The Rebel Chaplain, Scott J. Payne, chaplain for the 1st Virginia Light Artillery: Powhatan Battery and a member of the reenactment committee for the 150th Anniversary Reenactment of the Battles of Honey and Devaux’s Neck South Carolina was once again on the field with his boys for this weekend’s activities.
Chaplain Scott was able to procure the musical skills of the 77th New York Balladeers, out of Wydham, New York, which performed on Saturday afternoon and were one of the many highlights of the weekend.
In partnership with the Delaware County Historical Association, the 144th New York Volunteers co-hosted the reenactment and living history event at the site of the Delaware County Historical Association in Delhi, NY on July 26th & 27th. This was the first such event to be held at the location and the attendance of close to 500 spectators proved that many folks in the Delaware County area of New York are still interested in Civil War history. The grounds of the museum were ideal for the battle scenarios. The large 20 acre field was edged on both it’s north and west sides by a full tree line in which both forces could find cover. The field itself had numerous swales which allowed for numerous strategic maneuvering from both sides. Scattered over the field were various “breastworks” that were built to offer cover for the Confederates. A makeshift “bridge” was also located at the northern part of the field which played an important role in both days battles.
Nearly 100 reenactors came from as far away as Georgia and North Carolina for this event. Confederate units represented 4 Confederate states, Virginia (1st VA Lt Artillery), North Carolina (3rd NC Infantry), Georgia (21st GA Infantry) and Texas (26th Dismounted Cav). Union units participating were the 144th NYVI, 137th NYVI, 54th Mass, 157th NYVI and portions of other units. Even United States president Abraham Lincoln was present behind the line for the Yanks, and many a Confederate soldier took a bead on him once or twice during the battle.
The highlight battle for the weekend occurred on Sunday and reenacted the Battle of Devaux’s Neck, which occurred on December 6th – 9th, 1864 near Hilton Head, South Carolina This battle was an attempt to support Sherman’s March to the Sea and the Union forces were tasked with cutting the railroad lines at Grahamville, South Carolina. The battle resulted in a Union loss to a heavily entrenched Confederate force.
Before Sundays battle Chaplain Payne visited most of the camps and took numerous photographs of his new found friends from south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The 3rd North Carolina (who came up from South Carolina for this weekend’s event, and are a great bunch of guys and gals) troops were so excited about having the impromptu photo shoot that they gathered up their flag bearers and woman folk and even their own cameras for a lot of picture taking. For Sunday’s battle the “sides” switched places from Saturdays battle and the Confederates were placed on the sounthern end of the field. Once the 1st Virginia Light Artillery made their way across the field with their their limber chest gun, and their gun, named Beau, Chaplain Payne offered a prayer of safety for all participants and spectators during the battle.
As a chaplain, Scott was on the field with his boys to administer first aid and give water and encouragement to the Confederate forces. He made the rounds a couple of times, visiting all of the Confederate units in their various positions on the field and made sure each soldier was hydrated enough for this days battle. During this fight he was shot in the right upper arm that required a bit of probing and some minor surgery to remove the well placed Yankee bullet. the arm was bloodied, but was able to be saved. Many men fell during the battle and Chaplain Payne was right there to bandage the minor wounds and give comfort to those who were too injured to survive. The Rebel Chaplains own unit suffered 100% casualties with 3 dead after they were overrun by the Yankees. Captain Scott Hause, who portrays Captain Willis Dance, suffered two major wounds. A shot to his left thigh and a horrible shot to his chest ensured that he wouldn’t make it till nightfall. Captain Hause asked the Old Rebel Chaplain if he would lose the leg and was answered, “Captain, I believe your dancing days are indeed over!” And both shared a laugh at this even though both knew what the end result would be. The Rebel Chaplain, ever portraying the role of the Confederate chaplain, assisted in helping with a few Union soldiers, as well. This days fight was awarded to the Yankees who were able to flank the right end of the Confederate line and take many prisoners.
This event was a very special one to Chaplain Payne, was able to meet up with a reenacting friend he had made on Facebook this last winter. Mike Skinner, a former resident of the Binghamton New York area, who now lives in South Carolina has been a great wealth of information to the Old Rebel Chaplain over the past few months. In fact, Mr. Skinner and his Sons of Confederate Veterans Charles Jones Colcock Camp #2100, were gracious enough to fund Chaplain Paynes membership into The Battle of Sharpsburg Camp #1582, another SCV camp located in Sharpsburg, Maryland, site of the Bloodiest Day in American history.
The weekend’s activities also included a remembrance of one of our fallen comrades this past year. Jeff Finch, a longtime reenactor and historian went home to be with the Lord a few months back and was honored by all of the troops present, both Confederate and Union. All of the troops fired a salute to Jeff, who will be deeply missed by the local reenacting community.
This inaugural reenactment and living history was such a success that it is very possible that it will become an annual event at the museum.
-By Scott J. Payne