Written in 1990, when an exhausted Mal Stylo finished up the 125th anniversary series of reenactments. - Jonah

 

The Wartime Journal of Mal Stylo

 

by Mal Stylo, edited by Jonah Begone

 


 

 

The fragments of the Wartime Journal of Mal Stylo constitute a tantalizing tidbit for historians (living and dead) who today labor to reconstruct the fascinating story of Reenacting, that tragic period in America's history from which emerged a strong and united land. How prophetic were the words of that great Union officer, Collin MacDonald, when 100 years ago he said "today, we as reenactors are making history."

 

These scraps of Mal's Journal were found on a crude MacIntosh 2S/2D MF2 Double‑Sided Double‑Density Disk which was recovered in a landfill in the historic town of Bowie, located in beautiful Prince George's County, MD, during construction of low income plasticized‑modulo‑high‑density‑housing units. To think that short‑sighted people once lamented that plastic and styrofoam were not biodegradable! Where would the study of reenacting be today ‑ what would we know of our forebearers? ‑ if they were!

 

Of Sergeant Stylo himself, we know only the general information which can be gleaned from the archives of the National Regiment (mainly that during Sayler's Creek in 1988, his company paperwork indicates that all his men constantly had 50 rounds of ammunition apiece). He apparently served from 1985 through 1989 (Quasi‑centennial years 1860 to 1864) with great distinction.He wrote extensively for the Maryland Union Patriot (the MUP) and is believed to be the "Unknown Historian" who authored the definitive study on the Parrot Gun, and to have developed the Event‑O‑Meter.He vanished from the ranks in 1990, apparently after hitching a ride with Dr. Who to the American Revolution where he served in the First Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line and later drilled General Washington's troops at Valley Forge under the pseudonym of Baron Von Steuben.

 

(Editor's Note: In 2004, when President Marion G. Barry Jr. legalized drugs and one week later abolished the United States Marine Corps, he named the National Regiment ‑ a "splendit body of fightin' dudes" ‑ to replace them as America's quick reaction force.A full recounting of the NR's glorious deeds; the Shiloh Airlift, the 1988 Inaugural Parade, the Reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek, the Invasion of Russia in 2015, the repulse of the Dalek invasion of Earth; all these will have to await another historian's recounting.)

 

 

 

 

THE JOURNAL OF SERGEANT MAL STYLO

 

June (unreadable data - evidence of Coca-Cola spillage) 1986

Quasi-centennial year 1861

First Bull Run

 

Treachery in the Union high command! Confederate sympathizers in the guise of high-ranking Union officers drilled the boys relentlessly all day in the scalding heat. By the time the actual fighting starting we were nigh on to "played out."

 

Federal officers who followed orders of these Copperheads and wore lined frock coats into battle suffered a particularly high mortality rate. Captain S----, who was about to reply to a question, did a three-and-a-half gainer and landed flat on his back. Despite intense concern on the part of the paramedics who thought otherwise, his own personal statement about the heat was "I was never unconscious."

 

We learned a new drill command at this one, and the officers learned a new fact about drilling troops: when you scream at 900 soldiers with loaded muskets: "Ready, Aim..." anything you say after that (including "Quiet!") is apt to produce a volley.

 

September 20th 1987

Quasi-Centennial year 1862

Antietam

 

I was second-in-command of One of The Largest Companies There. As we lined up for the morning charge I had the boys properly aligned and ready when some Bozo screamed "Charge!" and I did not see my command again for several hours...

 

Saw evidence that secessionists still held power in Maryland: General K----, impatient at the lack of buses provided to transport us into battle, started marching the boys west down Alt-40. The secessionist-controlled Maryland State Police took this as an opportunity to pull over the Union Army and give it a ticket.

 

June 23/24/25/26, etc. 1988

Quasi-Centennial Year 1863

Gettysburg

 

At last, a Union victory (sort of). Was generally annoyed by the NR at this one. The position of danger here seemed to belong to the National Regiment guidon bearer, who was replaced twice. Unfortunates assigned to this position were physically man-handled, screamed at and generally much abused. (Noticed that the cartridge box sling was used as a convenient tug point - must remind myself to develop a velcro break-away version.)

 

We participated in the most stupid drill session ever on Sunday. Did a good three laps (in company front) around Lt. Col. M----. Finally found a use for him - as a furlong marker or farm implement.

 

The first-ever battle that had an official ballad and complimentary bumper sticker.

 

May 27, 1989

Quasi‑Centennial Year 1864

The Wilderness

 

Once again we were magically transported 125 years into the past to a sea of concession stands, with countless rows of parked campers and a steady stream of pickup trucks, cars, and RV's driving through the "authentic camp." I found the vehicular stream most disconcerting as my tent was the last in the row, next to the company street (or "I‑95" as it was known to the boys).

 

I did learn that one can eat unrefrigerated bacon and live!

 

It (the event) ended, perhaps fittingly enough, with two Confederates walking by the VW as we were leaving, holding hands (their hearts, at least, were gay and happy still).

