The Civil War. Arguably the worst period in the history of our nation; it pitted brother against brother, friend against friend, and we lost well over 620,000 men as well as countless civilian casualties. That is more than the combined total of U.S. casualties in all other wars.
It was a 4 year blood bath that causes tension to this very day almost 150 years after the fact.
On Saturday, I took a drive down to Delray Beach to visit a 'Civil War Historical Re-enactment.’ Before heading down I had imagined the day to include some sort of mock battle or the like. Instead, we got a glimpse into the daily lives of deployed Union Troops in the field.
I’ve seen photos of the lines of tents from the Civil War, and I’ve seen photos and movies regarding all of the wars we’ve been involved with. However, like most people that haven’t served in a military capacity, I’ve never really given much thought about the harshness of troop life in a war zone before, and I came away with a very different perspective.
Consider this; I spent several hours discussing things with Damian Wolf, (Commander, 47th New York Volunteer Infantry) and his wife Sandy, Jeff Durnin, (Lt. and Regimental Quartermaster, and second in in command) and several others in the 'camp.’ The camp was set up on the grounds of the American Legion Post on NE 6th St. in Delray Beach. In short, it is a very nice area, and a great venue for such an event.
However, during the time I was there, the weather changed from being a little cool to what anyone that has lived in Florida as long as I have would call downright chilly. The wind picked up noticeably and the tents began needing a constant watch. Mind you, several of the people were actually camping out on these grounds since Thursday and like I said, it’s been cold.
Then I got to thinking about that and the reality of the situation, and got educated real fast. Here I was standing in South Florida with a full belly, observing just a mild sampling of what those in the Civil War endured; except that the battles of the Civil War were not fought in the warmth of Florida where I had the nerve to feel chilly. No, those battles were fought in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and other areas up north where it gets very, very cold. The soldiers in the early 1860’s on both sides suffered from lack of food and water, exposure, disease of every kind, and you name it. They were shot up, tired, missing limbs, etc. As in most wars, they were mostly very young, probably scared out of their wits, and wishing they could just go home. But they couldn’t; they were soldiers and they followed orders, which meant they lived in the sort of canvas tents I visited, and braved the harshness of a very brutal war.
Then I couldn’t help but think of all the other men and women in every other war, from the Revolutionary War of 1776, the War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American, WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars. Sure there have been some differences depending upon locale and technologies, but it doesn’t matter; all have the shared experiences of inadequate everything. All of them have suffered greatly and given up much or all. In the end, what General Sherman said was so true, “war is hell.”
For anyone that wants to get a taste of what life was like during the Civil War and perhaps get the same sense that I did; visit their website and check out the schedule of events by going to http://www.floridareenactorsonline.com/ and plan on visiting an event your area. I would strongly suggest bringing the children for a real history lesson.Add a comment