One of the neat things of exploring the old battlefields (any area, really) alone is that you’re on your own schedule.   Not to mention the quiet that you can find away from your fellow humans sometimes.

I found this spot, a little bit off the beaten path, along the bottom section of the Rich Mountain battlefield.  If I was reading the map right, this position was on the extreme right flank of the Confederate’s position at the bottom of the mountain.   From this spot, I imagine that if you couldn’t flat out see where the Federal troops were across the pike, I’d be willing to wager that you could hear their camp and smell their fires.  Practically spittin’ distance.

As I mentioned in the earlier post about Rich Mtn., if you get quiet and listen, you can really hear the trees and rocks tell their stories.

Images of a small group of men hunkering down behind the rocks, being able to hear, smell and potentially see their new-found enemy across the way flashed across my mind’s eye.   I felt the mixture of adrenaline, fear and excitement about the coming fight and heard the bugs buzzing around faces and ears and hands.  Since the battle took place in July, I’m sure it was hot and muggy and extremely uncomfortable physically, but I imagine by the time of the fight those things were pushed aside as more pressing matters demanded attention.

All of their worry and work, however, would be for naught – as the Federal troops flanked their position on the extreme left of their line in the middle of the night in a pouring down rain.   If I understood the lay of the land and the information at the battlefield, I imagine it was quite an unpleasant surprise to hear canon and gunfire on top of the mountain behind their position.



~ by Derrick Birdsall on June 23, 2011.

4 Responses to “Shelter”

  1. This is a powerful series, Derrick. Seeing the site as they might have seen it is very moving.



  2. Almost feels alive with history, Mr. B. – very powerful.


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