From the Second Bull Run 150th Battle Reenactment to the present time, I have done all that I could think of to bury myself in character as a civil war soldier truly experiencing the civil war. I would like to think that I reached a slight understanding of what it was truly like to be there.
On Saturday, at the Appomattox 150th Battle Reenactment event we were once again battling with our Confederate counterparts and I realized that this was the last major battle of the 150th year events. Never again would I face off against these same gentlemen who have given me all they have in their hearts sharing our love of civil war history. It was then, that I realized how much I was going to miss them and all that we experienced from each other over the past four years.
On Sunday, as we marched down the very same road as the original 148th P.V.I. Regiment did, I was very lucky to be carrying our Pennsylvania State Regimental Flag. The only other time I was lucky enough to carry our flag was at my very first event in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, in 2011 but anytime I carry our colors, it is always an honor. Just for a moment as our flag was flapping in the wind above my head and the drums and music enveloped my senses, I felt the goose pimples running down the back of my neck and found myself lost in the history of 150 years ago.
As we lined up on both sides of that same road, everything drew quiet as we heard the marching footsteps of the Confederates approaching. I stood face to face with the men in gray as they awaited the orders they prayed would never come. Looking into their sad faces my whole mood began to change as I thought about how those men must have felt 150 years ago. I thought about the humiliation those men must have felt and the loss of the sacrifices they had made over the last four years. At this point, all I could feel for our brothers in gray was empathy. If I had been there 150 years ago and they had trying to kill my friends and I for the last four years, I am sure I would have felt differently, but at this point in time, all I could feel was empathy.
If those original men in blue felt some sense of empathy for their enemies of 150 years ago, then I would dare to say that empathy was the spark that started the healing process to reunite our country.
Still standing there, I found that I could not even look into those sad faces and I began to ponder something new to me, that I never realized before. That is, we are all in this country and in this re-enactor hobby together and what affects them, affects me also. What hurts them, hurts me also. We share a love of history the compels us to live it as much as we can. When it came time to feed those men the ham and biscuits later, I knew that I would be extra nice to them.
The arms and accoutrements where stacked and the men in gray turned and marched down that same road and back to their lives.
- 148thPVI.Org photo gallery "150th Appomattox 2015"
Contributed by Duane Harer