It was a special day today at the Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site.
On May 25, 1864, this was the scene of a Civil War battle that resulted in the loss of over 2000 lives. Sherman and his troops encountered a grave defeat here on his march to take Atlanta.
I have a general knowledge of the Civil War, but little knowledge of specific battles, so my first stop was at the visitor’s center to view the museum and the movie. I was happy that I watched the movie first, as that gave me an understanding of the horrific battle that took place in this seemingly out of the way place. To add to that, a small re-enactment was occurring today. In 1864, there was a wheat field in the lower left of the above map. That’s where the re-enactment I observed occurred.
As I made my way to that field, I came upon Confederate troops readying a grapeshot cannon. (This is my term for it. I’m sure these gentlemen told me its official name, but I can’t remember.) This was an anti-personnel cannon which means the ‘grapeshot’ literally mowed down troops in front of it like a giant shotgun. In under five hours, 1600 Union soldiers laid dead in the field and forests.
Along the edge of the wheat field, Confederate troops were occasionally firing off rounds at the Union troops on the other side of the field. They were expecting the Union soldiers to maneuver to their flank.
I decided to walk down the side of the field and visit the boys in blue. That’s when I got into trouble.
Suddenly the guy with the little bar on his shoulder shouted, “Stop Sir! You are in the line of fire, and we are shooting at those Confederates!” I, of course ignored him since I’m not a ‘Sir’. Whoops! Guess that haircut I got a week or so ago was a little shorter than I thought. He stomped over and ordered me behind the lines. I, of course, obeyed. Only problem was, when you’re behind the lines you can’t see anything. These re-enactors really take their job seriously. I thought they only used blanks in their guns.
My real highlight of this experience was meeting Johnny Lloyd. He is one of the re-enactors, and was a wellspring of information. Depending on the occasion, he can wear blue or grey. From him I learned that hardtack is really hard! In order to be edible, troops would first fry their bacon and then soak the hardtack in the grease so it would soften up. Did you know that they had rubber tarps in those days? I didn’t, and he even showed me the manufacturer’s seal on the tarp that said Goodyear. (I think. I hope I got that right. I did recognize it as a famous tire name.) The tobacco pouch was also made out of that same rubber. I just always thought it would have been hides or leather of some sort. Potatoes and other vegetables were also smaller in those days before hybrids and herbicides and such. I also learned that soldiers wore hobnail boots so that the soles wouldn’t wear out so fast. They also provided traction in slippery soils. I always try to learn something new each day, but now I’m good for at least a week!
I’ll have to save where I went this afternoon for tomorrow’s post since it will be a stay at home pack up day for me. Today was one of those days that was surely a diamond, not a stone!
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy