On a visit to Wilmington & Western Line, a steam train that runs through the Red Clay Valley in Delaware, I just happened to have the good luck that Civil War living history reenactors were staging a battle and takeover of the train on that day. I recorded the dramatic action of the battle in video in this post: Steam Train Journeys into History: Civil War Skirmish at Red Clay Creek.
This video highlights Living History: Day in the Life of the Soldiers of the Civil War, when Company A, 37th Regiment, North Carolina Volunteer Troops, C.S.A., 1st North Carolina Artillery, Battery C, C.S.A., and the Town of Rising Sun, Maryland, hosted the 21st Annual Reenactment.
I strolled by the rows of canvas tents, the Union on one side of the creek and Confederates on the other, as wood crackled in the campfires and coffee brewed in tall metal pots. Reenactors portrayed surgeons, tradesmen, as well as soldiers. Even children dressed up in period clothing. The sound of a blacksmith hammering echoed through the park. I spoke with reenactors, who shared their knowledge on weapons, lanterns, desks and tent contents, everything authentic to the time period.
At midday the gray and blue soldiers faced off in a skirmish. The Union held the high ground while the Confederate soldiers crossed the bridge and positioned their cannon on the field. Soldiers on both sides fired their cannons as thunderous blasts echoed through the landscape, smoke drifting over the hills. As men fell, a field doctor bandaged up the wounded. A crowd of spectators sitting on the hill watched intently as the action unfolded just yards away.
Late in the evening, as music of Kadence spilled into the cool night air, I wandered around the grounds in the light of the campfires and lanterns, softly illuminating the tents. Reflecting on the gentleness of the night and the harshness of the daytime battle, I considered the issues of preserving the Union, regional loyalty, justification for war and the abolition of slavery, which remains the greatest arbitrator in the ethical debate. Has the country evolved into a compassionate and empathetic to the plight of both sides? I see these reenactments as an opportunity to ponder these issues.
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Other links to Civil War posts: