Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Battle of Secessionville - Sunday

Sunday dawned SUNNY and we scurried around getting dressed and packing up. We actually managed to get out of the hotel about five minutes BEFORE the deadline we’d set for ourselves. Now that’s perty good for us! As many of our friends know, we have Kerrs in our ancestry and their clan motto is “Late, but in earnest.” Yup yup yup, that’s us.

I was going to show Mom the cute bridge to the battlefield when we got there, but we got sidetracked talking with a lady who came over for some advice on her outfit. She had a nice authentic dress but was still figuring out all the accoutrements. The biggest problem she had was her hair, which was about Mom’s length and straight. Mom showed her how to do a roll like she had, and I showed her how to do a twist on the sides like I had. This was all very absorbing and took some time.

It was soon time for church, however, so we broke it up and gathered our Bibles, gloves and parasols. You must look proper for church!

The walk over was very nice. They held the church service in front of the hall on benches under an arbor. It was a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed the scenery while listening to the sermon. The service was attended mostly be reenactors but some early-arriving spectators showed up too. I noticed a dad with two young teenaged boys. The dad was obviously very interested but the boys looked pretty bored. Oh well, at least they had a comfortable place to sit.

The pastor’s sermon was from Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah. It was a good, evangelistic sermon which was nice. Sometimes at reenactments you wind up hearing a rather bland, fluffy sermonette that isn’t particularly helpful to anyone.

After church, I finally had a chance to take Mom and Raquelle over to the bridge which they agreed was quite picturesque. We thereupon took pictures of ourselves on it.

Then Mom and I decided to do a little shopping before lunch time. First, we stopped at the hall and took some pictures of ourselves on the porch. A nice older gentleman in gray happened by and offered to take a picture of both of us so we took him up on it.

Then on to sutler row! As we were approaching the sutlers, the same dad and teenaged boys I saw at church earlier came hurrying up to us. "Can I take a picture of my son with you two ladies?" the guy asked. We said sure and then jokingly remarked that his son must be just THRILLED to have his picture taken with a buncha GIRLS. His dad rolled his eyes. "Oh, he'd love to be somewhere else," he snorted. "I would not, this is kinda fun," his son protested. Cool, we got a convert.

There weren’t all that many exciting sutlers but one that we did get stalled at had tons of Civil War scrapbook supplies. It’s really hard to find scrapbook stuff for that particular war so these folks had made their own supplies for sale. We got some with thoughts of our own scrapbooks as well as our UDC chapter’s scrapbook in mind.

Then I decided I was HUNGRY and we headed over to the Shealy’s fry bread tent for lunch. Turns out they were doing a brisk business and nearly out of food again, so we got lunch for Raquelle while we were at it. Dad was already there and had just finished his. I tried the chili, cheese and beans fry bread for the first time and vastly enjoyed it.

Deciding that there was more room for big fat skirts at our tent than under the Shealy’s fly, we headed back to our campsite to eat. And who should appear but Raquelle with lunch in her hands! So, um, now we had an extra lunch. Anybody want a Navaho taco on fry bread?

While we ate, we visited with friends. Jeannie Rucker stopped by again, clothed in a snazzy looking silk taffeta plaid dress with knife-pleat ribbon ruching. She was wearing her Marie Stewart bonnet like Mom's. (Guys, stop yawning, this stuff is IMPORTANT.)

Dad was in the battle again today but I didn’t go over right away. After all, the Yankees were supposed to win and who wanted to see THAT? I finally headed over for the last fifteen minutes of it however. I was glad I did.

First off, it was another exciting battle with troops moving around under cover in the field and the Confederates manning the walls and sending sorties out. Jack Thomson (the man who gives historic walking tours of Charleston) was playing Union that day and he got wounded, not to mention captured. He was hauled into the Confederate fort and he kept hollering, “Don’t rob me! Don’t rob me!” Nobody robbed him, but a doctor came over to bandage his “wounded” leg. He howled and carried on about it with great gusto.

The Confederates had some other Union prisoners in the fort too, but they made a break for it and got away. I heard someone on the spectator line harassing one of the Confederate guards, who was evidently his friend. “Hey Joe!” he called. “What happened to your prisoners?” Joe rolled his eyes. “They wouldn’t take a hit in the back,” he snorted. In other words, the Confederate guards had indeed fired at them as they ran off but the pestiferous Yanks refused to “die.” Ha! Snort!

