BEERSE EASTER 2007
After organizing the itinerary for this trip, I finally set off on 4th April with fellow members Steve Tamplin 2nd Wisconsin and Kelvin Bruce-Smith 118th Pennsylvania toward Dover. We arrived to catch the 02.00 hrs ferry and had an uneventful crossing, disembarked and set off to the destination of Beerse If you have never driven on the continent it is an experience!!!
We arrived finally after a few detours, (the navigator took us right to the spot, what we failed to see was ten or so white canvas tents, tucked behind a pub, fence and various other bits of Belgian history) where we were warmly greeted by Marco Perez and Nico Storms of the 8th Texas Cavalry, and a few other early arrivals. After a coffee we set up camp and met other reenactors as they arrived. We then went to town stocked up on essentials and back to camp, chill out and meet more people.
Martin, Joan, and Dirk were the only Union in camp at this time portraying the 79th New York, later Guy Meysmans arrived with his two sons as 69th New York. The folk consisted mostly Belgian but also German and Dutch contingents as well.
The ratio was about three to one in confederate favour, but what a very friendly group.
Good Friday dawned and there was a little drill, dress parade and more arrivals. After lunch we formed up and proceeded on a march going through woodland mainly, the drums were at the rear of the column, played non stop I wouldn't like to say how far it was but the cavalry said its not far. Now where have I have I heard that before?
We stopped for a break in a clearing and ate fruit, hardtack, goobers and jerky. This gave us a good chance to talk to the others and surprised so many that we had travelled from England for their event. The weather was hot and as we marched back and neared camp, the dust swirled around the column and stuck to us, stinging eyes and lips. Could this have been a civil war moment?
It was decided to have a beer before supper, dangerous move, but it tasted so good and brought about a deep slumber.
Saturday the day of the battle, brought yet more clear skies. This was the day of drill, more drill, dress parade, drill, lunch more drill, form up for battle and get to our positions.
The scenario was the Union were to take out fortified Confederate positions, The attack started but was held back by well positioned sharpshooters and skirmishers on our left flank. Our right flank was protected by a battery of two artillery pieces, and various hastily requisitioned militia men of dubious standing. We pushed the skirmishers back until we had something of a battle line and took the first Confederate line of defence. We burnt a few more rounds until a parley was announced. The defenders would not surrender so it would be down to the last man; we fired a volley and then charged in winning the day for the Union, HUZZAR
That night there was a civil war ball in a barn that has been converted to a period looking room, sparsely lit, but with an adequate dance floor and many period dances were done. Unfortunately for the tres amigo's none of us had "smart attire" in which to participate let alone white gloves, this did not stop the ladies asking for a dance. Two left feet was the order of the day, but an enjoyable experience. There were various raffles with very good prizes, ceremonies for various agendas and in general a "darn good back slapping time was had by all."
Easter Sunday again was bright and hot with the advantage of the arrival of the Easter bunny, chocolate is OK but they let the rabbit go!!!!!! Sadly this was the final day for some and we said our goodbyes to those that were leaving, it left us a day to do a bit more drill and we even did more drill, trying different moves and so on. Sunday night was spent in the barn socialising with the German guys we met.
Monday morning was time to leave and we left at 08.00hrs stopping at Anderkerke for shopping before we embarked on our homeward voyage from Dunkerque.
We arrived back at around 21.00 hrs with some wonderful memories of a great weekend and new friends, some of I hope will becoming to Stanford Hall this year.
If you would like to go to this event next year see me, Andy Hopwood, Kelvin or Steve and when we get the details we will let you know. Most years it is around the Easter holiday so it is a good opportunity to have a break on the continent for a minimal price. It worked out for transport including ferries around the £80.00pp, three paying adults in the vehicle plus trailer.
Keep yer powder dry
Andrew J. Hopwood 118th P.V.I.
The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, Summer 2007