Saturday, October 04, 2014

Guest Post from Ray Beimel: More About the Bucktails

Since the next story in my Marienstadt series will include the Bucktails, the famous Civil War regiment of sharpshooters, many of whom were from Elk County, I have been fascinated by Ray's tales of the annual Bucktail Reunions.

Of Bucktails 
by Ray Beimel

First weekend of August was the 20th Annual Bucktail Reunion in Curwens-ville, Pa. That town has connections to both the original Bucktail Regiment (42nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 13th Pennsylvania Reserves, 1st Pennsylvania Ri-fles, they had many names) and the 149th Pennsylvania, one of the two junior or bogus Bucktails. Thus the reunion of Bucktail reenactors is held there.
The encampment is held at a park hard by the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. As always happens at these things, the guy I signed in with was a distant cousin on the Beimel side.
That sine qua non of modern camping, the blue tarp, attends whenever there is old canvas. The camp is mostly authentic.
The original Bucktails  were armed with the breech loading Sharps rifle like the one seen here. Higher rate of fire and reloading while prone were the good things about them.
During the day visitors came and went, looking around, taking pictures, talking to the reenactors.

The boy above is posing next to a genuine Army wagon. Many of the parts are original. In the war, it would have been drawn by 6 mules. We often forget how important horses and mules were to the war effort. Michael Parana, a St. Marys native was the force behind re-storing the wagon. He had photos and information about wagonning during the war and lots of people came by to listen.

In midafternoon, I left to do some biking on the Clearfield to Grampian Rail trail. That story will be at the end of this. Chuck Copello, the organizer, asked me if I could do the group picture for them later before dinner. I was packing the new beater camera which delivers professional results in the hands of a skilled operator so I said I would be happy to.

The group gathered at Colonel Irvin’s house (at top). He commanded the 149th PVI. 20 years before the group had a photo taken in the same spot and many were there for this one.

Afterwards we went to the Bucktail Monument nearby. The man holding the flag is Terry Rickard, one of my coworkers in the Camp Mountain Run days and his cousin Josie.

After the photo shoot, we all came back to the encampment for dinner. I joked that authenticity demanded that salt pork, hardtack, and green coffee beans be served. But instead, we had a nice catered meal, lots of good food and cake for des-sert. During and after there was a lot of conversation of the “ah shit, that’s nothing, back when I was…” kind. I was able to hold my own given that I was packing a heap of Gettysburg anniversary tales.

Then it was time for music. This young fiddler was doing a good job accompanying Greg Hernandez, the fifer I met at the dedication of the Company G monument.

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