The 133rd National Skirmish…Shootin’ in the Rain Once Again !

by Phil Spaugy

Union Guards B Company

Yes.It.Rained.Again.Damnit…..Now that we got that out of the way…………

I had fun. And as shown in the following photo of the long forgotten and under appreciated Battle of Lake Shenandoah, those of us shooting around position 25 sure made the most of the rain!

The Battle of Lake Shenandoah !

The Battle of Lake Shenandoah !

And, to me, that is what being a member of the North-South Skirmish Association is about. An enjoyable 5 or 6 days spent with some of the best people I have ever known.

So here is a quick view of some of the things I enjoyed most…

Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats handing out the 50 year awards on Sunday morning. If one wishes to really understand what the N-SSA means to many of us, all you have to do is look into the eyes of those receiving their 50 year awards. You will see a half century of memories of great times and great friends. Good shots, and bad shots. Many shared campfires with friends and family and, as is inevitable, many vacant chairs. Yes, this way of life we call skirmishing sure has much value to many.


John Sharrett and I presenting Mike Lauer his 50 year award.


Charlie Andrews and I. Charlie had just received his 50 year award and told me that he wouldn’t trade the last 50 years for anything.













Thanks to my good pard, Richard Wood, and his paper cartridge making expertise, I had the opportunity to shoot in my first Traditional Match. The participants in this match must shoot in their full uniform with proper accoutrements. Firearms used must be “as issued” with no modification to their rear or front sights. Cartridges must be of the style used during the war, which means that the tail of the cartridge must be torn off by your teeth before you can load the powder and then the “Burton Ball” into your rifle musket. I quickly came to understand the soldiers stories of powder caked and dry lips and mouth as the match progressed! It was a fun, yet educational experience and I hope that this event grows in popularity in the future.


Correctly constructed m1861 cartridge by Richard Wood.



Cartridge Tins with 40 rounds!

Speaking of tradition, the “Black Hats” of the First Maryland Infantry (CSA) continue to expand and improve on their very original and unique campsite. Their Sibley tent has been moved, and thanks to research by one of their members and another very accomplished skirmisher,  Dr. Lawrence Babits, a “California” style external firebox was installed in the hillside outside the Sibley tent. And not only is this camp full of period huts and such, it is home to some of the best fife and drum music to be found anywhere. Playing as the Second Maryland Fifes and Drums, these fine musicians are the lineal descendants of the original Field Music of the North-South Skirmish Association.


First Maryland “Black Hats” Sibley tent with the “California Stove” addition. – Image by Dean Nelson

While visiting the First Maryland’s camp, I ran into my friend Rob Hodge. Rob is not only a proud member of the N-SSA, he ranks as one of the top American Civil War living historians and preservationists in the country today. To top that off, he also is an Emmy award winner for his film on the Battle of Franklin. Rob and I are in the planning stages of an N-SSA hosted Living Historian / Re-enactor Open House to be held in conjunction with the 135th National Skirmish. A good man for sure, and one that I am proud to have in our ranks!

Rob Hodge – A Good Old Johnny! –   Image by Dean Nelson.

The fine production staff of Blue Forest Studios was on hand to start capturing the footage to be used in the N-SSA’s new recruiting and information video which should be available by the upcoming 134th National Skirmish (October 5th to the 9th.) They were very impressed with the scope of our National Skirmish and even more impressed with the hospitality shown to them by our members. I most certainly was taken by their friendly, professional demeanor and I look forward to seeing the final results of their hard work.

While small arms competition makes up much of the National Skirmish program as attested by the video below, there is not doubt that the artillery match is both unique and a sight to behold!

2nd Maryland Baltimore Light Artillery C.S.A. shooting Cannon at the 133rd North-South Skirmish Association National, May 2016

Mention must be made of the great shooting performance by the 149th PVI “Bucktails” who won both the Class A musket and Carbine matches. A top-notch performance in very tough weather conditions for sure. Huzzah!!!!

A complete list of the various small arms, mortar and artillery competitions can be found here:

Thanks to all those skirmishers who attended the 133rd and stayed through the weekend. And a special thanks to Skirmish Director, Phil Crabill, and his staff for their work throughout the wet weather.

In closing, take a moment of remembrance this Memorial Day weekend, for this “holiday” was borne from the same conflict that gave us the formation of our beloved North-South Skirmish Association. I think we all need to pause to remember the over 700,000 dead…Americans all, who, whether they wore the Blue or the Gray sacrificed all for causes they believed were right and just.