Civil War Transcendence, part 28

I managed two of the three things you’re supposed to do in a martial arts fall.

I spread my arms out in a 45 degree angle and slapped down to break my fall.  I rolled my head toward my chest to keep from hitting the river bottom.

However, I did not relax my body, and the water wasn’t very deep where I fell. There wasn’t much of a cushion. Subsequently, when my body hit the rocky river bottom and I slapped my hands down, it jolted my body severely.

I almost passed out.

My palms hurt and tingled at the same time from slapping the hard rocks. I had landed on my back, and it ached. My neck was strained from bending toward my chest and holding that posture when I made impact.

I finally relaxed and just let the water wash over me.  The river water felt good. I looked to my left.  My hat had come off and was caught on a wooden stake that was sticking straight up out of the water.  I sort of crawled over to it through the water, instead of getting up and walking there.

Potomac River.

Reeds on the Potomac River. Photography credit – F.B. Johnson, 1898

My brogans were on the bottom of the river, but my socks were long gone. I had been holding them in my hand.

I could feel the water soak into the homemade bandage I had wrapped around my dog bite. It was starting to hurt.  I pulled my coat sleeve up to view the bite. It was really on my forearm, just above my left wrist. I let the water soak the bandage and gently removed it from my arm. I held the injured arm under the water, and it began to sting. After a while, the constant stinging turned to an intermittent ache.

I lay in the river for a few more moments and let the soothing water flow over me.

I finally got up on my knees, picked up my brogans and stood trembling on wobbly legs.  As the water ran off my clothes into the river, I swear, it made a brown, dirty slick heading downstream!

I had to get to a place where I could sleep. I had to get new clothes. I had to get food. I lurched and swayed toward the Virginia shore.

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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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