The Battle of Resaca Reenactment is one of my favorite events to go to. I’m apart of the GDRA (Georgia Division of Reenactors Association) and this is the big event that we put on each year, so I consider this a “home event”.
I get to do one of my favorite impressions here, a civil war nurse. On Friday I got to talk to over 600 local 4-5th graders about Civil War medicine and the important role that nurses played in the American Civil War. I told them about Florence Nightingale, who was British and served the Chimera, but greatly influenced nurses in American during the Civil War. Nightingale’s approaches to treatment and dedication to cleanliness drastically improved the mortality rate in the wards where she cared for the men. I also told the kids about the duties of an average nurse during the time which included cooking for the men, doing their laundry, changing their bandages, writing letters for the wounded, reading to them, attempting to keep track of the men, and sometimes assisting the surgeons in surgery. I told the kids about Dr. Mary Walker the Union army’s 1st female surgeon, who is still the only woman to have been awarded the Medal of Honor. I also talked about Clara Barton a civil war nurse, who after the war, started the American Red Cross.
Friday night my boyfriend’s mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law arrived. I may have accidentally given my boyfriend, Steven, the wrong address to the battlefield, and he may have gotten lost, and may have had to spend the night in his car behind a gas station in a torrential down pour, but he stayed a lot drier then all of us who were out camping in canvas tents.
Steven arrived Saturday morning before morning colors. I always enjoy morning colors. The music, the marching, I guess I appreciate the precision and pageantry of it all.
Saturday’s battle didn’t have many “wounded” for us nurses to care for, but Sunday I think I had the closest experience to being a civil war nurse that I’ve ever had… A soldier was wounded in the leg right by the hospital fly so Ms. Pam and I each took an arm and dragged him back to the shade of the fly to tend to him.
A boy came limping up to the field hospital, dragging his father who had been wounded. He collapsed as he made it to the fly. Ms. Pam tended to the father and I tended to the son. Once I had bandaged his wound he crawled over to his father, he grabbed him by the collar and stared shaking him yelling “Pa!” “Pa!”.
His father reached out a hand to me and asked “Mother?”
I took his hand.
His head then fell back, his eyes closed, and we were led to believe that he was deceased.
His son bowed his head for a moment, and this raised it with a determined fire burning behind his eyes. “I have to go back out there.” He said as he looked around for his rifle.
“Where are you going?!” I was shocked.
“I got to go back and fight!” He told me, dragging himself along, using his rifle as a crutch.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea!” But there was nothing I could do to stop him.
“I got to go back and fight!” He declared. In a few moments he had collapsed next to the trench.
I turned back around and there were more of them, wounded everywhere. I tried to bandaged their wounded, give them ice and water. I then attempted to write down their names in the hospital log, but I didn’t get all of them.
That part of the reenactment really made me realize how easy it was for wounded soldiers to slip through the cracks, and why so many were buried in unmarked graves. Of course I knew all this before, but this made me understand it on a different level.
Another sobering moment was watching my boyfriend, his father, and his brother-in-law march off to battle. They were fighting side by side in the same unit, just like many family members did during the Civil War…If a cannonball had hit their line…
It made dancing with my love at the camp dance even that much sweeter. We did the classics, the Virginia Reel, the patty-cake-polka, and the waltz. Then we also did the Carolina Promenade, the Hat Dance (more of a parlor game really), the Gothic, and the Polka!
On Sunday morning, I dressed in my Sunday best and had an impromptu photo shoot with Jaffa Photo. He took some AMAZING photos of Steven and me. I love them!
We then went to camp meeting where Father Bob gave his 25th sermon at Resaca. At the end of his talk, he told those of us in attendance to keep the pamphlets with the hymns and readings on it. He did not think he was long for this world, and in the words of Stonewall Jackson, he was soon to “cross over the river and rest in the shade of the trees”.
We were all scared that rain was coming and would ruin the battle and get all of our gear wet before we were going to pack up, but it held off! We were able to pack up successfully, and thus ended the 154th Battle of Resaca Reenactment. I’m very excited about the 155th next year.