Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Surrounded by large oak trees, my gardens don't allow for sunshine needing plants like hybrid roses. etc. So I mostly have woodland wildflowers scattered throughout the landscape. Of course it's not all wildflowers as exceptions are made for for plants like hostas, which Mrs T dearly loves. One of my favorites, which I try to grow in spite of the less than perfect conditions, are irises. Oh the color! Take a look.

One thing I've noticed though, as the new hybrids become more colorful, bigger and taller, some have a tendency to fall over in the first wind. Fortunately, they still make great cut flowers.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bull Run at Wasioja Civil War Days - Part III

It was the sound of martial music that drew me away from the displays toward the north end of the encampments.
I follwed the band up the muddy road towards the battlefield which was situated near a farmstead along a sloping oak woods and pasture. There a long series of grandstands stood facing the field and a roped off area with a sign that said "civilians do not cross." We found a seat among the crowd....

Directly in front of us, peering over the top of unbrellas, I could see a worried looking farm family gathered on the front lawn. They were talking to a Union officer who was pointing to the edge of the woods. A drizzle was beginning to fall. The sky was darkening ominously.

Shortly thereafter, I noticed on the ridge to the left, Confederate artillery began to appear. Two rebel officers stopped in front of us and began looking to the pasture where the Federal troops were gathering. On the hill another officer held his arm aloft, dropped it and a tremendous roar ensued. Everyone started and the line of cannon disappeared in a flash of flame and billowing smoke.

The Federal artillery responded in kind and an exchange continued for some time as the boys in blue marching abreast slowly began to move up toward the woods firing as they came. Soon the whole battlefield was covered with smoke and the darkening skies unleased buckets of rain upon all. Without a raincoat or umbella ( a lady next to Mrs. T was sharing hers), I was soon soaked to the skin. My intitial thought was that if the soldiers could keep going, I as a patriotic citizen, could do no less. When the shivering set in there were second thoughts on that point. In historical fact, when the Federal army began to be pushed back at Bull Run, a retreat turned into a rout and the vast crowds of gawkers from Washington fled in terror, clogging the roads back to the capitol and adding to the general misery. I decided to follow that historical precident and soon joined the long line of people heading back to the campground and buses.
Along the way we went passed the surgeon's tent where the horrible evidence of the cost of such battles was evident.
It was then that I heard my name being called. Two battlefield angels of mercy, Sharon and Mary Jo, had spotted my soaked and shivering self and sheltered me under a canvas and brought me a steaming hot cup of coffee. Mrs T soon joined us and we decided, in spite of the rainy afternoon, it had been a wonderful day revisiting the past at Wasiojas "Civil War Days" some 150 years after the actural events.
"Angels of the Battlefield" Sharon & Mary Jo

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wasioja: Civil War Days - Part II

It was Saturday June 25th and the Troutbirders, along with Sharon and Mary Jo were heading back in time. They were on their way to Civil War Days in Wasioja, Minnesota. Wasioja was a small but vital town, whose future had been blighted, when much of its youth had been killed in a heroic stand at the battle of Chickamauga . The date was Sept. 20, 1863.
For this first time event, with battle reenactments, three clashes were scheduled. Friday: Chickamauga, Saturday: Bull Run, Sunday: the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. Although the forecast this day was for partly cloudy with a slight chance of late afternoon showers, the dark overcast skies early that morning, did not augur well for staying dry. But, optimist that I am, I expected the best for ourselves and the Union troops who would meet the Rebels later that day near the Virginia town of Manassas. We were there early so things were just beginning to stir. Lets take a look...... Various ladies in groups and individually were preparing meals in the encampment area. I stopped to talk to several.
Troutbirder: "So ladies would you mind if I took your photograph?"
Wives: "No. No. Not at all. Do we have to hold perfectly still and not even breathe.?"
Troutbirder: "It’s not a problem with this camera. . Just smile."
Having broken the ice, they proved to be very friendly as I asked them why they were there. The answer involved their husbands, their interest in the conflict and the opportunity to visit new places and meet new friends. Many had been attending reenactments all over the midwest and some even further away.
I used a similar approach with the soldiers themselves. I approached some boys in blue, which led to the following exchange after having obtained permission to take their picture. Remember now, later in the day the Battle of Bull Run was to be portrayed.
Troutbirder: So you boys surely aren’t expecting much of a contest with those scattermuffin rebs today are you?"
Soldiers in blue uniforms: "We’re from Virginia. 32nd Fairfax Militia."
Troutbirder. "Oh Oh." It seems that early in the war neither side was totally standardized when it came to the color of uniforms.
I wandered over to where a large crowd had gathered to hear a speech. It turned out to be the tall man with the top hat and his wife Mary. He spoke of the difficult task ahead and what had to be done to preserve the Union. The audience didn’t applaud much, but in the spirit of things seemed to be listening very closely. When push comes to shove and it now apparently has, I believe most of the people of the brand new state of Minnesota will stand with this man from Illinois.
As the noon hour approached the crowds grew larger and larger. I met a number of people on their way to the battle site. Sad to say, there was almost a festive atmosphere. The general attitude seemed to be that the war would be a short one because most everyone believed one side or the other wasn’t all that serious or even capable of fighting.
Troutbirder: "So are you gentlemen following the troops?"
Two Senators: "Yes. Indeed. On to Richmond we say. The traitors will scatter like chaff in the wind. You can count on it!"
Troutbirder: "Ladies. What’s the occasion?"

Camp followers: "We’re on our way to a picnic. We hope to catch a sight of those Zouaves from New York. They're soooo dashing in those red uniforms."
Meanwhile Mrs. T was visiting the southern encampment and I was drawn to the sound of music coming from a nearby tent
Oops not that one. This one.

Then the sound of cannon fire drew me to a nearby hillside. The battle of Bull Run had begun. Next in Part III.