Friday, August 16, 2013

Gettysburg Reenactment Recollection by Col. Paul Whaley

If you attended the July Prattville Dragoons camp meeting you were thrilled to hear Paul Whaley provide details of his participation in the 1998 Battle of Gettysburg Reenactment which stands as the largest reenactment in the history of the country.  This article was published in the August 2013 edition of the Dragoons Camp Dispatch newsletter.

1998 Gettysburg Reenactment
 by Col Paul Whaley, 33rd Alabama Reenactors
            While I did not attend the recent Gettysburg re-enactment, I did attend the 135th event there in 1998. That was the largest re-enactment held to date in this country and likely the largest that will ever be held. There were almost 25,000 uniformed troops on the field covering all branches of service. All three days of the battle were re-created within sight of both Round Tops. The scale of the event and the scenarios on the field were unprecedented.
            Most impressive, however, was Pickett's charge on the final day wherein the Confederate assault was full scale: over 13,000 troops forming a line of battle over 3/4 of a mile long and advancing over one mile of open field to the stone wall. A preliminary barrage was provided by almost 200 full-scale artillery pieces. The Confederates stepped forward with colors unfurled and advanced to a dirt road lined on both sides with a rail/worm fence located within 400 yards of the federal position. The fences were knocked down and as with the original battle, the men were moved forward a few feet and the commands were given all along the line, directing men to guide center on their colors and advance at the common time. The federals were six deep along a stone wall loading rifles in the rear and passing them forward. It was a solid sheet of flame and noise.
            After advancing 40 or so yards the command was given to move at the quick time, then the double quick, and then the charge with the Rebel yell. The roar of battle was unbelievable. It was truly an opportunity to experience for just a moment something that might have approximated the actual event in the same time of the year within 4 miles of where it actually happened, but without the carnage. Truly a magic moment for this re-enactor and for many.

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