 

(Editor's Note: A VW, or "Volkswagen," was a small combustion engine‑powered land vehicle widely used by light infantry units.It was about 1/20 the size of the RV or Recreational Vehicle much favored by Union Colonels, all ranks of Confederates, and other well‑equipped military and religious groups.)

 

The head of some hapless pig (Arnold Ziffel??!) was stuck on a sign under a Confederate flag.

 

On the Event‑O‑Meter, give this one a solid two.

 

My contribution to victory was to start the famous "echo the commands" incident and to be the first to ever ask an NR officer "why?" after he gave one of their countless stupid orders (in this case ordering us to move from the shade into the sun during a halt).

 

June 10/11, 1989

Fort Ward, Alexandria, VA

 

A minuscule event with not much happening.Yet fun all the same. The authenticity level in our group was rather low, but really, what difference does it make?

 

Word is that someone living near the fort complained that cannon fire had caused his dog to suffer a heart attack, thus making this unknown canine a true casualty of the Civil War ‑ so no more "battles." A shame because it killed this event. I wonder why no one has suggested a commemorative event and monument be planned to honor this critter.(It is rumored also that the same complaint by Wilmer McLean, made to Gen'l Lee in 1865, so distressed the latter that it led to the decision to finally surrender the Army of Northern Virginia).

 

The 54th Massachusetts was there in force. Per Federal law, they must be 10‑percent of all sergeants and corporals in reenacting. So, they had two lieutenants, a sergeant, and three or four corporals from a total of 12 soldiers; the usual NR ratio of officers and NCO's to the ranks. Thus are the links of leadership forged!

 

Two of my men managed to turn the flag folding ceremony into a comedy routine. Even the confederates got a laugh at our expense.

 

The sacred ensign got dumped on by Pvt. K‑‑‑‑‑‑'s cooler.Seems the drain plug was open and it and the sacred ensign were sharing the back of the truck together, so...."Oh, soldier why do we do this?" Event‑O‑Meter rating of five.

 

June 28/29 1989

Fort Frederick, Maryland

 

Fort Freddy, a solid six on the Event‑O‑Meter.Pvt. Jonah Begone said there were no quotes from this one, but he is wrong.Overheard in the men's room while waiting in line: "I sure will be glad when someone discovers a pair of these things (trousers) with a zipper in 'em."

 

 

July 11, 1989

Post‑Monocacy

 

Notable aspects to this event: 1) first ever registration in a shopping mall; 2) very little that was planned, actually transpired. Because of the latter fact, not in spite of it, give this one a seven on the Event‑O‑Meter.

 

I got rid of Pvt. T‑‑‑‑‑‑‑, quite unintentionally, by simply trying to stop him from being an ass. As he was a major pest itís no big loss to the unit.

 

Company command ‑nothing to it.Notable quotes, Daley: "See you guys later," as he gallops away while the final Union line crumbles. Unknown little girl: "Mommy, they stink!" as the Union army marched by (odd, because surely she meant the Confederates.Then again, perhaps she was commenting on our unitís ability to act in a dignified fashion at dress parade).

 

Again the ol' refrain from Adjutant F‑‑‑‑‑, "The colonel commanding wishes me to convey to you that the command fought splendidly, and would surely have routed the rebels if only they'd a played fair."Gag me with a spoon!

 

After COMMAND, what else is left???"For I am a soldier having men under me, and I say to this one go and he goeth, and to that man come and he cometh, and to another do this and he doeth it."

 

August (illegible) 1989

The Samuel Mudd House

 

The rebellion must surely triumph now: one old lady has routed an entire Union regiment, NR Troops at that!

 

Amused ourselves by ventilating a small captured rebel flag.Pvt. M‑‑‑‑‑ protested saying "Men died for that flag, you know.""Yeah," I answered, "I know." BLAM!Pvt. R‑‑‑‑‑, desirous of a new target, cast covetous eyes on a larger secesh banner.But as it belonged to the old lady, who was already making us pay reparations for destruction done to the place in 1865 by real Yankees, we decided not to further increase our tab and to leave well enough alone ("Some of us have to live down here you know!").

 

So desolate there that we were even glad to talk to Publics!!The next guy who suggests we need to do more Southern Maryland things will probably be tarred and feathered (our previous foray in that region was to Point Lookout ‑ need I say more).

 

September 3, 1989

Barnesville, MD

 

Pvt F‑‑‑‑, peeved that nobody would crank ice cream with him left in a fit.The boys evened the score with him later though, by electing him corporal!

 

I'm getting war‑weary; at this one I feigned injury and watched the battle from the safety of a hillside.The day before, the rebels had been put to flight by us and a swarm of wasps. Pvt. S‑‑‑‑‑, being informed there was a gaggle of angry wasps, proceeded to walk towards them for a closer look; I should have let him go on, but didn't.His conduct didn't surprise me much as last year he tried to walk on water in this very same town.Believe this has only been successfully done once in history, and not by Pvt. S‑‑‑‑‑.

 

(Here The Disk Becomes Unreadable)