I put my feet on Michigan soil for the first time in my life this past weekend--the only farther North I have been is Wisconsin when we went to Uncle Al's wedding in February.
Anyway...on the way up, we swung by another small town and picked up our good friend Miss K. :) I'm so thrilled she got to come along.
We didn't get over many pictures, so you'll have to just trust me on some of this stuff (and then...if I get any more, I can add a slideshow on later, right?)
We arrived at "Heritage Park" and registered and got told where we could put up our modern tent. Other than us, there was one other modern camper--one of the sulters who camped in their motor home. More on them in a minute.
Anyway, we arrived and fiddled about setting up. Well and behold! The string in the tent poles was shot--except in maybe three of them! Someone ventured that ever so original and at times mocked (or praised) thing that people everywhere claim is "The Redneck Repair Favorite": Duct tape. We just so happened to have two partial roles, so I leaped for the kitchen box, rummaged through until I came in contact with one of the roles, whipped out my knife and got to work. Miss K ended up doing most of the tape cutting while I did the wraping...while Katherine--took pictures! :)
Friday was "Education Day" (or what in the Florida reenactments we called "School Day"). I didn't get around to seeing all of The Southern Heritage Presenter's (the K's--and Miss K!) presentations, but the ones I caught were pretty good. :) Ethan actually ran through his spiel Thursday night while the female fingers in the room were occupied by needles, thread, material and irons. It was late enough that I'm afraid I didn't digest it well enough to repeat even the gist of it here--but I thought it was interesting and informative. :D
Grace (which young miss and I could probably get into serious trouble together if we were so minded) and Miss K did a presentation on Southern Women (essentially) which also threw into the mix a bit of "slave relations" as Miss K so gallantly undertook the role of Talitha, a slave. I watched that one from behind, as I had just plopped myself down in a seat in the tent behind the two other girls when a group of school kids showed up. At least one of the little girls was very intently listening.
I caught parts of the three youngest lads presentations over the course of the day...and must say that they were mighty fine looking and carried on even when they were getting tired. I had fun at some point drilling one of them (I forget which--either Obadiah or Isaac) on why the Third National has a red bar on the end.
The only other presentation I saw part of was Andrew's. I'm not one hundred percent sure what the theme was (Soldier's Life??), but caught the bit about gangrene...
However, to back up in the day a bit. As we were getting set for the day, our neighbor walks over and asks if any of us young ladies would be willing to help his wife out in the sutlery as "Education Day" usually is the most stressful and he had found out that he had to work that day--and she has epilepsy and never knows when she's going to have an episode. After a little discussion, I said yes and so Katherine and I ended up spending time on and off in the sutlery. It wasn't nearly as heavy traffic as Jackie and Ron were expecting so she told us that we could mosey off and not to worry about it. We did, but we kept drifting back every now and again to check on her--particularly if we thought we saw a group of kids headed that way. Katherine really spent more time down there than I did, but I was not leaving it to just her intentionally. I was glad that I went back that last time because Jackie got covered up just right before closing time and I was able to be helpful--which really was the only time I might have really been needed.
We did get a few photos from that morning. Katherine and I would wear the same outfit (with minor variations) over the next three days.
We girls headed back to camp shortly thereafter and dropped off after a bit of chatter. I guess I probably fell asleep first. I had gotten tired by that point.
The next morning we got up, dressed, and ate. I headed into camp, actually intending on getting tickets for the train ride at 9:30--only to get sidetracked at the K's. I helped move a fly from one end of a tent to another. While discussing things with Mrs. K, she told me that Abigail and Grace could take us three with them to the train depot and that we could get tickets there, so I left off any stress of having to get up to registration.
I was asked if I'd like to toss my guitar in and play with the girls once we got to the train depot--and I naturally said yes! When we got there, we were a bit late, so we only did three or four songs before boarding time. We took our instruments on board and ended up playing a bit and then singing a bit.
I had a blast!!
