Monday, October 8, 2007

Field Trip — The Hayes Presidential Center's Civil War Encampment

Though the Civil War Encampment at the Hayes Presidential Center has been going on for 16 years, I have never attended. This year, I put the encampment on my “must do” list. My old faithful Sony digital and I went to Spiegel Grove to check things out. Sights, Sounds and Thoughts from the Encampment:

1. A” Confederate” woman from the Cleveland area spoke to me about how the unusually hot weather had sapped all the energy right out of the reenactors. Her ninth year in attendance of this event, she said normally they all kept busy in order to stay warm — but not this year.

2. A few moments spent chatting with a budding blacksmith who talked with me about learning this new trade. He had tried making soap for one season, but didn't care for that. He said the idea of blacksmithing came to him in a dream. Oh unconscious mind, what a devil you can be. He told me he enjoyed his newfound passion — even on such a hot day.

3. Two preteen girls dressed in Civil War-era attire, chatted about completing a treasure hunt — they were looking for President Hayes' birth date (or death date — eavesdropping has its limitations) and decided Hayes' tomb would be a good place to check.

4. Tents pitched everywhere. Located across the trail from Hayes' Tomb was the Union Camp while the Confederate Camp was stationed along Hayes Avenue on the western end of the Spiegel Grove grounds.

5. A curl of steam seen rising from a tin coffee boiler sitting unattended in front of one tent site. For some reason, the sight affected me — I could easily imagine the same scene over one hundred 45 years earlier. I tried capturing the feeling in a picture, but it lost something in the translation.

6. The dichotomy of seeing a woman costumed in Victorian Era dress taking a quick swig of bottled water.

7. Sutlers Row, a lengthy stretch of walk way lined with vendors' tents connected the Union and Confederate Camps. My hunch is the tent selling cold drinks saw the most action during the two-day encampment.

8. Yankee reenactors drilling in front of the Hayes home. Hmm — did I see a female reenactor among their ranks? Maybe I need new glasses. If not, good for her!

9. I overheard a conversation from a Confederate enthusiast to some bystanders concerning the real truth versus what was being taught in history books. Sigh … I wish I had walked over sooner so I would know what truth and what the history books have been incorrectly written.

10. “Fire in the Hole” yelled as a group of rebel reenactors fired their cannon. Though prepared, I jumped and lost the picture of them firing that I had planned on taking.

11. The absolute look of rapture on a young boy's face as he sat perched atop his father's shoulders. Still holding his hands over his ears, he couldn't take his eyes off the cannon, hoping the men would fire it again.

I've already decided the lantern tour of the soldier's campsites is something I want to have on my “to do list” for next year's encampment.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging

Note this post first published online, October 8, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

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