I must say, that after two years out of WBtS reenacting that even just going as one day walk-on's was fun and rekindled my ambition to study the era more...
The day was kind of a birthday event and it was quite enjoyable and educational in some respects. (One of those being--we're in Yankee territory so the perspective is a bit different in general than what I'm used to. I had to mind my tongue a bit better. ;P )
We had to scramble a bit to get out the door on time to make the morning battle (at 10). We really aren't morning people and a couple of us simply cannot hurry, so we often are pushing it to get out on time for anything in the morning. Still, we managed to snap a few "dress" pictures before leaving...
It wasn't the biggest reenactment I've been to (Chickamauga was that). I'd classify it at about a upper-middling amount of reenactors. There were more Yankees than Confederates, but that is to be expected considering where we are. ;) Overall, the professionalism was a bit higher than that which I am prone to bemoan in the Florida groups (primarily Hardee Corp), so that was a positive.
For the first battle, we were situated right behind/beside the Confederate artillery (if you know us, you know that we love the artillery so much so that I joke that I need to marry a man with a cannon). There, I saw a sight I had never seen before at a reenactment--mortars. Now that was pretty neat! They had two of them. :)
After the battle, we girls meandered off to stroll through sutler row. And guess what? We didn't buy anything! I saw a pretty cream parasol that I liked...but I decided against dropping $35 for it. I really would rather have an A-frame tent and cooking gear for over the fire--which according the pricing I did would cost about $300 for the bare-bones set up. I'm pretty sure we can make a tent for cheaper than we could buy one (depending I guess on the price-per-yard of tent canvas).
After that, we slid into the presentation tent and caught the tail end of President Jeff Davis' talk. (I later saw a man who looked more like Davis than the impersonator did.)
When he was done, we stuck around for the "Meet and Greet the Generals" session. There was Lee, Stuart, Heath, Grant, Sherman, and Custer. The Custer impersonator, while he looked like Custer, was quite a bit older than Custer was when he died at Little Big Horn. I did not stand up and rail at General Sherman when he informed the crowd that he would be quite willing to answer any questions concerning his March to the Sea. I kept my mouth shut and wrinkled my nose up a little bit I think.
Then...we went on a search for a doctor to talk to. Savannah and I, at any rate, have both been wanting an actual impression and nursing is something that is a "legitimate" persona.
First we stopped by the Confederate surgeon. He essentially told us that he doesn't actually do much any more (besides which he only does two reenactments a year) and told us to go talk to the Yankee doctor--who really is a doctor.
Biting the bullet, we headed for the Union camp across the field. And there we met Dr. Fred.
We headed back to the battle field when we heard the crash of artillery fire starting back up and shortly after we got there, Savannah loaned me her apron and I handed off my hat and reticle (a purse, y'all ;D) and head toward the Yankee camp.
We ended up with five or six patients total, if I remember correctly--five "amputations" (one of whom "died" under the knife), and one bullet extraction. But...I'll go into more detail because to me this was the highlight of the day.
Our first patient was a foot amputation, the lad in both these pictures. (He healed pretty well, by the way...I danced a waltz with him that evening.) While I little taller than I, he probably weighs about the same or a little less and was the easiest to manipulate and hold down. When it was time to get him on the table, I went to where he was laying in the shade and hauled him up bodily under the armpits and slung his arm around my neck and helped him over and up. He got "put to sleep" and so didn't kick much. I had the dubious honour of being towards the spectators and thereby being the one to whom Dr. Fred handed the amputated "limbs" (plastic dummy limbs!); my job being to toss it into the bucket just behind the rope.
Dr. Fred asked me at one point, "Are you going to faint?"
"No. I'm fine."
"Okay...my last nurse fainted."
I don't know if that was an actual fact or if he was in character...I couldn't tell. He's pretty good.
But, the best of the lot...
At any rate, our Andy-look-alike was the most realistic. He moaned...he thrashed...he quivered (I'm not kidding)...and he died. I don't know if that was his play or if he had been pre-instructed to die, but it was seriously a sobering experience. The doctor's couldn't get him to revive and I just stood there watching, my hands still on his leg. I helped carry him off and lay him to one side of the doctor's tent where he stayed until things were winding down.
