Monday, November 8, 2010

The Burning of Guyandotte

I've heard stories of the Guyandotte re-enactment, but have never been there.  I've heard of being well fed, but I've heard of other things that made me worry.

One of my biggest concerns was for cold weather, which is expected this time of year.  However, this year was unseasonably warm and sunny--I was only a little cold Sunday morning when I ran out of propane for my heater.

The event was better than I expected.  A small, in-town type of event fought on the streets of the little community inside Huntington WV, on the actual location of a Civil War battle, fought in November 1861, making next year the 150th for this event.

If you don't like street fighting, this would not be an event for you.  The streets were well blocked off, and many of the buildings in the area were survivors from the actual battle.  Not all the modern inconveniences can be eliminated, as you might find at an event in a park, but it is still a good event.

Three of us from the 1st Tennessee fell in with the 5th Kentucky for the weekend.  Being a more laid-back event, there's not really much I can say about it.  They did feed us two breakfasts and two lunches, which is more than every other event, but we were on our own for Saturday dinner--but it was a short walk to a local diner.

For the battles, I had to get used to fighting using Gilham's tactics--the 1st Tennessee uses Hardee's, while the 5th Kentucky uses Gilham's.  Most of the commands are similar, but shoulder arms kept throwing me--when you have to hold the rifle on the left shoulder instead of at your right side, motions for all commands end up completely different.  Even support arms threw me--there wasn't enough movement--I kept thinking there had to be something I was missing when all you have to do is bend your elbow.

All I know about the Saturday battle is that I still had a lot of rounds left--while I completely finished off my season's rounds in the Sunday battle.  I guess us Confederates are better at making a battle last when it's our turn to die. 

H.K. Edgerton leads us with the Colors.
Photo courtesy of Herald-Dispatch
The one thing that really stood out for the Saturday battle was something I have never seen at a reenactment--a black Confederate (H.K. Edgerton) in our lines.  He was there for a special impression as a black Confederate soldier--he acted as our flag bearer during the battle, waving the Confederate battle flag.  We need more of that type of impression--too many people have no clue what the war was really about.  If they know anything at all about the war, too often they think it was about slavery.

Slavery was only added halfway through the war as an excuse by Abraham Lincoln to continue the war--it was not what started it.  Mr. Edgerton is at the heart of what even our reenacting is all about--preserving our heritage.   In putting together this post I stumbled onto some posts of those who think Mr. Edgerton crazy.  But they miss the point.  As George Santayana stated, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  History may be written by the victors, but if the victors lose sight of the truth, the truth will enslave them.  It is only by knowing the truth are we set free. 

I hope to run into Mr. Edgerton again at another event. 

His website is