Anyway...the scenario on the train was General Grant (or was he really a Confederate deserter? I never did get that entirely straight...) was attempting to allude capture by the Confederates. Here's one of 'em:
Later, after having established with a gray bearded Captain that I was indeed a Southern girl ("Dixie" and "The Bonnie Blue Flag" came in handy ;D), I was able to hurry into the next car to inform him that "the general is coming!" before slipping back to my station on the covered platform and hanging out the window, trying to look like I was oblivious as "Susie" and his fellow sneakers passed from one car into the other.
It was some place during this episode that I noticed that one of the train employee's kept looking at me. So I smiled and he smiled, shly. This went on for a while. He finally came over to my half of the train and we had a train-centric conversation the rest of the way back to the depot. He seemed nice, but also a little unsure and I had an amount of difficulty, that I tried not to let on, in hearing him what over the noise of the train, the wind rushing by, his soft voice, and lisp. However, I think I got MOST of what he said. I kept asking questions because it was less awkward than him just standing there, leaning on the wall, looking at me. :D Of course, I was thoroughly enjoying myself hanging out the window at various intervals, having to hang on to my borrowed bonnet (every time it flipped back, the straw ripped at my hair...OUCH!), and trying hard not to laugh. As flattering as it is to have someone notice you like that (it's the first time for me as far as I am aware), I don't know why I found it amusing. Perhaps it was the line out of "The Wreck of Old 97" that flashed through my mind at the sight of all the grease on said young man.
Anyway, I learned that the top speed of these old trains is about 100 mph. That particular train (110, I believe she was--and I say "she" because our young man did) was built in 1911 (so a little post-CW) and had been owned by his family since then. His "boss" (I guess that he's not the owner, but the family still owns her) fixed her up in the 1960's and she's been running since. They usually take her out twice a day on the weekends. 110 is not a narrow gauge train...and our friend here can't drive her--yet. Another year and then he gets to begin engineer's training--which I got the impression was much looked forward to. :) Sounds like there is another train further out west that is in the process of being restored. Anyway, that's some of what I remember of our conversation.
We reached the depot and unloaded. When Abigail and I headed to the vehicle to stow away the instruments, we rounded a corner--only to come face to face with a small group of Yankees!! Abigail wheeled, giving voice to the sentiment that "It's not safe here". I basically just veered off to the right a bit and kept marching with my chin defiantly in the air. Anyway, poor Abigail went (as Savannah would put it) "boom", scuffing up her new dress (and I imagine, her pride). Not a one of those Yankee's even moved a muscle to help her! (Okay, I get it--they were waiting in ambush for the Confederates when the got off the train!)
We quickly loaded the instruments in and hurried back so we could see the "fight". I realized, as the Confederates dismounted the Iron Horse that we were going to be smack dab in the middle of a fire-fight, so I looked around at the other girls and said, "When the firing starts, I'm going to hit the dirt. It will make it more realistic." I don't think Grace was overly enthused about the idea (at least at first)--but when heads appeared out of the bush in front of us (entirely unexpected) and the shooting started I went down and the other girls (including the camera-woman [Abigail]) followed suit.
Now because I like to see what is going on, I kept lifting my head ever so slightly, so I saw Andrew fall--roughly four to five feet right in front of us.
One of the Yankees spotted Andrew (Abigail told me later they know this particular gent) and went down on one knee and got all dramatic over him, "My brother! etc." It was actually hilarious because the man was almost laughing himself....
Andrew laid still and didn't even smirk (good for you!) The only response that whole thing got was one eye opened partly when the man said, chipperly, "Can I have your gun?" and another man said, "It looks like Dad's..."
So that was the amusement in the middle of the skirmish.
Shortly after that, this tall young officer with waxed mustachios knelt down beside us and said, urgently, "I can get you ladies out of here to safe place." After determining that the coast was fairly clear, he said, "Follow me! Run!" and we ran at his heels into the the depot, which they were using as a hospital.
Things ended shortly thereafter. I didn't see either Luke or Ethan get hit though I assume they did. Pretty much all the Confederates got wiped out.
