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Command Support Program . . .

Infantry Training Battalion— East Battlefield Study at Bentonville Battleground

by Captain Daniel Loyco, USMC

On 12 May 2014, the Officers of Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East embarked on a two-day off-site Professional Military Education trip to Bentonville Battlefield in Four Oaks, North Carolina in order to learn from military leaders who came before us. We did this by walking the grounds on which the battle was fought and discussing tactics and decision-making. Two weeks prior to the trip, we read and discussed the book Bentonville: The Last Battle Between Sherman and Johnston by Nathaniel C. Hughes, Jr. Each Officer was responsible for discussing one key event during the bloody, three day battle, which corresponded to a stop along a self-guided road tour of the 6,000 preserved acres that the battlefield encompasses.

On the morning of 12 May, the majority of the Officers piled into a 15-passenger rental van funded by the Marine Corps University Foundation and began the first, hour-long leg of the trek. The other Officers, Captains Loyco and Kirsch, were already busy preparing for the arrival of the main body by cooking a pig Captain Loyco had procured in a home- made pit, with the assistance of Captain Kirsch. The Marine Corps University Foundation provided us with funds for the rental van, the pig, as well as the other food items that

The visitor center and entrance to the Bentonville Battleground in Four Oaks, North Carolina.

evening. After the other Officers arrived and the pig was cooked, we gathered to discuss the remaining two days of the vicious three-day long battle, when the majority of the heaviest fighting took place.

As we progressed into the evening, upon the completion of the battlefield discussion, we began to share sea stories from previous units, deployments, family and a variety of other subjects. We welcomed the new members to our tight knit Officer Corps at Infantry Training Battalion, and we wished those who will soon be departing us “fair winds and following seas.” The time we spent together gave us a rejuvenated sense of esprit de corps and unit pride.

We woke up on 13 May to a warm, somewhat foggy morning, and while the weather was not as cold and wet as it was on 19 March 1865, we were able to grasp an appreciation for how the fog settled on the grounds on that fateful day which we were preparing to discuss. When we arrived at the battlefield each Officer was armed with specialized knowledge regarding certain critical events that took place during the course of the three-day battle and prepared to discuss the actions taken, the decisions that were made, as well as the consequences and how they helped to shape the rest of the battle.

The pig is prepared, and cooking is about to commence over a homemade BBQ pit.


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