It was a warish kind of weekend. Not one, but two excellent reenactments were going on, in adjoining towns, no less. Readers of this blog will know of my affinity for all things historical, especially all things militarily historical.
I've driven the family on forced marches from Lexington Green to as far as Ticonderoga, to witness Revolutionary War reenactments. So with such conditioning it was an easier load to bear simply heading only 40 minutes away to Brimfield, for daddy to get a dose of Virtual Civil War.
There was a lull in battle when we arrived. Some troops had taken to drilling in preparation for the next confrontation...
...while others languished in the shade.
...Some took cat naps...
...or ran the course that all idle, ill disciplined troops have done since war immortal: drinking, to horseplay, to fisticuffs.
The officers immediately pounced and this scuffle was cut short before it could really get going.
The drunken offenders were driven around camp in the most embarrassing way.
It was a neat little display in historical context. These reenactments are never just about the battle. Just as many participants, usually the soldiers' wives and family members, join in the fun and do their part as camp makers.
Although sometimes, then and now combine a little.
These reenactors went to some lengths to bring all aspects of this especially brutal conflict to light.
By mid afternoon word came in over the wire that trouble was brewing over the crick. Commanders were consulted, both sides slowly broke camp, shuffled to arms and readied for battle.
Best to get in your final goodbyes before the fight.
Both armies were called to muster, where final inspection of man and materiel were made.
Under the strains of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and then Dixie, both armies were marched in turn.
They headed off down a country road, around a long pond and to the hillside opposite the water, where the battle was joined.
Other reenactments we've been to allowed the spectators a much closer view of the goings on. This time we were a good distance away, and we soon heard why. The cannon brought along weren't the small field pieces the 18th century. This battle was fought with weaponry 100 years more advanced, and several times as powerful. The sound was deafening, even from this distance.
All throughout the fight, in the background of the earth shuddering explosions, shouting and echoing rifle fire, the band continued to play. It struck me that many of the real battles of old were fought this way, to music. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" took on a more sinister, darker and somber feel. For hundreds of thousands of people, those simple horns fifes and drums were the last melodies they would ever hear.
And the families they left behind would listen to those songs with a different perspective altogether.