Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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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.


  1. Very cool! It looks like you're making the most of your summer traveling time.

    It's too bad the Illinois political field hasn't seen the likes of that man in the tall hat since, well, the man in the tall hat was around.

  2. i'm just amazed at the work and costumery that goes into these reenactments and that people put forth so much effort and travel... :)

  3. That's very cool, TB! It's great you guys could go take it all in.

  4. Very interesting! I do love reading about the Civil War and especially love the reenactments.

  5. I have a book in the museum gift shop that is supposed to be about the first regiment sent into the civil war..I will have to look closer at the book. What a wonderful outing! It looks like something I would enjoy..and I can tell that you are in your element! :)

  6. I have had the pleasure of seeing a reenactment once and it is amazing the thought and time devoted to making it authentic. I enjoyed this so much.

  7. I'm glad those boys from Virginia overlooked your remarks about 'scattermuffin rebs'. You did a great job interviewing people at the encampment. It looks like it was a fascinating experience.

  8. Reenactments are fun. Eric and I are doing one this weekend in IL.

    This one looked like a good one. The battle senarios are always interesting. I love living the history and going back for a day or two.

    Eric thanks you for your comments and was happy to meet you.

  9. Looks like a major reenactment. Hope it wasn't too hot, wearing those wool uniforms and all.

  10. I like your on-the-spot reporting.

    As I knew virtually nothing about the American Civil War, reading your last couple of posts has broadened my knowledge considerably. Thanks. Great photos; great re-enactment. Those 'costumes' are wonderful - glad one doesn't wear things like that anymore, though.

  11. The book I have is called The Last Full Measure by Richard Moe, it looks to be a really good book, it got good reviews. Moe is from Duluth:)

  12. I had a doctor who always participated in the reinactments here in Indiana. He loved them!

    Thanks for sharing