I made sure to catch him before he escaped and (in addition to asking about possible cousins), told him that he had made the experience more real for me. He said, "Sorry..." and I responded, "No. I appreciate it. Thank-you." I'm not sure he knew what to do with me, but I wanted to let him know that I did appreciate it.
I was over half-way through sutler row when I passed a Confederate soldier. I blinked and gave him a second look (I had yet another double-take that day, but I'll get there...three in one day is excessive :D). Turning about I asked, "Cyrus?"
Anyway...as it turns out, it was a fellow from church that I had yet to actually be introduced to, but knew who he was.
After supper as it got dark, we headed back up the hill to watch the artillery night fire, which I had never seen before.
"Since you're the expert, do you know what this is?"
I think I laughed and made some retort along the lines of not being an expert (since I'm not, just an enthusiast) and took the gun. I had to do most of my looking via my finger tips since it was dark. I asked if it were a Colt...no, a Remington. But essentially rather like a Colt SAA. He then asked me what caliber it was. Savannah stuck her finger down the barrel and guessed, ".45". I shook my head, not that anyone probably could see it and said, ".44". "Yep." I then went into my know-it-all phase and blurbbled about how they didn't use .45 much at that point. Most service revolvers were in .44, I think, but some were in various other calibers too.
Cyrus then asked if I'd like to fire a few caps?
You kidding? Seriously. Lemme at it! (Um, no I did not say that; I was a little more polite than that....)
Between first my cell phone's glow and then with Katherine's little flashlight, we lighted it up so that he could see to remove the cylinder. I then got to put the caps on the nipples and then he put the cylinder back in and we strolled off to a place where the three girls each got a two-shot go. There was no powder so it didn't go "boom" but just snapped with a little spark. One of Savannah's shots was a dud. I like the way the thing handled.
From there, Cyrus took us to meet some friends of his (General Heath being one of them) and we now have a standing invite to camp with them anytime. (We need a set up!!!! Ahem...) They pointed out some things that ladies can do...nursing...seamstress...camp cook....washer woman...
Oh, General Heath asked if we were Union or Confederate and I immediately answered "Confederate" and he reached out cheerfully, "Confederates!" and gave me a hug then moved on to my sisters, "Group hug!" It was humourous. They are Christians, of the non-doctrine type (which is, honestly, a bit of a laugh since doctrine simply means "teaching", but we girls just kept quiet on that front), so rather what we were looking for.
From there we moved onto the ball. I insert this next photograph here because I want you to look at the fellow on the far left with the chin hair, curled mustache, and glasses. He was my third double-take of the day. I saw my cousin Philip standing over there...and it wasn't of course. This guy is a bit shorter and Philip really is a little more handsome...but still. I would end up dancing the Haymaker's Reel with him after he took both me and the girl on the other side of him down the line during the Hat Dance--twice. :D (The first time, I confided that "I butcher chickens and bake 'em real good, too." The second time, I grinned, "I can shoot too!" His response to that was funny because he laughed and said, "That's good enough for me!" Some guys are real flirts during that dance, but he didn't seem to be one of those...)
Savannah got flirted with by one of Cyrus' unit mates...yup.
There was a particular family/group of persons that were very loud and obnoxious and I didn't really like them...but somehow ended up in their sets twice for both the Virginia Reel and the Haymaker's Reel. In the Virginia Reel I kept running into my partner during the Do-si-do...I think it was partly because our set was spaced too closely, but also because he was a bit beefy. Oh well. It happens. I got over feeling odd about it a long time ago. :D
Usually the dances are the highlight for me at reenactments...but Saturday it was my nursing experience--even if I was helping out the Yankees. I beg of you, my dear Confederate friends, do not rib me too hard (Cyrus already did that, thank-you). I wanted to "test the waters" so to speak and see if it were an option that I would really like to do and it served it's purpose. Any of y'all want to reenact a medico???