COMPANY E, 18th MISSOURI VOLUNTEER INFANTRY......... is part of the Union Battalion of the Southern Skirmish Association ( SoSkAn), and is the only U.K living history / re-enactment group to regularly bring life to the Army of the Tennessee - the first army to be commanded by General Ulysses S Grant. We are also the only company in the UK which re-enacts the exploits of one of General William Tecumseh Sherman's famed units who ''marched to the sea''.
For some three years, the Army of the Tennessee took the lead in most of the Union's western campaigns in Tennessee and at Vicksburg, before going on to the Atlanta Campaign and then to the Carolinas, the final campaign of the Civil War. Except for the Army of the Potomac, no force was more important to the Union war effort. It was the first army that Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, successively, commanded. Its victories were major Union breakthroughs and turning points in the war.
The Army of the Tennessee was mainly recruited from '' Westerners'' from the states of Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa and Kansas - although many were first generation immigrants from Europe including Great Britain. These westerners adopted a loose style of discipline & dress which would have been frowned upon by their cousins in the ''eastern'' armies, indeed the Army of the Potomac were known disparagingly as ''band box'' soldiers by the Westerners. It was said that the Westerners were like ''rebels in uniform'' but, whether they were or not, they formed a formidable fighting force which fought in some of the toughest, and most keenly contested, battles of the American Civil war.
Company E, 18th Missouri was originally formed in 1980 from ideas gleaned from Professor Leslie Anders' history of the regiment . The 18th Missouri is but one regiment which forms part of the Union Battalion of the Southern Skirmish Association. SoSkAn was formed in 1968 as an educational and living history society, acheiving full charitable status in the 1980's. The aims of the society are simple:
Foremost is the education of ourselves, fellow re-enactors and the public in the life and times of the soldiers of the American Civil War, both blue and grey ; Secondly enjoyment !
Today's Company E was reformed in 1999 by Mr Rod Dann, who's sterling efforts made the 18th Mo into the force it is today. We are the largest, best equipped and best trained company in Soskan !
Today's re-enactors attempt to recreate the daily lives of soldiers who fought at some of the crucial battles of the war. This is done in period campsites, on the march, drill and, of course, on the battlefield, Our intention is not to glorify war but rather to salute and remember those brave men, blue & grey, who died during the conflict and, in so doing, creating the United States of today. We do this by meeting at various venues throughout the summer months and living as the soldiers did in the early 1860's. Our ''living history'' campsites are open to the public where spectators can tour the area seeing the male and female re-enactors in period dress at work, rest and at play.
When not performing drill or on the battlefield, the members of the company can be seen in "Living History" situations - cooking, eating, mending clothing, preparing for battle and interacting with each other as the period soldiers would have done, Each individual has their own ''impression'', that is a portrayal of a period soldier or individual, often with a personal history of that person. A great deal of research & effort is required to undertake and pursue such an impression,
The majority, necessarily, choose to be an infantryman, however there are many more lifestyles to choose from; We have a hospital steward, cobbler, barber and various musicians (bugle, fife & drum) but there are plenty more to choose from, such as signaller, surgeon, chaplain, Sanitary Commission attendant, sutler, cook, photographer, journalist, war correspondent, nurse, soldier's wives, hospital/ prison visitors, vendors, launderess, artist, spy etc etc - the only restriction being historical fact and your own imagination !
The old adage ''You get out what you put in'' certainly applies to this form of re-enactment!
About Company E
But the 18th Missouri doesn't rest on it's laurels.
In 2014 a new branch of the 18th was formed - Battery H,1st Missouri Light Artillery. Formed as a regularly attending Federal Artillery unit, the 1st have rapidly grown and now have nine active members operating two artillery pieces.
In 2016 one of our members commenced on an impression to recreate a Union Field Surgeon. His display complements both the 18th and Soskan at events.
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