Saturday, July 6, 2013

Reenactment Of the 150th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Gettysburg, PA Vacation

I hope that all of my American friends had a great 4th of July celebration. My husband and I had a quiet day of relaxing back at home after an eight day round trip to Gettysburg, PA to participate in the reenactment of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. We left home about 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon of June 25, 2013 driving to Jackson, TN where we ate supper at the Casey Jones Village Restaurant. I am going to copy the itinerary of our trips that I printed out for the parents of the 3 teens that went on this trip with us.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013: Leaving Jackson, TN for a 10 hour drive to spend the night in Lexington, VA. (Most of our days for this trip started somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. to get back on the road driving. All of my husband Daniel's trips include what feels like a driving marathon to see how many hours of driving he can squeeze into one day to get where we are going.)

Thursday, June 27, 2013: Sightseeing at Stonewall Jackson's Home/Museum, VMI (Virginia Military Institute) Museum which features Stonewall Jackson Artifacts including the horse that he rode when he was shot and later died. The horse died and was stuffed 30 years after the war ended. We will visit General Robert E. Lee's Tomb and Stonewall Jackson's Gravesite. Then we will drive 213 miles to Gettysburg, PA to arrive around 6:00 p.m. to check in and set up camp before dark. (We got stuck crawling in traffic in Martinsburg, MD for an hour and a half because an 18-wheeler was turned over and blocking 2 lanes of traffic. We got our tents set up just as it was getting dark. The teenaged boy that was with us went to spend the night out in the woods with Daniel's unit - the 3rd Arkansas Infantry reenactors - for the weekend. The unit slept out in the woods with just a ground cloth and 2 blankets each open to the rains that we did get on Friday and Saturday. We set up a small dog tent - equivalent to a modern day pup tent - for the two teenaged girls next to our larger A-frame tent.)

Friday, June 28, 2013 - Sunday, June 30, 2013: The first battle on Friday is from 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. The last battle on Sunday starts at 12:30 p.m. Whatever time the Sunday reenactment ends, we will pack up the truck and drive to Frederick, MD to spend the night, about 34 miles from Gettysburg, PA and about 46 miles from Washington, D. C. (Daniel did not participate in this battle. He was still too tired from the trip to get to Gettysburg. We sat thru 2 rains in our tents. The girls tent and covers got flooded out with the second hard rain. We moved them into our tent with us. We were a tight fit for sleeping with them in the middle. Daniel and I cheated and had twin sized air mattresses which we kept hidden from the public. We put down their ground cloth and smaller hiking air mattresses between ours for sleeping. We shared our cover since theirs got wet with the rain. Later after the rains, we went to the sutlers to try to find a dress for one of the teenaged girls who was with us. The first battle that Daniel participated in was the battle for Culp's Hill, East Cemetery Ridge from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Friday evening. As spectators, we were too far away to see much of the battle. We could see gun and canon smoke from 5 different battle areas that were all going on at the same time.)

(On Saturday, June 29, 2013, a Cavalry Battle took place 10:00-11:00 a.m. We could not leave our camp because the road was closed to traffic so that the Cavalry could leave their camp and go to the battlefield. We could hear the gun shots from our camp. We also missed the only ladies activity - a fashion show and ladies tea - because the roads were closed. Our Confederate camps were about two miles down muddy roads from all of the activities and the sutlers [merchants]. The Union camps had a bus to transport its soldiers and their ladies to all of the activities. The Confederate camps had a hay wagon pulled by a tractor for transport of soldiers and ladies. Sitting on hay in a wagon is not comfortable in a dress with a hoop. The 3 times I rode the wagon, I kept sliding off the hay. The hay also got wet with the rains and the roads got worse with each rain.  From 2:00-6:00 p.m., the battles of Devil's Den, Little Round Top, the Wheat Field and the Peach Orchard were fought. The girls and I followed Daniel and the 3rd Arkansas out to the battle, hoping to get close enough to see the battle. We couldn't. We had to stop at the beginning of the battlefield. We saw very little of the battle. We were directed to go into the Saloon that was set up on the outer edge of the battlefield. Daniel's unit were not included in the whole battle so we left the battlefield when they did. We went to the sutlers where we ate supper and shopped. We found a dress for the second of the teenaged girls that was with us to use as a ball gown for the dance. The Civil War Ball started around 8:00 p.m. Shortly after the dance started so did the rain. The dance was in a badly overcrowded tent so I didn't attempt to dance. I recorded some of the dances that Daniel and the girls participated in. The teenaged boy stayed out with the 3rd Arkansas Infantry unit and fought another battle in the dark. The youngest of the girls got a headache so we left the dance an hour early and caught the last ride of the night in the hay wagon. It didn't make any more trips to the camps because the rain had made the roads so bad. My feet were so sore from all of the walking we did and Daniel was limping from all of the walking he did. I could not have walked back to our camp if we had waited for the end of the dance.)

