Thursday, October 2, 2008

Honey Springs

The sun beats down with no regard for my skin as I watch the soldiers in their heavy wool uniforms face each other across the field. The Rebs have marched in line to within sight of the Union artillery, but still no shots have been fired. A young Confederate officer orders his men down into a prone position as they wait. They don’t wait long as a squad of blue-clad skirmishers moves toward the gray line’s right flank. Soon sporadic firing begins, but somehow no one falls. To the Confederate rear cannons fire and almost immediately the Union gunners answer back and gun smoke hangs in the still air as Yankee cavalry moves to engage the Rebel line. The firing becomes more general and Confederate cavalry moves to thwart the northerners, but they and their infantry begin to fall back as a large group of Union infantry crests the rise to their front, moving toward them through the tick and chigger filled grass to a muffled cadence.
The Confederates stop and reform their line, firing a volley at the approaching enemy. The Union troops respond with rolling volley fire. Their first rank drops to a crouch and fires as one. As they reload, the second rank fires over their heads, then crouches to reload as well. The third rank then fires and by that time the first is ready to go again. A very good way to get a whole bunch of lead down range in a very short amount of time using single shot rifles which only an expert could reload in less than 10 seconds.
A second rolling volley shatters the Rebel line and they fall back to the trees at their rear where another line of infantry has been waiting. This line now fires it’s own volley but the men in blue continue their advance as the cavalry skirmishes in the brush. Soon the fighting has moved past my vantage point as the Confederates abandon their artillery, a red kepied gunner slumped across a gun’s carriage. A Union soldier taunts the Confederates, now across the creek from him, by waving their own battle flag at them.
The firing is less concentrated now, an occasional shot or cluster of shots to my right as I watch a surgeon in a red-smeared apron move among the bodies on the ground, looking for signs of life. He carries a bottle of whiskey and a saw. A group of women carrying water bags follows him and tends the wounded.
Soon the fighting has passed over the little wooden bridge, through the area where the Indian Tacos and snow cones are being peddled and has nearly reached the parking lot. I follow behind and stop to watch as an older, overweight man in a blue uniform gasps and claws at the ground. ‘Overacting,’ I think for a minute, enjoying his performance, before realizing that he’s suffering from heat stroke.
A few minutes later, while waiting for my snow cone, I’ll think it odd that the Union soldier standing in front of me is talking on a cell phone.


Maria said...

I admit that I sort of went a little queasy at the thought of ticks and chiggers.....

Eric said...

They've never bothered me before, I'd get one or two ticks on me wading through the woods or grass for hours, but this trip they tore me up. Definately one thing I don't miss about Okla.