Friday, January 28, 2005

An Artillery tale

There was a fellow several years ago what was one of the Rangers over at Nameless National Park who got himself transfered off somewhere, as these Gummint fellers are wont to do at times. Something to to do with money and promotions and whatnot. Anyhow, he was a pretty good fellow... for a Yankee. He also happened to be the gent what was in charge of the Living History program over there.

The last weekend he was there, they were having a big program, with a couple of Infantry units and an Artillery section.

As a bit of explantion, in Civil War terms, a Section was two guns. In the Confederate Army, two sections formed a Battery, while in the Union Army, a Battery was made up of three sections. Each gun was under the command of a Gunner, who aimed the piece and gave the commands to load and fire. Each pair or section was commanded by a Section Chief, who in turn answered to the battery commander.

Now, this fellow that was transfering was the one what always talked to the crowd, most of the time with his back to the boys manning the guns. Since it was his last day (or rather his last living history program at Nameless National Park), Scutter, who just happened to be Section Chief, decided to pull a little prank on him.

About two o'clock they had the biggest crowd of the day out there for the Artillery demo. Probably two to three hundred spectators.

The Ranger went into his spiel while they (the gun crews) fired off a couple of rounds.

Just as he was winding up his talk and the Artillery were getting ready to load their final round for this demonstration, Scutter started screaming at the top of lungs "MY GOD, THE REBS ARE ON TOP OF US! " (They were doing Federal that day)

"ABANDON BATTERY!!!!! ABANDON BATTERY!" Everyone on the crew took up the cry. "ABANDON BATTERY!!!"

Whereupon both gun crews threw down their sponge rammers, lanyards, worms and other implements and fled for the treeline at a dead run.

The crowd loved it. Thought it was part of the presentation. Abandon battery indeed.

The Ranger, to give him credit, never lost his cool. In fact, he never even turned around. He said later that if he had, he'd have cracked up. And I guess that's just not something they do in front of visitors...