Civil War reenactment encampment – Massena, NY (2012)
Today, I crossed the 45th parallel in Robert Moses State Park and was transported to another time and place in American history. In a blink of an eye, I found myself transported about 150 years back in time south to a point around Fredricksburg, Virginia and smack in the middle of the encampments of the two opposing forces, the Confederates and the Union Army. The American Civil War (1861 – 1865) had been underway for a year but now in 1862 Fredricksburg was the focus of the Union troops.
From Wiki: The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate States Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General (United States) Ambrose E. Burnside. The Union army’s futile frontal attacks on December 13 against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city is remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the American Civil War, with Union casualties more than twice as heavy as those suffered by the Confederates.
As I made my way through the lines of tents, the Company E drummer emerged from his tent and roused the troops with a musical announcement that meals were once again hot and ready.
The upcoming battle would be deadly one with perhaps 30% of the Union troops losing their lives in a futile attempt to capture the Confederate hillside stronghold. Plenty of coffins would be required before lamps are lit again.
In the Confederate camp, cannons were being guarded, senior officers were quickly ‘training’ new recruits, uniforms were being repaired and day to day camp life was progressing in the normal fashion.
In other areas of the encampments, meals continued to be served. Modern reenactors likely eat better than soldiers did in earlier times :-).
The American Civil War had many enlisted personnel. The ranks of the enlisted was augmented by regiments of volunteers such as the 157th New York Volunteers.
Officers have their moments!
The pot is beginning to boil and the battle will soon begin! Sadly, many a tent will be empty come nightfall.
NOTE: For this 2012 reenactment in Massena, there were a number of other activities going on before the reenactment of the battle began. There were a number of merchants (sutlers) present, a fashion show of 1800’s fashion, and some excellent displays and presentations by the area historical societies. Images of these activities as well as images of the battle reenactment will be in separate posts uploaded in the next few days (completed uploads – click on the links below).