The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 10, 2013

Reliving history

(Continued)

OTTUMWA —

Seamus joined the unit for a time, linking up with them the way soldiers during the war did if they became separated from their units. He returned to his own unit after hours singing and laughing around the campfire.

The next day, as Gordy got to the line, he and the others looked to their left. There was Seamus with his unit. The warm greeting and bits of song that accompanied it were much to the surprise of other re-enactors.

Before leaving, a few of the re-enactors from Gordy's unit went to a monument. While there, they sang a piece of one of Seamus' songs, only to see him walking up the road toward them. Gordy could barely believe them when they got back to camp. He called Seamus a couple weeks later and asked whether it really happened that way.

Yes, came the reply. “I just kept running into you guys.”

Other battles have their own stories. A picture from Gettysburg leads into a discussion about the smoke on the battlefield. Contemporary accounts said smoke obscured units even at close range. Gordy says the same and his photos back it up.

Another snapshot shows men kneeling, waiting for the order advance as part of Pickett's Charge. The only face clearly shown belongs to Mark Hidlebaugh, whose persona was a Southern officer. He went up to every soldier, shook their hands and said a few words. It made an impression.

There is more attention being paid to the Civil War today than there has been for some time. People like round numbers and the 150th anniversary of the war's start arrived in 2011. This year includes two critical battles: Vicksburg and Gettysburg.

The battle of Gettysburg is family history for Gordy. An ancestor served as aide to Gen. James Longstreet, who urged Gen. Robert E. Lee to withdraw to a defensive position rather than attack.

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