September 21, 2019 by Lee
If you have been following our adventure touring American Civil War battlefields and landmarks, then you will have noticed that at times we followed a different path to what we had planned. Today was yet another one of those days, we originally had planned to do day 2 of the Gettysburg battlefield CD auto tour. But, yesterday while we were having our ice cream in Mr Gs ice cream parlour, we noticed on their notice board a living history event for this weekend.
Well, we talked about it over our ice cream (which was very nice and as Mel said yesterday the owners are really nice people but that is another story). We couldn’t decide which to do, Mel and I used to do American Civil War Reenactment years ago and so it’s not new to us. But, we were curious to see how it was done in America after all it’s their history.
We woke this morning still undecided, had breakfast when I said that we would kick ourselves if we didn’t go when we got back to the UK. So we jumped in the car and off we went, it was only a short drive just out of Gettysburg to the historic Daniel Lady Farm. This farm served as Major General Edward Johnsons staging area for the Confederate attack on Culp’s Hill and was also used as a Confederate field hospital during the battle of Gettysburg.
Upon our arrival we were greeted by reenactors who once they realised we were English were thrilled we made the effort to come and see them. I have to say that where we have been travelling that everyone who we have met has had the most respect for us and have been eager to listen to us talk about our history. It even got to a point in some places that they were embarrassed that their history is not as old as ours. I was always quick to put them at ease by saying that “our history at times cannot be believed, take Bosworth and Hastings fields, geological findings and scientific research has proved that these battles were fought in a different place than they originally thought”.
I will say though that they were most interested when I talked about the main three times we had been invaded, the Romans, Saxons and the Normans. I have found talking to the many people here that we still share a lot of common interests.
I digress, back to the living history day. Firstly we went to the sutlers so Jamie and I could buy a replica Union kepi and Mel picked up a Confederate kepi. I must admit I did miss my old Union Reenactment uniform and musket. So with kepis bought we headed off around the officers camps.
There were both Union and Confederate Headquarters camps setup, the Union camp represented that of General Hancock leader of 2nd corps at Gettysburg. The Confederate headquarters was that of General Longstreet commander of the first corps here at Gettysburg. The unlisted mens camp was in another field and here there were infantry, artillery and cavalry camps all bristling with authentic equipment.
As we strolled around the Confederate camps it was noted that Jamie and I were Mels prisoners as we were wearing our Union kepis. This sparked many conversations with many of the reenactors who again loved the fact that 3 English people had taken the time to visit their event. I was really impressed by how they all stayed in character when you spoke to them, no more so that we had a long conversation with General Robert E Lee and his wife, who was very impressed with Mel having captured Jamie and I. No secrets or state plans were given by us, although General Lee did give away some of his tactics and plans.
Following our talk with General Lee we went to watch a cavalry skirmish, the sort of tactics used at east cavalry field here at Gettysburg on the third day of the battle. It was really good to see these magnificent horses in action and the men and women riding them. It was also good after this skirmish that they rode over to the public area and began answering any questions people had. Again the horses were very good, even letting you give them an apple. I again was most impressed by the equipment each side had, especially the double barrelled sawn off shotgun one lady Confederate cavalry person had. At this time in the war the Confederate cavalry had mainly ditched their Sabres in favour of close missile weapons revolvers and shotguns as well as the carbine. The Union however were starting to drop the sabre in favour of more revolvers as well as their carbine.
It was also interesting to hear about what happened if a troops horse got shot from under him. A Confederate cavalryman had to inlist in an infantry unit and had about a month to find a new horse, failing to find one and he had to stay in the infantry. For the Union cavalryman it was very different, he would’ve gone back to his unit and after a week he would have a new horse. What you have to remember is that the Confederate cavalryman mainly brought their own horse from back home on the farm. In the early part of the war the Confederate cavalry were way better than the Union, due to them being better horsemen although the Union had overall better weapons.
After a walk around the unlisted mens camps we returned back to the battle area where they were going to depict a famous action on the 2nd day at Gettysburg and that of the 20th Maine charge down Little Round Top after repeated attacks from Confederate forces. It started with cannon fire from both sides and then the Confederate assaults, which got repelled and they went again and again they were repelled. On the third attempt you could hear Colonel Chamberlain shout “Bayonets!!” And the Union line fixed bayonets and then the order came to charge. While all this was going on the cannons were firing, the Confederate infantry was volleying and then with a loud roar the 20th Maine charged down the hill. Rather them than me as it was 34°c and very humid.
Believe me the Union were there, but from our position we could hardly see them, these last two photos show the Union charging down the hill.
This was the climax of the days event and everyone began to leave, we said our goodbyes and thanked the event organisers for such a great day and one we are glad we didn’t miss.
Well, only one full day left in Gettysburg and then we return back to the UK. I will save our conclusions until then, but for now I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and if so please Like, Comment and Share. Until next time thanks.