We girls made a detour on the way back to the park to buy drinking water and ice. Lunch was consumed and then we hurried off to watch the battle. The two youngest boys were powder monkeys for some Confederate cannon and Josiah got to be the colour-bearer.
I overheard, from both sides, that the battle did not go exactly as scripted--most of the fighting was under the trees when it was supposed to be out on the open field. Anyway, there were a few grouses on that front, but I thought for a 25 minute battle (if I had been able to see more of it) it wasn't too bad. Not overly spectacular due probably mostly to the fact that there really only was a handful of reenactors. A fine bunch of cannon though... :)
Josiah was one of the few Confederates to take a hit...and did he ever take it with spirit and verve! He practically flipped backwards and...I really cannot describe it. I just wanted to hollar, "WELL DONE, JOSIAH!" but I didn't--though I did tell him later how well he "died". He even laid quite stiff for most of the rest of the battle--though he did end up moving his hat to cover his face once the battle had shifted locus again. Just suffice to say, these K brothers know how to "die" well.
The Confederates won the battle (day one of two supposedly portraying the Battle of Rich Mountain) that day, though they would eventually lose on the following day.
After a slew of photos taken there at the base of the hill in the Confederate camp, Luke pulled out his revolver and remarked, "I have to clear my gun" or something to that effect; I was a little busy watching his hand as it seemed to be extending toward me. Looking up from his hand I asked with a hint of excited incredulity, "You'll let me..." He laughed and handed it over. (Alright, so it didn't take the K's more than 18 hours to figure Racheal out on the firearms front.)
If I had been feeling less selfish, or at least more thoughtful, I would have let Katherine have a go at at least one of the three remaining shots. She said she enjoyed watching me enjoy myself though (despite the fact that she would have liked to shoot it too) and so didn't mind too much that her sister was being a hog...
My ears were ringing like crazy, but it was a thrill. :) YES.
I actually kind of forget what went on between then and time for the ball--eating and a bit of clothing changing and "alteration" and re-doing hair took place, but before that I think it was pretty much just people talking...oh, and a K family pictures or three...or half a dozen because Obadiah is too much like me and kept bursting into giggles. Or grinning when he should have been straight faced, etc. I was told by someone (Master Obadiah, I do believe) as I was behind the camera, not to bring my eyes above the camera right before it clicked because it cracked him up. Yes, dear. I'll try to remember that next time.
They then hauled us three girls in for a few more photos and I hope I didn't ruin them...I'm not exactly photogenic, you know.
I just remembered something else, Grace and I went off and sat on the bleachers for awhile and talked more soberly than probably either one of us did the entirety of the rest of the weekend. It was a good conversation and continued into supper--which Grace had to scarf because the K's were leaving to attend Pastor Weaver's lecture.
The girls and I got ready for the ball and were going to take pictures, but we plumb forgot after Miss K just up and had an entirely unexpected nose bleed! (Not that nose bleeds are usually very predictable.) It took a few minutes for it to stop. Katherine cleaned up the dress where blood had dripped. I think Miss K felt kind of bad about getting blood on things, but it really was not big deal for us. However, she made sure later to soak the white petticoat borrowed from the K's who had in turn, I hear, borrowed it from someone else! It did come nice and clean, but because it had to be hung in a tree to dry, it was something of a beacon blowing in the wind for all the spectators to see as they drove in and parked the next day. :D
Of the two dances I have been at in a Northern state, I must say that this one wins. Unlike the rowdy crowd at Hartford City last fall, the dancers here were for the most part respectful of the caller and not overly noisy. I saw persons whom I recognized from Hartford City and met new persons. There was really only one whom I'd rather not see again...kind of a middle aged man with red hair. Neither Katherine nor I liked him much as he seemed a bit too forward. I did help a tall, dimpled man who had never danced before and reminded me of Red Skelton to get his feet under him in a dance that I had never done before--however, it's like this: once you know the individual steps, it's downright easy to follow the caller...
There were very few Confederates at the dance, so I mainly trod the floor with gents in blue uniforms. One was particularly nice; I had been talking with him and some of the K's earlier in the day looking at his small display of merchandise.
