Training - Colfax, NC

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Training Weekend
Apr 16-17, 1999

by Pvt. Barney Cline

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Apr 99 Training (26 KB)On Friday men began arriving, setting up camp, getting a fire started for the evening supper. Little did they know Private Foster and his wife Donna had brought the fire with them. The flames weren’t coming from the hardwood coals, they came from their big pot of chili. As the beads of sweat dripped into his eyes, he told the men he was sure he had made a mild batch of chili. “You reckon I added a tad too much hot peppers?” Private Foster whispered under his breath. In addition, it was rumored that several of the men were forced to sleep with the tent flaps open that night.

Saturday morning began like a scene out of the Old West. Talented trackers were enlisted to hunt down Lt. Stewart’s escaped mount, Little Joe. The horse had decided the fence was too confining and opted to ignore it. They found Little Joe five miles away heading for the I-40 Interstate. No one knows why he decided to desert, but it’s a darn good thing he didn’t have a thumb or he’d be in California by now. All’s well that ends well, the equine escapee was back in the fence and Lt. Stewart was glad he didn’t have to run along side the guns with the cannoneers. Although, the men would’ve truly loved to have seen his heels and elbows doing the quick-step beside those big wooden wheels.

The fantastic weather made the drills quite enjoyable. The drivers worked with the new horses, Bill and Bud, noting that these new four-legged recruits fit right in and the men looked forward to hooking them up with a team. The new S.T.R.I.N.G. system of identification was found to have a slight glitch. Not to worry, the men soon remembered which color went with which horse and a soldier was seen jotting down the code in an attempt to ward off the problem in the future.

Private Tom Prisk, training manual in hand, drilled the cannoneers in the fine art of artillery mobilization. Since these drills required the men to move the gun without the aid of horse or team, the cannoneers found a new respect for the pulling abilities of the Morgan. By the end of the morning, the guns were whipped about in rapid order as if they were weightless... almost. Soon the aroma of sweating horses hung heavy in the air which caused some confusion since the animals were far away, warming up. Could it be the extra muscles the men had to use for moving the guns be causing some kind of bodily reaction?

LUNCH. Mrs. Stanley and several of the men’s wives outdid themselves again. Lasagna, chicken pie, salads, bread and desserts that were so wonderfully tasty, seconds and thirds were not uncommon. The men ate so much that several brass buttons were later found on the training field, no doubt ripped from their moorings by an unrestrained buildup of additional bulk.

After lunch, Captain Stanley ordered the men to hitch the guns. The section drilled impressively, marching over the field with such grandeur that several passersby must have thought they’d gone through some type of time warp as they drove past. After a few adjustments, the teams thundered up the hill, dirt clods flying, nostrils flaring, pulling the limbers and cannons in fine order and sending a chill down the spines of the cannoneers watching from above.

By the end of the day another successful training weekend concluded. The men, tired, but happy brushed down the teams and loaded up the cannons. The men of the 1st NC Artillery can’t wait to take the battlefield for they know they will truly look magnificent.

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