(Sunday, June 30, 2013: Because Daniel was already limping just around camp, he did not try to go to the last battle. Instead we waited until all of the soldiers were out of camp and then we brought the truck in and loaded up all of our gear and waited for the battle to be over to meet the young boy who came with us. We left the reenactment site around 3:00 p.m. and drove to the town of Gettysburg to do a tour of the real battlefields. We left Gettysburg, which is called a borough rather than a town, around dark. We drove to Frederick, MD and spent the night.)

Monday, July 1, 2013: We will drive to Washington, D. C. with the Lincoln Memorial being our first stop. Other things we hope to see are the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial Wall, Korean War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. At Arlington National Cemetery, we will see the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. We also hope to drive by the White House since they no longer give tours. After these activities, we will drive to Fredericksburg, VA to spend the night. Fredericksburg, VA is about 46 miles from Washington, D. C.  (Rain started just as we got to Washington, D. C. Parking was hard to find within walking distance of anything we wanted to see. Daniel dropped me and the 3 kids off near the Lincoln Memorial and went to park and walk back. The rain came down harder. We were soaked by the time we made it up the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. We looked around and took some pictures while waiting on Daniel to join us. Then we took some more pictures. The rain let up to an occasional sprinkle for the rest of the time as we walked around the reflecting pool between Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The Washington Monument was damaged two years ago in an earthquake so it was surrounded by scaffolding and fences to keep us out. I had forgotten about the earthquake and had no idea the damage was so much. Got some pictures of the top of the monument hidden by rain clouds. We walked to the Vietnam Veterans Wall, the Korean Memorial display with the 19 soldiers, the World War II Memorial display which was new to Daniel and I since our last visit. We drove by the Jefferson Memorial and the White House without being able to find a parking place. We forgot the the 4th of July was coming up and people were already beginning to come into Washington, D. C. early. I am glad we were not there for the 4th. I don't care for the crowds that the 4th would have attracted. The last time that Daniel and I were in Washington, D. C. was with our own two children when they were 13 and 14 years old. Back then you could drive down Pennsylvania Avenue and clearly see the White House from the road. This time, because of the fears of 9-11, the White House was totally blocked off from traffic. We could catch glimpses as we drove by but everything was blocked off by concrete and guard houses to everything but pedestrian traffic and we could not find a place to park.  We left Washington, D. C. and drove to Fredericksburg, VA for the night. We drove thru more rain.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013: In Fredericksburg, VA, we will see the place where the Battle of Fredericksburg - The Stone Wall and Marye's Heights. We will also see the statue of the Angel of Marye's Heights. We will travel 15 miles to where the Battle of Chancellorsville - the place where Stonewall Jackson was shot - is marked. We will drive about 472 miles to Harriman, TN which is just west of Knoxville, TN to send the night. (For those of you who believe in past lives and reincarnation - I believe that I was a Union soldier who fought and died at the Battle of Marye's Heights as pictured in the movie Gods and Generals. I retrieved this memory while watching the movie with Daniel. I had to leave the movie at half time because I was so overcome with sadness that I was sobbing. Daniel stayed and watched the rest of the movie while I walked home about a mile or so away. I was shot in the leg and laid there that day and slowly bled to death. That is all of the information that I have gotten about that lifetime and I believe it to be true. Many of my lifetimes I was a soldier. I will write another blog post about the ah-ha moment that I had in the Fredericksburg gift shop on that Tuesday, July 2. We left Fredericksburg and drove a few miles away to Chancellorsville where the kids and Daniel walked down to the spot where Stonewall Jackson was supposed to have been shot from his horse. We drove most of the way to Richmond, VA so that Daniel could show the kids the battlefield at Cold Harbor. It was raining again so we drove the route through the battlefield so that he could show them the trenches that the Confederate soldiers dug with their bayonets, silverware, their plates, hands and anything else that they could dig with to get below the fire from the Union soldiers. This day ended with us riding a total of about 12 hours through the worst rains of our whole trip to get to Harriman, TN to spend the night. The rain slowed down just long enough for us to unload our suitcases into the motel for the night. I forgot something in the truck and went back out by myself. As I was just a few steps away from the door of the room, I went completely still as I saw lightning flash right in front of me, instantly followed by the loud clap of thunder. I quickly went inside. Daniel said I looked strange. I didn't have time to be scared. The lightning struck so fast. We went to bed soon after to the sound of more thunder.)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013: Will arrive home after driving about 542 miles. Not sure exactly what time we will be home. Hopefully around 8:00 p.m. The kids will call if we are later than that. We won't have electricity to charge cell phones Thursday night thru Sunday. I don't know how long the phones will stay charged so if you call or text and no one answers that is why. (All of the writing that is included in parentheses, as these words are, were the things we actually did or my thoughts about our activities. Those not in parentheses were what we hoped to do and were in the pages of our schedule of events that I printed out for the parents and also a copy for me before we left so that they would have an idea of what we hoped to do each day. I also gave a copy to each of the kids to keep and possibly put in a scape book when they got home.)

