Franklin, TN 1989 "The National Henry Rifle Company"
The National Henry Rifle Company is a loosely knit organization of Civil War renactors that portray regiments that were armed with the Henry Repeating Rifle. The organization is a source of information 1. concerning the Henry Rifle, 2. how this weapon was used in the Civil War and 3. to provide an organizational base for those wishing to participate in Civil War reenacting while using their Henry Repeating Rifle.
The NHRC was founded by Andrew L. Bresnan as a organizational group to organize Henry armed reenactors for Civil War reenacting. The first event for our group was a great success. Our first event was at Franklin, TN in 1989 where we had eleven Henrys. What a difference eleven men armed with repeating rifles make. At Franklin we were used to plug gaps in the line. Anywhere along the line where we filled in the results were devastating for the attacking rebs. The sound of over 100 rounds going off in a matter of seconds and be reloaded and able to do it again was definitely a new aspect to Civil War reenacting. Since that time we have participate at Bentonville, NC, Resaca, GA, Franklin, TN and several other events throughout the Midwest. We have always tried to go to events where Henry rifles would have been present. Henry Repeating rifles first started appearing in small numbers as early as late 1862 and were in use until the end of the war. In fact both sides used Henry rifles with the Union being the predominate user.
Our aim has always been to do a portrayal of the “Common Soldier” of the Civil War but being armed with a repeating rifle. Members of our group have done some of the most extensive research on how the Henry Repeating Rifle was used in the Civil War. In 2009 Andrew L. Bresnan renewed his quest for Henry documentation putting together over 121 sources most of which are from the Official Reports, diaries of the men using the Henry rifle as well as books written by those that actually fought in the war that used their Henry rifles with good effect. The hunt for more information goes on to add to this expanded compilation of information which is over 100 pages at this time. It really puts to rest all of the myths of the so called “Muzzle-Loader Mentality” boys and their attacks against the use of Henrys at Civil War reenactments.
It is interesting to note that in the field we have had a few commanders. Our first officer for the Franklin event was Bob Coons. After Franklin, Bob was busy with other interests and Terry McKinch became our officer for the next few years. Dave Sutter and Andrew L. Bresnan even took control for an event or two. The 2004 Battle of Franklin proved to be one of those memorable events. We had eleven Henry rifles and were commanded by Rob Leinweber. What an event that was, we still get comments on that one even by the “Muzzle-loader Mentality” boys. I think that the most memorable event for us was at Bentonville in 1991. We fielded fourteen Henrys. Once we opened up on the rebs they dropped like flies. In fact more rebs kept funneling into our position and dropping. When it was all over there were over a hundred dead rebs in our front and some of the wounded rebs were asking what they had just run into. I asked if they had ever heard of a Henry rifle. Their response was “no, but we have now”. Todd Koster has commanded since Bentonville 2010
We of the National Henry Rifle Company are looking forward to the upcoming years with many of the 150th events in which Henry rifles were use. The Atlanta Campaign, March to the Sea, Bentonville and Franklin come to mind. Wherever we go in force it sure is an education for those we run up against as well as those in our own army and for the public. Using a repeating rifle in reenacting educates people on another aspect of the Civil War that many never knew existed. Yes, the Civil War was not fought only with muzzle-loaders.
Well there you have it. A brief history of how our group came about, where we have been and where we are going. We try our best to give an accurate portrayal of the “Common Soldier” of the Civil War, our only difference is the weapon we carry. If you are interested in joining our “Merry Band” you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.
On a side note many of us also do a Western Sharpshooter impression portraying mainly the 66th Illinois WSS. From the beginning of the war until the end of 1863 this regiment was armed with target rifles and Demmick hunting rifles. By the end of 1863 most had purchased their own Henry Repeating Rifles. For 1861 to 1863 reenactment events we arm ourselves with the appropriate arm and will do so for the coming 150th events.
Western sharpshooters: http://westernsharpshooters.webs.com