The day was hot for the first weekend in December. It was one of those freak hot spells we sometimes get in Arkansas. I had been drinking from my canteen and it was about half full. I was sweating profusely, but was feeling like a kid in a candy store.

We marched off to the battlefield in a column of fours. Our brigade snaked down a steep hill to a dirt road and halted to the west of the main battlefield. We were to be held in reserve and committed to the battle when the Union Forces were approaching our artillery position.

We were hidden by a tree line and we could hear our cannons firing at the advancing enemy. Everyone in our brigade was itching to charge into the fight. We had been told earlier that we were to go in at the Double Quick (at a trot) with our muskets at Right Shoulder Shift (rifles balanced on our right shoulders with the barrels almost straight up in the air). And, we were told to give the Rebel Yell. All of a sudden we got the word to advance.

How can I describe the complete exultation when one becomes a part of a historical event? My whole body hadn’t felt this alive in years. My heart was pounding. I had such an adrenaline surge that I swear I could have run a 4 minute mile. I screamed the Rebel Yell along with the rest of our unit. But the best part was yet to come. As we broke from the tree line and went into battle lineto protect our artillery, the 750 spectators that were situated on the hill behind the battle panorama stood up and cheered. I hadn’t experienced such an outpouring of adoration and such a feeling of pride in many, many years. I almost cried. I was performing a valid historical reenactment of an actual Civil War event and being honored for it. I was in Heaven.

Then our unit’s next movements brought on a crisis.


About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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