Sunday afternoon, I died.......
I have been waiting to for this event at Nash Farm, located just south of Atlanta, for the better part of this year. I started reenacting with the 53rd Georgia Infantry this past March. I participated in Little Manassas, Old Clinton War Days, and the 150th Battle of Resaca. In that time I had never "taken a hit" and died on the field until this past Sunday.
My work schedule and the restraints of real life had confined my participation in my new found activity to a minimum of two days on the weekend. I woke up the family at 4 a.m. (aka O' dark stupid.) We finished putting in the car what items we didn't already pack the night before and we hit the road. Two hours later we were at Nash Farms in Hampton Ga getting settled into the camp with the rest of my unit. Before you could say. "Leonidas Polk" I was decked out and ready to go. The company formed up and we went out for a few hours to do battalion maneuvers. The morning was comfortable, a nice overcast day with a gentle breeze blew across us as we moved to the commands of. "Right Wheel, March," "Forward, march," "Left oblique, march."
All this in preparation for the "Big Show." I admit that I was lost in the euphoria of the moment. All my troubles of the past weeks had faded away. At this moment I was a Confederate soldier training with his unit. After the drill we came back to camp and socialized and caught up on the goings on of company business. We laughed, shared stories of past events and had a general good time. After lunch we formed up and went to our position on the battlefield. We took the trenches on the ridge line that would represent the action at Cheatham's Hill. Our company was in the center of the line. We waited and waited. skirmishers went forward. we waited some more. soon there was heard from our front the sound of random musketry.
The soldiers in our line tensed up. We looked forward searching through the tree lines ahead of us. We were looking for any sign of the dark blue of our ol' foe. The cannons behind us opened up with a loud report. remembering the trick I was taught. "Keep your mouth open and the concussion of the guns won't be so bad." After the barrage it came on our right flank. Then to our left. finally they hit us in the center. We drove them off each time they attacked. The field was littered with the dead. Then it was over. We had won.
Sunday's battle was the last event for the weekend. It also signaled the close of the week of events at Nash Farm. The time came and we formed up. The whole brigade took the field. As we marched down the road I felt somewhat at piece with myself. The sun was high in the sky, not a cloud was present or accounted for. I remember all the colors being vibrant and alive. The grass was green and the different shades of gray uniforms. The crisp sounds of bayonet scabbards clinking against metal cups hanging from haversacks as we marched. In the distance We could hear the fife and drums play. Soon we crossed the final hill and in all our glorious presentation we were in awe at the sight before us. In the distance was a small house on a ridge line. before it was a trench line filled with Federal Blue. to the flanks were batteries of field guns. As we went into line of battle my heart dropped a little. Fate was a cruel mistress indeed. The federal batteries opened up down the line. One gun after another. Our batteries responded in turn. This was the beginning of the action around the Troup-Hunt House Reenactment.
After the right flank advanced and was beaten back the order came for us to advance. I picked a spot way off in the distance to the right of the house and pointed it out to my friend Joel. "The other side of that house is home."
We advanced to the middle of the field. Fired several volleys. fell back. reformed, advanced. and fell back again. The Colonel yelled. "This is the last push. Take heavy casualties on the way boys." We did as ordered. We broke through the trench line and drove them out and off the hill. Being almost in tears I looked for my fellow Company members. Only five of us remained. The moment had not past, for the sound of that ol' familiar foe was pressing towards us again. The five of us stood by as the men in gray were pushed back from their newly won prize. As the last few past us I gave the order to fire. We did and that was the end. We tried to take flight and catch up with our compatriots but, we were cut down. I fell face forward onto the ground beside one of my fellows. I rolled over onto my back. I grasped at my clothes looking for the wound. Then I shook a bit. and slowly faded into oblivion.
It was at this moment, laying there in the sun on that beautiful clear day, that I remembered I had a relative die at the siege of Atlanta. The first time I "died" at a reenactment happened to be here at Atlanta.
At the end of the event. Taps was played. The haunting notes filled the air. When it was complete, the order to "resurrect" was given and we all stood up. our wounds healed, our debts paid, Lost comrades found. enemies were now friends. There were laughter and cheers. hands were shook and the flags flapped in the breeze. Then we ask ourselves. "Did it not seem real, was it not as in the old days?"
|Members of the Georgia Volunteer battalion|
|All quiet on the hill.|
|The period band "Un-Reconstructed" performed at the Ball Saturday night.|
|The monument to the soldiers both north and south who fought at Nash Farm.|
|Drilling a new recruit|
|Confederate trench line as seen from center to left flank.|
|The Confederate Right Flank under pressure at Cheatham's Hill reenactment.|