Unfortunately, Dad's hat was shot off before I arrived to watch so I did not get any pictures of that historic event. He said he was able to fake it by giving it a flick with his finger when he raised his telescope to view the lines. He completed the impression by looking startled, gathering up the hat, ostensibly finding a bullet hole in it, then shrugging and replacing it. He was told by several guys that that was the best hat-shot-off scene they'd ever witnessed.

Well, the battle was winding up to a climax and the Federals were gathering themselves up for the final attempt which would, according to the script, give them occupancy of the fort and thus victory. Amid drums rolling and officers exhorting, they flung themselves in a final attack on the walls.

However, after about five or ten minutes’ effort, they finally fell back in evident fear, having lost over half their numbers. As they swarmed back over the field, the faithful flag-wielder climbed the fort walls again and waved his flag. Another fella jumped up on the walls and began hollering derisive things at the Yanks’ fleeing backs. I don’t know what he was saying, but his gestures were highly taunting, not to mention entertaining for the spectators. However, the commanding general must have realized the futility of exposing himself on the walls, because I heard him bellow at the fella, “Git down from thar!”

Here’s a picture of the flag-wielder and the hollerer doing their thing.

At this point, in great wonderment, I heard Taps played and all the “dead” resurrected. Well! So much for that script wherein the Yanks were supposed to win. I wondered who had deviated, but I certainly couldn’t complain of the result! The South will rise again! Yeehaw!

So I trudged back across the big, hot field which was just as big and hot as the day before. And I trundled over the shady wooden bridge, which was just as shady as the day before. And wound up warm and tired at the tent.

We spent the next hour or so yakking with friends. The artillery commander (who was camped next to us) came over to chat with Dad. He and Dad got to talking about the battle’s unscripted end. “Yeah, that was my fault,” the guy chortled. “We were out of ammo for the cannons and the Yanks thought they were safe in attacking. But as a bunch of them were trying to climb in, I put a lanyard into the gun’s touchhole and said, ‘I’m gonna FAR this thang!’ They believed me and boy, did they run!” He laughed at the memory. “I get wound up in battles,” he admitted.

Dad wanted to know what the Federal commander thought. “Oh, he thought it was great. He came up and told me so afterward,” the guy assured Dad. Sometimes, I think we reenactors have a little too much fun.

By the way, I should mention that this particular artillery commander had fun harassing us all weekend. You see, he brings his family and they set up housekeeping in their tents. They even bring two cute little wood stoves, not to mention beds, quilts and the works. He insisted that we were SISSIES for going to a hotel at night. Every time one of us ladies passed by, he'd stop us and make us admire their "homey" and "snug" setup. Dad got out of the harassment by saying us women needing guarding so he had to go along with us at night. (Ha! Dad hates camping worse than the rest of us!) I finally got out of the harassment by smiling sweetly and observing that I was not the one in our who insisted on hotels. This is entirely true. Why should I, when Mom and Raqu do such a good job of insisting for me?

It was now time to pack up and take down our tents and displays. Dad had already packed up a great deal of equipment. He and Mom trundled off to make the mile run back to the parking lot for the van. They were gone a very long time because the road coming in (as I have mentioned before) was a one-lane tunnel through the trees. And everyone was clogging it with traffic, naturally.

So while they were gone, Raqu and I packed up everything we could and then flopped down on the empty tent floor and took a nap. It’s a rough life.

Packing up seemed to go slower than usual this time and I got bored. Muddle about the gabion, clatter the tent poles around, flop the canvas here and there and put that extra Navaho taco fry bread on the dashboard. It went on and on.

Suddenly I had a brilliant idea. Jeannie had been telling us about how they would often gather up pecans that had fallen on the ground to take home and eat. So I dug out our five gallon metal bucket and proceeded to – you thought I was going to say, fill it up, right? Nope, I didn’t have enough time or enough pecan trees or enough daylight to get five gallons of pecans. However, I did get a goodly amount which we will shortly be incorporating into pecan pies. Mmmm, how more southern can ya get than that? Pecan pie from the pecan trees of Boone Hall!

And of course, we had one more glorious sunset to photograph before pulling out and heading to dinner at the Golden Corral.

And that, my friends, is a true and faithful and mostly accurate account of the Battle of Secessionville at Boone Hall! See y’all there next time!!


republicdefender said...

How totally awful, editing the war so that the rebel forces live another day instead of getting crushed by the United States Army. Must have been rebels putting this reenactment together.

btw, I found out I could vote twice so i'm ticked off double :D

Heather S said...

:chokes on laughter:

I saw the two ticked off votes before reading your comment and my first thought was, "Jason musta voted twice!" I was right! LOL