Chapter 20

Reenactment of Battle of Yorktown


      On October 16, 1957 the Company entrained for the Jamestown-Williamsburg area. The 17th was devoted to sightseeing tours of historic Williamsburg, and on the 18th, a parade and review of Centennial Legion Commands was followed by a briefing and rehearsal of the "Battle of Yorktown." The reenactment was elaborately staged on the 19th. Because of their Grenadier Guard and Coldstream Guard type Red Uniforms, the First and Second Foot Guards were selected to portray the British forces.

      Major Fleming, acting as Lord Cornwallis and followed by his Staff, complete with powdered wigs and flashing sabres, gallantly marched on to the battlefield. They were followed by the Second Company Band playing "Hail Britannia" and Companies A, B, C, and D. Immediately behind were Major Carvalho, his band, and the ranks of the First Company.

      The Second Company took up a defensive position on Redoubt #9, the First Company on Redoubt #10. These were the key positions occupied by the British during the original battle in 1781. "Lord Cornwallis" in the person of Major Fleming, and his Staff occupied a height in rear commanding a view of the battlefield. Soon, members of the Staff, under the direction of Chief of Staff Floyd Hitt, were scurrying between the redoubts and the Command Headquarters making ready for the defense.

      The Second U.S. Army Troops from Fort Knox, Ky., dressed in French uniforms of the period stormed Redoubt #9 as did the French troops under General Jean Rochambeau 176 years before. Centennial Legion Troops in Continental Army Uniforms attacked Redoubt #10 where Alexander Hamilton had led the American charge against the British. Although the result was a foregone conclusion, both the attack and defense were colorfully and vividly portrayed, much to the delight of the several thousand spectators observing from the sidelines. It is interesting to note that Staff Captain Joseph F. Yates of the Second Company was drafted from the Command and cast in the role of Count Rochambeau in full French regalia in which capacity he directed the attack against his comrades.

      The Second Company received praise from Secretary of the Army, Wilbur M. Brucker and other Officials, as shown in pictures of the event in the issue of Sunday, October 27 taken by NEW HAVEN REGISTER photographer George Keeley who accompanied the Guard on the trip.

      The Powder House Day on April 28, 1958 was once more rained out forcing the ceremonies indoors. On May 4, 1958 the Company attended Colonial Day at Center Church, appearing at Danbury that afternoon in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Loyalty Day Parade. Other events included participation in the May 30th Memorial Day Parade; June 21st, Yankee Division and Marine Corps Parade at Stamford; September 20th, Ridgefield Anniversary, and October 13th, Columbus Day Parade. On November 8th the Command turned out to assist Captain Daniel J. Adley who sponsored a Boys Village benefit.

      The Congressional Record of February 10, 1958 under extension of remarks by Hon. Edward Martin, U.S. Senator of Pennsylvania took note of the appointment of Major Fleming as a National Director of the Centennial Legion of Historic Military Commands.

      On January 7, 1959 the Second Company again journeyed to Hartford on the occasion of the inauguration of Governor Ribicoff to his second term. At a reception held in the quarters of the First Company following the parade and preceding the Ball, the new Lieutenant Governor, John N. Dempsey of Putnam, was presented to the Command, and by his ready charm and wit proved an immediate favorite.

      On May 3, 1959 the Command attended Old Colony Services at Center Church where the sermon was preached by United States Senator Prescott Bush of Greenwich. Immediate departure was made after the service for Stratford and participation in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Loyalty Day Parade.

      Since the appointment of Captain Teta as Bandmaster the musical unit of the Command had expanded to a full strength of skilled and accomplished musicians. New quarters had been assigned in the Goffe Street Armory which the band members redecorated and furnished at their own expense. On June 1, 1959 the band entertained the Second Company at an "Open House" featured by a thrilling concert of modern music during which refreshments were served.

      The approach of the field training period in 1959 brought financial problems to all Units of the Governor's Guards. Shortage of funds and failure to provide for the pay, subsistence and other expenses of the annual encampment of the Foot and Horse Guard Companies resulted in official cancellation of field training. This meant that the many hours spent in the short indoor training assemblies conducted week by week could not be evaluated and improved under the outdoor conditions. When informed of this by Major Fleming at a meeting held on July 6, 1959 the Command voted unanimously to voluntarily conduct the annual field training at Niantic from August 18 to 23 at no expense to the State conditioned upon the authorization of the Military Department. The authorization was received and the Command performed a rigorous training schedule. It is interesting to note that the Officers donated 50% of the expense, the Entertainment Committee and N.C.A. Club contributed a large share in addition to the regular assessment of the entire Command.

      On October 17, 1959 Captain Louis B. Hardy was appointed by Major Fleming as Adjutant. At a special meeting held on November 9, Sergeant Major Edward Schoeck was unanimously elected as Ensign with Honorary Rank as Captain to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Captain Charles J. Dinnean. Sergeant Charles R. Gara was promoted to Sergeant Major.

      At the traditional New Year's Day reception to honor Major Fleming and Mrs. Fleming on the first day of 1960 were, among the many guests Chief Justice Raymond E. Baldwin, twice Governor of Connecticut and United States Senator prior to his appointment by Colonel Frank Greene, former Assistant Adjutant General under George R. B. DeLacour.

      An 85th Anniversary party was tendered Major A. K. Boardman on January 18, 1960 at which the Major and Mrs. Boardman were presented with a camera and carrying case. The band rendered a tune played by the British Fifers at the surrender of Yorktown "The World Turned Upside Down."

      At the Annual Ball held on February 26, 1960 Colonel Joseph A. Weibel and Major William C. MacLaughlin, both members of the Retired Staff were presented with 50 and 45 year Medals respectively for their valuable service to the Command during their active and retired years.

      When First Lieutenant William J. Murray received an Honorable Discharge as an Officer of the Line, following years of service in the National Guard and Organized Militia, a special election was held on March 28, 1960. Second Lieutenant Ephrom J. Davidson was advanced to First Lieutenant, Ensign Edward Schoeck to Second Lieutenant, Sergeant Major Charles R. Gara to Ensign, Sergeant Harvey W. LaGassey was appointed Sergeant Major by the Commandant.

      The 185th anniversary of the Powder House incident was observed on April 25, 1960. At the banquet in the evening Staff Captain James A. Shanley introduced the speakers: Brig. Gen. Percy M. Hoisington II, Commander of the 820th Air Division, U.S. Air Force, Lieutenant Governor Dempsey, and Major Lee.

Chapter 21