Battle of Olustee, a Civil War re-enactment

The Battle of Olustee, originally named the Battle of Ocean Pond happened 148 years ago. Both my husband and I are Civil War re-enactors with the 3rd Florida, Company A, a Confederate Unit. Captain Bill is with the attending medical corps and follows the troops onto the field to check for dead and dying. In reality, he checks for injuries or heatstroke, a common happening when soldiers wore woolen uniforms in the humid Florida heat.

Being a re-enactor has added richness to my writing, although I started because I love history. I’ve found friends that also love to be here.

The reasons people participate are as varied at the soldiers and their wives. Some honor their ancestors who fought bravely for a Cause they believed in. Some want to keep history alive, portraying it accurately. The men are soldiers, medical, or civilians like a funeral director, sepia toned photographer, muleskinner, blacksmith, carpenter, hat-maker, the list is as long as the occupations of men in that period.

Women portray laundresses, cooks and seamstresses. One makes lace on a hand loom, another cooks soap from lye, while mothers herd their children out of the way of drilling soldiers.

It’s a love that crosses generations.

The battle spread across miles as the Union tried to gain control of the railhead. The intention was to cut the supply lines from the south. Florida was providing beef and food to the starving Rebels. The Confederates used Cavalry to decimate the Union troops.

Almost three thousand men were killed or wounded during this battle. It makes no difference any more if they were Confederate or Union, they were all patriots, Americans to the last drop of blood.

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One from the bucket list-Horseback at Gettysburg

The horse and me

I admit I have a long list of things to do before I die. I finally did this one and am so pleased that it went well.

After visiting Gettysburg battlefield more than a dozen times, I finally got to take the Gettysburg Battlefield tour.
I admit I’m not the best horseman in the world. I don’t like heights, horses are way too big and I don’t juggle. Meaning I had to hold the camera, the reins and the saddlehorn for most of the two hour tour.
The guide has to be licensed by the National Park service and he did a wonderful job describing the battle as we commenced our journey.

If you’ve been to Gettysburg, you know the road winds through the park with thousands of places to stop. You can read the monuments, note the markers, or stop to take a photo. I didn’t realize how different the perspective is from the center of the conflict. The fence lines have been replaced according to census records from the 1850s. Crops and orchards

are being replanted to show how the farming community looked at the time. Even the kind of fence was recorded and copied.
When the guide described how the fences halted a company until it could be torn down and how this knoll was vital to the taking of Little Round Top my heart leaped with excitement. I could actually ‘see’ the action in a way driving the roads hadn’t revealed.
Although my butt hurt after an hour, I snapped pictures and kept my horse from lowering it’s head to graze. I loved it and would do it again anytime.



Gettysburg Battlefield living history

The Gettysvburg Battlefield is known worldwide. On the third weekend in August our reenacting grup, The Liberty-Greys takes on the task of presnting a living history. For a reenactor it is a dream come true.

The national park service allows the group to stay overnight on the field, to actually sleep in the most haunted place in the world.

We set up tents on Friday and sent into town for dinner. My husband and I ate at The Farnsworth House, a period mansion used by Confederate sharpshooters then for a field hospital. It is a lovely place and the food excellent, especially the game pie and bread pudding.

Saturday we spent the day talking to tourists. Its interesting when a person from Germany or France asks for a reason why we fought the War. Not something for a five minute speech.

In camp

The soldiers acted as soldiers did in camp, cleaning rifles, drilling, playing cards or just taking a nap.

There was music provided by Miss Liz. She played period songs and sang softly so she didn’t disturb any of the speakers. It was a lovely background for both days.

Miss Liz playing the guitar and singing period songs

I talked about women’s roles during the Conflict, especially women in the South. It was a wonderful weekend despite the few rainshowers and needing to dry our tent anfter we arrived home.

Barbara Edwards dressed in half-mourning garb.

After the Battle of Manassass

Barbara Edwards

The sad part is leaving all my friends. It takes a few minutes to drop the tent, a couple hours more to pack and load everything into the vehicles. The memories stay forever. My good friend took these pictures and gave me permission to post them. The sepia tone adds a golden glow to this sad time.

I can’t describe the feelings during this re-enactment. Excitement at the beginning of the five year cycle, sadness at the terrible losses suffered during the Conflict and the echoes of longing for a time lost in the fog of destruction and recovery.

We’ve come so far as a nation. I hope the lessons learned by the participants help all of us.

Thinking strategyStacked rifles, ready for tomorrow

Before the Battle

I have to admit the temperatures are scorching, hovering around 100%.
So with a sturdy heart and sweaty skins we trekked around the area.view of camp

The reenactors are arriving, unpacking their vehicles and setting up camp.

At this point its hard to tell the Yankees from the Confederates and it won’t get
any easier. During this first battle of the War of Southern Rebellion, both sides wore blue or grey with many shades of each. The confusion resulted in many casualties from friend firing on friend.

cool spotThe fire department has provided huge fan s to spray water on passers-by. Everyone is taking advantage of the opportunity to cool down. The effect doesn

Tomorrow all the modern details will be gone from camp.  The soldiers

will prepare for the battle. The bands will play marching music and crowds will gather to watch the show. Many will gasp at the sound of cannon. The first Battle will foretell the pain of the many more  battle to come.

We checked the Stone house at the junction of roads leading to the battlefield. it was used to house wounded and dying during the battle.

Stone House used as hospital

We were lucky to meet another reenactor who portrays a doctor.

Doc Wheat and Doc Edwards

Several soldiers wrote letters home to family anxious for news.

Letter home
More tomorrow. If I manage to last through the heat.
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