All in all, all three of us girls had a nice time at the dance...and Miss K seemed to have TWO admirers! One even asked for her social media information....We have no clue of his name, so we call him "The Sailor Boy". The other was "The Marshall".
I was glad to go to bed that night. Despite feeling better, I still get tired after two hours of dancing. I slept a little longer than I had been as well.
Sunday morning, we started our camp break down and then hurried into town for church. (In full CW regalia.) We were almost late...Anyway, Pastor Weaver spoke on Law and it's relation to Church and Government (essentially). It wasn't anything new to me, but it was quite interesting--it is still one of my favorite topics, you know. I was grateful to be sitting next to Grace, who kindly let me crane over her shoulder and read the Scripture passages as I had forgot my Bible at home! (Thursday morning/early afternoon was a little hectic.)
I thrilled to Pastor Weaver's manner of answering the questions asked of him. No doubt, he's a Southerner! He wove stories into his answers very much like I do! :)
After lunch, which was thoroughly enjoyed, the girls and I went back to the park to watch the battle and finish our breakdown and packing. Well, we pulled in only to spot a fire next to our neighbor's camper--but not where their fire ring had been. It is my opinion that some jerk probably set the fire a-purpose as there was no evidence that Ron's fire had gotten out of control and spread. (Indeed, he told us later that he had broken it up well before he left it.) Anyway, I set off in Annabelle to go 'round and get some water (as we were out) and I managed to spill Katherine's tea--and nearly all the rest of my plantain salve all over the place. Bummer.
Katherine and Miss K had it out by the time I got back, but they went ahead and soaked the area well. Then we scurried off and caught the battle. One final volley killed ALL of the Confederates. It was actually very dramatic despite the small number of reenactors.
We stopped on our way back from the battle and talked to Hawk and Jill for a bit (once we get a period set-up we have been invited to camp with them and their group--which I appreciate!) then went back to the tent, changed into "civies", took the tent down and finished loading. Glancing at my watch, I found that we had already missed the beginning of Pastor Weaver's final lecture for the day, so we hurried as quickly as was safe (and this time I didn't do a lot of dumb attempting to park stunts like I had in the morning) and slipped in. I would have liked to have laid down for while listening to that talk; not because it was boring--far from it! but because I was that kind of tired.
After the talk, we ate again (hurrah for food!) and gabbed for quite a while. I so enjoyed all the talk and laughter there was with this group of folks. I ended up, right before we left, chasing Isaac 'round the parking lot. He's such a funny little feller....I am quite out of shape, but it was an absolute blast. Everyone else was laughing (as were we)...but we did finally have to actually leave in order to get Miss K home by the 8 o'clock time she had given her mama.
At Miss K's place we sat about on the porch for a bit and told weekend stories. Then we left and drove the rest of the way home. Katherine isn't much of a hand at talking to keep the driver alert when she is tired...but we managed. I was really only starting to get grouchy by the time we got home. A warm shower and bed. That's all I wanted. I didn't even want anything more to eat.
That should be the end of this post, but I feel constrained to add a bit of a postscript. Ethan asked me Sunday afternoon what my plans were for this week and I laughed, saying that I would probably spent Monday crashed. The thing is-I DID NOT.
This is the first time since I have started reenacting that I have been a normal functioning person the day after I came home from a reenactment. IT IS WONDERFUL...
So, today, though rather tired when I got up, I mowed the entire yard (something I could not do last year) and got my first real sunburn of the year. I also checked my bees...but that story--and there is one--will have to wait for a Bee Project post....
Anyway, I am grateful to have been able to go...and grateful that my parents don't mind my reenacting drive...and that Miss K wants to go with us again...and that I got to know the K family better...and got introduced to a few other families and individuals...and got to be IN THE MIDDLE of part of it all as if it had been planned...and of course, that there was plenty to eat and safety in the trip.
I had SO MUCH FUN...and look forward to the next one (maybe also in Michigan next month)!! I only wish I had a few more pictures to show y'all. :)