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Posted By: John E. Schultz on: 12/15/2007 15:23:30 EDT
Subject: Christmas in the Field After Action Report

Message Detail:
All - here is my report to my Major for this event for your review.

Major Dailey,

I have the pleasure to present the After Action Report for Signal Corps of the James' participation in Christmas in the Field December 7th - 9th 2007 which took place in Isle of Wight County Virginia.

Our unit arrived Friday the 7th at 3:00pm and were directed to camp directly next to the Commanding General on "Officer's Row". My wall tent and fly were set beside his with our men's A tents off to the other side of mine (3 in all). Fire wood, water and 'necessaries' were in ample supply throughout the weekend.

In attendance at the event for our unit were:

1st Sgt John Schultz - Acting Signal Officer
Cpl. Paul Gordon - Acting Corporal
Pvt. David Cutchin
Pvt. Bill Chapman
Pvt. Jose Fernandez
Pvt. William Chapman (musician)
Pvt. John Schultz (musician)

The first afternoon we were busy setting up camp with a goal to get dinner served prior to dark. Dinner was cooking at the time of sunset and we enjoyed hearty fare.

The weather the first night was cold with temps in the upper 30's. Many blankets were used for us to keep warm but we slept well with no ill effects from the weather.

The next morning greeted us with partly sunny skies and a light to moderate wind from the northeast.

Reveille was held by our Unit's drummers for the Army at the appropriate time. Breakfast of bacon, potatoes, and onions was prepared and enjoyed by all.

Directly after breakfast I was asked by the Commanding General if our musicians could accompany the Army to the Parade which they were marching in to be held in Smithfield Virginia. I agreed and our musicians willingly participated.

While the Army was gone to the Parade we busied ourselves with straightening our camp for visitors and preparing the Signal Flags and code sheets to be used during that day's skirmish.

We determined that the Yankees had no Signals present so Myself and Pvt Fernandez would galvanize while Acting Cpl. Gordon would take Pvts Chapman and Cutchin with the Confederate Command.

When the Army returned I attended the Officers Meeting which explained the day's battle scenerio. The Confederate Army were going to advance en'mass on the Union troops who were vastly outnumbered but protected by a large earthworks.

Battle Specific Information:

2:50 Both Yankee and Confederate Signals in place.
3:05 Confederates were to start the battle but were late - Union General requested I send "Begin Scenerio" which I did and received acknowledgement.
3:08 Cavalry engaged. (finally)
3:15 Union General requested that I send "Advance Skirmishers" to CS. Acknowledgement received.
3:17 CS Skirmishers advance toward the union earthworks
3:20 Union skirmishers out in front of the earthworks fell back.
3:21 CS Skirmishers were routed soundly as their main body advanced across a fence 20 yards in front of Union earthworks.
3:22 CS Infantry presses our works but were pushed back.
3:25 CS Infantry again presses Union works but were pushed back.
3:27 CS Infantry charged Union works but were again pushed back.
3:28 CS Infantry falling back away from the works.
3:30 Union Artillery firing Canister shot at retreating CS Infantry to devastating effect.
3:31 Union General requested I send "Cease Engagement" which was sent.
3:32 CS responded with "Cease Fire"

The second night was a treat. Dinner was served by the hosting unit and it consisted of a Christmas dinner with all the 'fixings'. It was greatly enjoyed by all. The weather was cool, but not as cold as the previous night. Signal Corps of the James settled around the camp fire for an evening of conversation.

During the evening the Commanding General was provided with a hand-written break-down of the day's battle plan as detailed above.

The second morning greeted us with warmer weather and sunny skies. The fire was going and breakfast was cooking in most camps, ours included, by the time our musicians held reveille at the prescribed time of 8:00am.

The Commanding General was up late and was offered Coffee by our unit which him and his two aides quickly accepted and complimented us on.

Church services were at 10:00am and all in Signal Corps of the James attended. They were held outside the General's tent directly adjacent to ours.

After services I was asked by the Commanding General to have Signal Corps of the James participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the County's courthouse. We would march at the end of the line of Infantry. It was learned that one of the Artillery units had lost a person the previous week and I was asked to say a few words during the ceremony.

At 11:30am we assembled with the Army and marched 300 yards to the courthouse and assembled for the ceremony. The ladies of the Hosting Unit placed the wreath and the Commanding General said a few words. He then announced the passing of the Artilleryman. His unit fired a howitzer in his honor and then I said a few words ending with a "3 Cheers". After which we all marched back to camp and prepared for the day's coming battle.

Signal Corps of the James would split as they had the day previously but the scenerio changed somewhat. This day the CS Infantry was to press and take the works leaving the Union Army in dis-array and on the run.

Battle Specific Information:

1:50 CS and Union Signals in place and established line of site.
1:59 Signals Ready sent to CS and acknowledged.
2:00 Sent "CS Cavalry Advance" which was acknowledged.
2:05 CS sent "CS Infantry Advance" which we acknowledged.
2:10 CS Infantry on the fence parallel to our works and pushing
2:15 CS sent "CS Advance" which was acknowledged.
2:18 CS Charge the works
2:19 Union Signal Party killed.
2:20 CS infantry on top of works
2:21 Cease Fire called and battle ended.

After battle, Signal Corps of the James quickly broke down camp and returned to our homes.

The event went quite well for just about every I talked with. The weather was good for the time of year, the battles were interesting, and the food was great. Many people commented on the ceremony on Sunday morning.

Private Schultz also desired that I inform you that he was in a gray uniform all weekend and participated in all events in said uniform. As a dad, I dont think we have him fully changed over, but he's on the right path!

Your Obedient Servant,

John E. Schultz
1st Sgt. Signal Corps of the James, Army of Northern Virginia
Confederate States of America.

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