Jan. 30, 1862 (+160)

Florida Brigade HQs

Camp near Fort Gatlin


This report describes my recollection of the recent Tactical in Mt. Dora. Special recognition is deserving for the 37th Alabama who secured the location, supplied the much-needed firewood and the port-a-lets. Music for Saturday's Ball was provided by 7 Lbs. of Bacon. As there were no spectators, the entire area was available for use and provided a superb battlefield.

The Confederate army consisted of the 2nd Florida Co. E, Captain Wayne Alonzo commanding; 8th Florida Cos. B & C, Captain John Porterfield commanding; 37th Alabama Co. H, Captain Alan Turnbull commanding; PACS, Lt. Col Keith Kohl commanding and Milton Light Artillery, Major Brian Lynch commanding. Total effectives were 51.

The Federal army consisted of the 4th Brigade, Colonel Andrew Shogren commanding. Total effectives were 12 plus two Federal cannon.

An incident occurred during Friday night’s Midnight - 1 AM Guard Duty shift. While Pvt. Jake Dompe was on patrol, he was surprised by two unknown intruders resulting in an altercation and chase. Dompe's steadfastness and courage might have prevented a more serious incident. The men scuttled away and were not seen again - their identities lost forever. The 1 AM - 2 AM shift was completed by Cpl. Josh Bell without incident.

Saturday began with reveille at 7 and Morning Parade at 9, Major Dwight Dorr presiding. As there was no Ladies Tea, the tactical began at 11 AM with picket lines stretching the entire width the battlefield. PACS and the 37th Alabama galvanized resulting in equal numbers for both armies: 31 muskets each. With fires burning along the entire picket lines, the sound of a harmonica and men singing was often interrupted with aggressive sniping from both sides. White flags could be seen along the line as soldiers traded with each other. This standoff lasted for an hour. At noon, Captain Chuck Sheridan delivered a message to Colonel Andrew Shogren with orders to retrieve a package hidden in the battlefield. This package contained plans for the construction of an advanced repeating cannon. Full documentation can be viewed at MT. DORA TACTICAL DOCUMENTATION. After the location was learned from a Federal spy in the Civilian Town, the Federal army abandoned their picket lines and marched around the Confederate left flank to a location deep behind Confederate lines. In reaction to their movement, Sgt. Ron Doyka sounded “Assembly” at a location determined by Colonel Kearney which vacated the Confederate picket lines and reformed the army. An extensive cannonade began while the armies maneuvered for battle, clashing with each other in chaotic fashion until all ammo was exhausted. At one point, soldiers in the 2nd Florida had exhausted 70 rounds each and were resupplied with an addition 20  from an ammo reserve. One soldier in the 8th Florida was heard saying he had expended 100 rounds. The total engagement lasted 2-½ hours.

At 5 PM on Saturday, Sgt. Andrew Sealing lost his FASTEST SHOOTER distinction to Cpl. Nathan Rust, winner of the very first contest at the Camp of Instruction last year. Cpl. Rust shot three rounds in 1:04 minutes. Pvt. Logan Davis regained his title as FASTEST RUNNER. Congratulations are in order for both of these competitors.

At 7 PM on Saturday, Colonel Andrew Shogren and Ms. Genie Stracuzzi hosted a soiree in the Civilian Town, inviting the Confederate command. Ms. Stracuzzi and the ladies in the town prepared a feast fit for kings. Ale, wine and whiskey filled the glasses. It was very much appreciated and impressive, indeed. Colonel Shogren read a letter from a friend he thought had been killed in battle, only to learn his friend was alive and well and located in the Confederate camp. This man was Captain John Butler, chaplain of Hardy’s Brigade. Butler was found and brought to the soiree and the two old friends were reunited.

Sunday began with Reveille at 7 AM and Morning Parade at 9 AM, presided by Major Dwight Dorr. The Civilian Town was designated as Winchester, VA, a town which changed hands 74 times during the War. It was the intention of this tactical to recreate this “changing of the guard.” The tactical began at 11:20 AM with the Federals occupying Winchester flying the US Flag in the middle of town. The Federal soldiers tore down all the fence in the surrounding battlefield, relocated the timber to the town and built fortifications. For the next 1-½ hours, the flag in the center of town was exchanged 8 times as each army captured and recaptured the town. With ammo exhausted on both sides, hostilities ceased, a Final Salute was ordered and the Tactical at Mt. Dora had reached its conclusion.

It is the opinion of this commander, the tactical was a success and enjoyed by the soldiers. It is hopeful it will become a permanent addition to our Battle Schedule.

This concludes my report.

Respectfully submitted,

Colonel Clay Kearney

Florida Brigade and Hardy’s Brigade