GAC 150th Commemoration, Battle of Gettysburg
July 3-7, 2013
Day 2: The Tour
|Joe Bellas giving the tour. Courtesy Cookie Owens|
Shortly before 3 pm we headed over to the field where Pickett’s charge occurred. Since today was the 3rd of July, 3 pm was 150 years to the minute from when General Pickett started his charge. If you know your history, you might be saying, “But 2 pm was when the charge started.” Yes, that is true, but Daylight Savings time had not been invented 150 years ago, so technically when we were stepping off to start the charge when our watches said it was 3, it was really 2 according to the way the Civil War period tracked time.
We parked our cars for heading over to the charge on a residential street. The owner of the house where we parked came out and met us. He was a friendly gentleman, happy to see us. He directed us to a shortcut to the field through his backyard into the woods. That shortcut saved just enough time for us to get to the start just in time, but it was still a mile from our cars.
We had hoped to march independently, just our unit. But the park service would not allow us to do that. We had to march with one of the groups forming up. We found off to one side of the field and formed up to the left of another Confederate unit that formed there, with a brigade in front of us. The march began and that other unit and us marched in formation, with many in modern clothes following along. We approached several fence rows with openings, and J.R. maneuvered us behind the rest of the battalion to get us through the opening, then back into position at the left of the battalion.
(Video of the march, thanks to Cookie Owens: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10201404623743724)
|Courtesy Jared Springer|
Trish Carte was thirsty, so Joe Bellas asked the gentleman for a glass of water for her. Joe talked with that gentleman for awhile, and before we knew it, the gentleman had gone into his house and returned with a Civil War wall plaque with both Confederate and Yankee flags, and presented it to Joe. It was quite a surprise.
By this time it was getting late, so we ate at another branch of the Appalachian Brewery, returning to camp for the night.
The 1st inspected their muskets, and I gave them mine to inspect. Because of a number of visitors we had that were falling in with us for the weekend, we loaned out five muskets, mine included. It was a good thing I had mine inspected, as it failed. It turned out both the tumbler and sear spring had gone bad.
Day 3: The Event Starts
|Courtesy J.R. Sharp|
Sure enough, the Yankees, still full in numbers, were falling back. The battle was soon over, our victory assured.
Yeah, sometimes the scenario has a mind of its own.
The march back was exhausting. Just as long, but now uphill. I crashed back at camp, stripping down to my shirt and cooled off as best as I could. Most of the 1st TN were too beat to return to the evening battle, so chose to instead get more touring of the Gettysburg Battlefield, with Joe Bellas as their guide.
Like most companies at Gettysburg, we had a number of visitors fall in with us for the weekend, including three from Belgium. The Belgians decided to stay behind to fall in with the 5th KY for the evening battle. I also stayed for the evening battle.
We marched to the field for the evening battle. The length of the march was far longer than the morning battle—it was probably as far as we could have marched and still be in Adams County PA.
We stacked arms, and as the scheduled time to start, we took arms and waited. The we open ordered and ground arms and waited some more. The we took arms, then rest. Wait and wait and wait. Finally, a tractor came with a tank of water, so I ordered the captains to send details to refill canteens. Probably an hour after the scheduled time, we finally started the march into battle. I found out later the reason for the long wait was that the ANV battalion had arrived over an hour before the start of the battle and used up all their water. They refused to start the battle until they were resupplied with water.
But anyway, we marched out and quickly encountered resistance. Across the entire field, heading toward the grandstand where the spectators sat, we pushed the Yankees. The company directly in front of us was always the last to fall back, causing our battalion to always be behind the other battalions and brigades as we advanced. That company made a final retreat, faced us, and then stood at attention. As we continued to fire upon them, a Yankee brigade marched in columns of four in front of that Yankee company, proceeding off the field back to their camps.
I guess it was time to go to bed or something. Maybe that delay at the beginning got them tired of playing.
Video of evening battle
Anyway, I made it back to camp and crashed again. After I cooled off, I threw an ear of corn on the fire and a can of Chef Boy-R-D ravioli into my skillet. It was a good feast.
Day 4: Indigo Messes with the Head
Bacon and eggs again for breakfast. I was well supplied. I must have been the best fed soldier in the battalion.
Fortunately, we only had an evening battle, so I spent the morning with the 1st TN perusing through the sutlers. There was quite a large number of them, but we quickly blasted through them. I think we all have started to reach the point that we feel like we have seen all that could be bought and have all that we need.
I stopped at James Country where I had Trish Carte and Lindsay Sharp deliver my musket yesterday for repair while I was in battle.
James Country really took care of Christine. The repair cost was reasonable. I had thought that the problem was only the sear spring, but he also found a problem with the tumbler and replaced it. He also suggested I replaced the main spring.
The evening battle was interesting. The brigade came onto the field and we quickly were faced with a Yankee brigade. To the left of our brigade was another Confederate brigade.
|Courtesy J.R. Sharp|
I started wondering what they were thinking. It must have been another case of the Indigo dye messing with the Yankees’ brains. Before long, third battalion of our brigade (the battalion to our immediate left) took advantage of the situation and slide in behind the Yankee battalion, putting them in a crossfire. Third battalion proceeded to shoot the Yankees in the back, but that Kevlar just held strong. After awhile the third battalion figured out that the Yankees had no idea they were being hit from behind, so marched to the Yankee’s flank and fired hard to penetrate that Kevlar.
In the meantime, we were shooting toe-to-toe at the Yankees in front of us. With third battalion preoccupied, our numbers were a little thin, but we were okay so long as first battalion was to our right. They are too our right, yes? Where did they go? For some reason, first battalion decided to retreat. Okay, now we had a problem.
We were left hanging in the middle of nowhere, fully exposed to a brigade of Yankees. General Julian told me something, and I somehow got it all wrong. While General Julian went back to that battalion to get them, I ran in front of our battalion and ordered them forward. I only brought them about five feet forward, but I know I freaked out just about everyone. I really don’t know why I thought that was a good idea, because I looked at all those Yankees and suddenly realized just how bad a situation we were in. I think I’ll chalk that up to confusion and insanity. All that indigo dye in front of us must have messed with my head.
Well, dinner held more ravioli and corn. I think I must be about the only soldier to have gained weight that week.
Video of Friday evening battle (the "Wheatfield")
Next time: Day 5: Bivouacked