CIVIL WAR RENACTMENT
Several days prior to recieving a phone call from a friend, I had been thinking of him — and also thinking of the reenactments at Fort Tejone near Bakersfield. As usual, I will not use names so as to keep identities private, but this fellow has been a good friend in the past. I came to know him in a odd manner. One year we were doing a Memorial Day afair at a local park and I and about four others had taken our cannons and dressed in our Civil War uniforms to fire a salute to our fallen hero’s. There were some Civil War veterans buried in this cementry.
Before starting the event, after setting up, we had some time to stand around and answer questions. I was approached by a mother with a young son and younger daughter. Answering questions, she learned that my (obviously) home-made field piece was indeed a jury rigged piece. She told me that her husband also made smaller shooting cannons and fired them in remote areas. After we did our little show I was ready to disassemble my piece (cannon) to load it in the back of my old ’78 Chevrolet 1/4 ton truck. They again approched me and asked if I was interested in seeing her husband’s little cannons. I expressed my interest and asked where they lived. She started explaining turn here then there and watch for this.. Finaly she volunteered to let the son, who was about nine at the time, ride with me and point the way, of course she was to follow behind. Into the vehicles we jumped and away we went.
To this day she says she cannot believe she let the boy go with me. Today that is something you would not do. But for some reason people have always trusted me on meeting, something I have no expalanation for, but a trust I also have never betrayed. Anyway, we arrived at their house and I was allowed to inspect the husband’s cannons. He, like my good friend the blacksmith at work, had made the guns at work. I would say he had a bore about 1 3/4 inch in diameter from which he fired a solid lead slug. Unfortunately we never got to go out together and shoot it.
The husband happened to be back east for something to do with his father, and while there he visited several civil War sites. I invited the family to our next reenactment, to which they came. While there, I was able to recruit the father and son for my gun crew. I had a Captain of the outfit who liked running things but was lously at recruiting, I eventually took us from a one gun crew of four to three guns and about fifteen men before I had to give it up.
This family and I became really good friends, and I watched the boy grow from nine to about fourteen, before I was forced to quit reenacting by a change in work days. The son has now been in the Air Force for ten years and is a father of a three year old daughter. He is curently on the Air Force One matinance crew, as a crew chief. The daughter is a mother of two girls and young woman in her own right.
After this long ramble, we are now nearing the meat of this post. In the later part of last week the husband called to inform me that the city of Long Beach, Ca. and a Civil War association were going to stage a reenactment of the battle Gettysburg — Something I had missed in the local paper. He invited me to go with him and his wife. An invitation which I accepted, after informing them of my recent stroke.
On Saturday morning I was picked up by both and escorted to the park to an area I had never seen, in the remote back section. There was a gentle rise that resembled a small Cemetery Hill. I was surprised at the large Civil War encampment. There was a full battery of Parrot Guns, six 30# cannon. (called 30# because a solid steel ball would weigh that much), and there was even mounted calvary on hand. In all it was a respectable gathering. I believe they are planning on trying to make it an annual event.
The actual battle was an interesting show for one who is interested in such. To my friend and I it was kinda lacking standing on the side lines. It is much more interesting when you can uniform up and pour some black powder down a cannon barrel and touch it off. (more…)