Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gettysburg in Our Back Yard!

Every May, the area just beyond our fence becomes a living classroom. While I'm not sure just how many years they have done this, the high school, along with people from all across the region, put on their "Civil War Days." The day before, there is nothing but a few log barriers set up. During the evening, everything comes in. I often come home from teaching my evening class to see two campfires going across the fence, and this month was no exception. The only real difference between this and previous years was that there were storms in the forecast. As they rolled in, I watched outside to see if they appeared to be safe. If the winds and/or lightning got to be too intense, I was going to let them head into our place. They all were fine and were outside within minutes of the rain passing.

The following morning we saw this:

From Mush's Blog

The high school girls dress the period as Southern Belles:

From Mush's Blog

The above 2 pictures were taken around 8:45 in the morning. It was really overcast, and the fog added a realistic sense of eeriness to the area. Over to the right in the football/band practice field, the P.E. class was learning the game of cricket...the teacher was even dressed up in the attire of the time. I tried to get a picture of it, but it was just too foggy, and all the attempts came out blurred.

Throughout the day, classes from other schools on field trips as well as people from all across the area came out to learn about the time period. They had people showing what life was like (medicine, military life, cooking, etc), and they even had Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis giving testimonies of their lives. I could be wrong, be the crowds looked to be a little smaller than last year, be it because of the weather or because of budget cuts at local school districts...I don't know. Regardless, they were out there in the fog, mist, and, ultimately, rain.

Around 1:30, the majority of the Tri-Valley student body, and (I think) a couple of the closest school districts head out to witness the re-enactment.

From Mush's Blog

To show how involved the school is and how well this is put on, the chemistry class sets up pyrotechnics to set off during the battle (you can see the chemistry students in the pictures and videos below in the prone position on our side of the battle) and many of the students take part on both sides of the battle. They set up the tents, go through practice sessions to learn how to load and fire the rifles, etc).

From Mush's Blog

The rain let up not too long before the battle was to begin. The picture above shows some of the final preparations prior to the battle.

The videos below do not do the sounds justice. If you put earbuds in and cranked up the volume to high, you'd probably be close to the sound but still not quite there. When you see the picture shake during a cannon firing, it should be pointed out that most of the time the camera was stationary. THAT'S how loud it was. Unfortunately, I can't blame all the moving on the cannons...I had the camera on the handrail of the deck and was moving it to try to capture the action.

Our neighbors (Barb and Bob) have the better view of the battle, mostly because they don't have the playground right in the line-of-sight of the field. I considered asking if the Confederacy wanted to set up a sniper in the tower. Some of the crew over on Bob's deck had a son on the field. He (Landon) was on the Confederacy side (you see him running back after the volley of cannon fire around 3:45 into the video above). So you don't think I was toying with the volume, I was talking to Bob, who was barely audible from about 40 feet away.

In past years, they had someone announcing what was happening on the field of battle, including the moves, strategies, etc. They had the auctioneer truck there (in the background near the school), but there was no announcing this year. in the video below, you see a cavalry being turned back and a forward movement by the South.

The North, superior in numbers this year, also advances to take up post behind one of the barriers:

From Mush's Blog

Below, the South sounds retreat and rallies behind their established line. The artillery crew provides cover as the infantry falls back. It was probably around this time that the pyro crew was getting frustrated. The weather must have wreaked havoc on many of their buried charges.

You can actually see a nurse out there attempting to tend to a wounded soldier on the North.

I think it was not long afterward that one of the buried pyro charges actually went off. You should have seen the pyro crew celebrating! I wish I would have gotten that on video.

Sufficed to say, Landon didn't make it.

At the very end of the video, the casualties got up, and a large round of applause ensued. Afterward, both sides cleared their weapons:

From Mush's Blog

The North won the battle this year. I'm not sure how they decide who is victorious from year to year. Regardless, I think it's an awesome thing for the school district to put on for the area. Hopefully this event continues to grow in stature and attendance every year.

1 comment:

Timberline said...

Fascinating. Must be so exciting for the kids!