Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Engineer's Report --Plymouth, Mass. - Thanksgiving Parade, Nov. 1863 (2009)

Maj. General U.S. Grant
Army of the Cumberland

Colonel Mathew Burbank
New England Brigade

Capt. Don Erickson
Commandant (acting)
U.S. Corps of Topographical Engineers

Esteemed Sirs;

I beg your kind indulgence to make my report of the subject event.

Engineers Attending:

--Major General U.S. Grant;
--Lt. Col. Ian McKay;
--Corporal Michael Grossman;
--Mistress Julie Grant;
--Mistress Margaret Mathews.

Lt. Col. and Mrs. Mathews were conveyed to Plymouth Mass. by coach and arrived in the afternoon of Friday 20.  We immediately journeyed to our prearranged lodgings to stow our personal items before looking for the Brigade Staff.  At 4:30 P.M. we were at the Plymouth Rock Park, where the Brigade camp was set up last year.  No-one being there, we went to dinner at "Isaac's Restaurant" (excellent seafood meal) and returned to find the area still barren of the Brigade Staff.  We went to a chandlery to purchase light torches remembering that last year such were needed to put up the tents after dark.  We returned at 6:30 P.M. with still no-one at the park.  We found out later in the evening that the location of the encampment had been changed to an area next to the water and just across from the yacht harbor.  We finally caught up with the Commander and some of the staff at a restaurant up town, enjoyed their company for a bit and got new directions to the encampment.  We found the encampment and left my sketch table, chair and drawing materials in the staff tent.

The next morning we arose at 6:00 A.M., breakfasted at our lodging and took our coach to the encampment site.  The Brigade encampment consisted of the large heated staff tent, and two smaller wedge tents with a third lean-to and fly.  The troops that gathered for the parade, had a hurried breakfast, and I gave Corporal Grossman and Col. Burbank their drawing / report envelopes.  Not knowing before hand that General Grant and Mrs. Grant would be in attendance I did not bring with me their drawings envelope.  The Brigade staff then marched off as a group to take part in the parade.  The Brigade Adjutant and I remained in camp as camp-keepers together with Pat the Tavern Keeper.  The staff tent in use by the senior staff and myself had been loaned for the event by Pat.

The morning was taken up with sketch mapping the city of Plymouth and making a rough sketch of the pilgrim ship "Mayflower" and a second rough sketch of a cross-section of a "corduroy road" which would have a significant use in bringing heavy freight wagons and artillery into town across the dirt roads, streams and marshes outlying the city if it proved necessary to do so.

The rest of the day was spent in narrating to the camp visitors what the tents were, who we as a Brigade were, what we did and why.

At about 3:00 P.M. we began to break down the camp, and by 4:30 the camp was no more.  General Grant and Mrs. Grant were pleased to join myself and Mistress Mathews for dinner at a local Brazilian Restaurant (excellent food) and the fun and good company was extended into the early evening hours, at which time we returned to our lodgings, the Grant's taking their horses back to the farm.  On Sunday, we began the long ride home and arrived in the New London area in the afternoon.

The event was a lot of fun and productive in several ways.  It is always a pleasure to work together with the Brigade Staff and share our experiences.  The event was much warmer this year, and as a result we had a greater opportunity to interact with visitors to the encampment.  Should the Brigade again be invited to the event in November the Topogs will make every effort to be represented.

Respectfully Submitted;

Ian McKay, Lt. Col. of Engrs (by brevet);
Chief Engineer
New England Federal Brigade        

Report written and dispatched from Fort Trumbull, New London, CT.
---The Constitution is not an instrument to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government; lest it come to dominate our lives and interests -- Patrick Henry Tyranny is defined as that which is "legal" for the government but illegal for the citizanery -- Thomas Jefferson

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