Civil War Photo Contest
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- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
Although not taken during the march to Gettysburg this photo of The Confederate Guard infantry company at a Living History event two years earlier at Chickamauga NMP gives a good idea of our appearance on this occasion as well. I'm at left center wearing the hat with the star; other than a brand-new pair of cadet gray trousers this is what I wore on the march.
I have previously referred to the most authentic reenacting experience in my now many years in the hobby: In the summer of 1981 two van loads of Confederate reenactors traveled from the Dallas-Fort Worth area all the way to Martinsburg, W. Va., ( in '63 it was still Virginia! ) and marched approximately seventy miles to Gettysburg for the annual event held there every July. This is an account I wrote afterwards which was published in the Camp Chase Gazette, lightly edited for clarity.
Part I - The First Day
We spent our last night on the soil of the Old Dominion in a pleasant little hollow near Martinsburg where we enjoyed plenty of water and the efforts of our foragers, who returned to camp with chickens aplenty. With stomachs full we rested well and rose in the unaccustomed chill of a late June morning to prepare for the day's march. Our objective was Williamsport, Maryland, where we were to cross the Potomac. This called for some tall marching in order to accomplish the task before nightfall so that we could locate our camp while there was still light.
We began our day's march with light hearts and optimism. Soon the quick pace and uneven surface of the McAdam Valley Pike began to wear both our spirits and our shoe leather. We were heartened however when we passed the spot where our late lamented General Jackson had seen his first action of this conflict, opposing Patterson's advance back in '61.
Our first welcomed long halt was made on the banks of the Potomac at Falling Waters where members of the company refreshed themselves under a waterfall or took solace in a nap. After an hour's rest we resumed our northward march. Later in the afternoon we halted again a few miles short of our crossing site while scouts went ahead to locate the ford. They found the Potomac so swollen by the recent rains that a decision was made to cross further upstream.
We resumed our faltering march. Toward the end of a seemingly endless day the head of the column passed over into Maryland followed by groups of stragglers who stumbled into camp. However, only a handful played out and failed to complete the day's journey and those only in the last couple of miles.
There were no regimental bands to serenade us with strains of Maryland, My Maryland as we turned onto the narrow strip of land between the Potomac and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal where we made our camp. The messes built fires and cooked their meals in the twilight but the strain and heat of the march exhausted this writer; only a can of peaches tucked away in the corner of my knapsack saved me from going to bed hungry that night. Some said we covered eighteen miles that day and it felt like it, but more likely it was 14 or 15 miles.