Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

I had several adventures this Memorial Day weekend, most of them involving or touching on Ohio history.

On Saturday, I went to a wedding reception at the Cultural Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio. The Center is housed in the old 1861 Arsenal in downtown Columbus, an imposing citadel-like structure with four turrets. At the corner of 2nd and Main Streets the exterior wall sports the original figurehead of the old battleship USS Ohio.

On Sunday afternoon, I visited Ohio Village in Columbus for a Civil War encampment. It's pretty rare that I have the time to give a blow-by-blow report of a reenactment, since I'm normally in the firing line.

The rebels had captured the village on Saturday and placed pickets on the outskirts of town.

The rebs' two-man pickets were under orders to fire and run at the approach of Federal troops.

Outside town, the 76th Ohio Volunteer Infantry prepared to attack.

All was quiet, except for a Rebel detail guarding a group of Union POWs.

Finally, the Ohio regiment appeared on the outskirts of town, sending the picket line running back to their companies.

A Union company, marching by files at the quickstep, deployed behind a building.

After a few earsplitting volleys (it's hard to tell if the men were double-charging their muskets or if I was not used to being down range) the Union troops began to fire by file, cutting down the Rebels in the town square.

The rebs were game for a fight but found the village green too hot and decamped.

I got a good action shot of the Federals pressing the Confederate Infantry. The skirmish continued through the town and into the meadows beyond.

The color party of the 76th Ohio marched triumphantly through town. Prisoners were rounded up and wounded seen to.

Casualties of the street fighting lay everywhere. These men died near a monument to the late war with Mexico. In the background the Union staff officers survey the carnage. In the War of the Rebellion, this skirmish was one of a thousand small actions that will be forgotten, while only the bloodiest battles make it into schoolbooks.

On Monday, I made it up to Fort Meigs for a Memorial Day commemoration. Memorial Day was organized as a remembrance for the fallen soldiers of the American Civil War. Later on, it became a general day of remembrance for the dead of all US conflicts. Civil War veterans were instrumental in preserving Fort Meigs, as during the 1870s and 1880s the War of 1812 was passing from living memory. The monument raised in 1908 was dedicated by the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War veterans organization.

Despite cold and rainy weather, we were able to hold memorial services at the three major monuments at the Fort, including the newly erected Kentucky Monument. We also braved the wet weather to perform our usual musket and artillery demonstrations.

Wreath laying at the Pennsylvania Monument, on a sunnier Memorial Day.