The rain continued for a while, and one of the 3rd Louisiana men – Gary was his name – asked me how many men we had and where we would be sleeping. I said there were eight of us and we would be sleeping out in the rain.
“No way,” he said.
They had a large tent that housed some of their equipment, and he began moving it so we would have a place to sleep and not be in the rain. I said there was no need to do that, but he insisted. So, I helped him move the equipment from the tent to a place under the fly. I thanked him profusely and said we would put as many men as possible in the tent they had provided.
Such is the type of camaraderie that you encounter at reenactments.
An officer came around about 9:30pm and told us we would have reveille at 6:00am. We needed to be ready to move out at 7:30 for an 8:30 battle, which was to replicate the first day’s fighting just outside of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.
Well, the rain stopped abruptly and you could see the stars. When some of our guys came back, Randy, Joe and I got in the tent. The outside ground wasn’t very wet, and when the other men came into camp, they rolled their blanket rolls out on the ground. We all tried to get some shut-eye.
As I lay there I got to thinking. The day had been hot and humid. The night felt pleasant, but still humid. I was stretched out on my gum blanket with my frock coat for a pillow and another gum blanket over me to keep off the dew. As I looked at the stars, it was hard to believe that all of us Arkansans and Texans had been 1100 miles away just a day and a half ago. I tried to calculate how long it would have taken Civil War Soldiers to march that distance. I wondered how soldiers must have felt back in 1863, knowing they were going into battle and hoping they wouldn’t be killed.
I drifted off to sleep and woke many times to shift my position to get a more comfortable posture. I just hoped I had enough stamina to make it the whole weekend without having any health problems. I was already tired to the bone. When you are short, fat, old and ugly, you really have to watch out for yourself.