Civil War Chat Room Muster
Manassas Battlefield, June 10, 2000
Camp at Herndon, Va.
June 23, 2000
All Civil War Buffs:
The following is a brief description of those events surrounding the muster at the Manassas Battlefield on the weekend of June 10, 2000.
The Civil War Chat Room Muster, in my opinion, came off just as planned, wonderful. There were about 25-30 people from all over the states (Kansas, Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland to name just a few.). The group started arriving Thursday and many went to Ford's Theater Thursday night to see "Reunion." Then Friday they all went over to the Front Royal area where I understand that one of our members that lives in the area gave them just a great day. I couldn't make it to that because of work.
Saturday morning we all met at the Manassas Battlefield Visitor's Center. Since the center does not open until 0830 hrs I got a chance to meet and chat with the folks for a little while. Some I had met before at other events, but many I only knew through the chat room. Then we started out.
In preparation for the tour I spent the last several months roaming around the battlefield (it's only 30 minutes from the house). Since this was a 2 and a half day battle, it takes quite a while to just get through the basics, plus I wanted to make sure I could get a group this large into the places that needed to be seen and walked (there is a distinct lack of parking throughout the Manassas battlefield). However, with the help of Hennessy's "Return to Bull Run", Hennessy's "Second Manassas Battlefield Map Study, my website, The Confederate Military History, and the auto tour tape I was fairly well prepared by the time the group got here. I also used some of the narrative from the tour tape since it seems to be a direct lift from "Return to Bull Run," to supplement some of my talk. To tour the entire battlefield, with any degree of detail, in one day is just not possible. However, we gave it a good try. We got on the actual battlefield about 0900 hrs. We started at Battery Heights, where Gibbons had the artillery brought up on the evening of the 28th to face Jackson's troops. Then we moved to Buck Hill, the site Pope's Headquarters, then to Sudley Church, the far left of Jackson's line. From there we took a short drive to where we could take a short walk on the Unfinished Railroad just to get the feel of it. We broke for lunch about 1130 hrs. where we had arranged for Kentucky fried to be brought to the field for our picnic on Stuart's Hill, the sight of Lee's Headquarters for the battle.
After lunch, it was back to the to the battlefield. We walked Porter's Charge, which is a must for this battlefield, up to the deep cut, chatted there for awhile then walked down the railroad just a bit to the site of the Rock Fight, another must as far as I am concerned. From there we went to the Confederate Cemetery and then to the "Vortex of Hell" where the Zouaves were almost wiped out when Longstreet made his attack. By now the heat was getting unbearable, so it was there that I called a halt to the tour. It was about 3:30 or so and just hot to the extreme. We found a shady spot under a tree and just discussed the remainder of the battle (Chinn Ridge and Henry Hill) rather than actually visit them.
Now here comes the good part. Everyone came over to the "Shotgun" homestead Saturday evening for a cookout. Not only was it a cookout, the back yard was set up like a Civil War camp! With the help of one the members who is a reenactor (JR by name), we had a tent set up, a stack of arms, both the Confederate Battle Flag and the Union 35 star flag flying on flag staffs and crossed, much like you see on my website. There was a fire pit with a little campfire going with straw bales around to sit on (had some lawn chairs too). Then we had the 50 star Union flag, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd National Confederate flags, as well as the Bonnie Blue Flag hanging from the deck railings. With all of this and a little Bobby Horton playing in the background, it really gave a great atmosphere. However, I have to admit it looked a lot like a Klan meeting. But who cares. We knew what why we were there, so we let the "devil take the hind most! (an old Southern Expression). JR had brought some extra uniforms and put them on some of the younger folks and marched them around for awhile with the rifles to let them see what it felt like to be a Civil War soldier. For dinner we had Jumbo Shrimp, Pork Tenderloin, Sausages, Steak, Cole Slaw, Potato Salad, Beer, Wine, and Soft Drinks. Then later on, as the evening progressed, we had a drawing for the door prizes, then the two members, MAP and GenP, that actually organized this thing gave out the gifts to the people that had contributed so much over the past year.
My friends, it was just wonderful, sitting around the fire, having a few "adult" beverages, and chatting about the late unpleasantness with many whom I had never met, but knew as well as I knew my own family. In all honesty if you have never experienced this, you must try it. The next one will be in June, 2001 at Chickamauga.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Dick (a.k.a. Shotgun)
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