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Cave Valley Event

April 13-15, 2012

This was a first time event that took place in and around the Northside School (1st-8th grades) in the town of Cool, California. Located above the north fork of the American River among the lower reaches of California's eastern mountains. There were doubts about the wisdom of going forward with the event as the weather for Thursday, set up day for the school day on Friday, was not predicted to be good. And it wasn't. Many of us set up in the rain and all of us had to contend with ground that was thoroughly wet at best and swampy to lake like at worst. One of the earlier victims, though certainly not the only one, was the truck and trailer belonging to Mess Sgt. Linda Kalayjian and Pvt. John Kalayjian.


It continued to rain all Thursday evening and throughout Thursday night with the added benefits of lightening near on top of us and winds that would cause a hurricane no embarrassment. The Confederate camp was on a slope which while not looking too good at first glance later saved us from the inundations that overcame the Yankee camp on the other end of the planned battlefield where is was flatter but lower.


The consequences of this thunderous baptism were... a river through the tent of you humble servant which left much equipage including bedding damp at best and soggy in parts, a mess tent that in no way would be usable to cook breakfast on Friday morning, a Yankee camp that had to be totally abandoned to be reconstituted on higher ground and a swampy battlefield that would be wholly unusable for the weekend. It was determined to proceed with the School Day stations inside several classrooms. Consequently the Battery would not be able to do the planned cannon demonstration. We instead presented on the flags of the Civil War with Cap' t Janson, 1st Sergeant Phinney and Pvt. Kuhn taking it in turns to present. Cpl. Holtzclaw assisted with the display of the flags. Following the School Day, which went very well indeed under the circumstances, the officers met to decide if the remainder of the weekend should be cancelled. All agreed that since we were already there and already wet, and since the school superintendent had given permission for the battles to be held on the flat playing field which was on top of the hill so still firm for footing, that we should carry on with our original intent.

Friday afternoon was spent rescuing floundered vehicles:

UnstuckKalayjian Trench

moving Sophia from the bog in which she found herself:

Moving SophiaMoving Sophia
The boys of the 72d New York were, as always, ready to help:
Moving Sophia

... and trying to put the camp in some kind of order:

Artillery CampJohn

Seeing duty with the Hurt's Battery for this event were:

Capt. Ken Janson
1st Sgt. Tom Phinney, cannoneer #1 & 2
Cpl. Jeff Holtzclaw cannoneer #3
Mess Sgt. Linda Kalayjian
Pvt. John Kalayjian cannoneer #5
Pvt. Jeff Kuhn cannoneer #2 & 1
Pvt. Debbie Grace cannoneer #4

Also participating on the gun crew were volunteers Wendy Westsmith and Luke Bone, both of whom did excellent duty and were a credit to their school and families. Wendy is the principal of the Northside School, and when she expressed a wistful longing to be able to participate we offered to train her for the crew. She took to it like that famous duck takes to water:

Wendy Westsmith

Luke Bone, a student at the Northside School was one of several lads that wanted in on the action and specifically asked to be with a Confederate unit. Being too young to work the gun he was assign the honorable duty of standard bearer:

Luke Bone

a duty he carried out skillfully. In addition he proved to be a great asset around camp being always ready to help where needed and a possessor of a keen sense of humor. Both of these volunteers would find a warm welcome should they ever wish to take the field with Hurt's Ala. Battery again.

Our position on the new battlefield was of necessity to the edge of the field and so was unfortunately near a modern playground:

FieldBehind the gun


Though the battlefield may have left a bit to be desired, the battle went extremely well. The public was most pleased and responded well. Saturday after the second battle we held a Battery meeting to discuss future events and take care of paperwork:

MeetingPaper work

By Sunday the Yankee artillery was finally able to field a gun to answer ours. They were short on canonneers, however, and Pvt. Grace, having brought a blue coat, volunteered to help them out. Sunday's weather was gloriuosly sunny and folks went home with mostly dry canvas.

This report cannot concluded without offering our sincerest thanks to Mess Sgt. Linda Kalayjian whose mess gives the Battery its heart and its center. Her labors, her willingness to do so much for us and, not least of all her cooking, make a huge contribution to the success of the Battery.

It remains only to add that the local population was elated with the event. There were many times we were stopped to be thanked for being there. Every kind of aid required was rapidly forthcoming. Our compliments to the community of Cool, Calif. and to the citizens of the Northside School.