Thursday, July 15, 2010
The Best Group of Guys...
...I've ever fought alongside. Co E of the 1st Kentucky Infantry, CSA. Seeing this picture brought back more than a few memories. It was probably taken 15yrs ago. My, how things have changed!
I got the Civil War bug in '94, and it has never gone away (I'm told it never will! I believe that!). I was in Nashville, having read the roadsigns of the various battlefields on the way there. I bought a Civil War magazine, and got interested. I then watched Gettysburg, and my life was changed forever! I bought the VHS Director's Cut (I paid $100 for the thing!), and when I watched "The Making Of" featurette, I was hooked!
"If these guys are reenactors, why can't I be? I can do that!" I thought. In a move that would have made Sarah Brady proud, I took one of my AR-15's one of my 2 Glocks, and an AK-47 clone I had at the time to a gun show and sold them. This was my "Civil War startup money". I then began reading the magazines and searching online. I was heavily involved in an online Civil War chatroom at the time, and it was frequented by several reenactors. they helped me find gear and gave a lot of advice.It also was how I started meeting me author-friends in the CW community. I learned of a major Civil War show coming up in Mansfield, OH, so I planned to go. (That was when I first met one of my friends in the Civil War community, Eric Wittenberg. We've come along way since that brief meeting!).
At the show, I bought some gear, and checked prices on what I would need to complete my "kit". Shortly afterward, I ordered a uniform and a musket from Old Sutler John. I was like a child on Christmas morning when a big package that I had to sign for came a few weeks later! I was an Armi-sport Enfield, and it was mine!
I wanted to go to the "Real Fury of Gettysburg" reenactment. I bought a dog tent, and some other camp items, and thought I was ready. Though I knew nary a soul who would be there, I figured I'd survive, learn some things, and possibly even enjoy it!
Guess what? I wasn't ready. I got into Gettysburg and registered early Friday afternoon. Since I knew no one there and didn't have a unit, I decided to make my pilgimmage to 'the Mecca'. I thought I had time to kill, so I went to town and also took a drive around the battlefield. Big mistake! While I was out, the rain began!
It rained, and rained, and rained some. "The Real Fury" soon became "The Real Mud of Gettysburg"! I returned to the reenactor parking lot, and my car swiftly and quickly sunk into the mud. I was there to stay for awhile. Not bad, but it was getting dark, and I had nothing in camp. I didn't even know where my particular camp would be. Who thinks that far ahead? I packed up what I needed for the night, and started walking with everyone else.
Two Confederate reenactors were walking into camp. One of them had a lantern, and I was using it to help find my way. The three of us got to talking. I told them my predicament, and they not only invited my to camp with them, but they had an extra tent (an A-frame, even!) that I could use, and unit I could fall in with! Talk about Southern hospitality, even on Northern soil!
As the weekend progressed, I learned A LOT! What I needed, what I didn't need, etc., how to march and fight in Napoleanic style, the manual of arms, etc. Most importantly, I made several good friends. I saw and fought with them many times over the years. Though I've been away and out of touch with them for a few years, I think about them all often. Everytime I pass the red barn on Pumping Station Rd, or even see it in the movie, I remember that weekend.
I had the chance to catch up with them at the reenactment this year, but too much was going on. I'm now sorry I did not! Have faith, 1st Kentucky! I'll march with y'all again soon! I'm planning a trek to Cedar Creek, so all is not lost!