyone on your email list that may be interested in its content. If you have comments, an article or information about a Civil War related event coming up in your area and you would wish to include it in a future issue please forward to “The Plume” at Until we meet again good luck and good health to our readers. May God bless America, the Commonwealth of Virginia and protect our troops, police, firefighters and medical emergency personnel who are in harms way protecting our freedom and safety.