We actually arrived home around 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening to have to unload a smelly truck full of wet blankets, sheets and uniforms that had been wet since Friday or Saturday evening. The kids got excited about coming home as soon as we crossed the Mississippi River at Memphis and drove back into Arkansas. They loved the trip and they were homesick. The girls have been doing smaller reenactments with us, closer to home for about a year and a half. This was the first trip that the young boy had made with us. He and Daniel had done the Battle of Helena, Arkansas a few months ago and the Battle of Port Jefferson with his mom and step-dad back in May. This was our first long distance trip with the girls. We did go to the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee last April, I think it was, but we made that trip in one day of driving to get there. We drove two and a half days to get to Gettysburg with a little sightseeing at Lexington, VA and we took an extra day of driving back so that we could take the kids to Washington, D. C. It was just too close to not stop by there. Daniel has become a great historian with the history he has learned from being a reenactor and also in the research for his book, Standing on the Edge of Time. He loves giving history lessons and then verbally tests the kids on the stuff he tells them. Doing the reenacting makes history a little more real for the kids and for us. We had a great trip with lots of laughter and teasing and rain. We are worn out from all the time in the truck. We all learned from the experience. I have forgotten how young girls think they have to have a different pair of shoes for each outfit so I didn't tell them to take no more than two pair each. We managed to lose the bag of shoes somewhere along our journey. I have a phone call in to the motel we think might have them. They haven't called me back yet. Life is full of adventures if you are open to them and this was a grand one that I don't think any of us will ever forget. Have a glorious weekend.


Patricia Singleton said...

Daniel read my article and corrected me. The soldiers digging the trenches at Cold Harbor with bayonets, plates, etc. were Union soldiers, not Confederate.

Pat said...

Enjoyed reading about your trip and adventures. I love that part of the world in good old PA -- I miss it being a Philadelphia girl.

I remember those battlegrounds. My sister lives only a few miles from Brandywine and the area steeps in history from the Revolutionary War.

I could always feel a strong presence and energy in those areas as if it connects and transports you back.

I remember years back visiting Arlington. The spiritual presence is so strong and sacred you whispered to one another instead of talking out loud.

Glad you got home safely and settling back in and resting up. Looking forward to reading more on your trip and your past-life soldier.

Patricia Singleton said...

Pat, I had no idea you were from Pennsylvania. Wow! Yes, every battlefield that I have ever visited has a certain feel about it. That feeling always humbles me.

Thanks for the reminder that I did say I would write about my experience and past life at Fredericksburg, VA. I was wondering yesterday if I should write about that experience here.

Arlington and watching the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldiers is awesome and inspires the use of whispers if you talk at all. Thanks for your support and friendship.